Nestled on the shores of Lake Champlain
Oct 31, 2019 at 8:00 AM by
It’s easy to spend a week in Burlington, Vermont between all there is to do within the city proper as well as the outlying area. Plus, with the expansive Lake Champlain to the west, activities in this part of northern Vermont are increased tenfold. (In the past, Burlington, which is situated at the widest part of the lake, served as an important port town. Now today the lake is primarily accessed for recreation.)
Let’s start with Shelburne, a sweet little town nestled on the shores of Lake Champlain. Established in 1763, Shelburne embodies most everything you’d hope to find in a quaint Vermont town:lots of charming places to shop and eat as well as fun things to do, all backdropped by beautiful scenery. Yes, this is unspoiled Vermont at its finest. Shelburne Museum, just a bit inland from the lake, ranks as the top attraction here. You can spend a whole day at this delightful showcase of American art and history and still only scratch the surface. Over 150,000 works are on display within thirty-nine exhibition buildings, most of which date back to the early days of Vermont life. From art to crafts to architecture, the Shelburne museum showcases a fine collection of Americana in an authentic manner. All this is set within a pastoral setting that’s quintessentially New England.
After a big day at the museum, stop into the Shelburne Vineyard–just next door–for a tour and tasting. You might also want to consider starting your day at Vermont Teddy Bear where you can tour the factory and have the opportunity to hug lots of cuddly bears, a dream come true for many.
Vermont and country stores go together like cookies and cream. One of the best in the region is just up the street from the Shelburne Museum. You’ll find all kinds of basic goods, must-haves and made-in-Vermont products at the Shelburne Country Store. From here, you can go to Shelburne Farms, a 1,400-acre working farm, forest and National Historic Landmark devoted to inspiring and cultivating an interest in sustainable farming. The folks at Shelburne Farms began carrying out this mission in 1972, way above the curve in a world that’s now realizing the benefits of sustainable farming. Check out their website to see all that’s happening here; they even have cheese-making events that feature their delicious Farmstead cheddar cheese, made from their herd of purebred Brown Swiss cows. Thank goodness they have a store (both on the premises and online) and you can even dine and/or stay at The Inn & Restaurant on the property. The latter is open daily from May through October.
Water enthusiasts will want to check out the Shelburne Fishing Access & Boat Launch near here as well. Such a picture-postcard place all around.
Up in Colchester, home to St. Michael’s College, you can have more down-home experiences there and in nearby Winooski, fairly residential towns known for offering a fine quality of life. What could be more laidback that watching a movie outdoors on a balmy summer’s night? You can do just that at Sunset Drive-In, a drive-in movie complex with four screens. What a way to top off a day soaking up the Vermont countryside! Enhance that mode with a stay at the Starlight Inn, a Hollywood-themed resort that boasts almost a dozen rooms. Or, you can just tuck yourself in nearby at Malletts Bay Campground.
You’ll enjoy a better look at Vermont’s green Mountains from Essex Junction, Vermont. Nature lovers will want to head out and explore Cascade Park and Stevens Park. There’s also the Stevens Park Golf Course that offers yet more opportunities for a greenery fix. (Unless, of course, it’s winter!)
Speaking of greens, you can find plenty at Jules on the Green, an excellent address that serves up delicious food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week. They cater as much to the gluten-free, vegan crowd as carnivores.
You can discover other nice eateries and cute shops in Essex Junction as well. Phoenix Books has a store here (in addition to their one in Burlington) and there’s Yankee Pride Quilt Shop, a must for all those that possess a sweet spot for coziness and Americana.
Real foodies must book a stay–or at least enjoy a meal or spa treatment–at The Essex: Vermont’s Culinary Resort & Spa. There’s even a Cook Academy here that offers all kinds of culinary programs and classes for chefs of every level.
If you’re looking for a full-on suburban-like shopping and dining foray, go to University Mall and The Blue Mall just outside of Burlington center.
Bet you never thought you’d find so much to do, see, eat, drink and enjoy in this northern part of Vermont!