11 Things to Look Forward to in Vermont this Summer
May 28, 2021
Summer in Vermont is astonishingly beautiful and way too short. It’s easy to pack in as much as possible when the weather is sunny and warm, but where do you start? Here are some of the best things to do in Vermont in summer.
Celebrate Summer at a Fair or Festival
Many fairs and festivals return to the state this summer. The Burlington Discover Jazz Festival comes to Vermont’s Queen City June 4-13, 2021, as does Burlington City Arts’ Festival of Fools July 30-Aug 1, 2021. The Addison County Fair & Field Days in New Haven Aug. 10-14, 2021 showcases the heart of Vermont agriculture, and the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset July 6-Aug. 15, 2021 features the best in equestrian competition.
Hit the Bike Trails
Vermont has no shortage of biking trails. In East Burke, Kingdom Trails offers world-class mountain biking. At the same time, communities such as Stowe and Burlington are home to excellent bike paths (the fantastic little Local Motion Bike Ferry on Lake Champlain between Colchester and South Hero opens for the season Memorial Day Weekend). For a quieter experience in the woods, try mountain biking at Vermont outdoor centers such as Grafton Trails Outdoor Center and Craftsbury Outdoor Center. Vermont Rail Trails in Lamoille, Chittenden, Franklin, and Rutland counties are another fun option for biking across scenic areas of Vermont.
Watch the Waterfalls
If you’ve traveled on Route 100, chances are you’ve pulled over to admire Moss Glen Falls. Other well-known Vermont waterfalls include the other Moss Glen Falls, located in Stowe, as well as Bingham Falls in Stowe, Lye Brook Falls in Manchester, Warren Falls in Warren, and Bartlett Falls in Bristol. If you’re looking for waterfalls off-the-beaten-path, try East Putney Falls, Honey Hollow Falls in Bolton, or Crystal Cascade Falls at Mount Ascutney State Park. (Russell Dunn’s book, Vermont Waterfalls: A Guide, is an excellent resource for all of your waterfall adventures.)
Take a Hike
Memorial Day Weekend means hiking trails in Vermont’s higher elevations are open for the season. Popular hikes include Mount Mansfield, Camels Hump, Killington Peak, and Mount Abraham. As hiking routes will be busy this summer, try opting for less crowded trails, such as the Skylight Pond Trail near Ripton or Prospect Rock in Manchester.
Mount Pisgah is a well-known hike in the Northeast Kingdom that offers moderate climbs and stunning views overlooking Lake Willoughby in Westmore. Nearby, you can also try Bald Mountain’s Long Pond Trail, which winds 2.2 miles with 1,450 feet of elevation gain to a summit cabin and fire tower. Another option in this area is the Wheeler Mountain Trail, a 1.3-mile hike with 700 feet of elevation gain to Eagle Cliff with views of Mount Pisgah and Lake Willoughby. (The Green Mountain Club’s Day Hiker’s Guide to Vermont lists an abundance of helpful trail information).
Drive to the Summit
If hiking isn’t your thing but you enjoy mountain views, several Vermont mountains include auto-toll roads to the top. Equinox Skyline Drive near Manchester is a 5.2-mile toll road that takes you to the 3,848-foot summit. In the Connecticut River Valley town of Weathersfield, the Mount Ascutney Parkway is a 3.7-mile road built by hand and machine by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Burke Mountain and Stowe Mountain Resort also feature auto-toll roads to the summit.
Shop Local at Vermont Farmers’ Markets
Vermont summer farmers’ markets are opening up for the season. At farmers’ markets in Burlington, Brattleboro, Manchester, Montpelier, Londonderry, Lyndon, and everywhere in between, you can find everything from handcrafted pottery and jewelry to pasture-raised poultry, local produce, and butcher block cutting boards.
You’ve probably been dining outdoors since late March (that’s OK!). At least now you don’t have to wear your ski jacket and mittens at dinner. Excellent Vermont restaurants with outdoor dining include Honey Road in Burlington, the Barrows House in Dorset, Peter Havens in Brattleboro, Starry Night Café in Ferrisburg, and Juniper’s Restaurant in Lyndonville.
Cool Off at a Vermont Swimming Hole
If you’re looking for a place to dip your toes or go all in,Vermont swimming holes are places of adventure and tranquility as you cool off on a hot summer day. Try spots like the Dorset Quarry, Buttermilk Falls in Ludlow, Lareau Farm swimming hole in Waitsfield, the Quechee Covered Bridge swimming hole, or the Peavine swimming hole in Stockbridge.
Go Berry Picking
Strawberry and blueberry season in Vermont are almost here. Strawberry picking season starts in June, while blueberry season runs from mid-July through August. Vermont is home to many pick-your-own berry farms, including Cedar Circle Farm in East Thetford, Owl’s Head Blueberry Farm in Richmond, Sugar Hill Berry Farm near Killington, Sunshine Valley Organic Berry Farm in Rochester, Dutton Berry Farm in Newfane, and Breitmeyers Farm in Greensboro.
Explore Lakes and Rivers
Whether you’re tubing, paddling, or stand-up paddleboarding, getting out on Vermont’s lakes and rivers can give you a whole new perspective on Vermont’s landscape. Outfitters such as Big Big Kayaking and Tubing on the Battenkill River in Arlington, Clyde River Recreation in West Charleston, and Umiak Outdoor Outfitters in Stowe offer easy access to Vermont’s waterways. Vermont State Parks offers boat rentals at various campgrounds, including Silver Lake State Park in Barnard and Branbury State Park in Brandon. On Lake Champlain, WND&WVS gives stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) classes at the Burlington Surf Club.
Last But Not Least, Order a Creemee
Creemees are Vermont’s answer to soft-serve ice cream and a sure sign of summer. For the full-on Vermont creemee experience, order a maple creemee to see what all the fuss is about around here. Recommended creemee stands include Little Gordo Creemee Stand in Burlington, Vermont Cookie Love in Ferrisburg, and Canteen Creemee Company in Waitsfield. If you want to know more about creemees, the website Hello Burlington sheds some light on the origin of the Vermont creemee in their story, What is a Creemee?
What are your favorite picks for the best things to do in Vermont in summer?
-Burlington Jazz Festival photo by Brian MacDonald