A Stroll through Woodstock, Vermont:
Just 13 miles north of the 1815 House, you’ll find the quaint village of Woodstock. Now I’m not at all attracted to “cute” places, but Woodstock surpasses that moniker and settles firmly on the realm of “quintessential New England Village” in all its glory. The village center is large enough to host an interesting variety without being so large that you cannot comfortably stroll through it. Settled along the picturesque Ottauquechee River by a number of extremely colorful characters in the 18th century, it became (and remains) a showpiece of architectural styles fashionable over the last two centuries. The main streets are home to a variety of local Vermont products, traditional shops, and galleries displaying art and crafts from local artisans (some of whom have become quite well known). I recommend taking a simple walking tour of Woodstock, starting at the Village Green where the historical marker shown at the left provides a nice introduction.
About mid-point on the north side of the green, there’s a side road that will take you across the river through a lovely covered bridge. Have a peek at that, the view from mid-span is worth checking out. Today, I’m not leading you to the other side of the bridge–there’s a lot over there, but that’s for another blogpost! Today, we’re just taking an easy stroll around the village. Walk down to the west end of the green. Straight ahead of you will be St. John’s Episcopal Church. Really a nice old stone building. And on your right is the old Town Hall. This is worth noting for later. The auditorium has been upgraded with a great sound system and comfortable seats. The local arts foundation, Pentangle for the Arts, holds a variety of events here…movies, concerts and theater. Check the schedule that will be posted out front. Maybe you’ll want to come back tonight for a show?
Norman Williams Public Library
Now walk back through the green toward the commercial section of town. On your right you will see the Woodstock Inn, a courthouse, and then the Library. What a wonderful public library! There are a lot of small well appointed libraries in villages all over Vermont (we have a very nice one in Felchville), due to generous contributions from local businessmen who valued public access to information. The Woodstock library was built in 1883-4 by the son of Norman Williams as a gift to the town and has been very popular since the day it opened. Go inside if you have time and just walk around. For such a small town, this is a magnificent space and a great resource. And wow! it’s beautiful! I promise you’ll be impressed.
Continue walking east into the heart of Woodstock and you will find yourself at the corner of Central and Elm. For a couple of blocks in any direction, you will find a host of lively and whimsical shops that sell…oh, really anything! There are art galleries and jewelry stores, fashion boutiques and crafts stores, but I’d like to draw your attention to a few of them that really define the local culture and that have been establishments in Woodstock for…generations, I’d guess.
Turn up Elm Street. On your left you will find Gillingham’s…officially, F. H. Gillingham & Son’s General Store. Go inside and browse around and see if you can get out without finding something that you really need. It’s harder than it sounds. They have wonderful stuff and lots of it. Pure entertainment. Next door at the Village Butcher you can pick up an excellent deli sandwich, then walk two doors down and along the driveway to the spacious grounds along the river behind the historical society where you can enjoy your picnic lunch.
Back on Central Street, you’ll find shops that will intrigue pretty much everyone…even your grumpy uncle…buy him a homemade ice cream cone at the Creamery…that’ll cheer him up. Stop in at the Woodstock Pharmacy for a bit of nostalgia, and at the Vermont Flannel Company for…you guessed it…all things flannel. You’ll find interesting bookstores selling tomes by local authors, handmade fudge and locally crafted pewter ware, pottery and textiles. You don’t have to buy anything, but it’s fun to look.
From 3 to 6 pm on Wednesdays in the summer and fall (June 1-October 12), the Chamber of Commerce sponsors a very nice farmer’s Market on the Green. It’s worth a look, so get back to the Green before 6 if it’s a Wednesday. Vendors compete to be included in this market, so it’s probably the best farmers market in the area. There’s a nice variety of local organic produce, including a good selection of heirloom produce and items that can’t be found elsewhere. There are also local cheese producers, bakers offering breads and pastries and artisans offering craft items and other consumables. Like at Gillingham’s, it’s rare that I get out of there without finding something delectable for the evening happy hour.
I hope you enjoy your stroll through Woodstock and that this guide has given you some good ideas. Now you know some things to do in Woodstock Vermont!