Vermont State Parks
Vermont has a wealth of state park. They encompass many of the state's lakes and mountains. They make an inexpensive place to stay or a great place to explore for the day. Here's a list of them as well as the pages to see for more info.
Allis State Park - Randolph
Ascutney State Park - Windsor
Big Deer Campground - Groton
Bomoseen State Park - Fairhaven
Boulder Beach Day Use Area - Groton
Branbury State Park - Brandon
Brighton State Park - Island Pond
Burton Island State Park - St Albans Bay
Button Bay State Park - Vergennes
Camp Plymouth State Park - Ludlow
Coolidge State Park - Plymouth
Crystal Lake State Park - Barton
DAR State Park - Vergennes
Dutton Pines State Park - Dummerston
Elmore State Park - Lake Elmore
Emerald Lake State Park - East Dorset
Fort Dummer State Park - Brattleboro
Gifford Woods State Park - Killington
Grand Isle State Park - Grand Isle
Half Moon State Park - Fair Haven
Jamaica State Park - Jamacia
Kamp Kill Kare State Park - St Albans
Kettle Pond Group Camping Area- Marshfield
Kingsland Bay State Park - Ferrisburgh
Knight Point State Park - North Hero
Lake Carmi State Park - Enosburg Falls
Lake Shaftsbury State Park - Shaftsbury
Lake St. Catherine State Park - Poultney
Little River State Park - Waterbury
Maidstone State Park - Guildhall
Molly Stark State Park - Wilmington
Mt Philo State Park - Charlotte
New Discovery Campground - Marshfield
North Hero State Park - North Hero
Osmore Pond State Park - Peacham
Owl's Head Day Use Area - Peacham
Queeche Gorge State Park - White River Jct.
Ricker Pond Campground - Groton
St. Albans Bay State Park - St Albans
Sandbar State Park - Milton
Seyon Fly Fishing Area - Groton
Silver Lake State Park - Banard
Smuggler's Notch State Park - Stowe
Stillwater Campground - Groton
Thetford Hill State Park - Thetford
Townshend State Park - Townshend
Underhill State Park - Underhill Cntr
Wilgus State Park - Ascutney
Woodford State Park - Bennington
Woods Island State Park - St Albans
Wrightsville State Park - MiddlesexRelated to:
- Hiking and Walking
Sugar House Tours
Because of the large number of sugar maples growing in the state, Vermont is one of the world's largest producers of maple syrup. Although Canada leads in the production of maple syrup, Vermont produces more than any other American state.
As a source of additional income during the late winter and early spring, many farms engage in sugaring, as the process of making maple syrup is called. And many of these farms offer sugar house tours where visitors can see how maple sugar is made, and even participate in the process through hands-on activities. Many towns throughout the state host maple sugar festivals that include a visit to a local sugar house; dinners; pancake breakfasts; shows involving crafts, specialty foods, antiques, and other aspects of life in Vermont; and different forms of entertainment.
Sugaring was discovered by the various American Indian tribes that lived in northern New England and eastern Canada. The process was adopted by the early settlers who colonized these areas.
Sugaring starts in early spring, usually in March. The trees are tapped for their sap which starts to run as the days become warmer. Sugar maple trees yield anywhere from five to 15 gallons (19 to 57 liters) of sap per day, depending on their size. It takes ten gallons (four liters) of sap to make one quart (one liter) of maple syrup. The sap is clear and tastes sweet like sugarwater.
Once the sap is collected, it is transported to the sugar house where it is boiled down to make maple syrup. The sap is boiled until it becomes thicker and thicker as the water is boiled off. In March throughout Vermont, it is common to see clouds of steam rising from maple groves as the sap is being boiled and transformed into maple syrup in sugar houses. When the syrup attains the correct temperature and consistency, it is then bottled or canned. Boiling it beyond that point yields maple sugar, which can then be made into candy.
The Northeast Kingdom
The Northeast Kingdom is made up of the three northeasternmost counties of Vermont: Caledonia, Essex, and Orleans. The term "Northeast Kingdom" was coined by the late George Aiken, a former governor of Vermont and United States Senator, in a speech he gave in 1949. The Northeast Kingdom was listed in the best-selling travel book, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. And in 2006, National Geographic named the Northeast Kingdom the most desirable place to visit in the United States, and the ninth most desirable place to visit in the world.
Often called "The Kingdom" by residents, the Northeast Kingdom covers 2,027 square miles (5,250 square kilometers) of the state. The landscape is characterized by rolling hills, forests, fields, lakes, streams, and quaint villages. About 80 percent of the land is covered with hardwood and evergreen forests. The Green Mountains form the western part of the Northeast Kingdom and the Connecticut River Valley forms the eastern part.
Dairy farms, quickly disappearing from Vermont, are common in the Northeast Kingdom. Other important aspects of the area's economy include sugaring, skiing, and tourism, especially in the autumn when the spectacular fall foliage draws visitors from around the world.
Pictured here is the view we had every day from the front door of Hill House where I lived as a child. On a clear day (which it was not when I took this picture), parts of Caledonia and Essex counties, and the White Mountains of New Hampshire are visible in the distance. At the bottom of the hill is Keiser Pond.Related to:
The Sugar House Museum
One of the popular exhibits at Maple Grove Farms is the Sugar House Museum. The building was once an authentic sugar house which was moved to Maple Grove Farms. The museum has exhibits and photographs that explain how sap is collected and boiled down to make pure Vermont maple syrup. The video, Vermont's First Industry--Maple Syrup, further explains the process of sugaring, as the production of maple syrup is called. There is also an extensive collection of modern and antique implements used in the sugaring process.
Maple Grove Farms
Today's Maple Grove Farms had its beginnings in 1915 when Helen Gray and Ethel McLaren experimented with making maple confections on the family farm. Their candies were so good that friends and family kept them busy making candy. Their enterprise soon expanded due to word-of-mouth business. Nowadays, Maple Grove Farms is the largest packer of maple syrup in the United States and the largest producer of maple candies in the world.
Visitors can take a tour of Maple Grove Farms to see how maple candy is made. Costing only one dollar, the tour is one of the greatest travel bargains anywhere. Visitors watch as maple syrup is boiled down to leave maple sugar, which is then poured into molds to set. At the end of the tour, free samples of maple candy are available in the gift shop. Visitors can also sample pure Vermont maple syrup and taste the different grades: Fancy, Grade A, Grade B, and Grade C.
In addition to maple syrup, Maple Grove Farms also markets maple candy, all-natural pancake mixes, gourmet cheeses, gourmet meats, desserts and snacks, and dressings and marinades.
The Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium
The Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium was founded in 1889 by Franklin Fairbanks, a Saint Johnsbury industrialist, naturalist, and philanthropist who collected natural history specimens and ethnological items from around the world. He displayed his collection in a "cabinet of curiosities" at Underclyffe, his Saint Johnsbury mansion. The bulk of the objects in today's museum come from Fairbanks's original collection.
The Romanesque-style building which houses the museum was completed in 1891. It was designed by architect Lambert Packard. The exhibits were arranged by exhibit designer William Balch. After the museum opened, Franklin Fairbanks continued to add to its collection. The collections became so large that additional space was needed to house them. Therefore, a new wing was added in 1895 just before Fairbanks's death.
The museum is the largest natural history museum in northern New England, with 18,000 square feet (1,672 square meters) of exhibit space and over 175,000 natural-science specimens, historical artifacts, archival photographs and documents, and ethnological items. The dark wooden display cases date from the late 1800s and give the museum an air of Victorian-era "cabinets of curiosities."
The museum's planetarium is the only public planetarium in the State of Vermont. Opened in 1961, the planetarium has seating for 45 and a 24-foot (seven-meter) domed ceiling.
The Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Peacham Store
The Peacham Store is the focal point of Peacham Village. The building was constructed in 1824, and during its heyday, it was the quintessential country general store. It was the town's social center; it offered dry goods, groceries, hardware, drugs, and even liquor; an old box wood-burning stove kept the building warm during the winter; and over the years, it was frequently the location of the town's post office.
Since I left, some of the rooms above the store have been made into a bed and breakfast, and the store has been converted from a general store to a gift shop offering Vermont products and souvenirs such as maple syrup, books, and arts and crafts. In addition, sandwiches and soup, which can be eaten on the front porch, are available at lunchtime.
Anyone familiar with The Spitfire Grill will recognize this as the store called Spitfire Grill as depicted in the movie.
The Peacham Congregational Church
The Peacham Congregational Church was constructed between 1796 and 1806. With its tall steeple and white paint, it is typical of the churches seen throughout New England. The church not only serves as a place of worship, but is also used as a place where town meetings, venison suppers, Boy Scout meetings, school programs, and other civic events are held. The church was featured in several scenes from the movie Ethan Frome starring Liam Neeson and Patricia Arquette.
The State Capitol Building
The Vermont State Capitol Building is the third statehouse to be built on the same site. The previous two buildings were destroyed by fire.
Designed by architect Thomas Silloway, the current capitol building was constructed of Vermont granite quarried in nearby Barre. The building, completed in 1859, is in the neo-Classical style of architecture, with some details in the Greek Revival style. The Doric portico survived from the fire that destroyed the second statehouse, and was incorporated into the current building. The design included an enlargement of the previous building by adding one bay at either end of the façade. During an extensive renovation in the 1980s, some of rooms were decorated in late nineteenth-century styles.
The dome is sheathed in copper and is covered with a layer of gold leaf. A statue of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, is entitled Agriculture and stands at the top of the dome.
weekends in VT
Stowe is a nice area.
Or Burlington is an option - bigger city, but plenty of shopping!
Woodstock is a nice town too, but rather small. Quiche Gorge is there for scenery.
Or you can check out NY towns! Lake George has an outlet center and other shops. Plus it's in the Adirdondacks - so there are some nice hikes nearby, plus Lake George itself offers activities and cruises.
- Hiking and Walking
Killington Ski Area
We skied at Killington one day only. I personally did not like the slopes all that much, but that might have been because not all of it was open. We skied from the top of the mountain, and had a choice of green or black diamond that looked icy. So we went down the easy slope which was very flat in a lot of areas. The kids did not like snowboarding there much either.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Skiing and Boarding
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Smugglers Notch Ski Area
We skied at Smugglers Notch for one day. It was fine for skiers, but my kids did not like snowboarding there. The slopes were either double black diamonds, or flat in sections. Plus the terrain park that was open was small and hard to get to.
I didn't like the ski lifts. The 3 open were all doubles , hard to get on, and slow to get up the mountain. The lines were long.
The view from on top of the mountain was great, very nice day, but cold.Related to:
- Skiing and Boarding
- Family Travel
Visit Sugar House
I just interviewed Barbara and Doug Bragg at their sugar house for my podcast. Barbara told me how Vermont sugar houses are having an open house next weekend (March 28-30). Visit a sugar house during late March and early April. They will be glad to give you a tour!Related to:
- Family Travel
- Farm Stay
Visiting Sugar Houses
Sugar houses are boiling sap right now. A good time to come is the weekend of March 28-30 which is Maple Open House weekend. If you're worried about time, you might want to stay near the interstate, which would take you away from Weston. Looks like there are some good places in Putney and Westminster, off I-91. I recommend checking out www.vermontmaple.org for more info.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Family Travel
Skiing in Vermont
One of the fun things to do in Vermont is to learn to ski.
There are many ski places in winter. You can rent everything and join a beginning class.
First thing is learning is choosing shorter ski and right size of ski boots. For first timers, the ski boots will feel very tight. Then learning to hold your skis and poles. And learning how to fall and pick yourself up.
If you are a fast learner, you can even start skiing at the beginning slopes. Or just have fun at the learning slopes. Other skills including using the ski chairs and being pulled the slopes.
If you are coming from Connecticut, one of the closest ski resort will be Mount Snow in Haystack area.
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