Fortunately there's a lot to do in my local area of Vermont, so I hope to get this one up fairly quickly. Unless stated otherwise, the photos were all taken by me.
TOP 10 THINGS TO DO NEAR HERE
1. ECHO Aquarium
The one display that blew me away was how the zebra mussels, an invasive species, can cover things so quickly. They showed 3 bikes that had all harsh chemicals removed and were left in the lake for ever greater lengths of time. Even after one day the coverage of mussels was significant. The bike that had been there 2 weeks looked like a bike shaped jumble of mussels, you couldn't see any bike parts at all.
2. Burlington, Vermont Waterfront
There are a lot of things you can do on the Waterfront. There are several great restaurants, hotels with a view of the lake, and a really nice walking path. The walking path even has large swinging benches so you can sit and enjoy the view.
image from churchstmarketplace.comThe Island Line bike trail also passes through the waterfront and I've ridden the entire length, about 20 miles, there and back. It ends at the causeway in the middle of Lake Champlain. The trail was mostly destroyed by tropical storm Irene in 2011, but it's all been built back up now. They had cranes, etc. on barges and heaved tons (literally!) of rock and gravel to rebuild the causeway and path.
This is a pedestrian-only street and it's busiest from spring to early fall, but even in winter the shops are open and there are a lot of pedestrians. There are many unique stores and some great restaurants as well. It's a really unique place and they go to a lot of effort to keep it looking clean.
In late July/early August there's a Festival of Fools that was a lot of fun, and you can catch music festivals throughout the summer months.
4. Champlain Valley Fair and Franklin County Field Days
We've had a great time every year we've been to the Champlain Valley Fair in Essex, Vermont and we've good every year for a long time now. We missed the Franklin County Field Days this year because of work and visits from family, but it was a lot of fun last year. DH met one of his favourite wrestlers ever, Paul "The Butcher" Vachon. It's a lot smaller than the Champlain Fair, but they pack in a ton of events, so it's a great time.
There are a lot of car shows in the area and they take place from spring to fall. We went to one in Stowe for the first time this year and it had hundreds of really amazing vehicles. We also tend to go to the NSRA Nationals at the Champlain Expo each year. Most owners are happy to let you take photos of their rides and very willing to talk about their vehicles as well.
image from smuggs.comThere may not be 100 ski resorts in Vermont, but there might be 50. There have any kind of skiing and/or snowboarding you're interested in. The Green Mountains are full of resorts and trails and if we have another snow like last year, then you're in for a great ski season.
I linked to Ski Vermont above and that's your first stop if you'd like to come skiing in Vermont. They list all the resorts and you can search by the type of skiing you're interested in.
7. Lake Champlain Boat Tours
image from Northern LightsThere are a few different boat tours that run through the non-winter months. The Spirit of Ethan Allen is one, and Northern Star Lake Cruises, and Northern Lights, and you can even tour a shipwreck at the Maritime Museum.
I've yet to go on any tour, but it's a beautiful way to see the lake. Currently they're running the fall foliage tours since that's a big draw to the area. There is a lot of unspoiled country and you can see the leaves changing really well up here.
8. Fishing/Ice Fishing
I mentioned in my top 10 fears post about how I'm afraid of falling into ice and not being able to get out again, so walking out on the ice to get these photos was an experience. I was able to deal with my fear somewhat and it helped that there was a big truck way out from the shore, but I wouldn't let DH drive our truck out there. That terrified me beyond belief.
Ice fishing and fishing during non-winter months is a huge industry here. I don't see the draw myself, but if your income depends on it, of course you'd be out there in all weather to catch fish. I don't know if you can tell by the last photo, but the ice is maybe a foot thick there. So it's safe, but who said fears are rational? :)
If you're interested in hiking there are a lot of great trails in the area. One sort of rite of passage seems to be climbing up Camel's Hump. I have yet to attempt it, but maybe when DD gets a little older. There's also a decent trail behind the Trapp Family Lodge that DH and I attempted a few years ago. That's much gentler and would be a good first hike for DD.
Some people attempt the Long Trail, a 272 mile track all the way through Vermont. It coincides with the Appalachain Trail for 100 miles in Southern Vermont. That would definitely be an adventure, and I don't know that I will ever attempt it.
I did a very small amount of hiking in Smuggler's Notch, but it was with my mother and she wasn't up to much hiking. It was beautiful scenery up there though. Apparently there are all kinds of caves and little hideaways in the Notch and that's why it was named "Smuggler's".
10. Shelburne Farms and Museum
You can stay overnight right on the lake at Shelburne Farms. The house has a full restaurant featuring food from the farm and several great rooms with lake views.
The dairy barn, outstanding architecture!
And from the back you can see the rest of the Green Mountains.
The Ticonderoga at Shelburne Museum, sailed into place and then tons and tons of dirt was dumped behind it to make it land again.
These are two separate properties and both could keep you busy for a couple days per area. Shelburne Farms is a nonprofit agricultural farm that keeps grass fed cattle and other animals. They also maintain their woodlands in a sustainable manner and you can stay on the property at the Webb house. There are great trails to walk through and you can come upon interesting architecture, like in the dairy barn above, and odd sculptures.
Shelburne Museum is enormous! We thought we'd go one day before I had to work and we didn't have time to see more than maybe 25% of it, even though we were there about 4 hours. They have many permanent displays and some displays change from year to year. We saw a fantastic Ansel Adams and Edward Burtynsky photo show a couple years ago. There are displays of almost anything you could think of, including some really creepy dolls in one house. There is a replica house on the grounds that houses the Webb's real furniture and the art they had collected, like Degas and Monet and Cassatt.
If you make it to Vermont, this is well worth a day or two to investigate.
I hope you enjoyed a little peek into Vermont!