There are two sides to Vermont. On one hand you have activity and energy in places like Burlington, Brattleboro, or one of the many ski resorts in the state. On the other you have the peace and reflection of small family farms, forests of maple trees, and endless ways to lose yourself. It is this combination that makes Vermont so unique and sought after. It’s a foodie destination, a nature lovers dream come true, and a city dwellers escape into luxury. Vermont’s appeal lies in perfectly satisfying whatever need you have.
Lets explore the best things to do in Vermont:
1. The Bennington Battle Monument
It’s an unbelievable one minute and 14 seconds to take the elevator to the top of the Bennington Monument. At 306 feet, it’s the most visited monument in Vermont. It’s also surrounded by the larger site, which commemorates the 1777 Battle of Bennington. This battle is considered to have been the turning point in the American Revolution. Every August, Vermonters celebrate Brigadier General John Starks victory over the English. While English troops were regrouping, American forces had enough time to gather momentum and push forward to victory. The obelisk that now commemorates the battle was built in the early 19th century and several events are held there each year.
2. Lake Champlain
Located on 120 miles stretch between Vermont and New York, and its northern tip in Canada, is Lake Champlain. One of Vermont’s most visited nature spots. With 587 miles of shoreline, there is plenty for everyone. Kayakers, canoeists, fishermen, and sailors visit regularly. It is a haven for wildlife and the hiking around the lake is fantastic. Birders will find 318 bird species on the Vermont side alone. The lake is named after Samuel de Champlain who claimed to have seen a 20-foot sea serpent in the lake. His was the first, but not the last sighting of “Champy.” Take a lake cruise or cross to New York on one of the ferries.
3. Cedar Circle Farm
This organic farm on a social mission to educate is located in East Thetford, Vermont. The owners offer visitors the opportunity to wander their fields, pick your own berries, pumpkins, and flowers, and lounge in comfortable Adirondack chairs by the river. The farm shares practices aimed at regenerative agriculture and good health. The property includes greenhouses, a coffee shop, and several different pick your own fields. If you’re there in the summer or fall, enjoy events like dinner in the field or a workshop on canning.
4. The Tallest Filing Cabinet
Bren Alvarez, the artist who created this incredible piece, claims that it’s the tallest filing cabinet on the planet – though others dispute that. Regardless, it’s incredible to see. Made up of 38 drawers that represent the number of years of paperwork the accumulated while making the project, it’s a commentary on the many bureaucratic delays encountered while building the Southern Connector roadway. Originally proposed in 1965, the project is still in limbo to this day.
5. Robert Frost Homestead and Burial Plot
Consider one of America’s finest poets, Robert Frost spent much of his life on a farm in Vermont. Located a few miles from Bennington, the homestead is where he wrote Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening. Close by, at the Old First Church, is Frosts burial plot. The church itself is a living monument, founded on the ‘dedication to the separation of church and state. He headstone reads, “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.”
6. Shelburne Museum
Comprised of several buildings, the Shelburne Museum showcases Vermont’s colourful history and some of America’s folk and fine art traditions. The concept is an open air exhibit where you can discover a round barn, the SS Ticonderoga, vintage wagons, a lighthouse, exquisite gardens, and crafts like quilts, carved decoys, hatboxes, hooked rugs. Throughout the year, the museum hosts gallery talks, family days, lectures, and drop in art classes. Don’t forget to stop at the nearby Shelburne Farm to sample their chees and have tea at this working ‘gentleman’s farm.’
7. Vermont Country Store
You’d be surprised by how far some people travel to visit the Vermont Country Store. Travel back in time to a period of Americana that was simple and straightforward. The country store sells taffeta slips, a wide range of shoe stretchers (with customizable corn and bunion knobs), flannel pyjamas, and vintage board games. Relax on the porch and imagine what life once was.
8. Ben & Jerry’s Factory
Often cited as a visitors favourite thing in Vermont is the original Ben & Jerry’s factory. You can tour the facilities to learn how the company sources their ingredients to create each of their unbelievable flavours. The tour lasts 30 minutes and you’ll learn the history of one of the world’s most socially responsible businesses. To top it off, the tour ends with a generous sample of the flavour of the day. You can even try the Vermonter – if you dare!
9. Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium
Franklin Fairbanks was a beloved native son of Vermont. From his humble beginnings in his family’s scale making shop, to the Vermont House of Representatives, he was also a keen naturalist. He dedicated a large portion of his wealth to conservation and nature studies. He himself collected specimens around the world and brought them home. When he died, he left his collection and the building that would become his museum to St. Johnsbury, his hometown. The 175,000-piece collection is a must see. The planetarium connected to the museum is the only one in the state and has weekly presentations.
10. Bennington Museum
Dedicated to art, history, and innovation, the Bennington Museum is designed to engage you on all levels. You’ll be challenged by new ideas, have your imagination stimulated, and interact with real objects while you’re there. The museum is also home to the largest collection of Grandma Moses paintings in the world. Anny Mary Robertson Moses lived a life that spanned from the presidencies of Abraham Lincoln to John F. Kennedy. She began painting at the age of 78 and is considered by many to be an American folk hero. The museum is often considered in the same company as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Built by Robert Todd Lincoln, son of President Abraham Lincoln, Hildene was his Georgian Revival country estate. The home belonged to the Lincoln family until 1975 and because of this, many of the furnishings are the originals. While visiting you can see some of Mrs. Lincoln’s family furniture, one of the president’s famous stovepipe hats, and a one thousand pipe Aeolian organ built in 1908. Located just outside Manchester, the 24 room home is now a national treasure. One of the most interesting things to see are the bronze casts of the president’s hands. The right one swollen due to all the hand shaking during his campaign! Hildene sponsors events throughout the year.
12. Green Mountain Coffee Visitors Centre & Café
In Vermont, they love their coffee. Green Mountain is the perfect example of what is so wonderful about this state. Located in a restored train state, this coffee shop and visitors centre is in Waterbury. Built at the end of the 19th century with Victorian and Italian influences, it’s now one of New England’s most famous destinations. In addition to some of the best coffee of your life, the visitor centre showcases and sells local handicrafts, and unique items that only a coffee connoisseur would love. You can learn the Green Mountain story and their philosophy of ‘source to cup.’
13. Rock of Ages Granite Quarry
This is the largest deep-hole granite quarry in the world. The deepest 600 feet are underneath a milky green water, but the world immense will be your first and only thought once you arrive. When you visit, a school bus will drive you to the quarry. You’ll see the state of the art machinery that does the work of over 100 men. What’s most unique about a visit to the quarry is that you’ll see grout piles all over the place. These are, essentially, cast offs of imperfect granite, laid aside in piles. After the quarry itself, tour the plant, where the granite is cut and sold. You can also take a free souvenir from the scrap bin. The best part? An outdoor granite bowling lane.
14. The Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Site
Woodstock, Vermont is home to this incredible site. The house on this location was owned sequentially by scientist George Marsh (the first to identify climate change), Frederick Billings (for whom Billings, Montana is named), and Laurence Rockefeller. The aim of the site is to highlight the land conservation projects that each of these three men were passionate about. This the only national park to focus on land stewardship and includes a Victorian mansion, a working farm, and formal gardens designed by some of America’s most talented landscape architects. You can tour the home, the dairy, and the museum.
15. Brattleboro’s Farmers Markets
Many small towns in America have a farmer’s market. But none quiet so unique as Brattleboro’s. First off, Brattleboro is itself unlike most towns. Blending hippie and hipster, industry and leisure. The farmers market is not just where you do your shopping for the week, it’s were the community gathers. It’s undoubtedly the must attend event each week. All of southern Vermont turns out to sample and buy the best vegetables, flowers, artisanal breads, jewellery, pottery, and French style pastries. There is, of course, live music and often Morris dancers on hand. In the warmer months, buy a premade picnic basket and in the colder months try a Mali stew or Lebanese dolmas.