Mad River Weekend

From cliff-jumping to browsing farmers’ markets, a summer visit to the valley fits every vacationer’s pace

STORY BY Allison Pohle
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Jesse Lenz and Corey Hendrickson





The Mad River Valley’s motto is “Ski it if you can,” which might be a little challenging at certain times of the year, despite the cool summers. Luckily, the valley, marked by narrow roads winding through mountains, roadside farms, and lush green pastures, offers plenty for its visitors in warmer seasons. Here’s a guide to making the most of a weekend in the heart of Vermont. 

1. American Flatbread

Outside the quaint Lareau Farm Inn near the Mad River, the smell of wood-grilled dough wafts over the heads of people who have been waiting for up to three hours for a bite. At American Flatbread, diners sit at picnic tables to eat organic pizzas that are as enticing and flavorful as their New Age-y names such as “Punctuated Equilibrium” and “Dancing Heart.” 48 Lareau Road,  Waitsfield, VT 05673

Oven-fired pizza at American Flatbread. 

Oven-fired pizza at American Flatbread. 

2. Scout's Honor

Make sure to get to Scout’s Honor early; it, like many other shops in town, closes early.  The Kickstarter-funded spot opened to preserve the town’s spirit after Tropical Storm Irene demolished many local restaurants. During prime summer scooping season, visitors can taste a “smear”—an open-faced ice-cream sandwich made by smooshing a half-scoop of ice cream onto a cookie. 40 Bridge Street, Waitsfield, VT 05673

An enticing spread at The Mad Taco.

An enticing spread at The Mad Taco.

3. Waitsfield Farmer's Market

Start your Saturday at the Farmers’ Market on the Waitsfield town green, where, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., local farmers and growers sell the valley’s bounty. Visitors can stroll between dozens of booths selling fresh produce, flowers, seedlings, honey, wool, and crafts. Mad River Green, Waitsfield, VT 05673

4. The Mad Taco

After the market, grab a bite at The Mad Taco, an unassuming joint where ski-bum waiters crack jokes and make expert recommendations among the plethora of tacos and 16 heady local beers on tap. 5101 Main St., Waitsfield, VT 05673

5. Warren General Store

Cool off from the summer heat inside the historic Warren General Store, whose creaky wooden floors and rustic charm look like something out of a quintessential Vermont storybook. With a wine store, daily panini menu, and upstairs stocked with quirky accessories, the store is a can’t-miss stop. 284 Main St., Warren, VT 05674

Historic Warren General Store

Historic Warren General Store

Cliff jumping at Warren Falls

Cliff jumping at Warren Falls


6. Warren Falls

Later, in the depths of the forest, follow the sounds of trickling waterfalls and giddy shrieks to a secret sanctuary. The Warren Falls swimming hole is a natural playground of rock slides, cliff jumps, and deep emerald waters. Route 100 South, Warren, VT 05674

7. The Big Picture

Enjoy dinner and a movie all in one place at The Big Picture Theatre and Café, the favorite local gathering place for many of the community’s cultural events. The theater is only nine years old, but it has a vintage vibe thanks to the art-house theater and old-school soda fountain. 48 Carroll Rd., Waitsfield, VT 05673

8. Sunset Rock

End the weekend with an easy hike around Sunset Rock. At just over a mile, the trek is accessible for hikers of all skill levels. After a gentle ascent, you’ll reach the stunning cliff that is Sunset Ledge, where you can watch the sun slip behind Lake Champlain and the lush Adirondack range. Lincoln Gap Road, Warren, VT 05674