Written by written by Bridget Higdon
Known as the “Granite Center of the World,” Barre is anchored in history and innovation.
Soon after the War of 1812, the discovery of the area’s vast deposit of granite — which some geologists said is four miles long, two miles wide and ten miles deep — and the arrival of the railroad, sent the city hurtling into an era of growth and expansion.
Barre City, which includes a four-mile downtown, is separate from the Town of Barre, which is more residential. Both are nestled within the Green Mountains.
Here’s what to do on day trip.
Make a pastry stop
Without question, morning in Barre should begin at Delicate Decadence. A must-go spot for coffee and a pastry, the brightly-lit bakery is owned and operated by Chef Tim Boltin, a U.S. Air Force veteran and New England Culinary Institute alum.
Try a raspberry, cheese, chocolate or almond Danish or a pecan sticky bun. New York-style bagels are also available with a gluten-free option. The pile of day-olds on the counter is also worth a poke around. You might score a brightly-flavored blueberry scone with perfectly crisp edges.
Think of your future self and pick out a dessert of cookies or cheesecake for later.
Explore the Barre Town Forest
Armed now with coffee, drive a little further south on Route 302 to the Barre Town Forest, a hillside of 355 acres rich with trails for mountain biking, hiking, trail running, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Head to the west side of the Town Forest to hike or bike trails like Black Lagoon and Winding Woods that are dotted with relics from Barre’s historic quarrying activity.
While hiking is always free, mountain bikers must purchase a $10 day pass online or from the Millstone Trails Association kiosk. Pass purchases help the organization continue to provide trail maintenance.
Take in the arts
Before you arrive, make an appointment to visit Studio Place Arts. SPA is a vibrant, three-floor, non-profit community visual arts center on North Main Street.
Founded in 2000, SPA offers exhibits, art-making classes for kids and adults and studio space for local artists. Admission to SPA is free, and appointments to visit can be made by calling or emailing. This summer, the exhibit “The Parade is Coming!” will feature sculptural works and other media that celebrates the color and excitement associated with parades.
SPA is also the creative force behind Art Stroll, a curated self-guided walking tour of 15 stone sculptures. The sculptures, some large and some small, are dotted throughout the city, so make it a point to see them all, or choose a few to visit during your stay. View the map at studioplacearts.com/art-stroll.
View Vermont’s history
Barre is also the home of the Vermont History Center, which includes exhibits, the Leahy Library and the Vermont Archeology Center. All are located in the beautiful and historic Spaulding school building on Washington Street.
While the Vermont History Center is currently closed to the public due to the pandemic, the Leahy Library is open to researchers by appointment. Keep your eye on the center’s website for announcements regarding its reopening – you won’t want to miss the thousands of artifacts ranging from prehistoric archaeological artifacts to fine art to contemporary household items that are on display.
Enjoy dinner and a show
When the light begins to fade, it’s time to consider your dinner options, of which there are many.
Cornerstone Pub and Kitchen is, quite literally, on the corner. Located at North Main Street and Elm Street, Cornerstone has all the makings of a modern American pub on its menu — burgers and fish and chips and craft beer.
Just opened in July 2020, The Meltdown on Washington Street is a restaurant and tap room serving up unique and gourmet grilled cheese. Try the apple, fig and brie grilled cheese, or build your own from a variety of breads, cheeses, vegetables and meats.
An Asian noodle spot on North Main Street, Si Aku Ramen Company, has a small but mighty menu of ramen bowls and pho dishes. While every ramen bowl is served with cucumber, egg and a variety of steamed noodles, the Sensei adds marinated chicken and bone-based miso broth.
Though currently closed due to the pandemic, the Paramount Theater on North Main Street has been a long-standing staple of Barre’s entertainment scene. When it reopens, head there after dinner to catch a new release.