Adventure Awaits!

An inside look at how The 251 Club of Vermont helps travelers discover “The Real Vermont”


STORY BY BENJAMIN LERNER

PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY THE 251 CLUB


“A swift turn from one of our main roads, and you are on your way to the rewarding experience of a lifetime and memories good until the years are frosty.”

So reads the defining line from Dr. Arthur Peach’s 1954 column in Vermont Life that inspired the creation of The 251 Club of Vermont. Peach was an accomplished professor and writer who was exuberantly enthusiastic about Vermont, its celebrated towns, and its natural beauty. After receiving multiple letters from inquisitive readers asking how they could discover “The Real Vermont,” Peach wrote an editorial article in response to their questions. In the article, Peach stated that the only way to truly get to know the state of Vermont was to see all 251 cities and towns in person. He also advocated for the creation of an official club for people who were interested in visiting every town in the state, and offered to send a complimentary map of Vermont to anyone who applied for membership. In the months following the publication of the article, Peach was so inundated with membership applications that he ran out of his first round of complimentary maps. Over six decades later, The 251 Club of Vermont has expanded its membership to include over 4,500 curious travelers and vacationers, including Vermont Governor Phil Scott and U.S. Congressman Peter Welch. “If you become a member of The 251 Club of Vermont, it is entirely up to you how you want to craft your 251 journey,” notes The 251 Club of Vermont’s Executive Director Stephanie Young. “The point is to make memories, explore Vermont, and get to know the unique quirks and landmarks that make each town in this state so special. Long-term Vermonters can rediscover Vermont at their own pace and fall in love with it all over again, and new residents can get to know their new home state and experience the very best of what Vermont has to offer. By exploring all 251 towns and cities, members can learn about local businesses, museums, history, art and culture, restaurants, outdoor activities and so much more! They also get the chance to enjoy every town’s unique character and beauty.”


In order to become a member of The 251 Club of Vermont, one need only fill out a simple form online or mail-in an application and pay the membership fees. A new membership for an entire household costs $22, and current members can renew their memberships for $12 a year. The 251 Club of Vermont also offers a 5-year membership for $58. Each member of the Club is granted access to exclusive resources, travel information and historical archives. In addition, members are offered a 25% discount on a two-year subscription to VERMONT Magazine, and also receive an invitation to the annual membership meeting, which is held every year in the fall. “Last year’s guest speaker was Lydia Clemmons from the historic Clemmons Family Farm in Charlotte,” says Young. “She gave a wonderful presentation over Zoom® for over 100 members. This year, our guest speaker is Molly Veysey, Executive Director of the Old Stone Museum & Historic Village in Brownington. The event is going to be held at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Montpelier on September 26, 2021. We’re thrilled to be hosting an in-person meeting this year, and we are also offering members the option of watching the meeting virtually. It’s a perfect opportunity for members to come together and share favorite moments from their 251 Club Journeys!”

Members of The 251 Club of Vermont also receive a complimentary subscription to the Club’s newsletter, The Wayfarer, which is published three times a year. The Wayfarer serves as a platform for members to share stories of their past trips, providing ample inspiration for other travelers seeking to make the most of their “251 Adventures.” Members can submit stories to The 251 Club of Vermont for consideration, and Young also interviews members for special feature stories. “I recently interviewed a high school senior who had just completed his ‘251 quest’,” says Young. “The Wayfarer offers members the opportunity to share their memories of their 251 travels and how they went about visiting each town. 251 Club members enjoy their experience in different ways. Some members walk to each town, and others bike to the towns. Members have also done themed tours, such as brewery tours, post office tours, and library tours. Some members set out with no theme and see what they come across in each town. I’m continually amazed by all of the novel and inventive ways people choose to explore the state, and I love hearing members’ stories.”


251 Club board member, Mike Leonard, was so deeply affected by his 251 Club expeditions that he decided to make a film about it. Leonard originally completed his first full 251 Club tour in 2006 in the summer between two semesters at college. He documented his original journey through a series of published columns in The Vermont Standard, and interviewed many of the people who he met along the way. Twelve years later, Leonard returned to Vermont to embark on a second tour of the state, and interviewed many of the same people who he had met during the course of his previous journey on film. Released in 2019, One Town at a Time offers viewers an insightful look at the subtle cultural variations between different towns in the Green Mountain State and also a heartwarming tribute about the impact that the 251 Club of Vermont has had on Leonard’s life. “Mike Leonard’s film really shows just how much this club means to its members,” says Young. “Everyone who joins the 251 Club ends up with a fascinating story to tell, and he told his in a truly wonderful way.”


In order to ensure that members can effectively track their progress and catalog their favorite memories, the 251 Club of Vermont offers every member an online profile page where they can check off towns, record notes and upload pictures. The 251 Club of Vermont also sells “Vermont Travel Journals” on their website, which alphabetically list all of Vermont’s cities and towns on lightly-lined paper pages. “I love to use the Vermont Travel Journal to write down memories of my travels with my family,” says Young. “I’ve also started to use it as a scrapbook of sorts where I cut and paste photos and different mementos from different towns. It really helps me celebrate my favorite memories from all of my 251 Club outings.”

Young recalls that one of the most memorable moments from her Vermont 251 Club trips was when she went to the President Calvin Coolidge Historic site in Plymouth, Vermont. “In December 2019, we had a free weekend, and we decided that we wanted to go on a 251 Club outing. We ended up going to the President Calvin Coolidge Historic site in Plymouth. At the time, their holiday festival was in full swing. When we got there, we arrived to a picturesque Vermont winter scene. There were big, fluffy snowflakes coming down out of the sky. It was like something out of a movie! We fell in love with the Calvin Coolidge site. They had different interactive stations that were perfect for kids, and my two boys were fascinated by the history of the village. The tour guide really brought it to life in an amazing way. After we left, we unexpectedly stopped by the Original General Store in Pittsfield. The great thing about 251 Club of Vermont Adventures is that you end up going to places you never expected and enjoy unforgettable experiences along the way.”


vt251.com

188 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All