With only 15,000 people between them, it’s probably a bit overstated to call the sister cities of Barre  and Montpelier  a metropolitan area. This will just have to do for Vermont, however, with the majority of the businesses between Brattleboro  and Burlington  clustered in the area.
As you’ll no doubt hear countless times, Montpelier takes pride in being the smallest state capital in the country. With a charming downtown honeycombed with art galleries, it feels more like a quaint county seat than headquarters for an entire state.
Just a few miles down the road, Barre has a grittier, more working-class feel, accentuated by the still-active granite quarries that give the town its claim to fame.
Situated in a mountain range over to the west, the Mad River Valley  is the recreation center for the area, a hidden glen of ski trails and paddling streams anchored by a quartet of scenic hamlets.
For the Mad River Valley , take exit 9 to Route 100B and then Route 100 south to Waitsfield. The distance from Montpelier  is 20 miles (30 min.) The Mad Bus (802/496-7433, www.madbus.org ) shuttle stops at various locations in Waitsfield and Warren, along with routes to Sugarbush, Mad River Glen, and Montpelier.