There are no major thoroughfares through Grafton. No stoplights. No sidewalks either. Just a tiny hamlet of historic homes, a single sprawling inn, and a handful of wonderful local businesses with an eye toward community building.
If you are longing to trade that frantic pace for a bit of a meander this winter, Grafton Vermont is the weekend getaway you’re after!
A winter getaway in Grafton Vermont involves thumbing through historic volumes by the fire at the iconic Grafton Inn, strapping on skis or snowshoes and trekking through dark forests, and indulging in copious amounts of award-winning cheese. Are you in?
Winter in Grafton VT: At-A-Glance
Here’s a bite-sized snapshot of everything you need to know to plan your trip!
- When to Go: December through March for winter vibes. Christmas in Grafton usually takes place on the second Saturday in December.
- Where to Stay: The historic Grafton Inn is the heart of Grafton Village and is perfect for your quintessential winter getaway in Vermont.
- Top 3 Highlights: Live music and dinner at Phelps Barn Pub, the fairy houses at the Nature Museum, and sampling Grafton Village Cheese.
Stay at the Historic Grafton Inn
Located in the heart of Grafton Village in Southern Vermont, the Grafton Inn has been welcoming guests since 1801, making it one of the oldest operating inns in the United States.
Since that time, the inn has hosted many illustrious visitors, including three presidents (Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Ulysses S. Grant), and authors Rudyard Kipling and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Rocking chairs beckon from the deep, covered porch that runs the length of the building, and the cozy main parlor will entice you to relax by the fireplace while taking in the early American furnishings and decor.
There are 42 rooms decorated with period antiques and outfitted with modern amenities and luxurious linens. Not only is every room unique, but the common spaces are so inviting, and it’s so fun to connect with other Vermont lovers while enjoying the Inn’s unpretentious elegance.
Staying at the Grafton Inn is a delightful experience, and it’s THE place to stay for a romantic Vermont getaway.
Here are a few extras that made our stay at the Grafton Inn really special:
- Samples of Grafton cheese with crackers waiting for us in our room (the Grafton Inn obviously knows the way to this girl’s heart)
- A private game room to play a few rounds of pool and table tennis before dinner
- Real keys!
- An impressive made-to-order breakfast in a sunny solarium surrounded by plants
- The friendliest staff ever!
Two on-site restaurants offer up casual fare in a cozy setting, complete with wood-burning fireplaces, and a robust drink menu. Make reservations at the Phelps Barn Pub for a lively atmosphere with music on the weekends, or at the 1801 Tavern for a quiet date night. The menu is the same in both restaurants.
Explore Beautiful Grafton, Vermont
With its historic homes and quiet streets, Grafton is a town straight out of a storybook. Most of the homes in Grafton Village were built in the 1800s, and with a population of fewer than 700 people, it’s a very close-knit community.
You may be wondering if there’s enough to keep you busy for a full weekend in such a small town, and my answer is a resounding YES! Sure, your options are limited, but that’s the beauty of a weekend getaway in Grafton, Vermont.
There are a couple of places to eat, a few fantastic shops and galleries, great recreation, and lots of time to unwind in the Grafton Inn. Here are a few ideas for exploring Grafton, Vermont.
Take a Self-Guided Walking Tour of Grafton Village
Get your bearings by meandering around the village, admiring the beautiful architecture, and popping into a few of the unique shops and galleries. Many of the stops we mention below can be found on this self-guided walking tour of Grafton Village. Download the PocketSights App on Apple or Google Play to get started.
The walking tour of Grafton Village includes 29 stops, including parks, a community garden, two covered bridges, and many beautiful historic buildings.
Grafton Village Cheese Company
Originally known as the Grafton Cooperative Cheese Company (founded and 1892), today’s Grafton Village Cheese Company was restored by the Windham Foundation in the 1960s.
One bite of the award-winning cheddar made from unpasteurized sheep cow’s milk, and you’ll be browsing real estate listings and planning your move to Grafton (or is that just me?).
All Grafton Village Cheese is made in a production facility just outside of Grafton Village, and visitors are welcome to stop in and view the cheese-making process through a large viewing window.
And, after spending a few days in Grafton, you’ll see it on the menu at MKT Grafton and the Grafton Inn. We sampled a LOT of cheese on our recent visit!
Craving samples? Pop into the Grafton Village Cheese storefront next to the Grafton Inn between Thursday and Sunday, or pick some up at MKT Grafton on Main Street.
Grafton Nature Museum: Not Just for Kids!
The Nature Museum in Grafton is just a short walk from the Grafton Inn. Pay the $5 suggested donations and explore two floors of exhibits that include dioramas of local plants and animals, interactive exhibits about the region’s wildlife and geology, and several amazing fairy houses. Be sure to head upstairs to see the Catamount!
While you won’t be able to enjoy the gorgeous native plant gardens surrounding the museum in the winter, you can meander through the woods on the trail system and check out the Magic Forrest Playscape. Grab a trail map at the Museum.
Grafton Forge Blacksmith Shop
Looking for beautiful contemporary ironware? Want to learn more about blacksmithing? Stop in and visit Aaron Anderson at Small Town Forge in Grafton Village. Not only can you see Aaron in action, but the shop has a wonderful collection of historic tools and beautiful iron pieces for sale.
Small Town Forge is open between Wednesday and Sunday from 9 am to 2 pm, and demonstrations are offered daily.
Grafton Trails and Outdoor Center
Ready for some fresh air and exercise? Explore 1200 acres of protected land just outside of Grafton. In the winter, Grafton Trails and Outdoor Center maintains cross-country ski trails and offers additional trails for snowshoeing, tubing, sleigh rides, and fat biking.
The Windham Foundation is the steward of 1200 acres of protected land in Grafton and opens much of this land to public use as part of the Grafton Trails and Outdoor Center. Foundation staff maintains the trails.
There wasn’t much snow during our recent visit, but we enjoyed hiking on the trails and got to experience a horse-drawn wagon ride as part of Christmas in Grafton.
Trail passes are required when during open hours — Tuesday – Sunday: 9:30 am – 4:00 pm, and complimentary passes are provided to guests of the Grafton Inn. Ski and snowshoe rentals are available for an extra fee, and leashed dogs are welcome everywhere but on the groomed ski trails.
Grafton Historical Society
Call me old-fashioned, but I have a thing for Vermont Historical Societies, especially when they tell the story of small towns and country living. The current exhibits at the Grafton Historical Society on Main Street are kind of incredible.
The first focuses on Daisy Turner, a beloved member of the Grafton community. She was a well-known storyteller and poet, born to former slaves. Her father, Alec Turner, escaped from his plantation at during the Civil War and later joined the Union Army. After the war, he built a homestead in Grafton, where he became a respected member of the local community and raised 16 children on Turner Hill.
The exhibit tells the story of Alec and his wife, Sally, and their daughter, Daisy, who recorded more than 60 hours of her riveting family narrative and lived in Grafton until she died at 104.
The second exhibit focuses on the infamous Scrambles at Grafton, which took place every summer from 1959-1968 on the pasture of Perley Bell’s Farm.
The international motocross competition started with 700 attendees in 1959 and grew to more than 10,000 in 1968. The participants and spectators became so rowdy in 1968, that the event was canceled for good, but in its heyday, the Grafton event was ranked as one of the largest in the US.
Learn more about Daisy Turner and the Scrambles of Grafton at the Grafton Historical Society, open by chance or appointment (call 802-843-594) in the winter.
Lunch at MKT Grafton
MKT Grafton is a lively general store that combines old-fashioned Vermont charm with all the sundries you need in the modern age. At MKT, you can stock up on organic produce and groceries, buy a Vermont souvenir for your dog-sitter, and sit down to a fantastic lunch featuring local ingredients prepared from scratch.
We visited MKT Grafton on a chilly winter afternoon, and I couldn’t resist the allure of the tomato basil soup with a melty grilled cheese (made with Grafton Cheddar, of course). Another great option — the Vermonter, a classic winter sandwich made with turkey, sliced Vermont apples, maple mustard, and Grafton maple smoked cheddar.
Dinner at Phelps Barn Pub
For dinner, head back to the Grafton Inn and enjoy a lively night of craft beer, live music, and delicious eats at Phelps Barn Pub.
The casual menu changes with the season, but you’ll always find a creative mix of entrees featuring farm-fresh ingredients and a healthy sprinkling of Grafton cheese; try the Grafton Cheddar Ale Bisque, the Beef Sliders with Grafton Truffle Cheddar, or the Braised Lamb Shank served over Grafton Clothbound Cheddar Risotto.
We were fortunate enough to score a table next to the upstairs fireplace, where we could enjoy soulful folk covers by musician Jason Caan as we sipped on our Fiddlehead IPAs after dinner.
Christmas in Grafton Vermont
If you happen to be visiting Grafton during the second weekend in December, you’re in for a treat!
Christmas in Grafton is a cherished event when locals and visitors gather together to celebrate the holidays with a dog parade, tree and wreath sale, open houses all over town, and fantastic food and drink.
Come see Grafton transformed into a winter wonderland. Ride in carriages pulled by horses, gather with friends around winter bonfires, visit with Santa, and enjoy live music, a silent auction, and so much more.
This year’s Christmas in Grafton weekend happens on Saturday, December 7, 2024. Check out Visit Grafton, Vermont for a complete schedule of events as we get closer to December.
If you’re looking for that quintessential Vermont vacation — one where you can slow down, get outside, enjoy the scenery, and eat good food, plan your next winter getaway to Grafton, Vermont.
You may arrive a stranger, but you’ll be on a first-name basis with everyone in town by the end of your visit, and you’ll be planning your next visit on the way home.
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Tara Schatz is a freelance writer, and the founder and editor-in-chief of Vermont Explored and Back Road Ramblers, an American road trip blog. She is also the co-author of the 3rd edition of AMC’s Best Day Hikes in Vermont, which was released in May 2023, and the author of 100+ Wonderful Ways to Experience Vermont.