Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Waterbury, VT

  • Published 2023/03/26

The town of Waterbury is in Washington County, central Vermont.

Before European contact, the area was home to the Mahican and Pennacook people.

In 1763, the first European settlement reached the region after King George III chartered a piece of land near the Winooski River valley.

James Marsh became the first permanent white resident of the area in 1783.

Then, people from Waterbury, Connecticut, followed suit.

The immigrants named the newly-chartered town in honor of their hometown.

In 1882, the Village of Waterbury was incorporated into the town.

The construction of the Central Vermont Railroad brought economic development to the town and dramatically increased its population.

Its economy revolved around mills that produced lumber, wood products, leather, and alcohol.

However, it shifted to the dairy farming and sheep industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Here are the best things to do in Waterbury, Vermont:

Try Cider Donuts from Cold Hollow Cider Mill

Front view of Cold Hollow Cider Mill's exterior

jenlo8 /

Cold Hollow Cider Mill is on Route 100 between Waterbury Road and Stowe Road.

Initially a dairy barn, it traces its beginning from the 1800s, having been previously called the Gibbs Farm.

It started as a cider mill in 1974 at the Cold Hollow Mountains base and moved to its present location two years later.

Until today, Cold Hollow Cider Mill still uses its 1950s-era maple syrup boiler and a rack-and-cloth cider press to produce hard ciders.

Facade of Cold Hollow Cider Mill

jenlo8 /

At the Tasting Room, you can sample ciders at the rustic bar while browsing vintage books on the thousands of varieties of apples and the process of cider making.

At the Luncheonette, you can have a bite of their breakfast sandwiches or munch on their homemade cheddar cheese biscuits.

They’re also famous for the legendary cider donuts made fresh every day.

Cider donuts in Cold Hollow Cider Mill

jenlo8 /

Enjoy Duck Fat Fries at Prohibition Pig

Located on South Main Street is an American restaurant and brewery, Prohibition Pig.

It boasts over 20 craft beers on tap, handcrafted cocktails, specialty wines, and a full menu featuring barbecue and Southern-style small plates.

One must-try is the smoked brisket, a half-pound of sliced briskets smoked for 16 hours and served with cornbread and pickles.

The poutine is also a crowd-pleaser, with the fries cooked in duck fat, slathered with smokehouse gravy, and topped with local cheese curds.

If you’re down for some sandwich, get the smoked pastrami or the porchetta with pork loin and belly.

The Prohibition Pig Brewery is just around the corner on Elm Street, where you can sample craft beers on tap or take home canned hard seltzer.

Sample Craft Beers at the Reservoir

Located on South Main Street is a restaurant and tap, the Reservoir.

Established in 2009, the neighborhood pub aims to spotlight the emerging craft beer industry in the state and beyond.

The Reservoir has curated an excellent draft list of fresh, locally sourced beers to cater to every palette.

It boasts over 30 craft beers on tap and an extensive rotating food menu, including pub favorites like wings, fries, and sandwiches.

The poutine is a crowd favorite, made with perfectly fried potatoes and topped with Sweet Rowen Farmstead cheese curds and house-made sage gravy.

The 5 Cheese Mac & Cheese is also a best-seller, made with five kinds of cheeses with different flavor profiles.

Explore the Original Ben & Jerry’s Factory

Exterior of the Original Ben & Jerry’s Factory

Jeremy Thompson from Los Angeles, California, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on Waterbury-Stowe Road Route 100 is the factory of the well-loved ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s.

The Vermont-based ice cream manufacturer is known for its creative and uniquely named flavors, many inspired by popular foods and desserts.

Ben & Jerry’s offers a Factory Experience tour, where you will be taken around the Waterbury factory to learn about its humble beginnings.

The guided tour starts with a film screening of the company’s history, followed by how the pints are made.

Hear about personal anecdotes while walking above the production room floor and sampling their best-selling flavors.

The tour ends in the Flavor Room, where you can try more flavors while listening to a few jokes from your tour guide.

Enjoy Great Food and Live Music at Zenbarn

Located on Guptil Road is the burger joint and entertainment hotspot, Zenbarn.

Housed in a century-old dairy barn, the restaurant is best known for sandwiches, burgers, barbecues, and handcrafted cocktails.

You can also enjoy live performances from local musicians and artists on tour on select nights.

There are even karaoke nights for those who’d like to show off their talents on the Zenbarn stage with a great selection of song choices and a state-of-the-art sound system.

The pulled pork sandwich is one of the best-sellers, generously filled with shredded pork braised in a concoction of spices and herbs.

Zenbarn also has a wide selection of craft beers and spirits from local breweries.

Shop Locally Made Cheeses at Cabot Farmers’ Store

Located on Waterbury-Stowe Road is the creamery Cabot Farmers’ Store.

Established in 1919, the cooperative houses products from local family-owned farms, including local wines, hard ciders, and an impressive collection of artisanal cheese.

The Cabot Farmers’ Store has 94 families as members, giving them a place to house their milk supplies, market their products, and operate their farms.

Some products sold at the Cabot Farmers’ Store include handmade luxury bath and body products, small-batch chocolates, and artisanal soaps made from fresh cow and goat milk.

However, the store is known for its award-winning cheeses from grass-based Sweet Rowen Farmstead and Jersey milk producer Billings Farm.

Spend the Day at the Waterbury Center State Park

The grounds of Waterbury Center State Park

Bo Shen /

Located on Reservoir Road is the Waterbury Center State Park.

The 90-acre day-use recreation area is on the 850-acre Waterbury Reservoir, covering parts of the Mount Mansfield State Forest.

Established in 1986, the peninsula features 22 picnic sites, a swimming beach, a nature trail, boat ramps, and boat rentals.

The Waterbury Center State Park also has two accessible fishing platforms along the trail.

The waters of Waterbury Center State Park

Colin D. Young /

Try to catch rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, and yellow perch, among others.

But first, buy a fishing license from the nearby Parro’s Gun Shop, The Fly Rod Shop, or online.

You can also rent arent a boat or launch your kayak to find a swimming spot or laze under the sun.

Take a Few Swings at the Country Club of Vermont

The premier New England golf club Country Club of Vermont is on Country Club Road.

The facility boasts an 18-hole championship-level course set against the scenic views of the Green Mountains.

Incorporating the rolling hills into its design, the golf course at the Country Club of Vermont has an open front nine with panoramic views of the mountains.

Meanwhile, the back nine is heavily wooded with treelined fairways.

Six sets of tees per hole are scattered throughout the 6,788-yard course, with the naturally-hilly terrain and imposing mountain views adding to the challenge.

If you’re not ready to take the championship course, practice your swing at any of the Club’s six target greens.

Witness the foliage turn into a spectacular red, orange, and yellow palette during fall.

Join a Restorative Yoga Class at Kate Greenleaf Massage Therapy & Yoga

Located on South Main Street is the holistic health and nutrition center Kate Greenleaf Massage Therapy & Yoga.

Certified holistic health and nutrition coach Kate Greenleaf founded and operated the center.

It offers therapeutic yoga classes through the Kripalu Center Bodywork Program and Lotus Yoga.

The Restorative Yoga with Healing Sounds class will teach you the basic postures to help you open and release the tension in your body.

It also incorporates gentle touch, hot rocks, and Reiki, as well as sounds that promote deeper relaxation and concentration.

Every Kate Greenleaf Massage Therapy & Yoga class is typically limited to only ten students for a more intimate setting and lasts two hours.

Camp Out at Little River State Park

Aerial view of Little River State Park

John Couture /

The campground state park Little River State Park is on Little River Road.

It sits within Mt. Mansfield State Forest and surrounds the Waterbury Reservoir, making it an ideal location for camping and hiking.

The park’s campground features 81tent/RV sites, 20 lean-tos, and five cabins where campers can stay overnight.

Also accessible are a swimming beach, a playground, a boat launch, boat rentals, and restrooms with hot showers.

Park interpreters offer night hikes, amphibian hunting, campfire programs, and other nighttime activities for campers.

Near Little River State Park are hiking trails that will take you on a cultural and historical exploration of the area.

Buy Hand-Carved Frames at Axel’s Gallery & Frame Shop

Art sourcing and contemporary art gallery Axel’s Gallery & Frame Shop are located on Stowe Street.

The shop offers custom and readymade picture framing, contemporary paintings and prints, and art sourcing services.

If you’re looking for a specific type of artwork to suit your home, Axel’s can source, frame, and hang it for you.

They also give free framing consultations if you want to display or frame any vital work you’d like to keep, whether a portrait or a handwritten poem.

You can also find handmade jewelry, laminated posters, plaques, leather goods, and several consigned goodies at Axel’s Gallery & Frame Shop.

Learn to Shoot at Parro’s Gun Shop & Indoor Range

Located on US Route 2 is a gun store and firing range called Parro’s Gun Shop & Indoor Range.

The shop sells new and used firearms for enthusiasts and collectors and boasts of an extensive inventory of police supplies.

If you want to try a new hobby or live out your dreams of being a secret agent, you can practice target shooting at the Indoor Range.

The 25-yard facility is attached to the store and has ten lanes of state-of-the-art firing range where shooters can practice in a safe, controlled environment all year-round.

Various firearms are available to try so you won’t be bored quickly.

Parro’s Gun Shop & Indoor Range offers basic and advanced firearms use and safety courses for shooters of all skill levels.

Marvel at the Waterbury Dam

Building of the Waterbury Dam

Mark Fickett, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located off the Little River Road is Waterbury Dam.

The reservoir was constructed between 1935 and 1938 to control the water flow of the Little River and Winooski River.

Before its construction, the Winooski River overflowed in 1927, submerging the surrounding area and causing catastrophic damage to the town.

The structure spans 1,845 feet long, with walls made of rocks placed by hand during its initial construction.

Its center portion contains 3,490 cubic yards of clay, while the rest of the reservoir was filled with 2,200,000 cubic yards of materials.

Waterbury Dam has since been renovated in 1957 and 1958 to increase its stability.

Aside from flood control, it generates around 15,000,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually.

Sample Regional Beers at the Blackback Pub

Located on Stowe Street, Unit 2 is the cozy and rustic resto-bar Blackback Pub.

The pub features classic American fares made with locally sourced ingredients and a rotating menu of regional beers on tap.

The Pub Nachos is one of the best-sellers, featuring the house-made maple-chipotle syrup drizzled on top of a pile of tortilla chips, cheddar, blue cheese, and cobb bacon.

The Ribeye Sandwich is also a must-try, made with pan-seared ribeye and slathered with shaved beets and horseradish mayo.

At the Cocktail/Wine Lounge, you can enjoy handcrafted cocktails like Devil May Care, Notorious F.I.G., and Pear of Sins.

Moreover, the Blackback Pub offers an extensive selection of IPAs and non-IPAs from all over Vermont.

Grab New York-Style Bagels at K.C.’s Bagel Café

Located on Stowe Street, Suite 1, is bagel shop K.C.’s Bagel Café.

Sitting at the heart of Downtown Waterbury, the café prepares a wide variety of New York-style bagels made fresh in-store every day.

The shop also has 13 cream cheese schmears made in-house that you can have with your choice of bagel.

Some of K.C.’s Bagel Café’s flavors include multi-grain, honey wheat, jalapeno, cinnamon raisin, and a rotating selection of weekly specials.

For example, try the New Yorker, made with bagel and cream cheese and generously filled with lox, capers, onions, and tomatoes.

Final Thoughts

Many may know Waterbury as the home of Ben & Jerry’s, but the town has so much more to offer.

Thanks to the town’s breweries and dairy farms, its strong milling industry is still active today.

This town has something to offer everyone, from outdoor recreation to food finds.

Try the best things to do in Waterbury, Vermont!

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