Vermonters are settling into the middle of winter, but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of activities for families to enjoy. From hot chocolate that will make you week in the knees to picturesque sleigh rides, there is plenty to do during vacation week. Here are some of our favorites:
Indulge in 'next nevel' hot chocolate
After snowshoeing or cross-country skiing on the free trails in parts of the Winooski Valley Park District, just minutes from downtown Burlington, consider warming up with an indulgent treat from a well-known Vermont company.
Lake Champlain Chocolates sells a beverage called drinking chocolate, which is made by melting solid, organic dark chocolate into hot milk. The baristas use high-quality Vermont dairy in their recipes, though a vegan version is available, too.
“This is sort of a next-level way to experience hot chocolate,” said Danielle Cox of Lake Champlain Chocolates.
Several varieties of drinking chocolate are available, including peppermint. The treat sells for around $4, with price varying slightly depending on size. Lake Champlain Chocolates has locations on Pine Street and on the Church Street Marketplace in Burlington, and in Waterbury, on the Waterbury-Stowe Road.
Good-old-fashioned sleigh rides
Vermont’s Shelburne Farms, a 1,400-acre working farm that educates people about sustainability, offers sleigh rides that take visitors across parts of the property, which is now designated as a National Historic Landmark.
“Being in Vermont means you have to get out and enjoy the winter and explore it,” the destination’s Robin Turnau said. “And a sleigh ride’s a wonderful way to do it!”
Farmer Pat Palmer, whose draft horses power the 20-minute rides, said he hopes visitors have fun and learn a bit about the animals. The rides run on weekends only, through the end of February. A ride for adults costs $10, and a child’s ticket costs $8. Children under 3 are free. They are dependent on weather and snow conditions, so you may want to check with Shelburne Farms before heading out.
Free educational tours
If you thought the Vermont State House was just a place for lawmakers and lobbyists, think again! It’s also one of Vermont’s most-visited tourist sites.
The property is part museum, with historic portraits hanging throughout the building. There are also special exhibits, such as one on the history of the indigenous people who first called Vermont home.
David Schutz, the curator of the Vermont State House, said the building is “a lot easier to visit; a lot easier to appreciate” than most of the country’s other statehouses. Free audio tours are available. If you visit during the winter, you may get a firsthand glimpse at how the legislative process works, if the House and Senate are in session.
Skiing, of course
There's no shortage of excellent skiing opportunities in Vermont. Here are some of the best spots in the state. Sugarbush, located in the Mad River valley, boasts plenty of trails for all levels. Stowe Mountain Resort boasts the state's highest peak as well as 116 trails. Killington Resort, Jay Peak and Mount Snow are all popular ski area.
Just because it's winter doesn't mean you can't hike in nature and enjoy the scenery! Here are some hikes to check out:
School may be out for the week, but there's still plenty to learn.
At the Vermont Toy Museum, you can be a kid again with toys from every decade since 1800. To enter a world of science, nature and technology, you can visit the Montshire Museum of Science. At the ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, you can explore more than 70 species. Visitors can learn about Vermont's art, history and innovation at the Bennington Museum.