Burlington and Lake Champlain
Burlington is the largest city in the state of Vermont and, as such, offers an extensive choice of things to do. Home to the University of Vermont, the city is vibrant and youthful with an eclectic mix of traditional New England and the more exotic. Unlike many US cities, Burlington is as much about the outdoors as the indoors. Located on the shores of Lake Champlain, the city’s Waterfront Park is an ideal place to take a scenic bike ride, stroll to a picturesque picnic spot, or just sit to watch the sun set over the lake. For a unique way to acquaint yourself with the city, try a Segway tour.
Want to get out on the water? Head to Community Sailing Center and rent a canoe, kayak, or even a sailboat. Or try the newest watersport, paddleboarding. (There is a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll love exploring the bay.)
With all that waterfront, there are a number of beaches set aside for swimming. North Beach is probably the most classic swim location, frequented by UVM students as it is near campus. Or, why not jump on your bike and take the bike path toward Oakledge. Along the way you will find a sandy strip with lake access. Or for the more daring, head to Red Rocks in South Burlington and do some cliff jumping. (There are also spots where the less daring can ease into the water in a secluded, natural setting.)
If fishing is your watersport, Lake Champlain and area rivers are calling you. Head to Oakledge Park, just south of downtown Burlington and take advantage of some great fishing. This area is located near both very deep and very shallow aquatic habitats so you may encounter both warm and cold water species. Just minutes from Burlington is Salmon Hole on the Winooski River just below the Winooski One Dam. Fish from the shore for a variety of species.
Another way to get into the water and away from the city is to check out the Vermont State Parks, a large number of which are in the Burlington area. In addition to swimming, many offer canoe and kayak rentals. (Take a picnic with you and enjoy a day getting back to nature.)
To truly enjoy the beauty that is Vermont, head to Stowe, home to Vermont’s highest peak, Mt. Mansfield. Although best known for its skiing, Stowe is a wonderful summer destination as well. The list of activities is extensive. Go mountain biking on the skiing trails or, for an easier outing, stay on the Stowe Recreation Path. To really enjoy the outdoors, plan a hike into the woods or up the mountain. Stowe has a number of well-marked trails for hikers of all ability levels. For a real adventure, try the Stowe Mountain Resort ZipTour. Fly down from the top of Mt. Mansfield at speeds up to 60 mph! (Don’t panic. You control the speed, so you can slow it down if you want.) Photo credit: Sharon Harper, Stow Area Association
The Stowe area offers excellent golf opportunities as well. And, there is even mini-golf for the less skilled. For a real treat, book a dogcarting tour. Dogcarting is the summer version of dogsledding available from Eden Dog Sledding. (Peace Pups Dog Sledding does not run the dogs in summer, but does invite you to a daily kennel visit.) Meet the dogs and enjoy this unique trip into the countryside.
If planning is not your thing, consider staying at Smugglers’ Notch Resort where you can keep the whole family engaged and happy right on the resort property. Choose from activities as diverse as the Arbor Trek Zip Line Canopy Tour to the newest sport of flyboarding (using a personal water craft to elevate into the air with water jet propulsion). You’ll find play areas and water parks for the kids, multiple dining options, as well as yoga and massage to help you relax and renew. There’s so much to do that you can indulge in something different each day.
Nearby Factory Tours, Breweries, and Shopping
For a break from all that activity, why not take friends and family on a factory tour? For a visit everyone will love, head to Waterbury for a visit to Ben & Jerry’s to see how they make that wonderful ice cream. Don’t forget to make a stop at the Flavor Graveyard “to pay your respects to the dearly de-pinted flavors of years past.” You might also want to visit the Vermont Teddy Bear Company in Shelburne and watch these famous bears being made. The tour will even show you the Bear Hospital where injured bears are nursed back to health. (Vermont Teddy Bears are actually guaranteed for life and the “hospital” repairs those bears returned due to “injury.”) A visit to Lake Champlain Chocolates in Burlington is a stop for all with a sweet tooth. See these fabulous chocolates being made and make sure to purchase some for later.
Vermont has more breweries per capita than any other state in the US and a good number are located in the Burlington, Waterbury, Stowe area. The oldest/longest running craft brewery in the state (and the one that started the craft brewing industry here in 1988) is The Vermont Pub & Brewery in Burlington. For the “grown-ups,” why not take a brewery tour and sample some of the local craft beers? There are also cider mills, wineries and distilleries that you can visit.
And, of course, there is always shopping, whether you are looking for gifts to take home to friends and family or searching for something special for yourself. Church Street Marketplace in Burlington is an open air mall with a truly eclectic mix of shops. You’ll find everything from clothing to gifts to fine art. (For more Burlington shopping ideas, check out Vermont.com's Burlington Shopping Guide.) Or shop the quaint village of Stowe with over 70 shops to indulge your shopping bug.
Whatever you do to fill your days, you’re going to build an appetite. Fresh, delicious food is a Vermont tradition and you will find excellent dining choices almost everywhere. Check out the Burlington Dining Guide for some delicious suggestions.
Special Events for Northern Vermont
Coordinate your visit with one of the summer festivals listed below and check out the Vermont.com Calendar of Events for even more local happenings.
6/2-11 Burlington Discover Jazz Festival Burlington
6/23-25 Vermont Quilt Festival Essex Junction
6/23-25 B3 Fest: Bikes, Brews, and Beats Stowe
6/24-25 Vermont Renaissance Faire Stowe
6/29-7/1 Frendly Gathering Music Festival Warren
7/8 Antiques and Uniques Festival Craftsbury
7/14-15 The Waterbury Arts Waterbury
7/16 Vermont Cheesemakers Festival Shelburne
8/12 Jay Summer Fest Jay
8/16-20 Orleans County Fair Barton
8/23-27 Caledonia County Fair Lyndonville
8/25-9/3 Champlain Valley Fair Essex Junction
So, what are you waiting for? Book a getaway to northern Vermont for this summer. Lodging choices include hotels, resort properties, traditional Vermont inns, and family-friendly campsites. Whatever your budget or your needs, you’ll find a solution. Many hotels and resorts offer very special amenities as well. For example, enjoy fabulous dining in a luxurious setting at the Essex Resort & Spa in Essex, Vermont, just outside Burlington. Not only will you find wonderful meals at this culinary resort, you can even book relaxing spa treatments to pamper yourself. Bringing the whole family? You might check out the Comfort Inn and Suites in Burlington. Convenient to downtown, the hotel offers extras like complimentary buffet breakfast, in-room Nintendo game system, and seasonal outdoor pool. For a more traditional approach, The Green Mountain Inn in Stowe is everything you imagine a Vermont inn should be with the perfect blend of modern amenities and classic touches. The Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa in Stowe offers luxurious accommodations as well as a world-class spa for a truly relaxing getaway. Another alternative might be the Sterling Ridge Resort log cabins located on a back road in Jeffersonville with views of Mt. Mansfield. These cabins are a perfect choice for the family and offer all the modern amenities. Don't forget to consider a family-friendly campsite like the Shelburne Camping Area. For many more selections, check the Hotels & Lodging section on Vermont.com or the Stowe city page for more Stowe area accommodations.