The Deep Dive
Northeast Kingdom Tips + FAQs
What are the local, must-see attractions or hot spots?
Where to start? If you’re at all interested in mountain biking or ever considered being interested in mountain biking, Kingdom Trails should be thought of as an absolute Mecca. Called the “Best trail network in North America” by none other than Bike Magazine, Kingdom Trails is a collection of over 100 miles of rolling singletrack through unspoiled, pristine Vermont countryside. With trails and pathways for all experience levels, you are going to be absolutely gobsmacked by the variety and beauty of the riding options here. During the Summer and Fall months, town turns into a biking metropolis with pop-up music venues, trail-side snack shacks, aprés-bike beer gardens, and more. Anywhere and everywhere you go you’ll find more areas to explore and scores of eager bikers hitting the trails. It’s pretty darn special.
Similarly impressive is the nearby combination of Lake Willoughby and Mt. Pisgah. There are several ways up Mt. Pisgah and each offer multiple spots to stop and take in the view of Lake Willougby below. While taking in these views you can really get an understanding of why this area is called The Kingdom - it is hand-down majestic. While not an incredibly technical hike, there are some spots near the top that can get quite slippery, so keep an eye out. You’ll definitely want to bring water and a snack, the summit is a great place for an impromptu picnic.
An hour Northwest, you’ll find yourself at Jay Peak Resort. While Jay Peak is rightfully known for the copious amounts of snow it receives each year, we’re equally enamored with one of their man-made attractions, The Pump House. The Pump House Indoor Waterpark is an oasis in all four seasons. The only indoor waterpark in the state, the Pump House features a massive lazy river, a double-barrel flowrider (think surf/skate/waterpark hybrid), kids pools, private cabanas, water slides, hot tubs, and a 65’ freefall tube affectionately called ‘La Chute’. The perfect place to bring the family, check out with some friends, or rock out to solo, we give the Pump House two very enthusiastic thumbs up!
If you only had one night in town, where are you going for dinner?
There are some places where you just feel at home as soon as you sit down and for us, one of those places is The Belfry in Montgomery Center. A local’s favorite for decades now, we just have fantastic memories of getting in a killer day on the hill at nearby Jay Peak, and sitting down to a hearty and delicious dinner with a table full of friends. Great specials, friendly service, and strong drinks, this whole place is just a vibe. We love it.
We’re looking to splurge a little - where are the best digs in town?
How does a 1904 Neo-classical-style grand mansion with stunning grounds, spectacular views, and exquisitely renovated rooms sound? Have we got the spot for you - the Inn at Burklyn is all of this and more! We couldn’t be more enamored with the attention to detail and the luxury atmosphere that has been impressively curated at this Northeast Kingdom estate. It truly feels like you have taken a stroll through time and stepped out into a fairytale.
Where should we go for unique, one-of-a-kind shopping?
So Willey’s Store in Greensboro is technically a True Value hardware store, but don’t let that fool you! This store has an incredible inventory of, well, everything. Toy section? Yup. Gourmet food and wine? You better believe it. Homegoods, clothing, and gifts? Oh, absolutely! If you’re looking for it, Willey’s has got it - so be prepared to spend a good chunk of time just exploring and digging in.
Down the road in St. Johnsbury, you’ll find the Moose River Lake and Lodge Store. With a name like that, you know it’s gotta be something special! Filled to the brim with great gifts, local jewelry, folk art, clothing, and more, Moose River is a curated collection of everything you would possibly need for your body, home, lodge, camp, or cabin! Including an incredibly well-stocked wine cellar, we might add. Of course, what NEKingdom trading post would be complete without an incredible taxidermy display for good measure? Moose River is rustic elegance at its very finest, and we’re big fans.
We have our kids with us, where should we go with the entire family?
Without question, you need to bring your kid-crew to the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium. The perfect activity (especially on a rainy day), the Fairbanks will keep everyone engaged and entertained for hours on end. Much more than just a natural history museum, you find more than 30,000 objects, oddities, and treasures throughout the gorgeous museum grounds - as well as Vermont’s only public planetarium. With rotating shows and exhibits, and a fabulously friendly and knowledgeable staff, the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium is a soon-to-be favorite of your entire family.
After your museum exploration, everyone’s going to want something tasty, right? Just on the other side of town, find your way to Maple Grove Farms, where you can enjoy absolutely everything maple! For over one hundred years, the folks at Maple Grove Farms have been producing the highest quality syrups you can find, and their gift shop and museum is the perfect place to have a taste and learn with the entire family about how that syrup is made. Be sure to grab a maple creemee. When in question, always grab a maple creemee.
We’re looking to start the day off right, breakfast recs? Is there a famous, local breakfast sandwich?
One of our favorite NEK breakfast joints is the timeless Miss Lyndonville Diner. As one satisfied customer said, “It’s just about impossible to walk away hungry from the Miss Lyndonville Diner.” We completely agree. Serving the Burke area since 1978, you can expect generous portions, friendly down-home service, and breakfast served all day long. We’re big fans of their Skillet Breakfast (biscuit and sausage gravy, home fries, bacon, and eggs), but their french toasts are also next-level delicious. A meal here feels like stepping into a time warp in the best possible way, and it’s a must-visit every time we’re in Lyndonville.
We want to get out and breathe in some fresh air, what do you suggest we check out?
The size and quality of Kingdom Trails can not be understated. We’ve gone here with groups of expert-level riders and first-time riders, and the common thread between both parties is just how special this place really is. Everyone is having a great time, and it’s easy to see why, with how much effort and time has gone into creating a truly epic destination.
One of the best parts of the Northeast Kingdom in general is the sheer number of outdoor activities and pursuits available. From hiking (Mt. Pisgah, Owlshead, and Osmore Pond are a few favorites), to snowmobiling (VAST trail system is the best in New England), skiing and riding (Jay Peak and Burke are renowned), fishing, camping, and so much more! The NEK is where to go when you want to be able to get outside and connect with something far more important than an email or smartphone.
We’re coming up for a couples getaway - where should we go for a romantic dinner?
For special occasions and those nights when you’re just feeling a little romantic, our recommendation is to make a reservation at The Inn at Burklyn. This grand estate-turned-luxury-getaway serves a delicious locally-focused menu every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening. The cocktails and desserts are particularly scrumptious and the perfect accompaniment to an intimate, romantic dinner.
How about local music or entertainment?
They don’t happen all of the time, and it can certainly be a trek to get there, but if seeing a great show in a one-of-a-kind venue is up your alley, then checking out a show at the Barrage in Holland, VT should be on your radar. Quite literally a barn/garage in a local’s backyard, if you’re lucky enough to catch a night here, you’re bound to feel that sense of community and inclusion that makes the Kingdom so special. Shows are by donation, mostly BYOB, and the artists receive all of the money collected - so bring your fold-up chairs and your sense of adventure, and prepare to have a great time.
On the other end of the polished-spectrum and just as enjoyable, Jay Peak Resort has been scheduling amazing bands for years and years. From Winter shows in the Foeger Ballroom to their amazing Summer Music Series out in the Stateside Amphitheater (a 1500-seat outdoor venue built right into the ski slope. Keep an eye on their event page for shows and festivals all year round.
We’re looking for something special for lunch - suggestions?
You might not expect to find a tiki bar in the Northeast Kingdom, but put your surprise aside, because our favorite place to have lunch will always be Mike’s Tiki Bar. After a great morning of ripping singletrack at Kingdom Trails, you’ll find us saddled up to the outdoor bar and patio at Mike’s. Ice cold drafts are being poured, burritos are being eaten (check out the food truck to your right), and tunes are crankin’. Sure, it might not be your traditional lunch spot, but we can honestly think of no place we’d rather be.
After a long, fun day a cocktail sounds perfect! Where are we headed?
Well, maybe we spoke a little too soon in the question above because it’s a darn close call with Spokeasy Cocktail Lounge. Boasting some of the most amazing views in the Kingdom, this tiny bar and beer garden can be found behind the bucolic Wildflower Inn. After a day of riding, this place might at first glance seem like a desert mirage, but we promise you these cocktails are the real deal. Off the beaten path, rustic, magical, and entirely sublime.
We don’t want to be complete tourists - where are the locals going?
It’s all locals up in the Kingdom! Strike up a conversation and get to know the fella next to you. Great places to mingle are going to be the farmers’ markets, the bike shops, anywhere part of Kingdom Trails, the ski mountain bars, and all around town. Get out there and connect!