Does anyone else find it harder to write about a place you know and love intimately than it is to write about new and intriguing places you find while traveling? I’m having that issue today, but I really want to share my hometown with you, especially the special outdoor places that make Bennington so special. Beautiful places in Vermont are pretty easy to come by, and the natural beauty in and around Bennington is what made me fall in love with it.
The photos in this post are taken from my Instagram account . My gallery is very “Vermonty”, with a few other lovely places sprinkled throughout for good measure.
My Hometown: Bennington, Vermont
Until now, I’ve never really had a hometown. I’ve lived in dozens of places all over the country, never really settling in until I came here. I discovered this special place quite by accident thanks to house shopping on the internet. When we were looking to buy our first house back in 2006, we naturally spent hours each day browsing real estate websites. We were originally looking in the Hudson Valley of New York, and every weekend we would slog around with realtors looking at dumpy houses that we couldn’t afford.
We slowly started widening our browsing circle and found ourselves exploring Bennington, Vermont. We fell in love with a cute little bungalow on our second trip to town, and we never looked back. Okay, we did look back a bunch, but mostly we looked forward.
Bennington took me by surprise, and we chose to hunker down and raise a family here. Amazingly, I’ve lived here longer than any place I’ve ever been – 10 years this spring. So even though we’re set on exploring the world near and far, I have to tell you a bit about my home town.
Bennington, Vermont is Gorgeous in Just About Every Season
I say just about, because I’m not terribly fond of mud season. I’ve lost whole boots to muddy quagmires, and I’ve known others that have lost cars! Luckily, mud season is short, lasting the month of March, and as long as we keep climate change at bay, I think I can handle it. Lucky for us, mud season goes hand-in-hand with maple sugaring season, so I guess that’s reason enough to cut it some slack!
7 Beautiful Places to Visit in and around Bennington, Vermont
The Old First Church
Judging by the number of tour buses and photographers I’ve seen at the Old First Church over the years, I think it might just be the most photographed building in New England. The Old First Church, and Old Bennington in general is such a lovely place to explore, even if you’re not visiting during leaf-peeping season.
The Old First Church is the first gathered church in Vermont. Although the church that stands there now isn’t the original, it’s been around since 1805. Sunday worship takes place at 10 am during the summer months and 11 am during the rest of the year. You can also pop in for a tour with a local volunteer. The Old First Church is open for visitors every weekend from Memorial Day to July 1st, and daily from July 1st to the end of foliage season.
Be sure to visit the grave of one of our most famous residents, Robert Frost, which is located in the beautiful old graveyard between the Old First Church and the Bennington Museum.
The Bennington Battle Monument
While you’re in Old Bennington, you won’t want to miss a tour of the Bennington Monument. At 306 feet, the Bennington Monument is the tallest building in the state. It’s the most popular of all Vermont state historic sites, and the views from the top are spectacular. Visitors can ride to the top in an elevator from mid-April unitl October 31st from 9 am to 5 pm. Learn all about Bennington’s place in the Revolutionary War and be sure to have a picnic on the lawn.
The Robert Frost House
He’s buried in Bennington, but he lived in a little stone house in Shaftsbury, the next town over. You can walk through the house in five minutes or so, but there’s also a beautiful nature trail that starts behind the barn and heads out to Lake Paran in North Bennington. The trail is 2 miles, one way.
Lake Shaftsbury State Park
While you’re in Shaftsbury, please take a walk around the lake at Lake Shaftsbury State Park. You can bring your dog in the off season, and in the summer you can go for a swim.
Woodford State Park
Another gem, this one is 10 miles outside of Bennington, in the Green Mountains. If you’re camping, Woodford State Park is where you want to do it. The lake is cold, even in summer, but it’s such a paradise! In my opinion, this is one of the most beautiful places in Vermont.
The Appalachian Trail
The famous long-distance trail runs across route 9 between Bennington and Woodford. There’s a parking area right off the road. The trail runs north and south, but we prefer hiking south to Harmon Hill, for the beautiful views of the town.
Park McCullough House
This historic, Victorian-era house was built in 1864, and is considered one of the finest and best preserved Victorian mansions in New England. You can visit this beauty, the working farm behind it, and the lovely, Mile-Around-the-Woods hiking trail all in one visit. This is one of my favorite places to walk and take pictures, and we always bring visitors here.
As usual, I focused almost entirely on outdoor excursions, but there are also cool museums, lots of shopping, and good restaurants. If you really do come to Vermont for a visit, feel free to contact me. I’d love to show you around!
This post is part of a new series I’m starting called Exploring My Hometown. If you’re interested in sharing your hometown on Back Road Ramblers, I’d love to have you as a guest blogger. See submission information here.