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MONTPELIER, Vt. — It’seasy to get into the grooveas you drive up Route 89to all that is Vermont duringfoliage season. Theviews are lovely, andthe ride is easy. Butwhat visitors to Vermontneed to know isthere is a whole other levelof vibe just a quarterof a mile off the highway.Montpelier, Vermont’scapitol city, isa must-visit on anyroad trip.Montpelier is centeredby the beautifulVermont StateCapitol buildingwhich, during foliage season, isflanked by vibrant trees in their autumncolors.But the city has much more tooffer than that beautiful site —you’ll find diverse foods, shopping,people-watching and a great musicscene.Montpelier has long offeredeclectic fun, but in the past yearit has experienced an explosion incultural and food offerings. Thisyear alone, the city welcomed twonew pho restaurants, two Thaieateries, a Latin fusion spot, newfarm-to-table restaurants and, ofcourse, more tap rooms.The city had already been hometo great Italian restaurants andthe famed Three Penny Taproom,where you can sample some ofthe state’s best craft beers and diginto an amazing burger.What’s nice about all this is theambience. Reading it on paper,it sounds urban. And indeed, thequality and the vibe is. But at thesame time, it’s the quaint feel thatmakes Montpelier special. It’s notunusual to bump into the state’shighest level elected officials at alocal eatery — even presidentialhopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders.Save time for shopping. Not acity for box stores, you’ll find insteadlocally owned shops withdistinct personalities. From vintagemusic shops to cool toy storesto unique clothing, it’s all along thestreets of the city.On Oct. 3, visitors can enjoy theMontpelier ArtsFest from 4-8 p.m.The ArtsFest provides an opportunityfor seasoned and emergingartists to showcase their talents.Festival-goers can take a tour ofvenues each curated by differentcommunity art groups and individualartists, crafters and performers.In addition to the visual art, theevent will host a craft beer gardenand all kinds of performance artistsand buskers. www.montpelieralive.orgAnd just steps away is the lushnatural setting that makes Vermontwhat it is. It’s easy to combinea city dining and shoppingadventure with a taste of outdoorshere. Just behind the Statehouseis Hubbard Park, where you’ll notonly find magnificent views andplenty of foliage, but also hikingand biking trails.