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Vermont nightlife

If Vermont nightlife sounds like an oxymoron, well, sometimes it is. After all, the state's dairy farmers call it quits right around dusk so they can be up before dawn. And the active types around here also like to get an early start for climbing up to the top of Mount Mansfield or paddling across Lake Champlain. But recently, urban escapees have also turned Burlington bars—and plenty of gems outside of the Queen City—into groovy locales for catching a band and dancing under the disco lights into the wee hours.

To maximize the partying potential at Vermont bars, start early—as in 3:30 pm, when après-ski hot spots such as Killington's Wobbly Barn, Waterbury's Alchemist, or Stowe's Matterhorn roll out the happy hour specials for the slope-schussers. Keep in mind that these bars are usually further than walking distance from hotels, so either designate a driver or make use of a local taxi service. (There are plenty in ski towns.) When the snow's not flying, a night owl's best bet is to stick around Burlington. The highly concentrated cluster of colleges and the University of Vermont has helped to foster a number of worthy bars and pubs, with standouts including Red Square and Nectar's (the provenance of Phish and the place for late-night gravy fries). Music fans will find local acts regularly playing at such offbeat spots as Montpelier's Positive Pie 2; for the biggest names, you'll want to head to Higher Ground or the Pickle Barrel. And for true Vermont nightlife, consider unrolling a sleeping bag and watching the stars overhead.

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Alchemist, Waterbury

The Alchemist is the best brewpub in Vermont, worth the 25-minute drive from Mad River Glen, Sugarbush, or Stowe. You can always find a range of tasty suds on...more

Editors' Pick
Higher Ground, South Burlington

Cool bands do come to Vermont (some even start up here), and they seem to enjoy playing at this outwardly nondescript, inwardly intimate venue in South...more

Editors' Pick
Matterhorn, Stowe

In classic Vermont style, the Matterhorn is the small-town general store of nightlife. One stop, and you get it all—sushi, microbrews, pizza, wings, and...more

Editors' Pick
Nectar's, Burlington

While it does serve great pub food like pulled-pork sandwiches, the music-and-booze scene is what made Nectar's a Burlington institution. Twenty years ago Phish...more

Editors' Pick
Pickle Barrel, Killington

A short walk (or stumble) from the Wobbly Barn, the Pickle Barrel is not quite as old (it opened in 1971) but is equally legendary, thanks to its stellar...more

Editors' Pick
Positive Pie 2, Montpelier

In a sea of soggy-crust New England pizza chains, Carlo Rovetto's Positive Pie parlor first made a difference (and still operates in) the tiny town of...more

Editors' Pick
Red Square, Burlington

No word on whether the late Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn frequented this place during his Vermont exile, but we kind of doubt it. Both the name and the layout are...more

Editors' Pick
Rusty Nail Bar & Grille, Stowe

Weekenders from Boston, New York, and beyond are drawn to the outdoor ice bar and the rock-the-rafters music at this historic ski-town bar. The Rusty Nail first...more

Editors' Pick
Wobbly Barn, Killington

Arguably the greatest après-ski bar in the country, the Wobbly Barn outshines the go-go girl nightclubs of Whistler, the cowboy dives of Jackson, and the...more

Editors' Pick
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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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