If you think that skiing and sledding are the only things to do in Vermont in the wintertime, you are sadly mistaken. With so many cities and friendly locals eager to show off their proud state, you won’t have time to worry about what to plan next. Waterbury, Champlain Islands and Burlington are three very different cities in Vermont that offer visitors unique perspectives and activities for a memorable trip.
The best part? It’s all between a 20 minute and hour drive away from town to town. Start planning your trip around these fun activities.
Ben & Jerry’s Factory and Ice Cream Shop
Waterbury is best known for its ski scene, but be sure to check out the most famous stop in Waterbury: the Ben & Jerry’s Factory. An ice cream paradise for kids and adults alike, Ben and Jerry (who are actually from Merrick), create their famous pints of delicious ice cream here. Hop on the tour of the factory, visit the flavor graveyard of retired ice cream flavors and learn about their charitable endeavors. You can even get a cup or cone of your choice on the way out.
For more information. Visit www.benjerry.com/about-us/factory-tours. To make a reservation, call 802-882-2040. Ben & Jerry’s Factory and Ice Cream Shop is located at 1281 Waterbury-Stowe Rd., Waterbury.
Green Mountain Coffee Visitors Center
Need a cup of Joe? Visit the Green Mountain Coffee Visitors Center and café, a restored historic train station that doubles as a sustainable brewing education and local history center. It’s the coffee brand you’ll see all over Vermont.
The center is located at 1 Rotarian Pl., Waterbury. For more information, call 877-879-2326.
This unique activity will not only bring you closer to man’s best friend, but it also provides some of the best views of Vermont’s wintry terrain you’ll ever see. Dogsled tours take guests through a five mile run that lasts for about an hour. Afterward, it’s time to pass out treats to the dogs and enjoy a complimentary hot chocolate or tea.
For more information, visit www.destinationhotels.com.
Some favorite dining establishments in Waterbury include The Reservoir and Prohibition Pig. The former specializes in comfort food and craft beer, including the famous Heady Topper as the property was originally the Alchemist Pub and Brewery until 2011, when Hurricane Irene left it damaged and waterlogged.
Palmer Lane Maple
This family-run retail store in Jericho is on the way to the Champlain Islands. Paul and Colleen Palmer specialize in all natural maple creemees (soft serve maple ice cream), pure Vermont maple syrup and pure maple candy, and yes, they use maple in just about everything. The store is located at 1 Old Pump Rd., Jericho.
For more information, visit www.palmerlanemaple.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 802-899-8199.
Snowflake Bentley Museum
When Wilson Bentley asked for a telescope from his parents to study snowflakes, his hobby would soon turn into a new way to describe how no two snowflakes are alike. The self-educated farmer became the first person to photograph a single snow crystal in 1885, which would eventually grow to more than 5,000 snowflakes.
Bentley’s snow crystal photomicrographs were acquired by colleges and universities throughout the world and he published many articles for magazines and journals including, Scientific American and National Geographic. Winter enthusiast and history buffs will appreciate “The Snowflake Man” and his snow crystal photomicrographs as well as the equipment used.
The Bentley Museum is open from March through December and is located at the Old Red Mill at 4A Red Mill Dr., Jericho. For more information, visit www.snowflakebentley.com.
Sandbar State Park
If you’re looking for a quiet stop over on your drive from town to town, consider Sandbar State Park and its nearby scenic bridge. For the aviary lovers, the area is a very popular birding destination. During the autumn months, egrets and herons tend to visit the lake and in the winter, bald eagles are frequently spotted. When the lake freezes, many locals and visitors enjoy kite surfing and ice fishing destination.
The state park is located at 1215 US-2, Milton. For more information, www.vtstateparks.com/htm/sandbar.
Shelburne Village and Country Store
On the way to Burlington, check out the quaint Shelburne Village. Lined with adorable shops and boutiques for food, crafts and clothing. The Shelburne Country Store has all of your snack, holiday and home good needs and the area is populated with antique shops for those who enjoy items from the old world.
The country store is located at 29 Falls Rd., Shelburne. Call 802-985-3657 for more information.
Captain Holly Poulin of Driftwood Tours will meet you right at the pier of North Hero House in the Champlain Islands for a boat tour of the area. The USCG licensed, native Vermonter can show you the best of Lake Champlain. Extremely beautiful in the summer and fall, Poulin offers custom day tours, fishing tours and moonlight cruises.
Rates are as follows: 1 hour: $40/person, adults and children; 2 hours: $60/person, $25/first child, $20 each additional child; 3 hours: $70 per adult, $25 per child, $20 each additional child. Private tours and special family rates are available as well. For more information, call 802-373-0022.
Vermont Teddy Bear
One of the highlights of Shelburne is the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory. Founded in 1983, Vermont Teddy Bears have become famous all over the world. Visit the factory for a tour, learn al about the dozens of bears and how they are made and don’t miss the chance to shop around and make your own very special teddy bear, complete with clothes, accessories and personalization. This is also near the Pajamagram outlet as well so you may want to stock up on PJs.
Vermont Teddy Bear is located at 6655 Shelburne Rd., Shelburne. For more information, call 800-988-8277 or visit www.vermontteddybear.com.
Mount Philo State Park
There’s plenty of places to take in the gorgeous scenery of Vermont, but Mount Philo State Park is something special. A brisk 30-minute walk uphill features trails and a paved road that will take visitors up the mountain for spectacular views. If you can time it at sunset, the sprawling views of the mountains are even more stunning. The park is free to visit from winter through Memorial Day and usually charges between $2 and $8 the other times of the year.
For those who wish to camp here, Mount Philo offers a small camping area with a total of 10 sites, restrooms and hot showers located on the north side of the mountain. The park is also another fun sledding, skiing and snowshoe location if there’s snow in December.
Mount Philo State Park is located at 5425 Mount Philo Rd., Charlotte. For more information, call 802-425-2390 or visit www.vtstateparks.com/htm/philo.
Burlington Brew Tours
What better way to explore Burlington’s proud beer culture and foodie scene than an evening Pub Crawl Tour? Get a taste of downtown Burlington’s nightlife by hopping on the tour bus (Matt is an awesome tour guide), for a four-hour guided educational tour. Some of the stops on the tour include Magic Hat Brewery and Switchback Brewery, where guests will get samples of several different beers and sometimes a flight. Learn about the brewery process, where ingredients come from and how long it takes beer to get from the ground to the glass on this unique tour. Fun fact: the tour is so popular that it has become a tradition for guests all over the world to stick their name tags on the inside of the bus.
Visit www.burlingtonbrewtours.com for more information and contact Chad Brodsky at email@example.com to book a tour.
Echo Lake Aquarium
ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain is a 501(c) nonprofit organization whose mission is to educate people about the ecology, culture, history and opportunities of the Lake Champlain Basin. A perfect day trip for families with children, the aquarium has dozens of fish, turtles and marine biology equipment to view as well as a theater to screen films, animal feedings and demonstrations and special seasonal events.
Echo Lake Aquarium is located at 1 College St., Burlington. For more information, call 802-864-1848 or visit www.echovermont.org.
For more Vermont activities, see www.vermont.org.