It’s easy to forget that the yearly trips Michael, Orvis, and I take to Vermont every August started as little more than a late summer work trip in 2012. At the time, we had lived in New England for four years and still hadn’t been to Vermont. Since that first wonderful trip to the Green Mountain State, we’ve been back a number of times, at various points throughout the year, and continue to fall even more in love with the state, but it sure is hard to beat our summer visits to Vermont.
This August’s destination was Woodstock, a town that will always hold a very special place in our hearts, as it is where we traveled right after we were married last fall. The Woodstock Inn, we’re thrilled to report, is still as dog-friendly and inviting as it was back in November, and the town is just as charming, if not more so, in the summer when yards and gardens are at their very best, and the streets and square are bustling with people.
On this trip, wanting to slip into our Vermont vacation mindsets as quickly as possible after we arrived, we grabbed the bottle of champagne we were greeted with in our room, picked up some Plymouth Cheese at the farmer’s market in the town green across the street, and headed up Mt. Tom for an evening picnic on the mountain. The views of town and the surrounding area from the overlook on Mt. Tom are spectacular on almost any day, but having the trail and area at the top almost entirely to ourselves made it all that much more special.
We spent the following day reacquainting ourselves with the town, selecting our favorite homes (mine is pictured in this post). We visited the inn’s beautiful spa together, ate lunch by the pool, and hiked up Mt. Peg for the first time with Orvis.
That night we returned to a special spot for dinner, the restaurant in Ludlow we’d visited on that very first trip to Vermont back in 2012, The Downtown Grocery. With an emphasis on southern cuisine and the freshest local produce, The Downtown Grocery impressed us just as much as it did three years ago.
On our final morning, we took another stroll through the nearby Marsh-Billings Rockefeller National Historical Park before checking out. Although leaving Vermont is definitely the hardest part of every trip to the state, over the years I’ve learned (and am convincing Michael) that the best way to ease the pain of leaving is to stop by Farmhouse Pottery to add another beautiful piece to our slowly growing collection. As we drove back through town we realized we weren’t quite ready to leave, so in an attempt to prolong our vacation just a few hours longer, we stopped for a picnic on the front lawn of the Woodstock Inn, a pleasant way to cap off another perfect August trip to Vermont.
Photos by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.3 Comments - Leave a comment
When dreaming up weekend trips to Boston with Orvis, The Liberty Hotel has always been high on our list of places to stay. Friends of ours with dogs have long talked about how accommodating the hotel is to pets, especially on Wednesday evenings in the summer during the famed Yappier Hour. So, when we found out that I’d be speaking at a conference in Boston this past weekend and decided to bring Orvis along for the trip, we looked no further than The Liberty.
Housed in the former Charles Street Jail, The Liberty Hotel is easily one of the more unique settings in which we’ve ever spent the night. The stylish open main space, in the old jail’s central octagonal building, retains many of its original 19th century architectural details, including the cells inside Clink, the catwalk walkways, and the wrought-ironwork on the windows. But while the details are a constant reminder of the space’s past criminal “guests”, a night at The Liberty is far from a stint in The Slammer. The modern amenities, the comfortable rooms (many with amazing views of Beacon Hill and the Charles River), and the impeccable service are just a handful of reasons why we’ll be returning in the future, but possibly the greatest asset of The Liberty for our trio was just how dog-friendly it turned out to be.
We don’t always choose to bring Orvis along with us when we travel to cities – he’s always seemed to be happiest running wild in the country – but we couldn’t have been more pleased that he made the trip down to Boston. Walking around Beacon Hill, down to the South End, up and down Comm. Ave, and through the Public Garden with him at our side was something we’ll always remember fondly. From our research and the comments of friends, we expected a certain level of dog-friendliness at The Liberty prior to our arrival, but we were continually blown away by how well he was treated, both by the staff and by the other guests throughout our stay. He was encouraged to sit right next to us as we sipped our cocktails in the lobby bar, something which we rarely have the chance to experience with Orvis indoors. The image of a rather large, goofy dog in the middle of such a luxurious setting will always bring a smile to our faces, and we honestly cannot imagine planning another trip to Boston with Orvis that doesn’t include a stay at The Liberty – we all enjoyed ourselves way too much to not have an encore visit.
Photos taken by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.3 Comments - Leave a comment
Michael and I recently watched the HBO miniseries, Olive Kitteridge, and after seeing the toile wallpaper from the opening credits we found ourselves on a search for a similar nautical toile paper for our own home. Ever since shooting some projects for Furbish a few years ago, I’ve been wanting to incorporate wallpaper into our home, but Michael was always on the fence about it until our stay at Nebo Lodge, where more than a few rooms are given an extra dose of character thanks, in large part, to their various wallpapers.
Just like I did with our bathroom update from the spring, I thought it would be fun to share some wallpaper inspiration from our travels. From the floral print in a guest room at The Greenbrier (pictured above) to the whimsical hot air balloons in the stairway of the Saint James in Paris, these wallpapers inject a sense of personality and fun into their spaces.
Powder room at The Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island.
Stairway at the Saint James in Paris.
Guest room at the Saint James.
The Brimstone Room at Nebo Lodge on North Haven, ME.
Bathroom at Nebo Lodge.
Colonial Room at the Pitcher Inn in Warren, VT.
The pub at the White Hart Inn in Salisbury, CT.
Dining nook at Tipsy Parson in New York.
Do you all have any design discoveries from your travels? We’d love to hear about them below!
All photos by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.3 Comments - Leave a comment
There’s one guarantee that I’ve taken away from years of traveling alongside Meredith – if there are animals roaming around, she won’t be far behind them. Whether lambs in Scotland or cows in the Shenandoah Valley, Meredith’s love for animals means that there are sure to be plenty of photos of the wildlife on our trips. On our recent trip to Nevis, this proved to be true once again, and within minutes of arriving on the island, we saw our first donkeys and goats roaming around. So in some of our downtime, Meredith and I tried to get close enough to grab a few shots. Sadly, the monkeys we also saw were generally way too camera shy to make it onto this roll.
All photos by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.1 Comment - Leave a comment
Four years ago, our trip to Montpelier Plantation on the island of Nevis, served as a major source of inspiration for Michael and I to launch Map & Menu, and just a few weeks ago, we finally had the chance to return – this time shooting some imagery for the very place that opened our eyes to what the hotel experience could be. Although we felt a sense of comfort returning somewhere we’d been before, there was also a unique excitement accompanying that comfort, since we knew exactly what was waiting for us at the end of our 13 hour journey to the island.
Many of the reasons we originally fell in love with Montpelier in 2011 are still there, largely unchanged – Kaddy’s rum punches, the friendly, welcoming staff, pre-dinner cocktails with other guests, the beautiful pool, the ancient mill, and that timeless weeping fig tree that guards the entrance. And although we’d be just fine feeling as though the property and our experiences there had fallen into a bubble of forgotten time, we were greeted with plenty of newness on this trip – the colorful new rooms, the peaceful private beach, the small modern updates, and friendly new additions to the staff.
It’s reassuring to know that your memories of a place and experience can actually be improved upon by returning, and although this new time we spent on the island will serve as a brand new set of memories that we’ll fondly think back on, its easy to view each trip to the island as a set of building blocks toward a greater timeless experience, where you dream about your return in the time between. In the words of our waitress, Vanetta, as she tried to cheer us up at breakfast on our final morning, “you have to leave to come again.”
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The last time Meredith and I visited Montpelier Plantation on the island of Nevis, we were so caught up in the serenity and relaxation of the inn that we didn’t even venture down to their private beach during the course of our brief stay! We made sure to not make that mistake again on our most recent trip however, and spent an amazing day in the shade outside our cabana… cooling off in the clear water after walks on the beach in the sun, and enjoying our picnic lunch on the sand, accented by a few rum punches. We’ll be writing more about our trip in the coming days, but we felt that there were few better ways to kick of the posts than by reliving this saltwater daydream.
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The more we travel, the longer our list of places to revisit gets. Simple, right? But how often do you really have the chance to return to a cherished location? And with the whole world open to you, how do you justify returning to a place you’ve already been over an entirely new experience?
It seems as though every time I open one of the travel publications we receive or blogs we follow, I present Michael with a list of a good 3-5 new places we simply have to visit. (It’s a wonder he hasn’t gone and cancelled the subscriptions by now!) Of course, we don’t have the time (or the money) to visit the dozens of places I read about each year, not to mention the growing list of locations that have captured our hearts on previous trips. So how are you supposed to fit it all in?
I’m afraid there isn’t really an answer that we’ve found, but isn’t that what makes travel so incredibly special? Whether you’re visiting an entirely new location or making your way back to a place that’s refreshingly familiar, it’s a luxury that many of us work toward. Recently, Michael and I were presented with the opportunity to return to the Caribbean island of Nevis, a place we visited together in 2011 before we even had the idea for this site. We’ll be doing some work for the inn where we stayed during that trip, Montpelier Plantation, arguably one of the hotels that opened our eyes to what the hotel experience could (and should) be. We’re incredibly grateful for the opportunity to return to such a uniquely special inn and look forward to sharing the work we do there upon our return.
We’re curious – are there any places that you have returned to or hope to revisit someday? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
All photos by Meredith Perdue for Map & Menu.8 Comments - Leave a comment
As we finish out this week on a high note with some gorgeous weather in Maine, we just wanted to quickly share one last part of our trip to Vermont and the Pitcher Inn that made the stay so unforgettable – their inn-dog-in-training, Maisy. When we don’t travel with Orvis, one of Meredith and my favorite parts of any trip is meeting an inn dog to take the sting away of not being with our own furry friend. So although Orvis loved meeting and walking with Maisy around Warren, we know that this beautiful golden retriever will bring plenty of smiles to many travelers for years to come.
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A winter drive along Vermont’s Route 100 through the Mad River Valley is a pretty spectacular road-trip to say the least. Set between snow-covered mountains, and following the icy river, narrow gorges give way to wide farmland valleys, filling the spaces between the small towns that make Vermont so amazingly authentic. Covered bridges, shops lining Main Street, people milling about – it can often seem like a page out of an old book, but the more time we spend in the Green Mountain State, the more we realize that it’s just another part of the Vermont way of life.
Just a couple weeks ago, Michael, Orvis, and I were fortunate enough to spend a number of days in Warren, right in the middle of the Mad River Valley, and while we barely scratched the surface of all the area has to offer, we made a valiant effort at exploring as much as time allowed.
Staying at the Pitcher Inn is really all about the experience. The property is so much more than just its Relais & Chateaux affiliation, or its eleven uniquely beautiful rooms – it’s about the people, the details, the food, and the character that really make your time here exceptional. Read more about our stay at the Pitcher Inn here.
When Ari, the manager of the Pitcher Inn, told us that he takes his sweet golden retriever, Maisy, on walks along the Bobbin Mill Trail most days, we quickly moved it to the top of our to-do list. Given its proximity to the inn and the fact that Orvis is always looking for a place to really stretch his legs, we ended up visiting the trail each morning we were in Warren. The meandering path follows the cascades that make up Lincoln Brook Falls, through open woodlands and past a number of swimming holes that we’re sure Orvis would love in warmer weather.
Dear friends of ours who have ties to the Waitsfield area put the Vermont Icelandic Horse Farm on our radar and we couldn’t be happier that they did. Although the farm was officially closed when we stopped by, the Winhold family quite literally opened their barn doors to us, introducing us to their wonderfully unique silkie chickens, their sweet donkey Callie, and their stunning Icelandic horses. Signing up for one of their summer or fall trail ride tours through the Mad River Valley is now officially on my bucket list.
Upon hearing that we wanted to visit a sugar shack while we were in Vermont during the very beginning of their spring maple season, Ari and Doug at the inn arranged for us to meet with a local sugar farmer at the Westhill Sugar Orchard. Glenn Cahilly-Bretzin has recently undertaken a passion project to revitalize the trees and sugar shack that neighbor his family’s property, and that morning he spent more than his fair share of time teaching us all about the sugaring process, telling us about his plans to keep the farm small and authentic, and letting us take some photos of his trees and sugar shack. We cannot wait to see their products in local shops on a future trip to the area!
We visited The Mad Taco’s Montpelier location during our August trip to Vermont last summer, so we were especially excited about revisiting some of their delicious tacos in the original location. Simply put, you can’t go wrong here – we devoured our Carnitas and Chile Colorado tacos in minutes.
Ari made sure to highlight The Sweet Spot, right in the center of Waitsfield, for a place to pick up a post-lunch treat. We followed his lead, and after browsing the nearby Artisan’s Gallery & 4orty Bridge Boutique, we popped inside for a cupcake and a macaroon. Their homemade ice cream looked good enough to lure us back for a summer getaway all by itself!
While Michael and I were eating breakfast at the Pitcher Inn one morning, we were fortunate enough to see something that is becoming somewhat of a common occurrence in Vermont. We watched as another guest of the inn got up, left breakfast, and hurriedly walked over to the Warren Store across the street. Shortly thereafter a number of cars started to pull up with people pouring into the store. It turns out that the Lawson’s Finest Liquids beer truck had made their scheduled Thursday morning delivery, and people were immediately lining up to purchase the in-demand beers. Although this was quite the site to see, the Warren Store (a sister property of the inn) is about much more than its beer. They have a wonderful wine selection (complete with an “Ari’s picks” shelf), plenty of local goods (including our favorite Vermont caramels), a clothing store upstairs, and a fantastic deli where Michael and I grabbed sandwiches to go for our trip back to Maine.
The same friends of ours who told us about the Icelandic horses also tipped us off to one of the best access points of the Mad River Path – the West Greenway. When it’s completed, the Mad River Path will be a continuous trail from Warren to Moretown, offering residents and visitors a way to experience the same beauty of Route 100, just by foot (or snowshoe, cross-country ski, etc.). For now, a number of individual sections of the path are available for public use, and Orvis, Michael, and I spent a lovely morning exploring a good chunk of it.
Set in a rustic mill quite literally on top of the river in nearby Waterbury, everything about Hen of the Wood seems classically authentic to the locally-sourced and chef-owned mission it’s based around. We enjoyed our meal this summer at Hen of the Wood so much, we’ve included it on both our Stowe guide and this Mad River Valley guide.
Even though we spent three nights in Warren, we still managed to run out of time to accomplish every item on our Mad River to do list. Next time we hope to visit the Mad River Distillers to sample their award winning rye whiskey, and dine at the original American Flatbread location, Mint, and Peasant. Of course, the next time we find ourselves in the area during winter, skiing Mad River Glen will be at the tip top of our list! Are there any Mad River musts we missed and should be adding to our list?
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In the center of the town of Warren, Vermont there’s a bend in the mountain brook that cuts perpendicular across Main Street. Nestled in that bend, you’ll find the Pitcher Inn, a grand white building, heavily-porched, with a character that defies its surprisingly young age. Meredith, Orvis, and I recently spent a few evenings at the inn, and to say that we fell in love would be an absolute understatement. With its staff, design, food, comfort, and personality, our stay here was easily one of the more memorable we’ve shared since starting our site three years ago.
In the mid 1990s, after a fire reduced the original Pitcher Inn (essentially a ski hostel) to little more than a footprint, a number of ideas were pitched for the property – even that of a nursing home or a gas station. Fortunately, the Smith family had the foresight to see the property’s importance to the character of the town and value as more than a pit stop, and thus began the life of today’s Pitcher Inn.
As the inn was rebuilt, careful consideration was placed on details to make it feel authentic to its New England roots. If you’ve ever spent time in an old home or building that’s seen years of stories, growth, and renovation, you know that floors are rarely level between additions and hallways aimlessly meander, connecting the dots between rooms. These details were carried over to the inn’s new construction, giving a historical feeling to your stay, while tucking away the modern conveniences to the peripheral. Although throughout the first floor, the inn follows the standard upscale historical Vermont hotel to which the exterior alludes, opening any given door of the eleven rooms of the inn, and you’ll find an eclectic collection of themes that represent some part of Vermont’s history. A colonial room decked in toile, an alpine cabin with actual signage from neighboring ski mountains, a river room with a fly-fishing tie table and canoe alcove, and Orvis’s personal favorite, the dog-friendly ‘stable’ (which happens to be the only surviving structure of the fire). The detail and craftsmanship of the rooms at the Pitcher Inn create a delightful feeling of playfulness while serving as a nod to that which defines the people and culture of Vermont. Our spacious room had a rustic character, accented with modern comforts, and would have been a perfect place to return to after a long day of exploring. While Orvis generally loves any trip to Vermont, I don’t think he’ll ever be quite as excited with our accommodations as he was to find his own Orvis dog bed and a pile of treats and toys upon check-in!
Another fantastic part of the Pitcher Inn is its food and drink. Each morning, the breakfast options would range from the classic bacon and egg staple, to pancakes and french toast with that oh-so-delicious Vermont maple syrup. Starting days with a filling breakfast is one of my favorite parts of travel, and the Pitcher Inn does it as well as anyone. Our one meal at the inn’s primary restaurant, 275 Main, was exceptional. Vermont is no stranger to fresh, locally sourced, delicious cuisine, but our dishes and wine that evening were easily one of the best meals we’ve had in Vermont, or anywhere for that matter. For a more casual atmosphere, we highly recommend Tracks, the relaxed tavern downstairs – the beer list and burger are worth it alone.
Before I wrap up, I feel a special need to highlight how exceptional the staff at the Pitcher Inn was during our stay. In our travels, Meredith and I have had all sorts of interactions with hotel employees. Ranging from rigid ruled courtesy to friendly casual conversation, we typically can guess how our stays will play out not too long after we arrive. Adding a large black lab to the mix can add a little bit of hesitation, but at the Pitcher Inn, there was absolutely zero hesitation and “friendly” would be an understatement. From the moment we checked in, we felt right at home amongst friends. Orvis was doted on and genuinely loved. From Siobhan at the front desk to Ari, the general manager, and everyone in between, we felt as though we were completely taken care of. Dinner recommendations were made from personal experiences, our names were used in passing “hellos”, and we felt like much more than just two guests passing through. I could write an entire post just about the people that make the Pitcher Inn so outstanding, but I’ll save the gushing… well aside from a special mention and thanks to Ari. His knowledge and personality added something to our stay that we’ve never quite experienced before. His commitment to the inn and to ensuring that each and every guest has an exceptional time is simply unrivaled in our travels, and suffice it to say, if every inn had an Ari, we might not ever return to our own home.
Staying at the Pitcher Inn is really all about the experience. The property is so much more than just its Relais & Chateaux affiliation, or its eleven uniquely beautiful rooms – it’s about the people, the details, the food, and the character that really make your time here exceptional. We missed the inn the very moment we pulled away, and cannot wait to revisit it often in the future.
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