Where there’s a wind, there’s a way, and it’s almost always blowing in Champlain Islands. That, combined with lots of beach access, makes the area ideal for windsurfing. At Sandbar State Park, you can catch a southeast breeze, or a northwest one, and go the distance. White’s Beach on South Hero is also a favorite launch spot. Serious surfers head out between Stave and Providence islands to the broad lake, where they can ride the big waves all the way to New York. Depending on the wind direction, the Grand Isle Lake House can be a sweet spot, too.
Looking for non-motorized vessels? A single kayak is $15 for two hours, a canoe, $17, at Hero's Welcome General Store. Need boat shoes, sunscreen, snacks? They’ve got it all, including a sophisticated website that lets you buy unique Vermont souvenirs all year round.
It’s Isle La Motte’s Shelburne Farms, but a lot more chill — a gallery, concert venue and teahouse. Presidents William McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt were both guests. You can always stop in and look at the art in the 19th-century horse-and-carriage barn, but on Sunday afternoons from 1 to 5, they serve tea and dessert to live acoustic music.
You can’t bring them home, but the fossilized corals that make up the Chazy Reef on Isle la Motte are definitely worth a visit. Paleontologists believe the reef was formed almost half a billion years ago, when Lake Champlain was part of the shallow Iapetus Ocean, where Zimbabwe is today. A well-marked path leads through the field to outcroppings swirled with signs of life — swirled skeletal remains of cephalopods and stromotoporoids. “Discovery Areas” are numbered and identified. The one-room museum sheds light — when it’s open.
Jedediah Hyde Jr. built this one-and-a-half story cabin in 1783. The Vermont Historical Society moved it to its current home on Route 2 in 1945. It’s allegedly the oldest authentic log cabin in the United States. It houses period furnishings and historical items of interest.
Vermont’s first commercial grape vineyard has been “aging” nicely for 13 years. The winery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for tours and tastings, but it’s best experienced in concert with live music outdoors on Thursday evenings. Weather permitting, Snow Farm brings in popular local acts such as Sandra Wright, Jenni Johnson and the Phil Abair Band to complement the sunset. The music starts at 6:30 p.m. Come earlier with a picnic, but plan to buy wine — it helps fund the fun. The area’s spectacular Island Ice Cream is also available.
The folks at Lajoie Stables in Jeffersonville organize guided tours for all levels that on a clear day promise spectacular views of Mount Mansfield and Smuggs. They’re open seven days a week, all year round.
With 653 acres, Green River Reservoir is the largest “quiet” lake in Vermont. No gas-powered boats are allowed on the water, which makes it perfect for paddling. And you need a boat — and some muscle — to get to every one of the 28 remote campsites tucked in along the 19 miles of undeveloped shoreline; Some spots are as far as two miles from the launch. Parking is limited, and the park is considered “full” when the lot is.
The boating business that operates out of the Cupboard Deli in Jeffersonville is strictly a summer-only operation. Green River Canoe and Kayak Guided Adventures do floating tours on the Lamoille River. Guided paddles, at $65 per boat, include a “Sunset Beaver Watch” and “Water and Wine” — the latter is a 4.5-mile float that ends up with a tasting tour of Boyden Family Winery in Cambridge. “Self-guided” is also an option. The price — $35 per kayak for a 2.5-hour float — includes shuttle service and heavy lifting.
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