Monday, August 29, 2016

A Vermonter Recommends 11 Things to Do in Vermont

Cows, mountains, old red barns, skiing, maple syrup and so much more, these are just a few of the things that Vermont is known for. But what’s the real deal? What should you really do when you come to this little state? I won’t give you the hype, this is a look at the real Vermont, the real must see attractions for anyone coming to the Green Mountain State. Trust me, I’m a Vermonter.

#1 Drink Beer. (Or Wine or Spirits or Cider) Or Just Visit a Brewery

Do you like beer? Do you like the WORLD’S BEST BEER? Well you can find it here in Vermont. With more breweries per capita than anywhere else, there is a beer for every palate. If you aren’t into beer, there are also a ton of local wineries, distilleries, and cideries. Most breweries are open to the public and have tours (sorry Heady fans, the Alchemist isn’t one of them) or you can join an organized beer tour.

[Caption: Vermont Beer: Forbidden Fruit at Vermont Pub & Brewery. ]
Nonalcoholic Option: Not everyone drinks, and that’s totally cool. There are a lot of other locally made food & drink to be found. Visit Vermont in the fall for fresh apple cider, straight from the press right there are the orchard!

#2 Visit Burlington

Burlington is Vermont’s largest city, it’s also a college town with an eclectic vibe. It also has a ton of things to do, including shopping, dining, nightlife, events, concerts and performing arts. While in Burlington, check out the following must see attractions:
  • The Waterfront - Enjoy a sunset dinner on a lake cruise or at a lakeside restaurant, stroll along the walking path, or enjoy a local event or concert, or just hang out on the beach. Got kids? The Echo aquarium is the perfect way to spend a day!
  • The Church Street Marketplace aka Church Street - A car-free shopping street with boutiques, name brand stores, coffee shops, restaurants and bars. By day is the best place to shop and get a bite to eat, and by night it’s the center of Burlington’s Nightlife.
  • Breweries - Yes, it’s home to many breweries including Magic Hat, local favorite Switchback and more!
  • Seasonal Events - There are many seasonal events year round. The summer brings music festivals, food festivals, wine festivals and beer festivals, winter has the ever popular Mardi Gras parade.
  • Concerts & Performing Arts - The Flynn Center features various performers and musicians year round. The perfect space to catch a bit of culture.
[Caption: The Burlington Waterfront at Sunset.]

#3 Eat the Local Food

Vermont loves it’s local agriculture and it shows in it’s restaurants. Many Vermont restaurants, even humble bars, feature local and seasonal ingredients. Farm to table is literal here in Vermont and plays a big part in the state’s food culture. There’s a variety of food to be found from pubs to pizza to ethnic food. Some of my personal favorites are:

#4 Ski or Snowboard

Winter in Vermont is the perfect time to hit the slopes. There are ski areas in every corner of the state with terrain for every level of skier or rider. If you are just learning or a pro hit up the slopes, and you won’t be disappointed.

Coming in the summer? That’s cool too, the ski areas still offer tons of fun summertime activities. Smuggs in particular has lots of family friendly activities year round. Or you can always visit the Alpine Slide at Stowe! (Protip: DO IT! SO MUCH FUN!)

#5 Visit Ben & Jerry’s

I’ve been asked by people visiting Vermont, “Should I really visit the Ben & Jerry’s factory? Or is it just a tourist trap?” My response: DO IT. It’s really awesome. Take the tour of the factory and browse the gift shop and the flavor graveyard. Get some ice cream at the scoop shop and say hi to the friendly onsite cows. It’s well worth the trip for kids and kids at heart.

#6 Maple Syrup

March means maple syrup season. If you are visiting Vermont in March you should be able to hit up a sugar on snow party and even a maple festival or two (plus get in on some sweet spring skiing). But, no fear! Maple is available year round in Vermont and easily found at every local grocery, convenience and tourist shop you might encounter. For the real experience visit a local sugar producer, like Bragg Farm to learn more about it and try their delicious maple creemees (soft-serve ice cream).

[Caption: A maple creemee from Bragg Farm.]

#7 Leaf Peep

Fall is the perfect time to come to Vermont, the leaves turn colors and the scenery is just gorgeous. People come to Vermont from all over to see the leaves. It’s not limited to just tourists either! Driving around to look at the turning leaves was a family tradition for me growing up as well. So if you are visiting in the fall, get out there and see those leaves!

#8 Attend a Festival

There are so many festivals to choose from! What do you like to do? Eat? Drink? Music? There is a festival for everyone! The summer in Vermont is filled with exciting and fun festivals, concerts and events to do.
[Caption: August West Fest - A Grateful Dead Tribute Festival.]

#9 Eat Some Cheese

If there is something other than beer, apples, milk, and maple that Vermont is known for it’s the delicious, delicious cheese. You may be familiar with Cabot cheese, but there is more than that! There are many different local cheese makers creating wonderful cheeses of all kind. If you are a cheese lover, Vermont has you covered.

#10 Visit a Museum Or Farm (why not both!)

Learning in Vermont can be fun, especially if you hit up any of these fun and hands on museums!
  • The Shelburne Museum - Learn about Vermont’s past and see relics and artwork from times gone by. Walk through a steam powered paddle boat that once traveled Lake Champlain, visit a round barn or sample some old-fashioned rock candy.
  • Shelburne Farms - Jaw dropping Vermont beauty? Milk a cow? Hay ride? Pet some farm animals? It’s all at Shelburne Farms along with artisan agricultural products (*coughCHEESE*)
  • Echo Center - Located on the waterfront in Burlington this is my young niece's favorite place to go! There are tons of hands on activities for kids to do all while they learn about Lake Champlain and its ecosystems.
  • UVM Morgan Horse Farm - Do you like horses? Did you know Vermont’s state animal is the Morgan horse? It was also once the principal mount of the United States cavalry. The UVM Morgan Horse Farm in Middlebury is a historic farm with a proud military and agricultural history. Learn about Vermont’s state animal, see gorgeous horses at work and play, and learn about the important role these animals played in the United States military history.

#11 Visit the Statehouse & Montpelier

Montpelier is the capital of Vermont and a town full of local charm and flavor. Take a visit to the Statehouse for a tour, it’s well worth it to see the historic building where state legislation takes place. Then visit downtown Montpelier for more great food and shopping. You can find all sorts of boutiques and shops.
[Caption: Montpelier Vermont, The Statehouse.]

#12 Visit a Farmer’s Market

Agriculture is huge in Vermont. So too are farmer’s markets. There is one every day of the week in one town or another. One of the best ones to visit is the Burlington Farmer’s Market. It’s held every Saturday morning. Like the other farmer’s markets you can find tons of local produce, handmade goods and artisan crafts, food and more. It’s a wonderful way to spend the morning and grab a bite to eat.

Vermont is way more than cows and cheese (though those are two very important things). Visit the Green Mountain State any time of year and you will have an abundance of things to see, activities to do and culture to experience. In my extremely biased opinion Vermont deserves a must see status for your next family vacation. There’s something for everyone from culture to shopping to animals to all the outdoor activities you could want. Take it from me, a lifelong Vermonter, these places are must sees.

And remember, Vermont is a state. You can find us just south of Canada, west of New Hampshire, and east of upstate New York just on the other side of Lake Champlain.

Have you been to Vermont? What’s your favorite thing to see or do there?

About the Author

Kara, The Hippy Milspouse is a blogger and military spouse. She’s a native Vermonter currently living in Korea (and missing her home state). She writes about green living and military life on her blog, The Hippy Milspouse. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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