After driving all over the state of Vermont, I find myself returning time and again to Queechee Gorge to take in the sights from Queechee Bridge. Queechee appeals to all of the senses. The bridge can be crowded in fall and I imagine in summer and if you are not in to tourist traps you may want to avoid Queechee village, but if you set off on foot and hike the mild trail to the bottom of the gorge it is remote and will give you the opportunity to take in all that Vermont is in the autumn...a canvas of color, the smell of pine needles and burning wood and crisp air on your face.
Visited a friend at Bennington College. It is a top liberal arts private school started in 1932 as women's college and open to men in 1969.
Staying overnight. Found the environment dedicated to individual learning and creativity. There was art class with someone posing in the nude. A student brought her dog into class. The dog lied quietly throughout class.
Was not used to the fact that dorm rooms were not locked. The bathrooms were co-ed.
Bennington College was a real opener for me into truly liberal education of small classes and intimate interaction between teachers and students in a small community living
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.
For Ben & Jerry's junkies like myself, take advantage of a factory tour which includes a 10 minute clip of how-when-why-where they started, a birdseye view of production room and of course samplers of their flavors of the day. It's all done in 30 minutes and they are open all year round except on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
Kids 12 and under are FREE
$3.00 for adults
$2.00 for seniors
Cabot Creamery is a farm family-owned cooperative located in the hills of Vermont.
The Visitors Centers is in Cabot Village, Vermont. The tours here show you the history of the Creamery and also tell about the agricultural history of Vermont. They show you a video first and then you get to see the factory floor where the cheese is made. They give you a heap of samples of cheeses and other specialty foods. In the factory shop, they sell all their products. It's a beautiful place for a picnic - scenery is great!
They also have the Cabot Annex Store in Waterbury (located between Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory and Cold Hollow Cider Mill) where you can sample the cheeses and other Vermont specialty foods like wines and Vermont micro-brewed beers, Lake Champlain Chocolates and Green Mountain Coffee, along with a great selection of Vermont crafts like the Vermont Teddy Bears
They’re open 9-5 every day from June – October, closed Sundays the rest of the year.
Tours are $2, free under 12.
As everybody else's Vermont page will describe, the Fall Foliage. This is a period from mid-September to mid-October where the leaves on the trees start to change colors before the fall off. This has become a very popular event, not just in Vermont, but all of New England.
Being in Rochester, NY, I get to experience the spectacular foliage off the fall as well. (Ours tends to be later in the season).
Certain views from the mountains and tree lined streets a amazing. This is my favorite time of the year to be outside. The weather is comfortable and everybody seems to be in a good mood. You can walk literally anywhere and be in awe of the beautiful colors on the trees.
Visiting Stowe. This is a cool ski resort on Mount Mansfield (highest mountain in Vermont at 4,393').
Stowe is a very classic ski village. I am not a big skier, but I loved visiting in the summer. My wife and I hiked all around the town and up Mansfield. The town as a paved walking track that is several miles long.
Many, many places to stay and eat while you are at Stowe. Be careful though, it is a popular destination and hotel rooms tend to fill up, especially in winter. Mountain Road seemed to have the vast majority of hotels and eateries. The scenery is fantastic. As you walk around, Mansfield is in the background.
A very quite village to visit. This is a touristy and commercial part of Vermont, but they do a good job of hiding it. It would be a vacation where you get up and walk or bike around, then plan a hike in the mountains. After that, you come back into town for dinner and drinks.
Tasting and visiting the Maple Syrup farms. The busiest season is in early spring, but the farms are open year round.
You get to hike around the area. Most farms are based in the mountains or near them. The people who run the farms are proud of what they do and will be glad to show. Many have nice gift shops to buy syrup, as well as other 'Vermont' gifts.
By all means, try and do some hiking while in this magificent state. Do the drive up to Stowe for some quaint old towns and fantastic scenery. Foliage is even better with some elevation so you can look down at whole panoramas. Sure, you can drive to such places but then you have whole busloads of tourists to contend with. A little effort goes a long way. And hey, you can drink a couple extra beers with all the calorie burning you'll be doing!
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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