The Northeast Kingdom
Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom is a nature lover’s paradise with its lush scenery and plethora of outdoor activities. But there’s so much more to the region. Families will appreciate the wide array of things to do and see in the quaint countryside.
How often can you say you participated in a llama trek? Likely, not very. But Agape Hill Farm (618 Houston Hill Road, Hardwick, Vt.; 802-472-3711; agapehillfarm.com) wants to help you check this item off your bucket list. Take a stroll down winding trails through woods and cedar groves with one of the farm’s llamas or explore the property by participating in a photo scavenger hunt. Scoop up a felting kit at The Fiber Shop for crafting back at home.
The Vermont Reindeer Farm (3107 Chilafoux Road, West Charleston, Vt.; 802-754-9583) is the only one of its kind in the state. There are opportunities to feed and pet the animals, as well as nature trails to explore and a craft center for getting creative.
Get a bird’s eye view of the area’s majestic scenery via Jay Peak Aerial Tramway (Route 242, Jay, Vt.; 802-988-2611), which provides passengers with views of four states and the Canadian province of Quebec. The summit is 4,000 ft. and it takes just 10 minutes to get to the top. You’re invited to bring a picnic lunch for enjoying while you take in the fresh air atop the mountain.
While you’re in Jay, you’ve got to check out the Jay Peak Resort (830 Jay Peak Road, Jay, Vt.; 802-988-2611; jaypeakresort.com), an expansive lodge that’s not only a family-friendly place to stay, but also features some fantastic activities for all types of personalities. Kids love their waterpark, the Pump House, because it houses some killer water slides as well as a lazy river, indoor and outdoor hot tubs and a kids play area.
Take in some culture at the Old Stone House Museum (109 Old Stone House Road, Brownington, Vt.; 802-754-2022; oldstonehousemuseum.org). Consisting of six buildings sitting on 55 acres of land, you’ll find 21 rooms of exhibits including everything from 19th-century furniture to textiles to pottery. The Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium’s (1302 Main St., St. Johnsbury, Vt.; 802-748-2372; fairbanksmuseum.org) “Bug Art” exhibit will appeal to kids and adults alike. Artist John Hampson created these pieces using thousands of beetles, moths and butterflies. The planetarium portion offers shows to explain the night sky to all ages. The 20-minute My Sky production is perfect for children ages 3 to 8 years. Night Sky has a running time of 30 minutes and provides a tour of the constellations and planets. For kids older than 6 years, the 50-minute Tour the Cosmos gives a more in-depth look at the stars.
If you’d like to take in a bit of theater, check the schedule for the Haskell Free Library and Opera House (93 Caswell Ave., Derby Line, Vt.; 802-873-3022; haskellopera.com). Tours of the Opera House are available during normal library hours and upcoming summer productions include The Sound of Music and Suds: The Rocking 60’s Musical Soap Opera.
Prepare to be wowed at the Bread and Puppet Theater & Museum (753 Heights Road, Glover, Vt.; 802-525-3031; breadandpuppet.org/museum), a 140-year-old hay barn that now houses “veteran puppets.” It’s one of the oldest nonprofit, self-supporting theater companies in the United States. Oh, and did we mention these puppets are big?
If your idea of adventure is heading out into nature on two wheels instead of two feet you’re in luck: the Northeast Kingdom has tons of bike trails and off-beat action opportunities for mountain biking. Q Burke Mountain Resort (223 Sherburne Lodge Road, East Burke, Vt.; 802-626-7300; skiburke.com) features the Burke Bike Park and lift during the summer season while the area from Eden Mills to Guildhall boasts a 72.8-mile unpaved link for riders with intermediate to advanced skills. The Kingdom Trails (478 Route 114, East Burke, Vt.; 802-626-0737; kingdomtrails.org) is a network of scenic trails built for all skill levels that is ideal for families.
Explore some peaceful time on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (northernforestcanoetrail.org), which connects New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire and Maine waterways. A portion of the 740-mile trail lies in the Northeast Kingdom. Of course, you aren’t expected to tour the entire trail – paddling for an afternoon will make for a fun (and tiring) activity.
Vermont is famous for its maple syrup and while sugaring season may be over for the year, you can still bask in the deliciousness that is this sweet sauce. Stop by April’s Maple (6507 Vermont Route 114, Canaan, Vt.; 802-266-9624; aprilsmaple.com), an 800-acre maple farm that has been in the family for many generations. Here you’ll find syrup (of course) along with other treats (maple cotton candy, anyone?).
Now do you see why it’s called the Northeast Kingdom? Any place that literally takes you to soaring heights and feeds you on local goods is enchanting in our book.
Kelly Bryant is associate editor of Boston Parents Paper.
Go Big in Burlington
There is much to do in the city of Burlington. Try one of these activities for a fab time in the city.
• Church Street Marketplace (2 Church St., Burlington, Vt.; 802-863-1648; churchstmarketplace.com) is a definite “do.” It’s an open air marketplace that regularly hosts festivals and street entertainment while visitors shop and dine on some of Vermont’s most delicious culinary creations. Pick up some local Lake Champlain chocolates as a tasty souvenir.
• Kids will totally be into the interactive exhibits at ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center (1 College St., Burlington, Vt.; 802-864-1848; echovermont.org), where they can learn more about ecology, culture and history of the Lake Champlain basin. This summer “Smokey Bear & Woodsy Owl: Home Sweet Home” exhibit will delight children as they learn to care for our planet’s precious natural resources.
• Explore the city in a different way by getting around town on Burlington Segways (277 Pine St., Burlington, Vt.; 802-489-5113; burlingtonsegways.com). On the menu are tours of the waterfront, downtown, and the University of Vermont. A little nervous about hopping on one of these bad boys? Not to worry, the tour begins with hands-on training at their shop before you’re unleashed on the streets of Burlington.
• Bring a picnic to Waterfront Park, just off of Main Street, for a whimsical meal by Lake Champlain. If eating outdoors isn’t necessarily your thing, head down to this area to take in the sunset – you’ll get an eyeful of beauty as the sun falls into the mountains.