View of a green and white van with Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream painted on it.

The Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream truck at the Factory in Waterbury. Photo © Visions of America LLC/123rf.

Map of Stowe, Vermont and Vicinity

Stowe and Vicinity

For all the hype surrounding Ben & Jerry’s operation, the rest of the small city of Waterbury could only be something of a disappointment. North of the highway, Route 100 is a long touristy stretch of gift shops and inns. South of I-89, a small downtown area has a few shops and historic buildings without much character. But does that really matter? Everyone knows why you came here—so grab a cone of cookie dough and indulge.

Ben & Jerry’s Factory

After a five-dollar correspondence course in ice cream making from Penn State, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield opened their first shop in Burlington in 1978. From that small seed grew a company that revolutionized the American ice cream market, proving that Häagen-Dazs didn’t have a lock on thick and creamy. Though most of it is made in a second factory in St. Albans, the company still makes ice cream in its flagship Waterbury factory (1401 Rte. 100, 866/258-6877, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. daily mid- Oct.–June; 9 a.m.–9 p.m. daily July–mid-Aug.; 9 a.m.–7 p.m. daily mid-Aug.–mid-Oct., $3 adults, $2 seniors, children 13 and under free). A cowbell signals the start of tours, which take in a self-congratulating biopic about the duo, as well as a look from the mezzanine onto the factory floor—where ice cream is mixed, flavored, frozen, and packed into pints.

The secret to the ice cream’s richness, as tour guides will tell you, isn’t more butter or heavier cream—it’s less air stirred into the mix. Of course the best part of the tour is saved for the end: the Flavoroom, where guests can taste free samples of whatever is coming off the floor, oftentimes a new or experimental flavor. While you are downing the cold stuff, you can fantasize about the fact that B&J employees are each allowed to take home 15 pints a week of factory seconds. Pack a picnic to take advantage of the playground and picnic tables on site.

Cold Hollow Cider Mill

Forget the cider; those in the know really come to Cold Hollow Cider Mill (3600 Waterbury-Stowe Rd., Rte. 100, Waterbury Center, 800/327-7537, 8 a.m.–6 p.m. daily) for the donuts, homemade gooey O’s that blow Krispy Kreme out of the water. Of course, you’ll need something to wash them down with, and that’s where the cider comes in. Cold Hollow is one of the leading producers of apple cider, which submits apples to a souring process to make a drink much tarter than just ordinary juice. Cold Hollow gives free samples of its cider, which is still made on an old-fashioned hydraulic cider press from the 1920s.

Shopping in Waterbury

Need proof that tea isn’t just for drinking? Get it at Vermont Liberty Tea Company (1 Derby Ln., 802/244-6102, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat.), a panoply of exotic herbal infusions all under one roof. Find catnip toys, accessories like tea strainers and caddies, plus teas you actually do drink—rare black tea blends and chamomiles, and fruit teas from apple to blackberry.

Nestled among patches of wildflowers, Cabot Annex (2657 Rte. 100, 802/244-6334, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. daily) is as cute as cheddar houses come. Stop in to sample Cabot cheeses and pick up a hunk of cheddar for the road. The shop also sells local crafts, microbrews, and wines.

Watch the goods get made right before your eyes at Ziemke Glassblowing Studio (3033 Waterbury-Stowe Rd., 802/244-6126, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. daily), then buy the cups, vases, and jewelry that result.

Food in Waterbury

Named for the rare mushroom that grows wild in the forests, Hen of the Wood (92 Stowe St., 802/244-7300, 5–9 p.m. Tues.–Sat., $16–28) is dedicated to seasonal cuisine fresh from local farms. The 19th-century mill building-turned-dining room features an ample North American wine list and an ever-changing artisan-cheese list.

Hearty and piled-up flatbreads are the draw at the aptly named Zachary’s Pizza House (2 Butler St., Waterbury, 802/244-5650, 3–9 p.m. daily, $10–19), although the chicken parmesan and pastas also come highly recommended.

When you need a hit of lemongrass, head to Ocha Thai Restaurant (6 North Main St., Waterbury, 802/244-7642, 12:30–9:30 p.m. daily, $6–24). The traditional menu spotlights noodle and curry dishes, served in an unusually pretty dining room.

Information and Services

The Waterbury Tourism Council runs an information booth on Route 100 just north of the highway exit. Wireless Internet is available at the Waterbury Public Library (28 N. Main St., 802/244-7036, 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Mon.–Wed., 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Thurs.–Fri., 9 a.m.–noon Sat.).

Pharmacy services are available at Vincent’s Drug and Variety (59 S. Main St., 802/244- 8458) as well as Shaw’s (820 Waterbury-Stowe Rd., 802/241-4113, 7 a.m.–11 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 7 a.m.–9 p.m. Sun., pharmacy 8 a.m.–8 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Sat.–Sun.). Find an ATM at Chittenden Bank (80 S. Main St., 802/244-5108) or Merchants Bank (994 Waterbury-Stowe Rd., 802/244-1587, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Fri.).

Excerpted from the Third Edition of Moon Vermont.