Best Towns 2013: Waitsfield, Vermont

With killer farmers’ markets, quick access to adventure, and bike shares galore, these 17 towns redefine living well

action sports adventure assignment backcountry barn boston brian mohr brick oven burlington clay oven coals commercial conservation cooking dessert dinner ember photography emberphoto emily johnson evening families fine art fire fitness flatbread food framed gathering george schenk gifts green mountains health healthy hot indoor inspiring kids lareau farm lifestyle mad river valley marketing nantucket new england northeast nourishment outdoor photography photos pie pizza portraits prep prints red barn playing stock stowe tables vermont waitsfield wedding photographer wedding photos weddings matt idol vermont outsize magazine best towns 2013

Matt Idol prepares another round of flatbreads during a beautiful summer evening at American Flatbread in Waitsfield, VT.     Photo: Brian Mohr

Population: 1,719
Median Household Income: $46,413
Median Home Price: $287,500
Unemployment Rate: 5.7 percent
Votes: 470

People come to the Mad River Valley as much for what it lacks—traffic, noise, pretention—as for what it offers: the Green Mountains out the back door, the Class II–III Mad River, and the great local food that comes with living in a historic farm town.

“Virtually every restaurant and school uses locally grown and organic ingredients,” says Susan Klein, 52, director of the Chamber of Commerce.

Another boon: the mellow, small-town vibe. “You know the people from out of town because they blow their horns,” says Gary Kessler, a 53-year-old race director. “Visitors specifically mention how friendly people are here.” And though it’s rural, the valley has low unemployment, thanks to strong year-round tourism. Even better: Cabot Creamery is moving its international headquarters there in 2014.

Access: “The big news this year is they’re finally putting in a sidewalk, so that gives you some idea of how undeveloped it is,” says Peter Oliver, a writer. You’re never more than a few miles from the 273-mile Long Trail, a ski area, a village green, or the Mad River.

Skiing: Two of the East Coast’s best ski resorts are within six miles of Waitsfield: sprawling Sugarbush and local favorite Mad River Glen, known for black diamonds and a no-frills attitude. “Fine woods, steeps, and drops to keep the hardiest of skiers and riders in tune,” says Evan Oppenheimer, a mental-health counselor.

Biking: Locals have ridden the old maple-sugaring roads on hardtails for decades, but that hasn’t stopped them from creating flowing new singletrack, too. Take the 1.2-mile Revolution Trail. “It’s old-school riding—lots of turns and roots and rocks and hills,” says Kessler. “It connects to 20,000 acres in Camel’s Hump State Park, where you can get lost for hours.”

From Outside Magazine, Sep 2013 Get the Latest Issue

More at Outside

Elsewhere on the Web