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A Tank Away | Middlebury, Vt.

History, hikes, and horses in a college town

(Addison County Chamber of Commerce)
By Frances J. Folsom
Globe Correspondent / May 12, 2010

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This small town, home to Middlebury College, was chartered in 1761 and has more than 300 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. Besides history, Middlebury is loaded with museums, charming accommodations, culture, a world-renowned horse farm, hiking trails, and great shopping. The best way to explore this quintessential New England town is on foot.

Stay
For fans of quaint inns, options abound in this town of about 8,000 population. The Middlebury Inn (14 Court Square, 800-842-4666, www.middleburyinn.com, $139-$239) is located in the center of town and has been welcoming guests for almost 200 years. Swift House Inn (25 Stewart Lane, 866-388-9925, www.swifthouseinn.com, $110-$245, breakfast included) consists of three 18th-century houses whose rooms are filled with antiques. Inn on the Green (71 South Pleasant St., 888-244-7512, www.innonthegreen.com, $110-$245, breakfast included) is housed in an 1803 Federal-style house and carriage house. Many of the 11 rooms offer views of the town green. Blueberry Hill Inn (1307 Goshen Ripton Road, Goshen, Vt., 802-247-6735, www.blueberryhillinn.com, doubles $189, breakfast included; $289 dinner and breakfast included) is tucked into the Moosalamoo National Recreation Area and has a freshwater pond for swimming. The Courtyard by Marriott (309 Court St., 802-388-7600, $135-$189, www.middleburycourtyard.com) has king suites, cable TV, free high-speed Internet, indoor heated pool.

Dine
One great thing about college towns is that the quality and variety of restaurants is dependably impressive. At Morgan’s Tavern in the Middlebury Inn (pictured, 14 Court Square, 802-388-4961, www.middleburyinn.com, $10-$25) choose from small plates of baked macaroni with Vermont cheddar cheese, fish and chips, or chicken piccata with lemon caper beurre blanc. For fine cuisine with a view, head to the Storm Café (3 Mill St., 802-388-1063, www.thestormcafe.com, dinner entrees $15-$24) and snag a table by a window overlooking Otter Creek or dine al fresco on the deck. American Flatbread (137 Maple St., 802-388-3300, www.americanflatbread.com, $7-$20) serves up creative pizzas and salads in a family-style setting. At Fire & Ice (23 Seymour St., 802-388-7166, www.fireandicerestaurant.com, dinners $10-$31) the specialties are prime rib and Maine lobster. Don’t miss the Salad Ballroom with its array of seafood salads. Tully & Marie’s (7 Bakery Lane, 802-388-4182, www.tullyandmaries.com, $6-$20) is known for its multicultural comfort food, including pad thai, chicken fajitas, and seafood risotto.

During the day
Housed in an 1829 Federal-style house is the Henry Sheldon Museum (1 Park St., 802-388-2117, www.henrysheldonmuseum.org, $5 adults, $3 children ages 6-8, under 6 free). Docents dressed in 19th-century costumes give the history of the house and its collection of period furniture and art. Displays at the Vermont Folk Life Center (88 Main St., www.vermontfolklifecenter.org, donations accepted) tell the history of folk art culture in Vermont. Periodically the center features the works of Vermont photographers, writers, and folk artists. Looking to stretch your legs and take in some scenery? The Trail Around Middlebury (25 Stewart Lane, 866-388-9925, www.swifthouseinn.com) is a 20-mile walking loop that starts at the Swift House Inn and runs along Otter Creek through woods and pastures. Want something more strenuous? Try any of the nine trails of the Moosalamoo National Recreation Area (Route 125 near Middlebury College Snow Bowl www.moosalamoo.org). For horse lovers, the University of Vermont Morgan Horse Farm, (74 Battell Drive, 802-388-2011, www.uvm.edu/morgan, $5) is a must-see. Guided tours of the 19th-century Victorian barn bring you up close and personal with prize-winning Morgans, the Vermont state horse. After all that activity and history, perhaps a little shopping is in order. In a retrofitted mill building is the Vermont State Craft Center at Frog Hollow (85 Church St., 802-863-6458, www.froghollow.org) where juried Vermont artisans sell their paintings, hand-blown glass designs, jewelry, pottery, and furniture.

After dark
Town Hall Theater (68 South Pleasant St., 802-388-1436, www.townhalltheater.org) and Middlebury College’s Mahaney Center for the Arts (72 Porter Field Road, 802-443-3168, www.middlebury.edu/arts) are venues for art shows, plays, and music and dance performances. Middlebury Arts Walk (www.middleburyartswalk.com) takes place every second Friday from April to October with 40 artists’ studios, galleries, and shops participating. Looking for a pub in which to meet locals? Two Brothers Tavern (86 Main St., 802-388-0002, www.twobrotherstavern.com) has 23 kinds of beer, or sip a brew and watch your favorite sports on wide-screen televisions at Mr. Up’s (25 Bakery Lane, 802-388-6724, www.misterupsvt.com). Both offer live entertainment on weekends.

Frances J. Folsom, a writer in Cambridge, can be reached at francesfolsom@comcast.net.