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Vermont

Vermont is an interesting, paradoxical state. It has a small population, a strong agricultural base, and a slightly old-fashioned atmosphere. On the other hand, college students (some progressive-to-radical) and enthusiastic skiers are drawn to the state in great numbers. Places like Bennington, Brattleboro, and especially Burlington have more eclectic cultural offerings than your average Vermont towns. The latter has been represented by several socialist politicians, including former mayor Bernie Sanders, who is now in the U.S. Senate. See the bizarre and fascinating mega-puppets that the Bread and Puppet Theater stores in a museum in a huge barn in Glover, up in the Northeast Kingdom. If in town over a weekend, you may be able to catch one of their political pageant-like shows. You can tour the Ben and Jerry's Factory and graveyard of defunct flavors in Waterbury, between Montpelier and Burlington. Another fun food-related diversion is watching a maple sugaring demo. You can do that and also take a hayride and roast marshmallows in Brattleboro in the springtime. Covered bridges are a great New England sight. Try driving Southwest from Montpelier. Leaf-peeping in the fall is another iconic activity, and Route 9 between Brattleboro and Bennington has great scenic vistas. Try a Dutch-run bakery in Bennington that specializes in natural sourdough bread and other vegetarian and vegan items, or organic udon noodles in a curry peanut sauce. Brattleboro has a vegetarian cafe with organic and seasonal food and beverage in addition to raw foods and fresh juices, a vegetarian-friendly (and just friendly) Mayan Guatemalan joint, a great food co-op deli complete with soups and interesting hot drinks, and a tea house with all-vegan and some gluten-free or sugar-free baked goods. Breakfast in Manchester Center can include buckwheat pancakes with wild blueberries, sourdough baguette french toast with warm lingonberry cream cheese, vegetarian sausage, and fresh juices. In Montpelier, snack on vegan crepes made with chickpea batter at an organic eatery, or imbibe herbal elixirs, house-made chai, Tibetan butter tea, reishi tonic, and bubble tea plus eat whole foods and sweet treats at a worker-owned tea house. Stowe offers some of the finest farm-to-table cuisine in Vermont, such as smoked duck breast and sheep's milk gnocchi. Arriving in Burlington is like hitting the jackpot to health-conscious eaters, especially vegetarians. Consume vegetarian Turkish, vegan pizza with organic and local ingredients, Nepalese food, or seitan pot pie. Omnivores can enjoy sustainable, local ingredients in dishes like range-fed beef, salad, house-cured salmon, and a Vermont maple sausage omelet. Drink up at a Czech-owned teahouse with seasonal tea varieties. Hang with locals on Church Street in the middle of Burlington, downing some wheatgrass, vegetable juices, and enhanced nutritional drinks by day, and livelier spirits by night, all at the same establishment.