If you think of Vermont as a place to visit just to ski, you’re missing half the fun. Vermont in summer is truly a vacation paradise. Warm days and cool nights are perfect for getting outdoors and enjoying what Vermont has to offer. If your interests run to activities that are a little less physical, summer in Vermont has plenty to keep you busy also. In this article, we will look at southern Vermont. This area is easily reachable from anywhere in New England and New York making it is a very popular vacation destination.
Vermont has 4.46 million acres of forest of which the local, state, and federal government hold 19%. With all that woodland to explore, hiking trails abound. And, there’s a trail just right for everyone – long and short, easy or challenging. Check the Vermont State Parks website for information on a number of trails, complete with length and difficulty assessment. The Green Mountain Club website also offers suggestions for day hikes and provides pointers.
Another wonderful way to get outside and see the natural beauty the state has to offer is to take to the trails on a mountain bike. The non-profit organization Vermont Mountain Bike Association is a good source to find trails that will conform to your ability levels. Local bike shops often rent bikes and can share a wealth of information about local trails and conditions.
If you think “water sports” when you think summer, Vermont has you covered with canoeing and kayaking, swimming, and tubing. As home to many lakes and rivers, Vermont offers some excellent locations to indulge in all manner of watersports. Many of the state parks not only have ponds and lakes, but also rent canoes and kayaks for recreation. Visit the Vermont State Parks website for complete details. The same website will also let you know where swimming is permitted and what the conditions are like. When it comes to swimming, Vermont is also home to many local swimming holes in rivers and streams. Talk with the locals to get the best intel. In addition, some of those same rivers and streams are ideal locations for tubing. Just remember, you will either have to have someone downstream to pick you up or hike all the way back. For kayaking, canoeing, or tubing on the Battenkill in Manchester, check Vermont River Runners for equipment, shuttles, and all-around know-how.
All those rivers and lakes make for some really excellent fishing. A number of the state parks will even loan you fishing gear to try your luck. For the more serious fisherman, consult Vermont Fish and Wildlife to determine where to fish and what can be caught there. (If you really live and breathe fishing, you might be interested in visiting the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont.)
If golf is a must-have for your vacation, Vermont can certainly accommodate. You will find a choice of courses in southern Vermont. Everything from mountain courses to valley links. Want to play every day? You might even be able to play a different course each day without driving for much more than an hour. Check the Vermont.com Golf Guide to find courses near your lodging.
For those who lean toward activities that are a little less physical, southern Vermont offers some interesting history and sightseeing. Bennington, in southwestern Vermont, is home to the Bennington Museum which holds a large collection of Grandma Moses’ paintings as well as artifacts from the early days in Vermont. Bennington is also home to the Bennington Battle Monument commemorating the Battle of Bennington, a turning point in the Revolutionary War. The tallest structure in Vermont, you can ride to the top for breathtaking views of the countryside. If history fascinates you, you will want to visit Hildene in Manchester. Hildene is the summer home of Robert Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s son. This 1905 Georgian Revival mansion gives you insight into the daily life of the Lincoln family through its authentic décor and furnishings.
In addition to Robert Lincoln, southern Vermont has been home to others whose names you will recognize. Visit Arlington and see the home in which Norman Rockwell lived and worked during the middle part of his life. Or head to nearby Shaftsbury to visit the house in which Robert Frost lived from 1920 to 1929. The famous poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” may even have been written there. Nearby Dorset is the site of Bill W’s grave, one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Weston, Vermont offers a glimpse into early 19th century village life. Among the town's mini museums is the Old Mill, an actual operating water-powered gristmill and the Farrar-Mansur House filled with period heirlooms in room settings.
Beautiful vistas are available almost everywhere in Vermont. For a really special view, take Skyline Drive to the top of Mount Equinox in Sunderland. At 3,848 feet above sea level, your view from the summit offers panoramic views all the way to the White Mountains of New Hampshire in the east, the Berkshires in Massachusetts to the south, and the Adirondack Mountains in New York to the west.
Art & Theater
Vermont is not all sports and scenery. Summer theater is alive and well in southern Vermont with performances at the Weston Playhouse in Weston, the Dorset Theatre Festival in Dorset, and Oldcastle Theater in Bennington. Fine arts also have a permanent home in Vermont with many talented artists living locally. See their works at galleries and outdoor art & craft shows all summer long. Check Vermont.com’s Calendar of Events to find dates of upcoming shows and events.
Dining & Breweries
There is probably no spot in the USA that embraces the farm-to-table philosophy of dining quite as enthusiastically as Vermont. Restaurant owners and chefs have direct purchasing relationships with local farmers and prepare menus based upon what is seasonally fresh. This relationship extends to meats, cheeses, and other foods from Vermont’s working farms. Dining in Vermont is often not only delicious, but completely unique. Check Vermont.com for dining suggestions in southern Vermont. The Manchester Restaurant Guide offers recommended choices specifically for the Manchester area.
Vermonters also turn their culinary creativity to the brewing of beer. The state currently has over 40 independent breweries with more popping up every day. Many offer tastings and tours. At others, a full service restaurant shares the space. Vermont.com can help you find local breweries throughout the state.
It wouldn’t be a vacation if you didn’t do a little shopping. Whether your desire is to purchase gifts for the folks back home, a souvenir for yourself, or something special from a local artist, southern Vermont has so many choices. From outlet stores in Manchester to fine art galleries in Brattleboro to souvenir shops in Bennington or Wilmington, you’ll have a hard time saying “no.”
6/22-25 Wanderlust Stratton
7/4- 8/13 Vermont Summer Festival (Horse Show) E. Dorset
7/15-8/13 Marlboro Music Festival Marlboro
8/4 Southern Vermont Arts & Crafts Bennington
8/10-13 Manchester Sidewalk Sales Manchester
8/25-27 Manchester Food & Wine Manchester
Perhaps your visit to Vermont began with a selection of where to stay. Your choice might have included a favorite resort hotel you stayed in during ski season, a romantic B&B, or a family-friendly campsite. For a truly special getaway, consider the luxurious, boutique Kimpton Taconic Hotel in Manchester. Or, for a traditional Vermont country inn experience, try the Landgrove Inn in Landgrove, Vermont. Whatever your needs or budget, Vermont.com has all the information you will need to find lodging that is ideal for you. Sort your lodging choices by kind of accommodation as well as by region. Vermont.com can even help you identify hotels and inns that are pet-friendly.
We believe if you visit Vermont this summer you will come back again and again. We can’t wait to see you!