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The Pitcher Inn Scores an AIAVT Award

02/15/2024 2:33 pm

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We’re honored to be among just 11 buildings in Vermont selected by the American Institute of Architects Vermont (AIAVT) for design excellence. AIAVT, founded 75 years ago, in 1948, recognized the inn and its architects, David Sellers, Mac Rood, and Rob Bast for “creating an artisanal, one-of-a-kind experience for visitors and guests to enjoy.” The full citation reads:

75 Year Award Citation: The Pitcher Inn, Warren, VT

Completed in 1997. Designed by Bast & Rood Architects and Sellers & Co.

When the 19th century Pitcher Inn suffered a catastrophic fire in the early 1990s, there was fear that the establishment might never open again due to permitting issues and could be replaced with a convenience store. Bast, Rood, and Sellers, working together with a vision for a new inn on the site, sorted out the permitting issues and brought in Win Smith to purchase the property. The reconstruction project was fast-tracked, with construction documents being produced while the project was being built, staying one step ahead of the contractors. David Sellers designed the building and oversaw the creation of the uniquely themed guest rooms, each representing a different aspect of Vermont life or history. Mac Rood, for example, designed the Chester Arthur room. Working with scores of colleagues, designers, and craftspeople, including masons, muralists, furniture makers, and woodcarvers, Bast & Rood Architects and Sellers & Co. created an artisanal, one-of-a-kind experience for visitors and guests to enjoy. The new Pitcher Inn opened in 1997 and is going strong today.

Betsy Silverman: Works in Collage

02/05/2024 2:29 pm

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Boston artists Betsy Silverman will join us at The Pitcher Inn, in the Dining Room, on February 22, 2024, for dinner and an artist talk.

This is collage as you’ve never seen it. Using recycled magazine pieces Boston artist Betsy Silverman creates highly detailed compositions of city scenes, rural landscapes, people, animals and everyday objects.

She writes of her chosen medium, “Instead of paint tubes, my palette is a cabinet loaded with magazines.”

Betsy will share a collection of new work and will give an artists talk and presentation that will focus on her representational style, drawing on architectural and environmental concerns as well as influences. Guests will have the opportunity to ask questions and to enjoy dinner following her presentation.

Who: Artist Betsy Silverman

What: An evening of fine art and fine dining, presented by Edgewater Gallery & The Pitcher Inn

When: Thursday, February 22, 2024, 5:30-8:00 pm

Where: The Pitcher Inn Dining Room

How: To register, call The Pitcher Inn at 802-496-6350. There is no cost for the talk and dinner is a la carte from the restaurant’s dinner menu.

Artist Talk with Rory Jackson

12/19/2023 4:42 pm

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Painter Rory Jackson will join us at The Pitcher Inn, in the Brook Room, on January 11, 2024, for dinner and an artist talk.

Vermont-based oil painter Rory Jackson has been creating bold and visionary paintings since 2000. He spends his time between his home in Lincoln, Vermont, and the beaches of Ghana, where he founded the non-profit school Trinity Yard. While painting the landscapes of Vermont, he focuses on dramatic lighting and capturing the elemental vibrancy of nature. In Ghana, Rory paints seascapes, village scenes and boats, focusing on the reflection and movement of light and the local culture.

“As a painter, my aim is to bring to life a presence to the viewer, a relationship between the earth and the people who hold covenant with it. Whether it is through light, reflection, movement or design, I want to bring everlasting life to a moment in time.”

Rory will share examples of his work at the inn and guests will have the opportunity to ask questions and to enjoy dinner following his presentation.

Who: Painter Rory Jackson

What: An evening of fine art and fine dining, presented by Edgewater Gallery & The Pitcher Inn

When: Thursday, January 11, 2024, 5:30-8:30 pm

Where: The Pitcher Inn Brook Room

How: To register, call The Pitcher Inn at 802-496-6350. There is no cost for the talk and dinner is a la carte from the restaurant’s dinner menu.

Equestrian Living Profiles ‘Vermont’s Pitcher Inn’

11/29/2023 2:00 pm

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Equestrian Living features writer Rebecca Baldridge along with a friend visited the inn earlier this year and reported on her stay in the most recent edition of the magazine, which focuses on equestrian society, as well a compelling mix of fashion, the arts, style, design, events, people, and equestrian sports. Here’s what she found, in her own words…

“Do you suppose we’ll see a moose? I cannot tell you how I long to see a moose. But a bear would be almost as good. These woods are surely heaving with moose and bear.”

My sainted friend, having endured years of my enthusiasms, rolled his eyes. “Just look for the turn, please.”

The trees, newly verdant in early May, thinned, and a right turn led us into the picturesque village of Warren, nestled at the southern end of Vermont’s Mad River Valley. The main street (called Main Street), lined with historic houses, promised an abundance of country charm. There was no missing our destination. We rounded a slight curve and The Pitcher Inn hove into view, an imposing white clapboard manse with verandas spanning the first and second floors. The house is built on the bank of the fast-running Freeman Brook, and the sound of water burbling over stones offers a soothing welcome as we unload our luggage.

The Pitcher Inn is no ordinary establishment. We are warmly greeted not by a manager, but by the Maitresse de Maison, Tracy Kelly, who leads us through a lobby filled with suitable art and antiques that sets the scene as she shares the building’s history. A lodging house during the Civil War era, the inn was reconstructed in 1997 following a devastating fire four years earlier. The new inn, designed by local Warren architect David Sellers, occupies the exact footprint of its predecessor. The building’s exterior is classic 19th century, while the interior reflects Sellers’ enthusiasm for artisanal craftsmanship. He collaborated with several colleagues and a legion of decorators, masons, woodcarvers, furniture makers, and mural painters to create an eclectic décor that combines the traditional with the whimsical. Gale and George Dorsey purchased the Inn in 2020, revamping the guest rooms, suites, and common areas while adding unique touches such as a revolving, curated art collection.

The Inn boasts nine themed guestrooms and two suites (both of which are dog friendly). We are shown to the Mountain room and charmed by the cozy cabin-in-the-woods décor. A king size bed is tucked away in a nook that I only later realize is meant to replicate a fire tower, with a tromp l’oeil view over the surrounding woodland – was that a moose I spied, lurking behind a tree? In the sitting room two leather easy chairs rest before a wood-burning stove. A Persian carpet and an abundance of antlers, as well as snowshoes and skis, are artfully arranged to create a “just in from the snowy forest” ambiance. I feel as though I should be wearing a buffalo plaid jacket and cap with ear flaps. A wet bar and a capacious bathroom with a black slate steam shower and jetted soaking tub add a touch of decidedly un-rustic decadence.

Our late arrival leaves little time to tarry. We have an early reservation in the Dining Room, where Chef Jacob Ennis has created a five-star farm-to-table menu that focuses on locally source ingredients. With deep charcoal walls, picture windows overlooking the garden, and a massive fireplace as its focal point, the dining room is at once cozy and elegant. Chef Jacob introduces himself and explains his unique approach to creating a truly local fine dining experience. He takes the farm-to-table ethos personally, keeping the chickens that supply the Inn with fresh eggs at his own home. The bees that provide honey live with Maitresse Tracy Kelly. Ennis smokes his own meats, makes his own jams, and even taps the trees behind the Inn to render maple syrup – you know that you are truly in Vermont.

Ennis takes an even more creative turn by sourcing wild ingredients from Nova Kim and Les Hook, expert wildcrafters who have a combined 80 years of experience in gathering berries, greens, mushrooms, herbs, blossoms, and more from Vermont’s forests. He frequently adjusts the day’s menu based on what largesse the forest has yielded. During the colder months, he offers a Fire to Fork menu with soups, vegetables, and wild game he prepares in the dining room’s oversized fireplace.

This evening, the dinner menu demands that we make hard choices. A Vermont cheese and charcuterie plate requires us to make selections from a range of offerings. I leave the cheese to my companion; I’m all about the house smoked ham. The fusion of salty, savory, and smoky flavors nearly brings a tear. I immediately regret agreeing to share. While the menu does indeed offer frog legs, my French companion has chosen an artistically arranged oyster and cucumber concoction. He tucks in with enthusiasm, but I am unwilling to give up more ham in exchange. The ham is mine. As an entrée I choose a roasted chicken breast in romesco sauce, while Eric orders the Rabbit Duet, a seared loin and confit leg with roasted wild sunchokes and morel mushrooms. We share an apple roulade for dessert, the fruit complemented by the unique flavor of cardamom ice cream.

Warren is a quiet village, and the Inn’s Tracks bar is the place to go for an after-dinner drink. The name is to be taken literally, as a variety of animal tracks decorate the floor. A stuffed cougar leers as we try out the vintage shuffleboard table. Sommelier Tunney King, who has already impressed us with his choice of the perfect white at dinner, holds forth at the bar. Our advance research reminded us that Wine Spectator awarded the Inn its “Best Award of Excellence” for its wine cellar, and we appreciated the Sommelier’s recommendation from its nearly 500 bottles – there is a wealth of options. It’s well past closing time but Tunney and Eric are deep in conversation.

The next morning, we set off to explore the Mad River Valley, fortified by fresh scrambled eggs from Chef Jacob’s hens and home-baked croissants from the Warren Store across the street. An authentic country store with a potbelly stove, fresh baked goods, a deli, and a variety of local souvenirs, the Warren Store is part of the Pitcher Inn complex and in fact houses the smoker that produced the blessed ham. We grab some coffees to go and set off adventuring.

The Mad River Valley is a fundamentally rural area, and the mountain scenery is the star of the show. Thick forests give way to breathtaking valleys. Bright yellow road signs warn of moose crossings, stirring my moose mania to a fever pitch. Just a few minutes down the road from the Inn is one of Vermont’s most picturesque spots, the falls at Stetson Hollow. A four-mile hiking trail passes a number of falls, including a 40-foot horsetail fall that cascades into Stetson Brook. More ambitious hikers can tackle the trail that leads to the top of the 4000-foot Mount Abraham. We are not ambitious hikers. Instead, we shop for maple syrup at several local farms and visit a sugaring house, where we learn about the syrup-making process in considerable detail.

While every season in the Mad River Valley offers an abundance of stunning scenery and opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, winter is a peak time at The Pitcher Inn. Warren is situated near two of Vermont’s most famous ski resorts, Mad River Glen and Sugarbush (a scant five minutes away), and during ski season the town is hopping with winter sports enthusiasts from all over the Northeast. True to the level of attention offered by The Pitcher Inn to all its guests, their concierge can assist with securing tickets and arranging transportation. The real aficionado may wish to book the themed “Ski Lodge”, replete with vintage skis, trail maps, and memorabilia, along with an indulgent steam shower. After an invigorating day on the slopes, what could be more satisfying than returning to a luxury suite and a pot of Chef Jacob’s traditional game stew bubbling over an open fire in the dining room?

The Pitcher Inn delivers just about everything you could possibly desire for the perfect weekend getaway or ski holiday. There’s nothing quite like tramping a wooded trail, reveling in nature’s beauty, and coming back to a beautifully designed suite and a sophisticated, five-star dining experience. There’s only one thing they can’t guarantee. The elusive moose.

You can also view the story and photographer Sara Coffin’s accompanying photographs at Equestrian Living.

Talking About the New Farmhouse Spa with Tracy Kelly

11/14/2023 1:09 pm

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On December 1, The Pitcher Inn team will inaugurate Vermont’s newest wellness spa in the Mad River Valley. Called Farmhouse Spa at The Pitcher Inn, the spa will feature two treatment rooms with hydraulic beds, a relaxation room with state-of-the-art sound therapy, plus a refreshment bar with flavored waters and healthy snacks. Located steps from the inn across Main Street and next to the Warren Store, the new spa will focus on holistic wellness.

To catch up on the news, we talked with Maitresse de Maison Tracy Kelly.

Tell us about Farmhouse Spa.
We’ve been dreaming about a dedicated spa since the Dorseys purchased the inn three-plus years ago. More recently, over the past year, we have done intensive planning and exploration with spa consultants and experts to find the right space and then to fit it up just so. We love what we’ve created and hope our guests will, too.

Why the “Farmhouse Spa”?
We like what it evokes. Simple. Natural. Homey. Although the spa is housed in a Warren village home, not a farmhouse, we decided we could take some artistic liberty with the name. So we did.

What will be the spa’s focus?
Our focus is wellness and, to start, massage. We will offer three distinct massages upon opening: Deep Tissue, Aromatherapy, and Hot Stones. We will offer a choice of Lunaroma massage oils, and in a separate relaxation lounge, sound therapy.

Who do you anticipate will be likely guests?
We really designed the spa to appeal to both women and men. The design style is fairly neutral with lots of whites and light grey (“moonshine”) and plenty of light. We envision accommodating couples as well as friend groups, including girl weekends and even guy golf getaways. We want to make everyone comfortable enjoying Farmhouse Spa.

What’s next for the spa?
We’re going to go slow so we get it right and respond to the wants and needs of the community and visitors to Vermont. Initially, we expect to have a core staff of massage therapists, supplemented by other talent from the valley, as demand rises.

Once we’re up to speed, we will consider additional massage types as well as other services like facials delivered by certified aestheticians. We’re still considering manicures and pedicures for special occasions like a wedding.

How does one make a reservation at Farmhouse Spa?
Guests can call The Pitcher Inn at 802.496.6350 or book online at pitchinn.com/spa, using our booking widget, or via email (farmhousespa@pitcherinn.com). We will soon have a services menu, including pricing, posted on our website.

‘Perfect Fall Getaway’ Reprise

09/05/2023 5:26 pm

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Editor’s note: We originally published this post a year ago. It still rings true.

We’re always honored and grateful when others recognize what makes The Pitcher Inn so special. Recently, two media outlets cited the inn for its very particular appeal during the autumn months of September and October in Vermont.

Discoverer begins its round-up story: “Nothing beats the warmth and comfort of a fall evening spent by the fire. Thankfully, there are plenty of quaint and cozy inns around the world that embrace the autumn feeling and provide the perfect, intimate getaway. Whether you’re looking to snuggle up with a book by the fireplace or gaze upon colorful fall foliage during breakfast, the following inns will meet all your seasonal needs.”

And then leads with this about the inn: “Fall in Vermont is perfect for biking, hiking, picnicking, and of course, leaf peeping. Nestled between the scenic Green Mountains of Vermont in the charming village of Warren is The Pitcher Inn. While staying at The Pitcher Inn, all of those classic fall activities are easily accessible due to the property’s proximity to the Roxbury State Forest. Choose a one or two-bedroom suite in the “barn” or a room in the main house. Jet out on a fly fishing adventure or stay in and curl up next to one of the inn’s 14 fireplaces (Editor’s note: Now including wood stoves in some rooms.). Guests can also indulge in seasonal fare onsite at the onsite pub or private dining rooms.”

Discoverer puts us in good company with other similar properties in the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, and Ireland.

Over at Condé Nast Traveler, Cassie Shortsleeve and Todd Plummer write in “See Vermont Fall Foliage in These 15 Beautiful Places” about what makes the state so distinctive in autumn, including the Mad River Valley. They write: “Vermonters will tell you to continue driving north on Route 100 toward the Mad River Valley, the region of Sugarbush Resort. The autumnal colors are there, of course, but so is the Mad River Taste Place, an artisanal market of Vermont food and drinks, charming country stores like the Warren Store, and some of the best tacos around in Waitsfield (we’re looking at you, Mad Taco). Can’t bring yourself to leave? Don’t. Relais & Châteaux’s The Pitcher Inn in Warren is a white-clapboard classic on the outside with individually themed rooms (think: the “ski room” and the “school room”).”

You can read the complete write-ups at the following links: Discoverer Blog and Condé Nast Traveler.

Five Fall Favorites

08/13/2023 2:10 pm

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Already in mid-August the trees are beginning to reveal their fall colors. It may be the plentiful rain we’ve had this summer or just the shorter days. Whichever, it’s the season we live for here in Vermont, the one that draws visitors from around the globe. It’s also a last chance to sport our summer duds before the cooling winds demand a fleece layer. And it’s when we love to get out into the Mad River Valley and explore.

There’s plenty to do–too much for a single weekend–so here are our five favorites.

  1. Ride the single chair at Mad River Glen. For just three weekends each fall the cooperatively-owned ski mountain spins its iconic single chairlift to allow 100-mile views across the Green Mountains to the Whites in New Hampshire and the Adirondacks in New York. This year’s dates are September 23, 24, 30 and October 1, 7 and 8. Times and details are at the Mad River Glen website.
  2. Go for a leisurely walk in the valley or hike to a high spot like Sunset Ledge (the name befits the reward). Upon check-in ask your guest assistant for a copy of our walking guide that includes Burnt Rock and Sunset Ledge nearby and walks in Stowe and Burlington if you want to travel further afield.
  3. Bike the backroads. It should come as no surprise that bikers travel from across the country to cruise along our paved and unpaved roads. Each year we welcome groups from outfitters like Backroads as well as leisure guests looking to get out on one of our newish Cannondale Quick 6 house bikes. We will happily offer you suggested routes, either a quick ride around the village of Warren or a zip along the East Warren Road with its spectacular view of the Green Mountains.
  4. Discover the secret stashes at nearby locally-owned shops. If your tendency is more sedate activities, like finding the perfect pair of artisan earrings or a repurposed and reimagined Vermont farm implement, the Mad River Valley offers plenty of options. The most convenient for inn guests is a stroll across Main Street to the “almost world-famous” Warren Store. There you’ll find coffee, croissant, clothing and cabernet, among many other treasures. Or travel north to Waitsfield for the shops along Bridge Street. Or discover a perfect good-read among the stacks at the Tempest Book Shop, also in Waitsfield.
  5. Get inspired by local Vermont art. A good place to start is right at the inn. Our curators from Edgewater Gallery in Middlebury are continually changing up the art on the walls at the inn. Or walk across Main Street to Art in the Village, right next the Warren Store, where artist and gallerist Rita Ioannidis curates a wide selection of Vermont artists. Or make your way to the Bundy Modern just up Route 100 to see “Nor’easter,” a show of three New England artists (Saturdays only, through September 3, or by appointment).

 

The Art of Wildcrafting

06/28/2023 1:39 pm

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When guests wonder what makes dining at The Pitcher Inn so fine, we often offer a one-word response: wildcrafting. Just as we rely on our farmer partners like Field Stone Farm for the freshest ingredients, we look to our wildcrafting partners Nova Kim and Les Hook to share the natural bounty of the Vermont woods and meadows.

Collectively Nova and Les have more than 100 years of experience in the pursuit of wild foods. Recently we checked in with them about their approach to their craft and about what wild foods guests might taste on their plates while dining at the inn.

Tell us about wildcrafting, how long and why you do it.

Wildcrafting is learning to accept what wild plants are offered for the gifts that they are and helping to preserve them as well as their habitat. Wildcrafting is when you walk through a landscape, familiar with the timing and seasons of those other beings around you, knowing that when you leave, things will be better for your having been there and better for you as well.

We have been wildcrating, collectively, for over a hundred years between the two of us. The advantage of old age.

What inspires you?

The necessity of educating, understanding and preserving all the wild plants, both native and introduced.

What’s the range of plants and other wild organics you gather?

Blossoms, berries, bulbs, evergreen tips, greens, herbs, potherbs, roots, and gourmet mushrooms.

What are you gathering now?

Today we will be delivering Wild Watercress, Elderblow Blossoms, Wintergreen Leaves, Sweetfern tips, Concolor and Spruce fir tips, and Berkeley’s Polypore (a mushroom).

We don’t want you to give up your secrets, but generally where do your wild organics come from? Meadow ? Woods?

Since we collect such a wide range of plants and mushrooms, our collection areas are defined by the season and weather…no one specific habitat. Many of these same areas/beds have been producing for 20-plus years due to careful attention and not over harvesting. When we do lose an area, it is often due to clearcutting.

Offer some advice on how inn guests should approach unfamiliar ingredients.

As with anything new, start with small amounts.

Have you enjoyed a meal prepared by Chef Jacob and his team including ingredients you have sourced?

Not yet.

Field Stone Farm Fresh

06/13/2023 1:19 pm

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One of the joys of summer in Vermont is farm-fresh produce. And about now is when it comes in abundance.

Here at The Pitcher Inn, in the kitchen, we’re all smiles when Hannah Blackmer bursts through the door with armfuls of produce. Hannah and her mom Chandra run the women-owned and -operated Field Stone Farm between Northfield and Roxbury, Vermont, just over the mountains from the inn. This time of year Field Stone is our primary source of fresh vegetables, a key ingredient in our many summer and fall offerings. 

We recently caught up with a very busy Hannah Blackmer to learn more about her passion for farming. Here’s a lightly edited version of our conversation.

Tell us about Field Stone Farm and something about you.

Field Stone Farm was started in 2010 and has been owned and operated by a mother-daughter team since 2016. We strive towards no-till, regenerative practices on one-and-a-half acres of mixed vegetables, and make wicked good wood-fired pizza. The farm is located in Northfield on land that I grew up on. Before returning home to farm here, I had two additional seasons of farm work.

What motivates you to farm?
I have always preferred to work outside. When I started farming, I found that it pushed me not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally. Working in tandem with so much that is beyond your control…every season is humbling, and that challenge feeds me. And while I cannot control the weather, I can control the care that goes into how I choose to grow food. Intentionality, craftsmanship, and pride invite a connection to my community beyond our socially distilled simplicity of “eat to live”. When people get excited about flavor, texture, variety, and quality–about slowing down their day to be present with what is on their plate–that feels right and good. Everyone deserves to know the joy food can bring. It may seem like a small impact on the world, but it is my impact, and I’m honored to make it.

What are you growing this year?
We grow almost the entire alphabet of veggies. This year we added some new heirloom tomatoes that I’m really excited to try, and some new pepper varieties. Last year we grew some ginger, and this year we doubled down on that and are trialing some turmeric.

What are you delivering to the inn?
Right now I’m delivering a lot of greens! Typical June stuff: lettuce mix, arugula, spinach, kale, cilantro, and radishes. We deliver lettuce weekly, the rest will transition out in favor of summer crops before too long.

What’s really got you excited right now?
We just finished up all of our big spring plantings (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes, and winter squash) which is always fun to have behind us, and now we’re on the verge of snap pea season which is very exciting! We don’t heat any of our greenhouses, so we typically have to wait a little longer for all the summer treats but I think the wait is totally worth it.

We encourage guests to come dine with us to see if “the wait is totally worth it,” as Vermont farmer Hannah Blackmer puts it.

Five Summer Favs

05/25/2023 12:06 pm

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With all there is to do in summer in Vermont’s Mad River Valley, it’s hard to pick favorites. But pick you must if you’re going to taste the real Vermont during a brief visit. To help, we offer our five favorite summertime activities in and around the twin towns of Warren and Waitsfield.

  1. Warren 4th of July Parade. It may be the wackiest, most cherished parade in America. Think zany floats, costumed parade-goers, and treats from the Warren Store. This year’s theme is The Sounds of Freedom. Insider tip: Stay in one of the inn’s rooms (Calvin Coolidge, Chester Arthur) that front Main Street and overlook the parade route and enjoy the parade from your private balcony.
  2. Warren-Waitsfield Bike.This is a staff favorite ride that affords both valley views and, along the East Warren Road, some amazing vistas of the central Green Mountain range extending from Mount Abraham to Camel’s Hump, highlighted by the Sugarbush and Mad River Glen ski lines.
  3. Waitsfield Farmer’s Market. Every Saturday, rain or shine, from 9 am until 1 pm, on the green in Waitsfield, is the best entertainment in the valley. You’ll find seasonal fresh veggies, tasty prepared foods, and live music, not to mention good people vibes.
  4. Dipping in the Mad River. It’s the waterway that gives our splendid valley its name, and it’s a mighty pleasant way to cool off on a hot summer day. You can visit any number of swimming holes. We like Warren Falls, just a few miles south of the inn on Route 100, and the Laureau Swim Hole, just a few miles north in Waitsfield.
  5. Dining on the Tracks Terrace. There’s no better way to end you day of adventure than al fresco dining, weather permitting, on the terrace just outside Tracks tavern, overlooking Freeman Brook. Enjoy a cocktail, cold beer or a crisp Sauvignon Blanc to start, then follow it with apps and entrees from the new Tracks menu

We imagine that residents and lovers of the Mad River Valley might have their own ideas about favorite summertime activities, but we’re pretty sure you can’t go wrong with any of those listed above. Enjoy! And be sure to talk with one of our guest assistants for their ideas.