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Lyndonville, VT: Loving the Small Town Charm, Fall Foliage and Food!

Downtown Lyndonville, Vermont
Article and photos, unless otherwise noted, by Eric Hurwitz.  Page created on 9/10/17.

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Downtown Lyndonville, located in the largely unspoiled Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, looks like something out of the 1940s. With a splendid village green, old brick buildings, a few restaurants and traditional downtown businesses (check out Green Mountain Books at 1055 Broad St.), Lyndonville has certainly not become gentrified or precious like some other Vermont towns that have sold out to transplants with agendas. Lyndonville does have its rough edges, but more importantly, this small town never pretends to be something it isn't.  You could picture Andy Griffith walking down the street to Floyd's Barber Shop here, although, yes, the southern drawls would have to be replaced by New England accents.  The bottom line is that if you like towns that haven't changed much over the years -- and have not become depressed -- then Lyndonville is certainly worth a visit. It is a great place to walk and strike up conversation with one of the friendly locals.

The location is also ideal, near Burke Mountain for skiing and Lake Willoughby for summer recreational opportunities -- not to mention incredible fall foliage during October...


Burke Mountain in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.
Burke Mountain.

OK, enough of the foliage. I'm hungry!
We understand and after a long trip to the northernmost part of Vermont, you deserve it. Here are two places in Lyndonville that I think you will absolutely love...

The Lyndonville Diner
Lyndonville Diner in Lyndonville VT
From the name to the dining experience, there is kind of a sweet feeling -- so greatly missing in restaurants today -- when visiting the Miss Lyndonville Diner. Even if the Miss Lyndonville Diner didn't have diner decor and ambiance, the place would still feel like a trip back in time.

I think that the Miss Lyndonville Diner's greatness resides in its authenticity -- not diner authenticity, necessarily, but the kind of down-to-earth feeling that you get from a close-knit family outing. It's like you've arrived in someone's living room, while waiting for that piping hot homemade food to be lovingly served. Now I can't say that it is like this all the time at the Miss Lyndonville Diner, but it was certainly the case the times we dined there. Everything we've had at the Miss Lyndonville Diner is terrific, but I recommend going with breakfast at the counter or booths -- especially the pancakes, muffins, and anything you can put real Vermont maple syrup on! The roast turkey dinner and maple cream pie for lunch or dinner are out-of-this-world.

I love looking at the Miss Lyndonville Diner menu almost much as eating the food.  It is one of those menus that builds up the appetite with its nice drawing of the Diner, handwritten-style “Miss Lyndonville” font,  food photos and appetizing names and descriptions like “Vermont Breakfast Sampler” (two buttermilk pancakes, two strips of bacon, two sausage links, two eggs). Or, how about the “Country Homefry Casserole” (home fries, sausage, onion and cheddar cheese topped with two eggs. and served with homemade toast). Then there’s the “Maple Cured Ham Steak” with raisin sauce, “The Vermonter” (a “grilled patty, served open face on a toasted roll with plenty of steak fries all smothered with beef gravy, and 3 lettuce blend with fresh cucumber, tomato and red potato slices,)” and the “Fresh Strawberry and Blueberry Pie.” It’s the kind of menu that is not only extensive, but extends a kind of feeling back to childhood when, on vacation, we loved looking at long, descriptive roadside restaurant menus and getting a whiff of that homemade food from the kitchen. I know, those are simple thoughts, but that’s the point: you should never forget the little things because someday they become the big things that provide sustenance in the memory sector of our hearts.

The Miss Lyndonville Diner feels like the ideal place to stop in after a day in the fresh country air, a cool Vermont morning with the fog lifting, skiing at Burke Mountain (for the record, I am not a skier but love the season!), foliage drives, or any time of the year in the beautiful Northeast Kingdom. There’s just something so nice about coming in from the rural environs in the morning and into a diner with the smell of hot coffee, the aroma of fresh muffins coming out right out of the stove, the talk of the town going on at the counter, and generally seeing local Vermonters awaken as a close-knit community.

The Miss Lyndonvile Diner always seems busy, at least when I have visited through the years, and that is a real testimony to the Diner. There are other quality choices in the region for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but the Miss Lyndonville Diner seems to have that magic touch that not only brings in the locals, but also vacationers like us. The food and atmosphere are certainly factors in this appeal, but there’s this almost unexplainable “X factor” that can only be experienced by being there. If in the area more and relying on dining out at local restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I wouldn’t mind coming back here twice in the same day.

Originally starting as a Sterling diner car in 1951 at the current location, the Miss Lyndonville Diner, unfortunately, suffered a fire in 1979 when the establishment was soon gutted but quickly renovated. Thank goodness for the reopening -- this is one of the most welcoming diners in New England!

Interesting Miss Lyndonville Diner tidbit: throughout its history, the Miss Lyndonville Diner has been a special occasions place. Owner Janet Gray told NewsLinc in a Nov. 22, 2013, interview (http://www.news7newslinc.net/index.php/around-the-nek/lyndon/638-miss-lyndonville-s-35th-anniversary) that “We’ve had people bring their newborn babies here on the way home from the hospital, and people coming before their engagement parties.”
Miss Lyndonville Diner is located at 686 Broad St., Lyndonville. Tel. (802) 626-9890.

Lyndon Freighthouse Market and Cafe
The Lyndon Freighthouse in Lyndonville VT

Tapping into organic and natural locally sourced foods, the Lyndon Freighthouse does a terrific job serving healthier versions of comfort foods without having the items taste like cardboard. It’s a welcoming place, too, located in a renovated 1878 freighthouse with a long farmer’s porch on the outside and a rustic Vermont feel on the inside.

The farm-to-plate approach is certainly unique in this region and the presence of Carmen’s Ice Cream parlor with “nearly 100 flavors of hard and soft serve ice cream, frozen yogurt, organic ice cream, and creative sundaes” makes the overall experience that much better.  Breakfast and lunch items at the Freighthouse include pancakes (made with organic flour), omelets (made from organic eggs) organic beef burgers, wraps, salads, Vermont beer and wine (that would be for lunch!), homemade desserts  and Starbuck’s Coffee. 

Freighthouse Burger from Freighthouse Market and Cafe in Lyndonville VT.
Certified organic grass-fed beef burgers on a handmade bun. Photo source: Freighthouse Market and Cafe Facebook fan page at https://www.facebook.com/pg/Freighthouse-Market-Cafe-142485849116834/posts/

Adding to this appealing mix is the Farmhouse Pantry selling local products that support sustainable agriculture, small family farms and individual farmers and craftsmen. The Lyndon Freighthouse is located at 1000 Broad St., Lyndonville, Vt. Tel. (802) 626-4000. Web site: http://www.thelyndonfreighthouse.com/.

Looking to stay at a first-class hotel with amazing mountain views near Lyndonville? Try the Burke Mountain Hotel and Conference Center in East Burke

For more to do than just looking at a downtown, eating and seeing foliage, please check out the Northeast Kingdom web site for complete travel, vacation and seasonal events information!


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Books by VisitingNewEngland.com Publisher Eric Hurwitz

Massachusetts Town Greens -- Discover New England's first travel attractions: town commons (includes a chapter on West Brookfield!

The Best Diners in New England -- If you love classic diners, New England has them! In my book, I write in detail on 50 top local diners.

 
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