Summertime in Vermont is known for scenic drives, delicious maple syrup, and covered bridges. Northern Vermont contrasts the cultured city of Burlington and the quaint town of Stowe at the foot of Mount Mansfield with stunning natural landscapes. Below we cover some of the best vacation ideas followed by a summer weekend in Vermont itinerary.
Getting There, Route 100
As a reasonable drive from New York by car, a long weekend in Vermont is a fantastic summertime road trip with the kids. While quicker drives exist, Route 100 through the center of the state showcases the best of what Vermont has to offer. Known as the most scenic byway in New England, Route 100 sits along the eastern ridge of the Green Mountains through many of Vermont’s lovely small towns. While the route does get slightly congested during fall foliage season, each town maintains the small town New England vibe.
Eats and Treats
On the drive north along Route 100, stop over at Creemee Stand for an ice cream cool treat as you enter the state. A little further north, Solo Farm & Table may be one of the best farm to table restaurants in New England. Finally Plymouth Artisan Cheese is a great place to nab some local flavors to enjoy throughout the duration of the trip.
Where to stay and Day 1
It’s hard to go wrong choosing a home base in northern Vermont, but it would be a mistake to unpack and unwind without taking time to enjoy whichever locale hosts your family. Below are three options of where to stay along with activities and ideas nearby.
Burlington is Vermont’s most populous city with an eclectic blend of old New England charm mixed with cute coffee shops, posh galleries, and a dose of college town energy. Overlooking Lake Champlain and in the shadows of both the Adirondacks and Green Mountains, the streets of downtown Burlington come alive in the summer with festivals and concerts.
Church Street and more
The brick paved pedestrian mall along Church Street provides a relaxing escape. A fun day outdoors includes either along the bike path or Burlington Waterfront Park. For an educational experience for the entire family, check out Shelburne Farms. The Burlington Greenway is the most family friendly and accessible trail near Burlington. For stunning overlooks of Lake Champlain and more hiking trails, check out Niquette Bay state park. Do not, I repeat, do not forget to indulge in some Lake Champlain chocolate.
Accommodations range from cute AirBnB’s to luxury hotels.
Stowe, Vermont is a four season destination full of outdoor adventure and farm to table satisfaction. From hiking to trout fishing to breweries to licking every drop of some of the world’s best maple syrup off your fingers, Stowe will leave vacationers wanting more.
Things to do in Stowe
Summer in Stowe boasts fun festivals and delicious food. While in Stowe, be sure to stop by the Cold Hollow Cider Mill for some fresh apple cider for the kids and stow away some maple bourbon whiskey from Smugglers Notch Distillery for dad.
Book a bed and breakfast or a hotel for a charming getaway.
Probably our favorite Vermont accommodation, however, is a good old fashioned camp out. Camping options in the state range from traditional camping in one of Vermont’s state parks to more exotic glamping experiences.
One of the most unique and educational ways to spend a weekend, however, is to camp on a working farm. Agritourism has become popular recently as city dwellers look for ways to reconnect with nature and farmers look to supplement their income.
When looking for a farm camping experience, consider if the farm aligns with your desired experience. We wanted fresh air, but not the uh, ripe smell of animals so we avoided dairy farms. Another thing to consider is if the farm hosts events such as weddings. If so, what the proximity of the event venue is to the camping. There’s nothing worse than a drunk groomsman howling at the moon when you’re trying to stargaze with your kids.
Finally, consider the primary purpose of the farm. Is it a working farm or a tourism machine? Farms purpose built for camping and tourists do serve a purpose and can be educational and typically have more amenities. Supporting a working farmer is also a great way to give back to the community.
Our unsolicited and unpaid endorsement is to enjoy a weekend at Sandiwood Farm in Wolcott, Vermont. The owner, Sara, her family, and the sweet old dog, Coco are exceptional hosts. The certified organic vegetable farm is the exclusive source of several farm to table restaurants in the state. Additionally, Sandiwood harvests mouth watering maple syrup. We Enjoyed a nip at the country store and may have bought a few gallons to bring home with us.
In terms of experience, the accommodations are rustic, with only outhouses, but plenty of privacy. Our kids enjoyed learning about harvesting maple syrup from the sugar house. They also helped Sara harvest root vegetables from the farm. In the evenings, the sunset view of the mountains is stunning.
Moss Glen Falls
Warm up the hiking boots and start the outdoor hype machine for the kids with an easy hike to Moss Glen Falls. The quarter mile hike to the falls along a rocky river is a great family friendly intro to Vermont hiking with kids.
Begin your hike over wood planks, past a beaver dam, next to a most excellent pull off for rock skipping, to the base of the waterfall. Kids will love stomping in the mud and chucking rocks while parents will enjoy the ease of capturing action photos with the perfect backdrop.
For older kids or those looking to extend the hike, continue to the left of the falls up the forest for a very cool vantage above the falls. The trail continues for several easy miles, but the scenery is best at the beginning.
Elmore State Park
If you are staying in Stowe or camping, head over to Elmore State Park to relax a bit at the beach after working up a sweat on the morning hike. If you decide to stay in Burlington, skip this stop as Lake Champlain offers the same experience closer to home base.
Elmore State Park is a local favorite watering hole that offers more hiking, a concession stand, and a large sandy beach with boat and kayak rentals. Bring some of that cheese you bought on the drive up Route 100 and enjoy a picnic before kayaking in the shadow of Mount Elmore.
Pro Tip: If you have chosen to camp somewhere rustic, perhaps without a shower, bring some change to Elmore and clean up at the quarter operated camp shower.
Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour
End the day by treating the kids to a tour of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory. There is a fun playground near the parking lot that is ideal for spending time while waiting for tour reservation time to arrive. Be sure, however, to promise playground time before eating ice cream though. I am not sure who with the exceptionally cruel sense of humor designed the playground that is primarily made up of spinning and swinging equipment.
The time has come to lace up the boots and go on a real hike, or not. The 7.3 mile loop to the top of Mount Mansfield is one of the better and more strenuous hikes in the region. If you’re with young kids, you aren’t really going to do that. There are two ways to reach the summit.
For those not afraid of heights, the gondola skyride to the top of Mount Mansfield is a real treat with stunning views of the mountains.
Auto Toll Road
The Auto Toll Road is a 4.5 mile drive that improves around every corner. The heavily switch backed route features the chance to see wildlife and amazing views of the expansive valleys and ski slopes.
Grab a beer at a local brewery
There are a few good breweries nearby with taprooms such as Ten Bends or
For those who need to refuel the following breweries offer a full menu:
- Von Trapp Brewery – For a taste of the Austrian Alps in Vermont, head up for some kraut and sausage. This expansive location offers plenty of room for the kids to roam.
- Lost Nation Brewery offers standard pub fare with ingredients sourced from local producers to pair with signature brews.
- Idletyme has a full menu, including a kids menu, and a large restaurant area along Mountain Road, conveniently located next to the farmer’s market.