1) Concord, NH
Location: about 50 minutes Southeast from Hanover on I-89
Restaurant(s): Cafe Indigo is an all-vegan restaurant which features sandwiches, soups, salads and homemade vegan desserts. The restaurant is closed on Saturdays, but on Sundays it features what is arguably the best vegan brunch in Northern New England. For $15, you get all-you-can-eat from the salad bar and the dessert bar, unlimited cups of tea and coffee (which comes with Silk soy creamer) and your choice of entree.
Area Attractions: It's fun just to walk around downtown Concord. There are a number of eco-friendly stores (Earth Made, Gondwana, Lotions-n-Potions) and coffee shops.
2) Montpelier, VT
2) Montpelier, VT
Location: about an hour Northwest from Hanover on I-89
Restaurant(s): Kismet Kitchen is a cute localvore cafe with a number of vegan items on the menu. The food is creative: for example, the tofu scramble comes with a side of roasted root vegetables and your choice of polenta or a (vegan!) crepe. In addition to the standard coffee and tea drinks, Kismet serves a "dandelion latte," sweetened with Vermont maple syrup. This place is reason enough to make the trip from Hanover. However, I find it easier to justify spending the gas money by staying in town for the afternoon and studying at the Langdon Street Cafe, which makes wonderful soy coffee drinks and usually has vegan cookies or brownies at the counter. I like to stock up on Liz Lovely vegan cookies when I'm in Montpelier - The Hunger Mountain Co-op usually has 6 or 7 different flavors.
Area Attractions: Montpelier is built on top of two rivers, so there are covered bridges at every turn, not to mention the majestic gold-domed capital building and surrounding parks. It's a very charming place to walk around. There are a number of bookstores to explore, ranging from bestsellers (Bear Pond Books) to antiquities (Book Garden, Rivendell Books) to a worker-owned anarchist book collective (Black Sheep Books). Montpelier is also home to a number of coffee shops, vintage clothing stores and art galleries.
Location: about 90 minutes Northwest of Hanover on I-89
Restaurant(s): The New Ethic Cafe is an all-vegan cafe which specializes in comfort food. They have a large selection of vegan "chicken" dishes, sandwiches, nachos, cornbread, and dairy-free macaroni and cheese. My favorite menu item is the "chicken" ranch sandwich with coconut "bacon." On Saturdays, they make homemade vegan donuts. A Single Pebble is a Chinese restaurant that features vegan mock-meat versions of almost everything that appears on the regular menu, not to mention a large selection of exotic teas.
Area Attractions: Burlington is home to the University of Vermont, and has a nightlife to match the needs to college students. There are tons of bars (alcohol and hookah), concert venues and late-night coffee shops. Church Street is a pedestrian street that features a large number of locally-owned boutiques and sidewalk cafes.
4) Northampton, MA
Location: about 90 minutes South of Hanover on I-91
Restaurant(s): Evolution is an all-vegan cafe in nearby Florence, MA (if you're on Main Street in Northampton, just continue past Smith College for five minutes and you'll get to Evolution). Evolution makes sandwiches, amazing vegan nachos and the BEST VEGAN CUPCAKES I HAVE EVER EATEN. Seriously. Evolution also usually has a selection of vegan scones, cookies, chocolate peanut butter rice crispy treats and other wonderful dairy-free baked goods. They also make incredible vegan brunch on Sundays, including lemon blueberry corn wafles and vegan shitake mushroom omlets. Green Bean is a trendy cafe in downtown Northampton. It is only open for breakfast and lunch. It has really tasty vegan cornmeal pancakes and biscuits smothered in almond gravy. There are a number of other vegan items on the menu, including chocolate cupcakes (although I like the cupcakes at Evolution a lot more). Haymarket Cafe has a coffee shop upstairs and a restaurant downstairs, both of which are incredibly vegan-friendly. The coffee shop features a large number of vegan baked goods (including the chocolate ganache cake pictured above). Northampton is also home to the Whole Foods and Trader Joe's branches that are closest to Hanover.
Area Attractions: Northampton has a number of stores featuring hip clothing, local handicrafts, and exotic imports from Africa, Asia and South America. The Pleasant Street Movie Theater showcases a good selection of foreign and independent films (including films by local filmmakers) and sells vegan cookies at its concession stand. The Iron Horse Music Hall and the Pearl Street Nightclub feature performances by nationally-renowned music groups.