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If you missed our earlier article called “Take the Train between Vermont for $12 in 2009“, take a look at this video about the Amtrak’s Vermonter, produced by Burlington’s Seven Days Magazine. Until December 31, you can still enjoy a nice ride, and a nice visit somewhere… may be on one of the last days of foliage… or on a snowy day in December! It really sounds like fun, and a pleasant thing to do on a week-end day!

 

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amtrak_vermonter_randolph_575Photo: Downtown Randolph, one of the Amtrak Vermonter’s stops in Vermont.
What a wonderful way to discover the countryside and the towns of Vermont this summer and this fall.
You can ride the train between towns within Vermont on the Amtrak’s Vermonter for only $12 (one-way rail fare). And the landscape is so breathtaking.
This is wonderful news for tourists and Vermonters, after all the talks over the winter that Amtrak might actually cancel its routes to Vermont.
The Vermonter can take you from Washington DC or New York to Vermont, all the way to St. Albans, VT.
You can enjoy the beautiful landscape, and you can also stop and visit some of those towns, recognized for their scenery, their architecture of historical significance, their shopping and dining. Each town visited by the Amtrak Vermonter’s has actually been recognized by the state for its significance as one of the “22 designated downtowns”. And Randolph – one of the stops – is among the quaintest villages in Vermont (our 2008 article Historical Vermont Towns & Commons)
While you are in Vermont, you can also attend one of the summer festivals the state has to offer. The Vermont Mozart Festival  is taking place from July 19 to August 9, and there are several signature events of the 400 years of Lake Champlain on the route as well, such as the St. Albans Franco-American Heritage Festival on June 18-20 and the “Celebrate Champlain Burlington International Waterfront Festival on July 2-14.

So, to plan your trip: simply plan your trip between any other Vermont town on the route for the special rate of $12 per each trip (discount code V189). And if you come from outside the state of Vermont, take the train from Washington DC or New York (discount code V446) to the first Vermont stop in Brattleboro, and from there, plan your stops within Vermont with the discount code V189.  Major holiday blackout dates are Sept 4, Sept 7, Nov 24-25, and Nov 28-30.
The Vermont stops are: Brattleboro, Bellow Falls, Claremont, Windsor-Mt. Ascutney, White River Junction, Randolph, Montpelier-Barre, Waterbury-Stowe, Burlington-Essex Junction and St. Albans. See the towns on the route on this Amtrak map.
Reservations can be done at 1-800-USA-RAIL and you can find more information about Amtrak’s Vermonter on its web page.
Watch a video on the Vermonter train, produced by Burlington’s Seven Days Magazine: Riding the train.

Enjoy! I surely hope I can try it myself sometimes this summer!

Related article: Planning your Summer Vacation to Vermont

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Burlington, VermontPhoto: Courtesy of Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing.

Sarah Tuff Dunn, co-author of 101 Best Outdoor Towns, said: “Burlington has it all… a brick pedestrian marketplace, Vermont’s iconic white steeples and rolling hills that spill down toward a lively, green waterfront on Lake Champlain” when she explained Burlington’s selection as one of the 20 Prettiest Cities in America, by Forbes Traveler this month. It’s quite an honor. Burlington was definitely in good company among well-known towns such as Aspen, CO, Lake Placid, NY, Hanover, NH, Portsmouth, NH and Rockport, ME.
Church Street Marketplace, Burlington’s pedestrian outdoor mall, is definitely very popular and a wonderful spot to wander around on a week-end afternoon. A recent survey among Quebec visitors said that they loved the pedestrian street and its combined urban and small-town feel. Church Street Marketplace was also selected last month by the American Planning Association (APA) as one of the 10 Greatest Public Places in America. Other places honored in 2008 by the APA for their character, quality and planning included Central Park, NY, Santa Monica Beach, CA and Union Station, Washington DC. Another great honor for our lakeshore town!
And if you will enjoy your visit to Church Street, we are convinced you’ll also be impressed by the serenity of the lakeshore. Talk a walk on the walking path, sit down on the decks of some of the bars and restaurants (we like the Ice House ourselves!) and admire the lake, the boats, and the Adirondacks on the New York State side, across the lake.
And for more ideas about what to do during a week-end in Burlington, a great article was just published in the NY Times Travel: “36 hours in Burlington”.
I was personally intrigued to see their photo of the “Burlington Earth Clock” – a 43-foot sundial made of granite slabs. We’ll have to check it out!
In addition to ideas on “things to do”, the article also gives you a few great ideas for restaurants and places to have a drink or a coffee… Check it out.
Finally, our gastronomy lovers will be happy to know that there are indeed a few great places to eat in Burlington. The ones most commonly mentioned by “gastronomes” are:
– A Single Pebble (upscale Asian)
L’Amante (also mentioned in the NY Times article)
Trattoria Delia
– And finally American Flatbread (mentioned in our article on the brewpubs of Vermont).
Nice places for a special dinner event, not necessarily cheap but enjoyable…
So, if you come to Burlington for a visit, let us know what was your favorite place…leave us a comment…

Related article: Brewpubs of Vermont

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Golden mums
We’ll tell you about the scenic drives and the places to go apple picking, but what about doing something different:

  • Canoeing the Missisquoi river: It is part of the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail, and has some of the best flat-water paddling in Vermont. And it is bordered by a large silver maple forest. Actually, it is so scenic that there is a bill at the Senate right now to have the Missisquoi and the Trout Rivers become “wild and scenic rivers” which will allow their protection and development as a wonderful natural resource.
    More information at: The Northern Forest Canoe Trail
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  • Follow the cheese trail: There is nothing better than having a good excuse to drive all around Vermont. The cheese makers of Vermont are famous (they get world recognition!) and their cheeses are delicious, so why not discover Vermont cheeses and enjoy the scenery – all at the same time. The Vermont Cheese Council offers you a map of all the places you can visit (check the little flags on the map).
    More information at: Map of the Vermont Cheese Trail
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  • Enjoy a train ride: This summer I had the opportunity to visit a few of the Vermont towns which saw their economic development boosted in the mid-1800s because the railroad came through their villages. The tracks are still there and believe me, they are always taking you through scenic valleys surrounded by forested mountains. Amtrak can take you from Washington DC all the way to St. Albans on the Vermonter, from New York City to Rutland on the Ethan Allen Express, and from Boston to Springfield, MA and then to Montpelier. The Green Mountain Railroad also offers some rides. They have a Fall Foliage Dinner Train leaving Burlington from 3pm to 9pm on September 27 – $75.00. We cannot wait to take such a trip ourselves!
    More information at:
    Green Mountain Railroad Fall Foliage Dinner Train 
    Amtrak route guides – The Vermonter and the Ethan Allen Express
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  • Take a cruise on Lake Champlain: Seeing foliage from the lake is a very popular fall activity. Take a 1 ½ hour cruise with Carillon Cruises (his dock is across from Fort Ticonderoga) and the captain will delight you with historic tales of the region. For an overnight mid-week (Lake Discovery Cruise) or a week-end (Vermonter) cruise, choose the Moonlight Lady. I hear food is great and they can accommodate 16 people overnight.
    More information at:
    Vermont Discovery Cruises
    Carillon Cruises
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  • Visit wineries: We’ll have to try this ourselves, and see if the scenery is worth the drive… It may not look as bucolic as the Napa Valley’s hills covered with vineyards. But if you are intrigued to discover if Vermont has nice wines to offer, this is another excuse to drive around. One vineyard, Shelburne Vineyard did win some awards for its organically and sustainably grown wines. For you to discover.
    More information at:
    Map of Vermont wineries
    Shelburne Vineyard
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  • Take the Vermont Brewery Challenge: From wine to beers! We have talked in a past article about this fun way to visit some of the 18 Vermont micro-breweries. You can get the official passport, get a stamp when you visit one of the breweries and win prizes!
    More information at:
    Map of Vermont breweries and pubs
    Vermont Brewery Challenge Passport
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  • Join the 251 Club and visit all 251 towns and villages in the State of Vermont. Record everyone you visit on the map until you have completed it all! I know, it’s a little crazy, but a great excuse to take roads you would not normally take. We have discovered beautiful barns or waterfalls this way!
    More information at: 251 Club

And for the more usual activities

  • Go apple picking and win an iPod: Yes, it’s true. In one of the participating apple orchads in Vermont, you can pick up apples and find a wooden apple in some trees to win an iPod. One good way to have the whole family motivated to come!
    More information at: Vermont apples
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  • Enjoy one of the foliage scenic drives or bike rides: Vermont has so many scenic drives or biking trails. Foliage-Vermont.com and Burlington Free Press are two references we selected for you. You find itineraries and maps there. And if you want to join a group for a biking tour, Bike Vermont offers some fall tours for you.
    More information at:
    Burlington Free Press Foliage Drive
    Foliage-Vermont driving and biking roads  (click on driving tours on the left menu and select one of the tours).
    Bike Vermont
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  • Finally, for mountain biking and hiking, lots of choices again, one choice worth mentioning is the Kingdom Trails in East Burke. It was voted 2006 Editors’ Choice by theYankee Magazine Travel Guide to New England and called the “thrill of a lifetime”!
    More information at:
    Kingdom Trails

Related posts:
Vermont Scenic Drives: Route 17
Brewpubs of Vermont

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Swimming - LakeThere are lots of fun things to do in Vermont in the summer. Here is for starters:
– Go to one of the 89 swimming holes – ponds and rivers – listed on this website. Make sure to watch their slideshow, it gives you a great idea of the look of the different places (names are on the photos). Great for a hot day!
– Go to one of many outdoor concerts of the Vermont Mozart Festival or the Lake Champlain Bluegrass Festival;
– Watch antique cars at the 51st Annual Antique & Classic Car Meet, in Stowe on August 8-10;
– Eat a maple cremee: you got to have one if you are in Vermont in the summer… Make sure you get the ones made with real maple syrup and not just the flavor! We’ll give you some addresses soon, but for now, let’s mention Morse Farm, up County Road, near Montpelier, that’s the place everyone knows;
– Go to the Harpoon Brewery BBQ competition in Windsor on July 26-27; 40 teams from all the country will compete!
– Get a Vermont Brewery Challenge – Official Passport and visit all 18 great micro-breweries in the state of Vermont; Get a stamp at each and you can win prizes!
– Go and watch the Challenge Race at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, near Vergennes on July 20; it’s a 3-mile race of around 50 small boats. Should be fun. Around 200 spectators usually attend. And may be even more fun, on Saturday 19 (today!) there is a duct tape boat construction and race there!
– Attend your first Thunder Road night in Barre (not NASCAR racing but close!) – every Thursday and occasionally on week-ends;
– And if you are into American Revolution history, go to one of the reenactments/encampments which take place at different historic sites along the summer: the Battle of Hubbardton early July, Mount Independence encampment this week-end, Bennington in August…
What do you think? Fun enough?… Anything fun we should add to this list, leave us a comment and tell us about it!!

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One-room schoolThis is our new Friday feature! Every week, we’ll put your knowledge of Vermont to the test. And we hope you’ll have fun with it. We’ll keep track of the number of right answers you each get and on July 4th, 2009, Independence Day but also the day when (most) people believe that Samuel de Champlain discovered Lake Champlain – that’s another story – we will announce the winner. The prize? A mug with the logo of our cute cow!
So, here are the clues for our first weekly quiz:
– This building is in the western part of the state, not far from Lake Champlain,
– It is actually at the corner of the road which leads to one of Vermont State Historic Sites,
– We are not experts in stone, but it seems made of limestone,
– The building is dated 1829,
– And for a bonus point… the 4 side-by-side windows are giving us a clue about its past use and indicates that it has been renovated in the 1920s or 1930s. Such windows can be seen on a number of buildings throughout the state – when you learn to watch for them – most of them now converted to other uses. So… what was the previous function of this building?
And now… good luck to all of you! The answer will be shared in our next Weekly Quiz.
Click here to log in your answer as a Comment!

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norwich_common_5751

This article has been moved to: http://christineseclecticlife.com/historic-vermont-towns/

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Floating bridge - Brookfield 
As you travel south from Montpelier, on route 14, don’t miss the historic floating bridge in Brookfield on route 65. The village is nice and quiet, just like it was in the 19th century, with several houses of interest, including the oldest continually operating library (1791), and of course its unique bridge! First built in 1820, 330 feet in length and supported by 380 barrels (originally wooden barrels), it is said to be the only floating bridge east of the Mississippi. The story goes that one winter a resident had drowned trying to cross the frozen Sunset Lake and that the town had decided to lay down logs all chained together across the pond… When spring came, it simply became a floating bridge, later supported by barrels. Today, if planks and barrels have been replaced several times, the bridge is still standing. Used by both pedestrians and cars until the summer of 2007, it is now closed to car traffic, but you can still get across the lake by foot, get your feet a little wet if you want, and watch the few fishermen trying their luck for trout. Or if you come on the last Saturday of January, you will be able to enjoy one of the last ice harvest festivals in New England, and its ice cutting, ice sculpting, sledding and more!