Local Atmosphere

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4 College Freshman

Local Atmosphere: Once your tuition, fees, books etc are paid for, it is possible to live (survive) at Middlebury on little to no money. That said, surviving and thriving are different. Most people go out with their friends, and things, while not particularly expensive, aren't dirt cheap either (a midnight meal at The Grille is ~$10, movie in town ~$10, required contribution for a sports team/club gathering ~$10, gas money for weekend trips, etc). There are a few good places to eat in town, but it's rare for anyone to go into town to eat/go out unless it's someone's birthday/they have family or friends coming to visit - life is very concentrated on campus - partially because there are ALWAYS things to do and good food on campus, and not much reason to ever leave.

3 College Sophomore

Local Atmosphere: Middlebury is a small town. There's no denying that. That being said, it's still full of fun things to do if you know where to look. There's an awesome Chili festival in the spring, where local restaurants and businesses compete for the best chili (you can go and try unlimited amounts of delicious chili). 51 Main, a restaurant/bar owned by the college, usually has some good musicians playing live music at night. There's a used book store, a tea house, a town theatre, and a few thrift stores. Things generally close early, but it's a cute town with lots of quaint charm. If you really need to be in a "city," Burlington is only an hour away.

3 people found this useful Report
3 College Sophomore

Local Atmosphere: Middlebury has good food and is a cute little town, but it is incredibly uneventful and pretty remote. Fortunately it is a beautiful area or there would not be a lot to do.

1 person found this useful Report

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Student Author OverviewWhat's This?

Bohree Kim
Weston, CT
History of Art and Architecture
Grad Year
View all previous student authors

No matter what exotic tidbits or intriguing locales students attempt to haggle out of this town, in the end, they still wind up with good 'ole Middlebury—a small, antique dollhouse of a village, dotted with restaurants and shops that all close between 5 p.m. and 12 a.m., and a smattering of snow-covered cobblestone streets. It’s quiet, it’s quaint, and it can feel suffocating at times. On the other hand, the atmosphere caters well to those more inclined toward outdoor activities—particularly winter sports, hiking, and swimming. There are several renowned ski areas around (including the one owned by the College), a maze of magnificently groomed cross-country ski trails, lakes, rivers, and falls.

The Middlebury experience feels similar to being inside a cozy penny candy store or an old-fashioned piggy bank. If you’re a country bumpkin, a lover of the magnificent outdoors, or are simply anxious to be liberated from the noise and pollution of the city, Middlebury is for you. It will certainly not overwhelm you with shopping options, nightclubs, or traffic lights. However, you can get anything and everything you need for survival in Middlebury, as long as you’re not counting on 24-hour stores. If you’re looking for variety and a less-settled atmosphere, you’ll have to take the trip to Burlington. If you don’t plan on bringing a car, it shouldn’t be much of a problem—usually even the most disagreeable people finagle a couple of friends with vehicles, and everyone visits Burlington frequently.

Facts & Statistics

Fun Local Trivia
  1. In the "30 Rock" episode "Episode 210," clips of Middlebury appear in stock footage.
  2. For 23 summers, Robert Frost, the great poet, made the mountains just outside of Middlebury his home. When he welcomed New England into his heart, the Middlebury area struck him as particularly captivating. The founder of the town's Vermont Book Shop knew the poet well, and the Middlebury College Library houses many of his first editions.
  3. Sure, maybe Middlebury doesn't have hoards of filmmakers pounding at the front door, begging to make movies in the Vermont town. However, Middlebury did serve as the haunting locale for some of the most memorable and chilling moments in suspense history. Remember the scenes from the bridge in "What Lies Beneath"? That was Champlain Bridge in Crown Point, mere miles from campus. The majority of the movie was filmed in the John Strong Mansion, just up the road on Route 17.
  4. The foliage in Middlebury is some of the most resplendent in the country at peak season, which occurs in October.
  5. Middlebury pioneered Vermont's marble industry. The Marble Works, filled with small shops and restaurants, continues to stand as a monument to this first.
Notable Natives
  • Jim Douglas - former governor of Vermont
  • John Deere - inventor, manufacturer
  • Julia Alvarez - author
Local Slang
Creamie: Soft-serve ice cream
Points of Interest
  • Ben & Jerry's Factory
  • Bread Loaf Campus
  • Lake Champlain
  • Lake Dunmore
  • Old Fashioned A&W
  • Otter Creek
  • Robert Frost Cabin
  • Shelburne Museum
  • Vermont Teddy Bear Company
Shopping Centers
  • Burlington Town Center Mall
  • Diamond Run Mall
  • University Mall
Movie Theaters
Hoyts Cinema 9
10 Fayette Dr.
South Burlington
(802) 864-5610
Movie Theaters
Marquis Theater
Main St.
(802) 388-4841
Distances to Nearest Major Cities
  • Boston: : 3 hours, 30 minutes
  • Burlington, Vt.: : 50 minutes
  • New York City: : 5 hours

Student Polls

Rate the local atmosphere on the following topics    Based on 25 responses

Very poor
  • Cost of living
  • Dining
  • Friendliness of locals toward students
  • Museums/cultural attractions
  • Nightlife
  • Parking
  • Parks and recreation
  • Professional sports
  • Safety
  • Scenery
  • Shopping
  • Transportation

What is the local atmosphere like at your school?    Based on 27 responses

  • 11% Painfully remote.
  • 0% In or near a big city, but there's not much to do off campus.
  • 81% Small town with plenty of charm.
  • 7% Vibrant college town. There's no big city, but there are plenty of things to do off campus.
  • 0% City living at its finest. There's always something fun and interesting going on.

What is the proximity to other universities? Is there much interaction?    Based on 28 responses

  • 68% There aren't any nearby schools.
  • 21% There are nearby schools, but students do NOT interact much.
  • 11% There are nearby schools that students often interact with.

Can you see yourself living here after graduation?    Based on 27 responses

  • 44% No way.
  • 41% Maybe, if I could find a good job.
  • 15% Totally.


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