Vermont's Chillest Spots
In the most chill state in the Lower 48, we set out to find spots that exemplify a particular type of Green Mountain chillness.
This ain’t a best-of list.
Let’s face it: best-of lists are suspect. Aside from their click-baity nature, they often reflect a sort of consensus wisdom shaped by other, (often curiously-) similar best-of lists, TripAdvisor, Yelp, and other such enthusiasts of hierarchical recommendations. The very act of ranking a bar or restaurant is highly subjective. Best for whom? Who is doing the ranking? Judging by what criteria?
Yet best-of lists have their utility, and who among us hasn’t relied on some article or site’s ranked preferences while traveling? Other publications have their choices regarding Vermont’s “best restaurants,” “best brewpubs,” or what have you, and those are fine as far as that goes, but we’ve set out to do things a bit differently. No doubt Ice Coast Magazine will produce its fair share of such lists, but we’ll always try to give you something you can’t get from your run-of-the-mill slipshod listicle.
Which is why we went hunting for chill.
We’ve pulled together a list of some of our favorite establishments that have a certain Vermontish je ne sais quois. Our team has spent the past five years criss-crossing Vermont frequently – some might say obsessively – chasing winter to a dozen ski areas over hundreds of days and exploring almost every corner of the Green Mountain State, from Burlington to Bennington, Montpeelyer to Jay, Woodstock to Waitsfield, and we compiled a list of what we consider to be the chillest spots we’ve encountered.
“Chill” is tricky to define, but there’s no mistaking a chill spot when you’re in one. It’s a bit of an ineffable quality, similar to what the Dutch call gezelligheid, with a touch of woolen unpretentiousness, and an odd sort of semi-rural cosmopolitanism that comes from having a lot of people around who have traveled to many awesome places and done their fair share of gnarly shit, yet find themselves happily back in their corner of Vermont. These spots often have a combination of good beer, creative food, well-curated music, and are staffed by chill employees who in turn help anchor a chill clientele, all in a space that lends itself to lingering, socializing, and trading tales of the day’s exploits.
Some spots are seemingly chill, but upon closer inspection have aspects that are decidedly un-chill. A contrarian might ask, “What about Hill Farmstead?” Ah, but while Hill Farmstead undoubtedly makes some of the best beer on the planet, it falls short of being able to be called a “chill spot.” Sure, it certainly feels chill when you’re sitting there, sipping your Edward and munching on some sweet-ass olives out on their still-new-looking wooden deck, but it is also full of way-too-intense cooler-and-dry-ice-strapped beer nerds, it keeps conspicuously inconvenient hours, and it’s located too high up a pothole-pocked farm road to be considered chill. I mean, hell, I drive a Wrangler and Hill Road gives me agita.
Our selections include pubs, restaurants, and a couple of food shacks. Most are located in ski towns, and others are in towns you’re likely to pass through on your way to your favorite ski areas. They’re not ranked because chill cannot be quantified, but instead are listed in rough geographical order from south to north. All are equally Vermont-y, but in their own ways – which is the Vermontiest thing of all. Click to start your tour of Vermont's Chillest Spots