The best place to begin a tour of Middlebury is at the Addison County Chamber of Commerce's information center ; be sure to request the chamber's self-guided walking-tour brochure.
The Vermont Folklife Center (tel. 802/388-4964; www.vermontfolklifecenter.org) recently relocated to 88 Main St. Here you'll find a gallery of changing displays of various folk arts from Vermont and beyond, including music and visual arts. The gift shop has intriguing items, such as heritage foods and traditional crafts. It's open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm; admission is by donation.
The historic Otter Creek district, set on a steep hillside by the rocky creek, is well worth exploring. Here you can peruse top-flight Vermont crafts at the Vermont State Crafts Center at Frog Hollow, 1 Mill St. (tel. 888/388-3177; www.froghollow.org). In a picturesque setting overlooking the tumbling stream, the center is open daily (closed Sun in winter) and shows the work of some 300 Vermont craftspeople in various galleries. Their wares range from extraordinary carved wood desks to metalwork to glass and pottery. There are also a pottery studio, with a resident potter who's often busy at work, and plenty of arts classes; visit the center's website for an updated listing of the current exhibits and courses. The Crafts Center also maintains shops in Manchester Village and at the Church Street Marketplace in Burlington.
From Frog Hollow, take the footbridge over the river and find your way to The Marble Works, an assortment of wood and rough-marble industrial buildings on the far bank, converted to a handful of interesting shops and restaurants.
Atop a low ridge with beautiful views of the Green Mountains to the east and farmlands rolling toward Lake Champlain in the west, prestigious Middlebury College has a handsome, well-spaced campus of gray limestone and white marble buildings that are best explored by foot. The architecture of the college, founded in 1800, is primarily Colonial Revival, giving it a rather stern Calvinist ambience. Especially appealing is the prospect from the marble Mead Memorial Chapel, built in 1917 and overlooking the campus green.
At the edge of campus is the Middlebury College Center for the Arts, which opened in 1992. This architecturally engaging center houses the small Middlebury College Museum of Art (tel. 802/443-5007), with a selective sampling of European and American art, both ancient and new. Classicists will savor the displays of Greek painted urns and vases; modern-art aficionados can check out the museum's permanent and changing exhibits. The museum is on Route 30 (S. Main St.) and is open Tuesday through Friday from 10am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5pm; note that it's closed for half of August and most of December, times when the college is out of session. Admission is free.
Just 2 miles outside Middlebury is the famous Morgan Horse Farm (tel. 802/388-2011), dating to the late 1800s and now owned and operated by the University of Vermont. Col. Joseph Battell, who owned the farm from the 1870s to 1906, is credited with preserving the Morgan breed, a horse of considerable beauty and stamina that has served admirably in war and exploration. With guided tours from May through October daily from 9am to 4pm, the farm also has a picnic area and gift shop. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for teens, $2 for children ages 5 to 12, and free for kids 4 and under. To reach the farm, take Route 125 to Weybridge Street (Rte. 23 N.), head north for 3/4 mile, turn right at the sign for the farm, and continue on about 2 miles. (As a bonus, the fall foliage around here can be stunning.)
Brewhounds should schedule a stop at the Otter Creek Brewing Co., 793 Exchange St. (tel. 800/473-0727; www.ottercreekbrewing.com), for a half-hour tour and free samples of the well-regarded beverages, including the flagship Copper Ale, a robust Stovepipe Porter, the organic Wolaver's line, and a bright, citrusy White Sail Ale. The visitor center and gift shop are open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm, and Sunday from 11am to 4pm; free tours (with samples) are given at 1, 3, and 5pm every day except Sunday.
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.