How to Vacation in Vermont

Last Wednesday, my family made a trek similar to the one shown on the map above, traveling over 1,000 miles from Dallas to visit me in good ol’ Middlebury. They left this morning, heading onward to Cooperstown, NY to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame, after which they’ll head to Boston and then fly home.

While my family was here, I tried to take them to all the quintessentially Vermont destinations I could think of, sparing no expense in making sure they got to experience at least a small slice of what a summer in Vermont is all about. After their visit, I decided it would  be a good idea to write a post about how best to vacation in VT, family included.

Stay in a Road Side Motel

My family decided that they would stay in a road side motel called ‘Greystone’  for their visit. This was a good call made by my Aunt  because (at least I think) the best way to experience any semblance of authentic living in Vermont is to stay in a road side motel.

They are all locally owned (the Greystone by an old married couple, for example) so the vacationers get to experience the ‘locals’ of whatever small town they’re staying in, which is what all the tour guidebooks always tell us is so important anyway, right? Save the Hiltons and Holiday Inns for when you visit a big city, but in Vermont, as the saying goes, “Go Local!”

Go to a festival/fair in small town America

Nobody does small town fun like Vermont, and, I would caution to say, that Middlebury does an exceptionally good job at promoting the Main St. mentality. By attending a local festival or fair, you can really come to appreciate the culture of Vermont because, at the end of the day, the people and how they choose to party and get funky is what makes Vermont so unique.

Luckily for my family, the Festival On the Green was going on this past week in Middlebury. It was, essentially, a huge music festival full of local and not-so-local bands. My family and I ate it up, reveling in how the festival was able to bring together so many of the town residents (it would be shocking if our home town could pull off something half as authentic).

Get outdoors!

Seems simple enough. When you go to Chicago you eat Deep Dish pizza. When you go to New York, you see the Statue of Liberty. When you’re in Vermont you have to go outdoors. In a state that seems to be covered by huge mountains, rivers, water falls, swimming holes, and hiking trails, it would be a complete and TOTAL shame if you didn’t spend at least some time outdoors while visiting.

To remedy this problem for my family, my brother (who has never been on top of a mountain before-the largest mountain in our hometown of Carrollton, TX is the city dump) and I decided to hike up Snake Mountain. It’s a relatively easy hike located really close to Middlebury and the views are amazing. Overlooking the Champlain Valley with glimpses of the Adirondack Mountains in the background, this mountain had my brother screaming, “The world is ours to explore!”


Go to a Farm

In no other state would I tell you to go see a farm. It would probably be impossible and not very pleasant for you or your family. Plus it would probably be located on a flat plain with amber waves of grain (shout out Katharine Lee Bates).

Not so in Vermont.

The farms in Vermont are beautiful, located amidst rolling hills and lush green fields. Plus, a lot of the farms in Vermont double as educational centers where the farmers/owners use their knowledge of farming and the environment to educate people on how they should interact with their planet.

My family and I decided to visit Shelburne Farms, a beautiful, expansive farm/nonprofit environmental education center located just outside Burlington, VT. The farm has a lot of animals and a lot of events going on (everything from cheese making to goat milking). My family and I had so much fun holding chickens, picnicking on the grounds, and, of course, milking/posing with Feta, the goat in the above picture.

Yes, her milk is used to make Feta cheese.

Clever Shelburne Farms, clever.

If you had asked me a year ago today what my family of Suburbanites could possibly do in rural Vermont during an almost week long vacation, I would have told you that there was no way that we would (or could) spend 5 days in Vermont. But, after a year of living here and having just recently shared my knowledge of the state with my family, I can honestly say that it was one of the most interestingly authentic vacations we have ever experienced together.

And to top it all off, as we were driving to visit Fort Ticonderoga, we ran into this. As my aunt would say, “you can’t say anything about Texas. Only in Vermont would you see a cow crossing!”

Until the next cow crosses the road,



5 Responses

  1. We had a wonderful time! Love you!

  2. Unfortunately, a lot of that ‘Main Street Mentality” is maintained by our large “institutionalized population” (as the Census would put it), which is to say our many wonderful and diverse students from out of state. I myself am from a small New England town like Midd with a good Main Street Mentality, but it’s exceptionally hard to keep it alive when you don’t have an educated population of out-of-staters sitting up on the hill.

    Midd is great, I just wonder how truly “local” a lot of its town phenomena are.

  3. Vermont continues to be my “new Favorite State” even before you took up residency.

  4. […] Planning a family vacation to the Champlain Valley? If so, the students behind the blog “English Spoken Here” have recommendations for you. […]

  5. cow crossing video is pretty epic. wow. go vermont 🙂

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