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.
This European-style family-owned winery boasts 8000 grapevines. Tours take place at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily when the winery's open. Taste a dozen different wines for $5. From June until September, try the "French Gourmet" — $16.95 per person pays for four types of artisan cheese, pate or prosciutto, fresh baked bread and your choice of wine.
Smugglers' Notch resort rocks on, with a new summer emphasis on climbing. The ski area is offering weekly rock-climbing socials and family climbing-adventure days. Hard-core types will be more interested in via ferrata — Italian for “iron way” — a new adventure sport that combines climbing, hiking and high-ropes adventure. “Safely traverse local gorges,” the description promises. “Scale huge boulders.” Too ambitious? Smuggs also offers Segway excursions on those self-balancing scooter contraptions. Amazing, there’s an all-terrain “extreme” tour that goes for the glades.
You can’t get through the narrow pass that connects Stowe to Smugglers’ Notch in winter; it’s closed to traffic. But in summer, the Smugglers' Notch Scenic Byway — its official name — is a gorgeous drive through a rocky, alpine landscape, with 1000-foot cliffs on either side. You can have a picnic up there, or camp at the state park, knowing Vermont’s earliest “entrepreneurs” — and later, escaped slaves — once did the same.
If you're in the Mad River Valley, don't miss American Flatbread on the Lareau Farm in Waitsfield. It’s the original restaurant — two other versions are in Middlebury and Burlington — and would definitely be a stop on a “localvore” tour of Vermont, if such a thing existed. The Bread-and-Puppet décor is topped only by fabulous flatbread pizza festooned with fresh, local ingredients.
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