Best of New England: Vermont
GRAFTON VILLAGE CHEESE COMPANY
This enormous gourmet shop sells more than just its namesake Grafton Village cheddar. You’ll also find fromage from other acclaimed artisan creameries in the area, such as Jasper Hill, Lazy Lady, and Vermont Shepherd. Meats from Vermont Smoke and Cure, handmade jams, and a range of wines give you something to pair with all those tasty cheeses. // 400 Linden St., Brattleboro, 802-472-3866, graftonvillagecheese.com.
STOWE CRAFT GALLERY
With its bounty of crafts, jewelry, and furniture from local artisans, this small, family-owned gallery cries “holiday gifts” at every turn. And it’s not across-the-board rustic, either — there’s a modern, elegant sensibility to many of the wares. Owner Susan Bayer Fishman also consults on home design. // 55 Mountain Rd., Stowe , 802-253-4693, stowecraft.com.
For literati who find themselves lost amid Manchester’s upscale outlet shopping, this eclectic independent bookstore is a welcome retreat — and a refreshing alternative to the big-box joints that dominate the market. Northshire’s shelves are chock-full of Vermont-centric works, national bestsellers, thoughtful staff recommendations, and rare used volumes; the shop also hosts tons of author appearances, readings, book signings, and other free events each week. The adjacent Spiral Press Café offers a haven for those who spurn the stacks for the snacks. // 4869 Main St., Manchester, 802-362-2200, northshire.com.
THE VERMONT COUNTRY STORE
This original New England country store has often been imitated, but never equaled. Wonderfully, charmingly cluttered, it’s crammed with locally made cheeses, outdoor gear and clothing, gifts, and hard-to-find beauty products. And that’s just the beginning of the odds and ends you’ll find here. While you shop, be sure to pick out something sweet from the old-fashioned candy counter — if you’re ever going to work your way through all the offerings, you’ll need the extra sustenance. // 657 Main St., Weston, 802-824-3184, vermontcountrystore.com.