Vermont is where my heart lies. It is a unique place of culture and wonders, values and creativity, honesty and trust. The great outdoors are just that – great – and the people are amazing. No matter what time of year you arrive, you will not regret it. This should be on your bucket list!
I happened upon Vermont purely by chance. The Leadership Development Program I was in rotated its participants through several different job roles in different parts of the country. I had moved from my home state of Minnesota down to the deep south in Tennessee, and now they were sending me to a TINY town (800 people) in Vermont. I couldn’t imagine that there would be anything to do or any people to meet in what seemed to me to be the middle of nowhere. Little did I know how much this state would shape my life!
My first adventure into Vermont was driving over the Adirondack mountains of New York in the middle of the night with no GPS. Of course, it was also raining. Despite the adversity, I did manage to reach my destination: Vergennes, Vermont. I spent 8 months living in the ground floor of an old house-turned-duplex with beautiful wood floors and ridiculously expensive heating costs. It was heaven.
The people I met were so open, welcoming, unbiased, and truly happy. It was an incredible atmosphere to be in. What captured my heart, though, were the truly embedded roots of craftsmanship in the culture. Everywhere you turned, there were restaurants where chefs created new menus weekly, farmers markets galore, unique art and handmade goods, and a feeling of creativity and a desire to make something new and wondrous for the world to enjoy.
There are very few chains or corporations of any kind here, and it is beyond refreshing. There are no billboards. None. No big box stores, no been there/done that/seen that/ate that restaurants, and not many bustling cities.
When you peel away all of the commercialism, you’re left with unique, valuable goods, services, and products to enjoy.
Everything about Vermont is genuine. There are no shenanigans. Good, clean fun. This is reflected in the strong love of the outdoors that pervades the culture. Everyone wants to get outside to do any or all of a myriad of activities. Skiing, rock climbing, hiking, camping, backpacking, joring, sledding, boating, sailing, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, berry picking, farm touring, horseback riding, anything you could dream up in a Patagonia magazine. People do all of that and more, and often.
The hiking here is superb. There are trails for all levels, but most are at least moderate because Vermont has something the Midwest lacks: mountains! They aren’t the highest in the country, but they do provide some excellent trails. State parks abound as well as nature preserves, conservatories, and public land trusts.
There are so many places to go hiking, and they are all good. No really, I didn’t have to hunt around to find good hiking. It was in my backyard.
If you’re planning a trip (and why wouldn’t you after this compelling article?), I recommend staying in a vacation rental (check out vrbo.com) in Addison County. Most people would tell you to stay in Burlington, but you want the real Vermont experience, right? Visit Burlington, but stay in the rural parts of Vermont. Go to a farmer’s market (they are everywhere), see Middlebury, VT and explore the really great shops and food.
Stuff To Do
Want to go hiking? Here are my TOP favorites:
Trail Around Middlebury in Middlebury, VT
Mt. Philo State Park in Charlotte, VT
Camel’s Hump State Park in Waterbury, VT
Looking for sights to see? Check these out:
Ben & Jerry’s Factory in Waterbury, VT
Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, VT
Church Street in Burlington, VT
Dam in Middlebury, VT
Oh, do you like beer? This is a microbrew Mecca.
Want a unique place to stay? Other than VRBO, here are some awesome spots.
Sterling Ridge Resort in Jeffersonville, VT (best cabins. Ever.)
The Inn at Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, VT
Green Mountain Inn in Stowe, VT
In closing, I sincerely hope you decide to visit Vermont sometime. It's really magical and has stolen my heart. If you have any questions or want more insider tips to plan your trip, please contact me! I'd be happy to help you figure out details for a fantastic vacation!