Waterbury Center: Ben & Jerry’s
Though it’s known for beautiful mountains and the brilliant fall color of its hardwood forests, Vermont’s number-one tourist attraction is none other than Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory, a kind of hippie Disneyland in Waterbury Center, on the hillside above Route 100, a mile or so north of I-89. The grounds of the brightly painted factory include a number of large cartoonish artifacts strewn outside to play on—weird vehicles, whimsical picnic tables, and the like. Ben and Jerry began making ice cream in 1978, becoming internationally famous for their ultra-rich ice cream and for their activism, donating a percentage of profits to philanthropies supporting “progressive social change.” Now part of Anglo-Dutch conglomerate Unilever, Ben & Jerry’s is still a Vermont icon.
You can tour the factory (866/258-6877, daily, $4), although production is halted on weekends, holidays, and company celebration days—when you get a video presentation. The premises also feature a gift shop and the Scoop Shop, offering all of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, frozen yogurt, and sorbet flavors. Outside are many picnic tables where you can enjoy the ice cream and a view over the valley.
Back on US-2, midway between Montpelier and Waterbury, right on US-2 just west of Middlesex, Camp Meade was a Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps camp that was turned into a shrine to America in the 1930s and 1940s. The old barracks were turned into a motel, and a fighter plane, a tank, and military trucks once adorned the grounds, but in recent years Camp Meade has evolved into a lively live-work arts and crafts campus, well worth a look.