Grafton is best seen at a languorous pace, on foot, when the weather is welcoming. A picnic is a good idea, especially if it involves a chunk of the excellent local cheddar. None of the grand (and privately owned) historic homes you see are open for tours; it's a village to be enjoyed with aimless walks outdoors. Don't expect to be overwhelmed by grandeur, but keep a keen eye out for telling historical details.

Start at the Grafton Village Cheese Co. (tel. 800/472-3866), a small, modern building where you can buy a snack of the great, award-winning cheese and peer through plate-glass windows to observe the cheese-making process. It's open Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 4pm, Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm. Sometimes they sell big wheels of their cheese at deep discounts.

From the cheese shop, follow the trail over a nearby covered bridge, then bear right on the footpath along a cow pasture to the Kidder Covered Bridge. Head into town via Water Street, and then turn onto Main Street. In the village center, white clapboard homes and shade trees abound, about as New England as it gets.

On Main Street, stop by the Grafton Historical Society Museum (tel. 802/843-1010; 10am-4pm Memorial Day-Columbus Day; call for off-season hours) to peruse photographs, artifacts, and memorabilia of Grafton. A newly installed exhibition in 2008 will feature textiles; the suggested donation is $3 per adult. Afterward, have a look at The Old Tavern at Grafton, the impressive building that anchors the town and has served as a social center since 1801. Partake of a beverage at the rustic Phelps Barn Lounge or a meal in one of the dining rooms. (There's also an inn here.) From here, make your way back to the cheese company by wandering along pleasant side streets. Or, if you'd like to see Grafton from a different perspective, inquire at the inn about a horse-and-buggy ride.

More active travelers, whether visiting in winter or summer, should head for the Grafton Ponds Recreation Center (tel. 802/843-2400), just south of the cheese factory on Route 35. Managed by The Old Tavern, Grafton Ponds offers mountain-bike rentals and access to a hillside trails system in summer and fall. In winter, it grooms 18 miles of trails and maintains a warming hut near the ponds, where you can sit by a woodstove and enjoy a bowl of soup. The Big Bear loop, running high up the flanks of a hill, is especially appealing; travel counterclockwise so that you can walk up the steep hill and enjoy the descent. Ski and snowshoe rentals are available; a day trail pass costs $16 for adults, $14 for seniors and students, and $10 for children ages 6 to 12 (free for ages 5 and under).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.