Most Popular Articles in September

October 1, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog

Vermont foliageFall has arrived and with the beautiful foliage season here in Vermont some of our newest articles have quickly become very popular. So, if you have missed one of these, make sure to check them out!

1- Samuel de Champlain’s Voyages
2- Enjoy Vermont Foliage… Differently
3- Lake Champlain… New France
4- Brewpubs of Vermont
5- Who Makes the Best Maple Creemee?

Thanks for reading us this month!

Enjoy Vermont Foliage… Differently

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

Fun Things to Do in Vermont

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!!

Things to do in Vermont – July 18-20

Tiger LiliesSummer is definitely here and Vermont is still booming with activities and festivals. Anywhere you stay, you can enjoy music or historic narrations or military reenactments or food festivals!
So, as you plan the upcoming week-end, here are a few events we noticed:
- Vermont Mozart Festival is in full swing with both adults and kids concerts this week-end;
- 25th anniversary week-end of Billings Farms, Woodstock - July 20 – with lots of activities planned. The Vermont Fiddle Orchestra will perform at 1 pm, and Robert Resnik & Friends at 3 pm. There will be free ice cream and cookies throughout the day. And Governor Jim Douglas will be there (2 pm)!
- Mount Independence reenactment and encampment “Soldiers Atop the Mount” – it’s the major activity of the summer for the site;
- 7th Annual Killington Wine Festival – July 17-20
- Vermont Brewers Festival – July 18-19 – Rumor is that the Brewers Festival in Quebec is better but…
- 30th Annual Middlebury Summer Festival on-the-green – July 13-19 – Vermont Public Radio (VPR) gave a nice preview last Saturday of some interesting musicians participating to the event, such as some celtic and some Quebec traditional music groups;
- Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, near Vergennes, has a fun small boat race on Sunday (3 miles rowing or paddling) attracting around 50 participants and a small crowd of roughly 200;
- Vermont Summer Festival Horseshow – 2nd week-end of competition. Interestingly, the Northshire Digital Arts Center holds a digital photography contest for all attendees and participants of the horseshows. Check rules and prizes here.
- David Maxwell – Bennington Center for the Arts – The concert will be recorded for a future album. The organizers say that critics and fans think David Maxwell is one of the finest blues pianists alive.
- Marlboro Music – Marlboro College, Malboro – We don’t know the event, but the organizers are quoting the Time to have said that it is “the most exciting chamber music in the U.S.”
We’ll be posting more details in the next couple of days. Make sure to come back and visit us.
Also, don’t hesitate to leave us a comment on one of these events if you got a chance to attend!

Harpoon Brewery – BBQ Competition

June 29, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, Gastronomy events

Harpoon brewery
Note: In 2009, the dates for this competition are July 25 and 26.

The 2008 dates are July 26th and 27th. And it definitely seems like great fun. Nothing less than 40 teams are competing and they are coming from everywhere in New England and as far as Texas. But if you want to participate as a competitor, you’ll have to wait until next year, because all the competing spots are already filled. So when the weather is warm and a cold beer and nice BBQ seem like the best thing you get, we imagine that Harpoon Brewery BBQ competition must be the place to be. We’ll be there for sure and we suspect this could become one of our favorite summer events in Vermont. It should make our upcoming Vermont Top Summer Events list if it lives to its expectation. One thing for sure is Harpoon Brewery - one of the top micro-breweries here in Vermont – always seem to have the greatest ideas for fun and well-organized events! We were already there a couple of week-ends ago for the 150-mile bike race (all the way from Boston to Windsor where their headquarters are!), and despite the heavy rain at the end of the afternoon, we definitely enjoyed seeing all these great athletes arriving at the site and sharing a nice cold beer with us! (Yep, we were the lazy ones, just there for the beer!). As usually, if you attend this event in July, we would love to know what you think about it!
More on Harpoon Brewery BBQ competition.

Vermont Scenic Drives: Route 17

Chimney Point historic siteRoute 17 is not frequently listed among “scenic drives” but it definitely has a stunning view from the top of the Green Mountains at the Appalachian Gap (great during the foliage season) and lots of sweeping views of the Lake Champlain Valley. It will be enjoyed by people who love far away views and the immensity of the valley (and may be less by people who love the cozy valleys with mountain backdrops, which you find in Central Vermont on the famous route 100).
Route 17 is also very interesting by the great diversity of its landscapes, from the end of Lake Champlain, to the valley, the hills and finally the top of the Green Mountains.
You start at the shore of Lake Champlain (literally!) at “Chimney Point” state historic site (a wonderful spot unto itself). The first half of the drive, about 45 minutes, has you cruising across fabulous farm country in the Champlain Valley with sweeping views to the north and to the south across the flat and rolling farmlands. You can see the Green Mountains in the distance getting closer. The local scenes of farms and landscape are really classic Vermont.
Then, you hit Bristol, and start the “transition” to the Green Mountains. Bristol, itself, is just a perfect example of a 4-block long “Main Street”. The town is very vibrant with stores and restaurants. When we took the drive, last week-end, we enjoyed dinner and a “cold frosty one” at the Bob Cat Brewery (we will be back!).
Within seconds of leaving the town’s main street area heading east, we were into the hills and soon the Green Mountains, rapidly gaining altitude and enjoying the scenery as we headed up the very windy turns (no views there though).
Within 20 minutes, you finally cross through Appalachian Gap which has a very nice panoramic view to the West (fabulous sunset view!).You pass over the Long Trail at over 2,300 feet and then quickly head down the other side. A couple of minutes later, you get a glance of a ski lift. You are at the top of Mad River Glenn Ski area (how many times have you actually driven by the TOP of a ski lift?!). A few more minutes and you pass the bottom of the ski slope and quickly follow the wonderful river shores down towards Vermont’s famous Route 100 and the end of your Route 17 journey…
Pick a great day this summer to do it. Start around 5, stop in Bristol for dinner, and you should be perfectly timed to see the sunset at 8pm from Appalachian Gap.

Post-scriptum: Later this summer, I have done this drive again, but from route 100 to the lake this time… I actually prefer it in this direction. For the first few miles, before you start the climb, the Green Mountains are unbelievably impressive, truly rising as a wall in front of you… Later, Bristol is again a surprise at the end of the descent… and arriving at the lake at Chimney Point is precious. Enjoy!

Related posts:
Sunset on Historic Chimney Point
Brewpubs of Vermont
Enjoy Vermont foliage… Differently