This past month I was able to squeeze in a short trip to the lovely state of Vermont. Let me tell you… people aren’t kidding when they talk about how stunning the fall foliage this time of year. Whether you are lucky enough to spend one week or just a few days, you will fall in love with Vermont at some point.
We stayed in an excellent, shabby-chic AirBnB in the town of Vergennes, about 45 minutes south of Burlington near Lake Champlain. Our views of the Adirondacks to the west were stunning. Only a few hours from Fort Drum, the north country, and New England, it makes for a great weekend trip or longer.
Vergennes (our temporary home base) is Vermont’s first city dating back to 1788. The name was suggested by Ethan Allen (not the furniture store, but the Patriot) to honor Charles Gravier, who was the Comte (Count) de Vergennes, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and negotiator of the Treaty of Paris which eventually ended our revolutionary war.
Our location was perfect for this weekend visit during the fall leaves celebration. In Vermont, we are known as “Peepers!” My definition of a “leaf peeper” is someone who must stop/pull-off erratically to observe, photograph or just plain “gawk” at the colorful splendor of fall. That most likely is not the official description but I feel it fits my profile.
As you can see, I couldn’t stop clicking the camera, poor Jon. While in Vermont, you must taste all things MAPLE. No kidding! You won’t regret it and the sugar rush will be well worth every shaking tremble.
One of our fun stops was at The Sugar House at Dakin Farms near Vergennes. This maple syrup distillery and crafting company showcases the production of how maple syrup is made while honoring historical traditions of tapping, producing and manufacturing pure maple syrup.
There store is filled with candies, treats, souvenirs and of course all things Maple Syrup! What a treat, be sure to say hi to Sasha behind the counter, super friendly cashier willing to answer lots of questions about Vermont!
Our sweet AirBnB hosts recommended a restaurant for us to visit the Red Mill at Basin Harbor Club. This bay club is a full service hotel and resort with biking, cottage rentals, sailboats, and the largest oversized Adirondack chairs you will ever see in your life.
We arrived early for dinner so we walked around the grounds to see the club house, some of the cottages and all the harbor activity. This fun and lively hotel and resort reminded me of the “Dirty Dancing” movie resort and similar to one I use to work on in Cape Cod.
We had dinner at the Red Mill at Basin Harbor Club just south of the property. Preparing for their RocktoberFest, beer and bacon fest, we were bummed we were one week too early. Always the 3rd Saturday in October this resort comes to life with music jams, pumpkins, and tons of children’s activities.
Our dinner was excellent, Jon enjoyed a cheeseburger and I had a Caesar salad with a side order of roasted cauliflower and kale, both were great. The service at the restaurant was outstanding, from the Manager to the waitstaff everyone was professional and pleasant. The decor was a lot of fun too, this restaurant is definitely a keeper.
When visiting Burlington, your first stop should be the Visitor’s Center located on the harbor. Here, we met Mr. MacDonald a veteran and super helpful guide for information about Burlington. The harbor promenade is beautiful and definitely worth the walk on a cool sunny morning.
**Parking is uber expensive at $3.00/hour make sure you plan your time here appropriately. Also, remember to grab your license plate number as you’ll need it when getting your parking window pass. There is a parking garage not too far >1mile walk from the harbor with the first two hours of parking free. They also have park and ride shuttles that bring you from outside the city inward.
We enjoyed Burlington at night too. We came back downtown for dinner at Leunig’s Bistro. We enjoyed cheese plates and steaks under a lit, warm tent on the park square.
Ben & Jerry’s
What would a trip to Vermont be without a stop in at Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream? Of course, we were going to pop-in for a taste. It’s only a 40 minute drive from Burlington. Cool! Waterbury, VT is host to the new location of the Ben & Jerry’s factory tour. However, long lines at the scoop area (ice cream orders) and tours even longer we didn’t even get to try a sample. It’s also under-construction right now due to its’ popularity so parking was a little tricky too. However, this is only suppose to last a few more months.
Yes, it was a bummer, but I was able to grab some information and have some fun while touring the grounds. Tours are $4/adults and $3/children. There is a “Flavor Graveyard” and playgrounds that dot the property. Police and parking attendants help you into the parking lot but finding a parking spot is on your own.
Think we can’t get enough of good beer in Germany? Well, you would be right…we had to investigate other beer options in America. It’s research, ya know. Vermont is leading the country in microbreweries making it the state with most craft breweries per capita. Although we didn’t get a chance to try all of them we did manage to pop into one that was really cool, the Magic Hat Brewing Co.
Visit the Artifactory, this fun and lively self-tour includes a video of brewing techniques and beer production. Your visit includes 4 samples of their “brews” and you may purchase a “growler.” Say “hi” to Kyle and Neil who were more than happy to help us decipher between the cool beer names and tasty samples. Brew tours are available too and include several brew stops, food and samples. Be sure to do this where you won’t have to drive afterward though.
Other breweries close by are Fiddlehead Brew and Switchback Brewing Companies. Beer not your thing, that’s o.k., right across the street from the Fiddlehead Brewhouse is Shelburne Vineyard. Pop in there to taste some award-winning wines. This is a definite stop for me on my next time I’m in Vermont.
This turn-of-the-century farm once belonged to part the Webb-Vanderbilt family. Lila Vanderbilt married Dr. William Webb who was a surgeon for a short time. She convinced him to leave the not-so-profitable medical field (at the time) for investment banking. Becoming quite wealthy in his own right, Dr. Webb would became a prize-winning horse breeder.
Shelburne Farms is an expansive piece of property (once 3800 acres – now 1400) is primarily used as educational farm. This beautiful, incredibly ornate farm teaches children and adults all about farming, gardening and sustainability. My heart just skipped a beat. Of course,I would love it. This was even before we met our spry tour guide, Jerry, an 80 year old kid himself who delighted in telling us all the stories surrounding the Vanderbilt’s their legacy, their ill-mannered grandchildren, and how well the farm is taken care of today.
This past September they lost one of their most treasured buildings to a lightning fire on September 11th. They awoke to the burning of the North Dairy Barn, it was incredibly sad to drive by this once magnificent barn built in 1891.
Wetook a walk through the Farm House to Lake Champlain to see some amazing views of the main house and the islands of the lake. The Farm House is an interactive educational center for children to play games, visit with goats, sheep, cows and donkeys. Also built in 1878, the Farm House has a wonderful clock that is still functional today.
As you can see, from visiting fields and mountains of gold and amber, to tasty treats, Vermont is definitely a “must-see.” I hope you have enjoyed taking this trip with me and I hope it encourages you to become a “Peeper” or find out more about American history. Have any questions or comments leave them here below. Want to Pin this for later… you can do that too!