While Vermont may be the least populous state in New England with scarcely more than 600,000 souls calling this rural territory home (only Wyoming is smaller in the Union), those seeking a taste of traditional countryside life that used to be found everywhere in this region will certainly find it here.
With tons of maple trees that burn with luminous shades of red and orange throughout the fall season, and that bring forth a sweet and sticky treasure (maple syrup) as winter transitions into spring, people from more urban areas flock here throughout the year. It is here they find peace amidst the lakes, gently rolling hills and small mountains of this proclaimed republic; when you arrive here, your gradually slowing blood pressure bring you to the same physical and mental space.
What To Do – Culture & History
Despite its small stature on the national stage with regards to its physical size and population, Vermont has raised an American president in its past. Calvin Coolidge rose from being a lawyer in his home state to become involved in federal politics in the 1910’s, being elected as Vice President in 1920, and with the abrupt death of President Harding in 1923, he was thrust into the spotlight as his replacement.
Coolidge went on to get elected to a full term in 1924, so to honor his roots, the Coolidge Homestead in Plymouth Notch was been preserved and built up as a museum profiling his younger days. Adding to the mystique of this otherwise humble farming homestead is the fact that Coolidge was here when he was informed of the President’s passing; the room in which he was hastily sworn in as president in the middle of the night is a highlight of the tour, and has been assembled in the state it was that fateful night.
Despite the unassuming nature of Vermont, it was every bit embroiled in the Revolutionary War just as the other 12 original colonies were. One of the more significant confrontations in this conflict took place in nearby New York State, as a detachment of revolutionaries cut off a regiment of British soldiers intent of capturing a cache of weapons and food that they had learned was sitting just across the border in Vermont.
They succeeded in stopping the redcoats, and today, the Bennington Battle Monument marks the location of that food and weapon supply, as a giant stone obelisk, which boasts an observation deck at its pinnacle more than 200 feet above ground, sits on the site that the Brits failed to reach in 1777.
As mentioned previously, small-scale farming comprises much of Vermont’s land area, and while operations tend to be much larger than they were in the days of yore, they still form a significant portion of the cultural landscape of this state. The Billings Farm & Museum commemorates this, existing to educate the public of the importance of this ancient industry, all while remaining one of the finest dairy farms in the country.
You get to watch as they manage their Jersey cows, sheep, horses, and more, and if you choose to do so, participating in chores such as the milking of the cows is possible for visitors that are up to the task!
What To Do – Modern & Natural Attractions
With all the milk that is produced in the countryside of Vermont, it would seem like it would be an ideal location for an aspiring entrepreneur to start something like an ice cream company and just go on to absolutely kill it. This is exactly what Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben and Jerry’s did 36 years ago, and today, their little ice cream brand has exploded, ending up in the dairy case of nearly every supermarket in the country, and many others worldwide.
Their original production facility in Waterbury offers their fans a 30 minute tour of the place where all the magic happens, detailing everything that goes into the process of making pints of flavors like Cherry Garcia or Hazed and Confused appear in the freezer of their local grocery stores.
Vermont may be the only state in New England that is landlocked, but that doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of fun by a glistening body of water during the heat of a mid-summer day. Lake Champlain, widely considered to be related to the nearby Great Lakes as a large remnant of glacial melting following the end of the last Ice Age, offers many places to recreate yourself along its lengthy shores. Sand Bar State Park offers a family friendly place where you can relax on a sandy shore, while those seeking a more built up area can enjoy the lakefront in Burlington’s stunning Waterfront Park, where opportunities for fishing and boating abound.
Burlington, while we are on the subject, is Vermont’s largest city, though it is hard to think of it as such with a population of only 42,000. Just the same, it contains a number of excellent microbreweries that has received critical acclaim from across the country, and the boutiques of its pedestrian thoroughfare of Church Street is an excellent place for those searching for a bargain on a Vermont souvenir to find it.
Out of all the states in New England, no other has the volume of skiable mountains that Vermont does. Stowe, Jay Peak, Killington, and the Trapp Family Lodge (actually founded by THAT Von Trapp family that fled Nazi-occupied Austria in the lead up to the Second World War) are the standouts among the 14 major hills that one can carve up here. Some many be full up with New Yorkers and Bostonians on busy weekenders during the winter, so try to go mid-week if at all possible!