Stowe Mountain Resort, like every other Vermont ski area, is in global-warming gear. An “All Day Summer Attraction Package” — $70 for adults, $64 for kids — includes use of an alpine slide that drops 2300 feet; a bungee trampoline that requires a full body harness; and an inflatable obstacle course. The traditional gondola skyride is always nice, especially when there’s a restaurant serving gourmet Vermont lunches at the top of the mountain. Prefer to get there on your own?
The Vermont Teddy Bear Company is known for its cuddly and creatively clothed critters — including "Bingo Bear" and "Lady Bowler." For $2, you can take a 30-minute tour of the factory floor (kids 12 and under are free). Open year-round, seven days a week, except Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.
This park was once home to an exclusive girls camp, but it's now a natural area known as a great spot for weddings. Locals picnic and swim here. Bike down flat, open, back roads to nearby Button Bay State Park.
This waterfront retreat was built in 1903; the Briggs family of Burlington ran it as a hotel. They sold it to the Sisters of Mercy in the 1950s, and the nuns opened a summer camp for girls on the property. They donated it to the Preservation Trust of Vermont in 1997, and today the historic house hosts weddings and corporate functions — and a Vermont Mozart Festival concert.
The views of Lake Champlain, the Champlain Valley and the Adirondacks are breathtaking from this hillock that also happens to be a state park. It’s a short, winding climb to the top — on a road that you have to share with cars, and you have to pay either way — but somehow the exhaust fumes don’t spoil the experience. Must have something to do with all those happy people at the top.
This fertile flood plain at the north end of Burlington hosts myriad organic market gardens, a gardening-supply store and a big, stinky controversial compost pile (for now, anyway). Hikers and bikers can explore trails that wind along the Winooski River all the way to the Ethan Allen Homestead.
The Burlington waterfront used to be a busy shipping center with all the accompanying industrial detritus. Thankfully, the urban shoreline has been beautified over the years. Take a stroll along the boardwalk or the bike path, step about the Spirit of Ethan Allen for a lake cruise, have lunch at Splash! at the Boathouse or toss a frisbee on the grass. If it's raining, take refuge at the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center.
A happy obsession is in evidence at the Birds of Vermont Museum — home to hundreds of life-sized wooden birds expertly carved by Bob Spear. The loon family alone took him 850 hours to carve and paint. Spear founded Vermont’s first chapter of the National Audubon Society in 1962, and is still carving birds today. Photo: Matthew Thorsen
If one side of 7-mile Isle La Motte — the Goodsell Fossil Preserve — is evidence of evolution, the other is faith-based: St. Anne’s Shrine attracts thousands of pilgrims every year. Fifty-seven years after Samuel de Champlain “discovered” it, in 1609, Fort St. Anne became Vermont’s first settlement. The first Mass was celebrated at the site of the shrine — now a rustic, open-air chapel in a spectacular natural setting. Don’t miss the roomful of discarded crutches. Summertime services are conducted Saturday evenings at 7 p.m. and Sunday mornings at 9 and 10:30 a.m.
(Published in 7 Nights 2008-2009)
Anyone who thinks of White River Junction as a place to hop off the highway for a bathroom break and a quick burger hasn't been there lately. Over the past decade, the old railroad town at the intersection of interstates 89 and 91 has experienced a renaissance. A theater company, a cartoon-art school and a tapas bar have all taken up residence in this burg that's seeing better days.
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