I’d like to say that I’m finally getting around to writing this because it is, quite literally, the 4th of July, but saying so just wouldn’t be truthful. I’m writing it because a dear friend of mine (again) quite literally brings up the subject of this post almost every. single. time that we hop on the phone to catch up.
“When are you going to write about Vermont?”
“Can’t think of anything to write? How about Vermont?”
“That Vermont post is long overdue.”
I heard ya, girlfriend (just a year and some late). Corinne, this one’s for you!
Until Corinne was randomly assigned the dorm room directly across from mine our freshman year of college, I had never met anyone from Vermont. So prior to this fateful meeting, the Green Mountain State was something of a far-far-away land to me. Its less-than-close proximity to Southern California (where I grew up and where Corinne and I attended school together) and its foreign-to-me nature were likely the underlying reasons why it wasn’t high on my list of must-visit destinations, but boy am I glad I made my way out there.
Looking back, it’s no wonder Corinne asked us again and again to just give it a chance and spend a weekend in Vermont with her and her family — it’s an unlikely vacation spot, sure, but it’s extremely fun and exceptionally beautiful. It’s a place with something for everyone — adventure, history, nature, the nicest people you will ever meet, great food, even better beer. And it gets better season after season.
We (for the record, “we” is my college roommates and me) popped our Vermont cherries (sorry I had to) in the summertime, opting for a long 4th of July weekend together. Independence Day has never been my favorite holiday to celebrate; it falls in the same boat as New Year’s Eve and Saint Patrick’s Day and Halloween, holidays that for some reason always have high expectations of fun and debauchery and fleeting romance tethered to them. So when Corinne proposed a laid-back, no-pressure reunion trip at her family’s place in Vermont for the 4th last year, it was an easy flight to book.
Flights weren’t direct into Vermont from where each of us was flying from, so we decided to fly into Boston where Corinne lived and drive out early the next morning.
Day 1 | June 30
How about that drive in? Let me tell you, it was stunning. They don’t call it the Green Mountain State for nothing.
After picking our jaws up off the ground, we made our way to Corinne’s parents’ house in Williston, VT. We dropped off our luggage, said a quick and excited hello to Deb and Bill, then prepped for a party at Corinne’s long-time friend Nate’s lake house over in South Hero. Before hopping on the road once more, we made a pit stop at Vermont Meat Market for a good selection of local craft beers.
Nate’s lake house (more like lake mansion) is located right on Lake Champlain, making for an incredible backdrop to our first night back together in this new-to-us place.
Day 2 | July 1
Though we were a little worse for wear the next morning (read: I was a little worse for wear the next morning), we got it together for a big day full of scenic stops and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
Our first destination: Stowe, VT —
On our way to Stowe, we stopped at Palmer Lane Maple in Jericho for some authentic maple candies. Corinne had always claimed the syrup from the region is the best, so this was her chance to prove herself right. While I was in no shape to eat the local treats, from the sweet smell of the shop alone I could tell she was right. We hopped back in the car and carried on through the famed Smuggler’s Notch, stopping once more to admire the scenery and the brave folk who were climbing the incredible rock faces.
Once we got to the Stowe Resort, we quickly headed for the gondolas that operate year-round and take riders all the way up to the tippy top of the mountain where incredible views, a restaurant, and the promise of a tasty beverage await.
Second destination: Trapp Family Lodge —
It wouldn’t be a road trip with Corinne without making some type of ghost-y pitstop (she is the co-host of the popular podcast, Two Girls One Ghost), so naturally we found ourselves at the infamous Emily’s Bridge (aka Gold Brook Covered Bridge). We got out of the car and read up on the local legend, then spent some time by the creek below.
Attempting to channel some type of Austrian/German vibes, we treated ourselves to some sausages, sauerkraut, and beers once we arrived at the Trapp Family Lodge, cheers-ing and singing THE HILLSSS ARE ALIVVEEEE and annoying everyone within earshot.
Final destination: Ben & Jerry’s Factory —
There’s truly nothing like some fresh Ben & Jerry’s on a sizzling hot Vermont summer day. We took the factory tour, visited the flavor graveyard, and indulged on a couple scoops of our favorite B&J flavors (mine is The Tonight Dough).
Day 3 | July 2
After a full day spent driving from one must-see spot to another, I was definitely looking forward to the boat day we had planned for day three.
We got an early start, stopping once again at the Vermont Meat Market for some tasty drinks, sandwiches, and snacks. Corinne’s family boat is docked in Mallets Bay, only a quick drive from Thayer Beach where we were to anchor for the day. We spent a few hours bopping around in the subtle wakes, drinking some cold brews, and trying our hand at knee boarding.
Once we felt like we’d taken advantage of the beach, we drove out into the heart of Lake Champlain (keeping a keen eye out for Champ the sea monster, of course) and down to Burlington, VT to a spot called Red Rocks for some cliff jumping. Probably not the safest conditions on this particular day, but it was a blast!
We took cues from the choppier waters and darker clouds coming in and decided to call it a day and head home.
Day 4 | July 3
The city of Burlington celebrates the 3rd as opposed to the 4th, complete with a professionally executed firework show and acrobatic pilots, too! Since we knew we had a long night ahead of us, we kept it low key during the day and laid out in or next to Corinne’s pool.
Our time downtown in Burlington kicked off with lunch at The Skinny Pancake (there’s nothing skinny about these pancakes) and kept on going at Spot on the Dock, a trendy restaurant/bar right on the water. We posted up for the evening with some tasty and strong drinks and were able to snag a great spot to watch the sunset that was followed quickly by an incredible firework show.
Feeling rather patriotic and probably a bit too tipsy, we continued then eventually ended the night at the bars on Church Street.
Day 5 | July 4
Our final day was spent at the Bristol Falls Swimming Hole, which was equal-parts stunning and slippery!
We ended the the trip with lunch at Bristol Cliffs Cafe and maple-and-black-raspberry twists from local favorite, Creeme’s.
If you’ve ever (or never) wondered whether a trip to Vermont is worth your while, let this skeptic be the first to tell you . . . no, scream at you that YES, it is! It is so worth your while!
Vermont is one of the most underrated destinations in the US, in my super humble opinion. And if the itinerary/pictures I shared weren’t enough, Corinne made a list of fun facts about Vermont to hopefully convince you otherwise:
- Vermont was once its own country for 14 years
- Vermont has only one area code
- Vermont was the first to grant women partial voting rights, abolish slavery, and allow gay unions
- Vermont has the most microbreweries per capita
- Vermont has beer and cheese that have won world championships
- Vermont is the land of the hippies
- Vermont mourns the death of retired ice cream flavors (Ben & Jerry’s flavor graveyard, yall!)
- Vermonters put goat cheese and maple syrup on everything
- Vermont is the number one producer of both marble and maple syrup
- Vermont has made billboards illegal
- Vermont has a lake monster (Champ!)
- Vermont put out arrest warrants for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
- Vermont was the settling place for the Von Trapp family
- Vermont frequently finds itself on the top of the list for healthiest, happiest, and most-educated residents in the US
So what are you waiting for!?