Caption: Visit Hildene, Summer Home of Abraham Lincoln
The wilderness of Vermont might seem like the sort of place that only an outdoor sportsperson would consider for a holiday, but there’s more to this state than meets the eye. From the dramatic landscape, to a whole host of delicious food and everything in between, Vermont is a great place to holiday, here are some of our highlights.
Visit Lake Champlain
Caption: Lake Champlain is particularly beautiful in Summer
Arguably the most famous spot in Vermont, Lake Champlain is an enormous freshwater lake that has been here since the ice age! Back then it was completely frozen, but now you can swim, fish and row on the beautiful waters. At 120 miles long, it is a huge habitat for more than 300 species of birds and some of the biggest bass you’re likely to find – making it a perfect spot for birdwatchers and anglers alike.
If you don’t fall into either of the above categories then don’t worry! There’s the possibility to hire canoes and kayaks if you want to get out on the water. If you prefer your feet firmly on dry land then why not try to spot Champ? This creature is rumoured, much like the Loch Ness monster, to live in the depths of Lake Champlain. Whilst he may just be a myth, some people believe he could be a relative of the plesiosaur, an aquatic reptile that could very well have inhabited this lake all those years ago.
The place we made base at looked out onto Lake Champlain. It was an adorable wood-boarded house with one very unusual feature – a witch window. I’d never heard of such a thing before, but apparently, this unusual superstition is relatively commonplace in Vermont. These slanted windows can often be found in the dormers of Vermont buildings and are placed at a slanted angle to stop witches flying into them on their broomsticks.
Eat at Down Home Kitchen
Now that you’ve built up an appetite, head to Down Home Kitchen. This cute restaurant makes some of the best fried chicken you’re likely to taste – especially this far north! Mary Alice Profitt is the brains behind this establishment, which she set up in 2015. The ethos here is to create homestyle food, from scratch, using local ingredients and a healthy dose of Southern love. Mary grew up in Atlanta, Georgia with her mother and grandmother and you can definitely feel their influence.
You can certainly tell that the produce they use is fresh and top quality, but it hasn’t driven up the prices too much. The buttermilk fried chicken and biscuits with gravy is an absolute must try for the chicken lover. If chicken isn’t your thing (really?!) then there are plenty of other options, including a protein and two sides, meaning you can try exactly what you want off the menu – the collard greens are to die for!
Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour
After you’ve filled up with a main course at Eat Down Home, why not treat yourself to a little dessert? Probably the best thing to come out of Vermont has been none other than Ben and Jerry, makers of the best ice cream in the world! The factory here opened in 1978 and slowly but surely they built their ice cream empire.
Although the history of the company is very interesting, the best part is certainly the samples! As you make your way around the factory, whatever is being made is offered for you to taste – we were lucky enough to get a Chocolate Fudge Brownie Day. After the tour is finished you can make yourself at home in the ‘Flavour Graveyard’, where all of the flavours that are no longer produced can be found. Remember Creme Brulee? Or Peanut Butter and Jelly? Whilst it remains a mystery to us why some of these flavours got discontinued, it’s a real consolation to know that their memory lives on.
The Lincoln’s Summer Home
From low culture to high, it was time to visit Hildene, Abraham Lincoln’s summer home. Even if you aren’t planning on taking a tour around, it’s so worth visiting just to see the building itself. A stunning columned building, with grand landscaped gardens, it’s possible that the most exciting view is from the outside. However, that’s not to say that there isn’t plenty to see on the inside.
The house itself has become a sort of museum. Inside you’ll find one of Abraham Lincoln’s top-hats, as well as the mirror he groomed himself in the night that he was assassinated. As well as having a collection of fascinating artefacts, Hildene is also a working farm. The kids will love petting the friendlier goats and the adults can enjoy the artisanal cheese that is made here. Whilst you’re outside be sure to look around the gardens. The dairy is solar powered, the greenhouses are used by students studying soil science, there’s a huge floating boardwalk over a thriving wetland habitat and even a ‘Pollinator Sanctuary’ providing a much needed home for many species of honey bee!