It wasn’t so long ago that merchants in White River Junction (WRJ) jokingly came up with a slogan for their struggling downtown: “White River Junction: It’s Not So Bad.” Times have changed!
Those were dog days for small business owners, when downtown WRJ had difficulty competing with boutique tourist towns in the Upper Valley. It had its own charms and secretive little cultural hubs, but on the surface, it seemed like there wasn’t much to do there.
Or so naysayers claimed.
If you have spent time in WRJ, you know that the town has long welcomed chefs, artists, musicians, actors, and merchants of all stripes to its eclectic and growing mix of retail storefronts and converted spaces. In recent years, the rate and variety of commercial enterprises kicked up another notch.
What are some of White River Junction’s modern and attractive features? Check out some options below.
- Dine Out. You’re going to have to do this often, because you can’t sample all the good food that’s available in WRJ with just one visit. The Filling Station and C & S Pizza have been downtown the longest. But the newcomers—Thyme (formerly the Tip Top Café), Elixir, Tuckerbox Café, Piecemeal Pies, and Boho Café—have become local favorites. Each restaurant has its own distinct flavor and ambience, and all of them are locally owned and operated.
- Go Shopping. Revolution Vintage (clothes and accessories) is an old favorite, remaining true to its tagline “Shop Outside the Box.” There are also cool specialty shops on every corner of downtown, offering all kinds of clothing and accessories, stationery, lamp shades, arts and crafts, and more! Browsing is the best way to experience these stores, so give yourself time to wander.
- Attend a Show. Northern Stage and Briggs Opera House used to share the same performance venue on South Main Street. But they’ve both grown up and grown apart, and now Northern Stage has its own place—Barrette Center for the Arts—just around the corner on Gates Street. It’s a testament to the artistic vitality of WRJ that the two theaters have not only survived but thrived.
- Catch a Train. When’s the last time you visited Washington, DC, New York City, Philadelphia, or Baltimore? Get on a train at the Amtrak station in WRJ and get out of town! Let someone else do the driving for a change. You have New England scenery to take in, books to read, emails to catch up on, and naps to take. And you can do it all to the steady rhythm of a train on the tracks: “You gotta’ go!”
Want to know more about White River Junction and the surrounding towns? Check out our blog on Hartford, Vermont!