15 Best Things to Do in Barre, VT

Barre, VT
mmlynch3 / shutterstock.com

Considered the third-largest city in Vermont, Barre City is located in Washington County and is known as the "Granite Capital of the World."

The city has a population of over 9,000 people.

It got its name from Isaac Barré, a French soldier who fought during the Seven Years' War.

Barre City is famous for its granite quarries and granite sculpture studios.

The city is home to the Rock of Ages Corporation, one of the world's oldest and largest granite companies.

Barre City is located in central Vermont and is a short drive from many of Vermont's attractions.

Moreover, Montpelier, the state capital, is only a 20-minute drive away from the city.

The railroad's arrival in the city resulted in an influx of Irish and Italian immigrants working in the granite quarries.

The city has a rich history, and many buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

If you can visit Barre, below are some of the best things to do in the Granite City of the World.

Stroll through the Historic Downtown Barre District

Robert Burns memorial at the Historic Downtown Barre District
meunierd / Shutterstock.com

The Historic Downtown Barre District is a National Register of Historic Places and is the largest such district in Vermont.

The district encompasses most of downtown Barre and includes buildings that date back to the 19th century.

These buildings include the Barre Opera House and the Howard and Alba Leahy Library.

There are shops and restaurants located within the district, which started to grow from 1880 to the 1890s.

Buildings along the Historic Downtown Barre District
Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One notable place in the Historic Down Barre District is the City Park, its boundary, and Depot Square.

You can enjoy the architecture of the buildings and discover the city's history by taking a tour through the Historic Downtown Barre District.

The buildings downtown have diverse styles, from Italianate to Classical Revival and Romanesque Buildings.

Don't forget to visit the 1898 Miles Block as it is made of granite, the city's claim to fame.

Miles Block at the Historic Downtown Barre District
Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Scream with the Racing Fans at the Thunder Road International Speedbowl

Racing fans will love Thunder Road, a half-mile, high-banked oval track that hosts stock car races.

The track also hosts special events like the Vermont Milk Bowl and the Mekkelsen Memorial Classic.

The Thunder Road International Speedway was founded in the 1960s as the Barre Speedway.

The track is located within walking distance of shops and restaurants.

The Thunder Road International Speedway has seen its fair share of professional racers.

Richard Petty and Bobby Allison visited it in 2009 to mark its 50th anniversary.

Tour the Vermont Granite Museum

Exterior of the Vermont Granite Museum
Stripus, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Learn about the history and process of granite quarrying at the Vermont Granite Museum.

The museum is located in an old granite quarry and exhibits the geology, history, and technology of granite quarrying.

In 1994, more than 300 Vermont citizens founded the Vermont Granite Museum to preserve the state's granite heritage.

Situated in the former Jones Brother Manufacturing Company, the museum is on a 30-acre of land and has a quarry pond, walking trails, and picnic areas.

Interior of the Vermont Granite Museum
Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Vermont Granite Museum is also big enough for your events and conferences.

It also offers outdoor activities, such as outdoor games and peddler cars.

The Vermont Granite Museum is also home to several granite sculptures created by local artists using materials from the quarries.

Some notable sculptures on display include "Bird in Flight" by Carl Radke and "Granite Curtain" by Jeff Ursillo.

An antique vehicle on the grounds of Vermont Granite Museum
Artaxerxes, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Take an Educational Tour at the Howard and Alba Leahy Library

The Howard and Alba Leahy Library, housed in the Old Spaulding School, is where you can go if you want to learn more about Vermont history and culture.

The Library was named after the parents of US Senator Pattrick Leahy.

He helped find funding for renovations of a building in Spaulding School.

The Library has a collection of books, manuscripts, maps, photographs, and exhibits on Vermont history.

They also offer guided tours.

It is open to the public, especially to researchers, as it has a rich collection of materials that date as far back as 1770.

The Howard and Alba Leahy Library also has an extensive genealogical collection and is home to some of Vermont's oldest maps.

Visit the Rock of Ages Visitors Center

Aerial view of Rock of Ages Visitors Center's granite quarry
Mrosen99, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Rock of Ages Visitors Center is located in Graniteville, Vermont, seven minutes from Barre.

It's the place to learn about the history of granite quarrying in Vermont.

The center exhibits geology, history, and technology of granite quarrying.

The center is also home to the world's largest deep-drilling granite quarry, which is more than 600 feet deep.

The center offers tours of the quarry and the factory where the granite blocks are cut and polished.

Trained guides will conduct the tours, and they will tell you about the history of granite quarrying in Vermont.

There's also an outdoor granite bowling lane and a granite putting green.

The Rock of Ages Visitors Center also has a gift shop where you can buy souvenirs and granite products.

Taste Local Flavors at the Barre Farmers Market

The Barre Farmers Market is in downtown Barre.

The market sells a variety of local produce, as well as meats, cheeses, baked goods, and Vermont-made crafts.

It aims to support its locally grown foods and products and educate the community about the importance of buying locally.

The market also has live music and a picnic area, making it a great place to spend a Wednesday afternoon.

The Barre Farmers Market is a great way to get to know the local community and taste some of the delicious food Vermont offers.

The Barre Farmers Market is a great place to stroll and taste local flavors.

Explore the Socialist Labor Party Hall

Exterior of the Socialist Labor Party Hall
John Phelan, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Also known as the Old Labor Hall, the Social Labor Party Hall is a National Historic Landmark built in 1900.

The Hall served as the headquarters of the Socialist Labor Party of America and was the site of the party's first national convention.

Social Labor Party Hall was a significant part of the Italian community in Barre City and was the site of many Italian-American cultural events.

Entrance doors of Socialist Labor Party Hall
Deborah G Alicen, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Hall is now home to the Barre Historical Society Museum, which exhibits the history of Barre City and the granite industry.

In December 2006, the musical Hadestown, written by the singer/songwriter Anais Mitchell, made its world premiere at the Socialist Labor Party Hall.

The Hall is home to the Rise Up Bakery, a worker-owned cooperative bakery committed to using local and organic ingredients.

The Socialist Labor Party Hall is also available for rent for weddings and other events.

Historical plaque of Socialist Labor Party Hall
Deborah G Alicen, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Marvel at the Largest Zipper in North America

The Largest Zipper in North America is located in Barre, Vermont, and is made of granite.

In 2014, the sculptor Chris Miller built this spectacular sculpture.

You can find it at the Central Vermont Community, on North Main Street.

Named Unzipping the Earth, the 74-foot-long zipper is part of the granite sculpture trove in Barre.

The Largest Zipper in North America is a tiny park in Downtown Barre, with seating on the side and plants growing out of its crevices.

The sculpture is a tribute to the city's granite industry, and it also serves as a functional piece of art, as people can sit on it or use it as a table.

See a Show at the Barre Opera House

Exterior of the Barre Opera House
Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Barre Opera House is a historic theater built in 1899 and seats 1,000 persons.

The current building where the Barre Opera House resides is the second structure to occupy the site; the original one caught fire and was destroyed in 1898.

The theater witnessed hundreds of important events, as well as appearances of famous personalities, such as Hellen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan.

John Philip Sousa and his band also played there.

The Barre Opera House also functioned as a movie theater.

During the 1980s, the Opera House stopped screening films and became a performing arts center.

President William Howard Taft used the Opera House's outer balcony as his soapbox in 1912.

While attending a Barre rally, President Theodore Roosevelt used it as a backdrop.

The theater is located in downtown Barre and hosts various events, such as concerts, plays, movies, and dance performances.

Immerse Yourself in the Arts at the Studio Place Arts

Studio Place Arts is in the oldest building in Downtown Barre, the Nichols Block, built in 1882.

Likewise, Studio Place Arts is a non-profit arts organization that has been operating since 2000.

The organization has three gallery spaces showcasing rotating exhibitions of Vermont artists and a gift shop selling artworks and pottery.

Studio Place Arts is a significant aspect of the regional initiative to create art, educate people about art, and host exhibitions of local artists.

Studio Place Arts also offer classes and workshops for all ages in various mediums.

The Studio Place Arts exhibit sculptures, paintings, and other works of art.

It gets a lot of its inspiration from European immigrants who came to Barre during the early 1900s granite development.

Get Outdoors at the Barre Town Forest

Nature view from Barre Town Forest
Philip Mowbray / Shutterstock.com

You can explore the Barre Town Forest is the perfect place.

The forest is located in Websterville, Vermont, ten minutes from Barre.

It features miles of hiking and biking trails.

The trails wind through the woods and offer views of the city and surrounding mountains.

Granite quarry remains at Barre Town Forest
Philip Mowbray / Shutterstock.com

Barre Town Forest is also known for birdwatching, as more than 100 species of birds live in the forest.

During winter, the trails are perfect for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

The Barre Town Forest is a great place to explore the beauty of Vermont that 370 acres of forest land provide.

Waters of Barre Town Forest's lake
Philip Mowbray / Shutterstock.com

Shop for Trinkets at the East Barre Antiques Center

Antique lovers will have a grand time at the East Barre Antiques Center, located in the Downtown Barre District.

The center features more than 50 dealers selling a variety of antiques and collectibles.

You can find everything from furniture to glassware to vintage clothing.

The East Barre Antiques Center is a great place to find that perfect piece you need to complete your collection, or you can start a new one.

The East Barre Antiques Center is the perfect place to find that unique gift for someone special.

If you're looking for Victorian furniture, you'll love its bargain-basement area.

You will also often find rare and collectible items like Depression-era glassware and Fiestaware.

Enjoy the Quietness of Aldrich Public Library

Exterior of the Aldrich Public Library
Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Aldrich Public Library is the perfect place to go if you're looking for a quiet place to read or study.

Established in 1905, the Aldrich Public Library was dedicated to Leonard Frost Aldrich, a successful businessman.

He believed that public libraries were essential to the development of a city.

The Aldrich Public Library features a variety of books, magazines, newspapers, and DVDs for you to enjoy.

Interior of the Aldrich Public Library
Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Library has more than 50,000 books, periodicals, and a large selection of DVDs, CDs, and e-books.

The Library is an excellent resource for the community and a perfect place to spend a quiet afternoon.

The Aldrich Public Library has served the community since and is now one of the busiest in the state.

Leonard Frost Aldrich memorial in Aldrich Public Library
Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Make a Splash at the Barre Municipal Pool

The Barre Municipal Pool is great for cooling off in the summer months.

The pool is located in downtown Barre and is open from June to August.

It features a 25-meter lap pool, a diving well, and a wading pool for small children.

The pool also has a snack bar and a sun deck, making it the perfect place to spend a hot summer day.

After swimming, you can play basketball or volleyball or relax on the sun deck.

Other activities for your kids are the playground, skate parks, and biking trails around the pool.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Have a Relaxing Game at the Country Club of Barre

The Country Club of Barre is the perfect place to enjoy a round of golf or a game of tennis.

You'll find it in Orange, Vermont, 12 minutes from Barre.

Established in 1924, the Country Club of Barre features an 18-hole championship golf course with scenic views and rolling hills.

All players will have a grand time, as the course suits all skill levels.

The Country Club of Barre also has a full-service restaurant and bar, making it the perfect place to spend a day or evening.

Its professional shop is fully stocked with the latest golf equipment and apparel.

The Country Club of Barre is a great place to enjoy the game of golf or appreciate the scenery.

Final Thoughts

Barre is one of the most incredible places to visit in Vermont.

Explore the city's natural granite quarries, beautiful parks and hiking trails, quaint downtown shops, and historic buildings.

Whether you're looking for a place to relax or a place to explore, Barre has something for everyone.

So what are you waiting for?

Start planning your Barre trip today!

Best Hotels in Barre

8 hotels in Barre, United States of America.
Great savings on hotels in Barre, United States of America online. Good availability and great rates. Read hotel reviews and choose the best hotel deal for your stay.