Vermont State Parks: Top 5 Views

July 24, 2017  
Filed under Things to do, Travel


F
ans of Vermont State Parks know and love the awesome scenery and fantastic views. You might try climbing one of the mountain summits, or a fire tower, or maybe you want to take a ride up the Mt. Ascutney auto road. Read more

Three Wonderful Discoveries

May 15, 2017  
Filed under Travel

 The ice fields at Canada’s Glacier National Park have begun to shrink, but are still a favorite of visitors. (Photo courtesy of Bill Neely.)

The ice fields at Canada’s Glacier National Park have begun to shrink, but are still a favorite of visitors. (Photo courtesy of Bill Neely.)

Canadian National Parks

By Bonnie and Bill Neely

Our original plan was to spend our RV camping week in East Glacier National Park in the United States, but we had failed to make reservations and found it full. Fortunately, we had our passports with us and papers from our veterinarian proving that our little dog was safe to go, so we drove into Canada and discovered three wonderful national parks that are now among our favorites.

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See the World’s Most Spectacular Sights by Train

September 15, 2016  
Filed under Travel

The Rocky Mountaineer takes passengers through some of the most dramatic scenery in North America. (Photo courtesy of the Armstrong Group)

The Rocky Mountaineer takes passengers through some of the most dramatic scenery in North America. (Photo courtesy of the Armstrong Group)

By Victor Block

For some people, taking a train is just a way of traveling from one place to another. For others, the trip itself is the major attraction. They’re interested in the ride, the scenery outside and in some cases the activities available to passengers. Here are several outstanding rail trips that will tempt you to get on board all around the country and the world. Read more

Town-Hopping: Food and Fun Close to Home

August 18, 2016  
Filed under Travel

The Battell Bridge in downtown Middlebury was built in 1893 to span the Otter Creek. (Photo by Mike Kimball)

The Battell Bridge in downtown Middlebury was built in 1893 to span the Otter Creek. (Photo by Mike Kimball)

 

By Jess Wisloski

More than skiing, biking or even pausing to take in beautiful panoramas, Vermonters have a longstanding tradition that often goes unnoticed: Town-hopping. The bucolic downtowns and sweet side streets that pepper the countryside can make a languid Sunday afternoon something like a spectacular way to squander a day. Here’s our roundup of the top places in the area for a great four-hour jaunt. Go get lost in these places, but first, read some suggestions on where to eat and what to do when you get there.

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Summer Events 2016 

June 10, 2016  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Things to do, Travel

The Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival is a feast for the eyes and the imagination. (Photo by Karen Cox)

The Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival is a feast for the eyes and the imagination. (Photo by Karen Cox)

Sunday, July 10 – Saturday, July 16

MIDDLEBURY FESTIVAL ON THE GREEN

Addison County’s premier summer arts event — the 38th annual festival will feature family-friendly programs and live performances from musicians both near and far. Free admission. www.festivalonthegreen.org

Friday, July 8 – Sunday, July 10

STOWEFLAKE HOT AIR BALLOON FESTIVAL

The 30th Annual Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival returns with 25 hot air balloons set to take flight above the beautiful Green Mountains. The weekend will feature live music, local food and craft beer, gift shops and plenty of activities for children. www.stoweflake.com/activities_balloon_festival.aspx

Saturday, July 9 – Sunday, July 10

CHAMPLAIN ISLANDS OPEN FARM  & STUDIO TOURS

The 10th annual celebration allow visitors to explore the vineyards, farms, gardens, art studios and galleries of Grand Isle County. Meet local artists and agricultural producers and purchase items directly from their makers. www.openfarmandstudio.com

Saturday, July 16

STARS AND STRIPES FESTIVAL

The Lyndon Area Chamber hosts the 36th annual festival and parade in downtown Lyndonville. The parade begins at 10 a.m. and the festival features more than 40 crafters and vendors and live music in the park. www.lyndonvermont.com

Thursday, July 21 – Sunday, July 31

‘SEUSSICAL’ AT HASKELL OPERA HOUSE

Adults and children alike will love this musical based on the Dr. Seuss stories. Tickets for “Seussical” are $15 for adults, $13 for seniors and students and $7 for children 12 and under. haskellopera.com/events

Friday, July 15 – Sunday, July 17

KILLINGTON WINE FESTIVAL

The festival returns for its 15th year at Killington Peak Lodge. Guests can sample from more than 400 wines from over 40 vineyards from around the world and take a ride on the K1 gondola to the top of Killington Peak. www.killingtonpico.org/page/wine_festival

Sunday, July 17

VERMONT CHEESEMAKERS FESTIVAL

Enjoy a day of fun at the Coach Barn at Shelburne Farms — sample more than 150 varieties of artisan cheeses from over 40 Vermont cheesemakers along the beautiful shores of Lake Champlain. This celebration of “food, community and the working landscape of Vermont” will also feature local food and beverage artisans. www.vtcheesefest.com

Friday, July 29 – Sunday, July 31

FESTIVAL OF FOOLS

Burlington City Arts hosts the 9th annual Festival of Fools in downtown Burlington featuring a variety of street theater, circus arts, music and comedy for family audiences. Free and open to the public. www.vermontfestivaloffools.com.

Friday, July 29 – Saturday, July 30

STOWE BREWERS FESTIVAL

The second annual Stowe Brewers Festival offers three 4-hour tasting sessions featuring 40+ brewers and cider-makers serving more than 130 beers and ciders, bonus taste tickets from premiere Vermont spirits distillers, more than a dozen food trucks, free workshops and demonstrations, a wide variety of specialty food and product vendors, live music and free on-site parking, unlimited cold, filtered water and secure bicycle valet. Standard admission is $45 and includes: entry to single 4-hour tasting session; 15 beer/cider tasting tickets for 3 oz. samples; five bonus spirits tasting tickets; and souvenir tasting glass. VIP admission for $75 also includes expedited festival entry; exclusive VIP lounge tent; 2016 festival swag bag; and the Coveted “Hop the Line” pass.

The live music lineup includes: Session 1: Gang of Thieves; Session 2: Michelle Sarah Band; Session 3: Josh Panda. Designated drivers are admitted free. Round-trip luxury motor coach transportation is available departing from University Mall in South Burlington for only $20. www.StoweBrewersFestival.com.

Friday, July 29 – Sunday, Aug. 7

DEERFIELD VALLEY  BLUEBERRY FESTIVAL

This mid-summer festival spans the towns of Wilmington, Whitingham and Dover and will feature a Big Blue Parade, a Blue Street Fair, jam making, live music, a blue car auto show, bake sales, blue beer, children’s activities, pick your own blueberries and more. www.vermontblueberry.com

Thursday, July 28 – Sunday, July 31

LAKE CHAMPLAIN  MARITIME FESTIVAL

The 10th annual festival returns to the shores of the Burlington Waterfront and offers a variety of classic boats, long boats, canoes, kayaks and dragonboats on display, as well as live music, local food and hands-on exhibits for children to enjoy. www.lcmfestival.com

Saturday, Aug. 6 – Sunday, Aug. 7

ART IN THE PARK

Head out to Main Street Park in Rutland for live music, food, craft demonstrations, kids activities and a day full of art hosted by Chaffee Art Center. www.chaffeeartcenter.org

Friday, Aug. 12 – Sunday, Aug. 14

59TH ANNUAL ANTIQUE & CLASSIC CAR SHOW

One of the largest and oldest shows in New England has become a treasured tradition for those in Stowe and beyond. The weekend will feature more than 800 antique and classic cars and new this year the show will feature race cars, food concessions, a flea market, car parade, street dance and more www.vtauto.org.

Tuesday, Aug. 16 – Saturday, Aug. 20

VERMONT STATE FAIR

The 171st Vermont State Fair will be held at the fairgrounds in Rutland featuring entertainment, rides, events, music concerts, demolition derby, agricultural exhibits, farm animals, culinary, vegetable and floral exhibits, maple sugar house and dairy barn, grandstand attractions and more. www.vermontstatefair.org.

Saturday, Aug. 20 – Sunday, Aug. 21

6TH ANNUAL PEACHAM ACOUSTIC MUSIC FESTIVAL

The Peacham Acoustic Music Festival returns to the Village Green featuring acoustic music from a variety of genres including folk, blues, bluegrass, Celtic and classica,l as well as music workshops, jam sessions and family events. www.pamfest.com

Friday, Aug. 19 – Sunday, Aug. 21

VERMONT MUSIC FESTIVAL

The Vermont Music Festival is a volunteer-run music festival produced by the Mad River Valley Rotary. Billed as ‘a Vermont musical celebration for the whole family’ it features a wide variety of musical styles. Bring your blanket or lawn chair. visit http://vtmusicfest.org

Wednesday, Aug. 24 – Sunday, Aug. 28

CALEDONIA COUNTY FAIR

Special events happening daily plus Children’s Barnyard, cattle and livestock, 4-H exhibits, Floral Hall displays, sugar house, giftsShop, antique tractor display, poultry, goats and swine and commercial exhibits. www.vtfair.com

Friday, Aug. 26 – Sunday, Sept. 4

CHAMPLAIN VALLEY FAIR

The Champlain Valley Fair is 10 days of fun, rides, food, concerts and more. Essex Junction. www.champlainvalleyfair.org

Thursday, Sept. 15 – Sunday, Sept. 18

TUNBRIDGE WORLD’S FAIR

A weekend honoring agricultural traditions and features music, food, refreshments and information on farming practices. 889-5555. 

Enjoy an Outdoor Summer Staycation at a Vermont Resort

June 10, 2016  
Filed under Travel

For the adventurous, a zip-line tour like this one at Okemo Mountain Resort can be just the thing to add a little zip to summer.  (Photo courtesy of Okemo Mountain Resort)

For the adventurous, a zip-line tour like this one at Okemo Mountain Resort can be just the thing to add a little zip to summer.
(Photo courtesy of Okemo Mountain Resort)

Families and adventure seekers flock to Vermont ski and snowboard resorts in the winter for downhill thrills and snowy escapes, but these resorts also shine as a beacon for summer adventure enthusiasts and families looking for outdoor escapes and events. From gorgeous golf greens and mountain trails to lakes, rivers, pools and waterparks, there are so many places (and ways) to play in Vermont’s Green Mountains in the warmer months.

Adventures Read more

Take a Meander Through Surprising Manchester, Vt.

May 19, 2016  
Filed under Things to do, Travel

Robert Todd Lincoln, son of President Abraham Lincoln, made his home in Manchester, Vermont. (Courtesy photo by Steve Bergsman)

Robert Todd Lincoln, son of President Abraham Lincoln, made his home in Manchester, Vermont. (Courtesy photo by Steve Bergsman)

By Steve Bergsman

On the picturesque drive from Concord, New Hampshire, to Manchester, Vermont, the roads are pure country: two lanes of blacktop cutting through a heavily wooded landscape and past old villages and small cities that, unfortunately, have seen better days. The manufacturing heyday of New England has long been in the past and the small hamlets look partially deserted. It was not unusual to discover an old clapboard home long abandoned and rotting away in the elements — like stumbling across an ancient monument while wandering around the Egyptian desert. Read more

Map Your Past: Explore a Genealogy Tour

December 30, 2015  
Filed under Travel

TRAVEL-tad102415cdAP_3By Victor Block

Planning a visit to Poland, where his ancestors had lived, Bernard Janicki went online and tracked down the parish priest in the village where his mother had been born. When he arrived in that small town, the pastor helped him examine church records dating back to the early 20th century.

Using the information he gathered, plus additional data he got on the Internet, Janicki was able to trace his grandfather’s lineage to 1819 and the maternal side of his family all the way back to 1751. Thus, he became one of an increasing number of people who have made genealogy tourism — combining travel with research to trace their family roots — one of the fastest growing segments of the tourism industry.

Many people use the wealth of records and information available online to begin their trip down memory lane without having to leave home. A few strokes on a computer keyboard can unearth census records, ship passenger lists, immigration documents and a treasure-trove of other data.

The National Archives contains a mother lode of information. The Family History Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the world’s largest depository, with records from more than 100 countries.

More than 2 million people have subscribed to its website, www.ancestry.com, which claims the title of world’s largest online resource for family history information. It has digitized, indexed and put billions of historical records on its 18 separate websites, and its users have created more than 70 million family trees. A number of other sources can add to the avalanche of facts and figures.

But no amount of knowledge can compete with the thrill of making personal contact with relatives you might not have known existed or visiting places where your forebears lived and your family roots were planted. For those who seek that experience, there’s a choice of tour companies that offer both organized group trips and individual visits to states and countries where birth, marriage, death and other sources of information await discovery. There even are genealogy cruises for people who prefer to combine a learning experience with the opportunity to take to the high seas.

Family Tree Tours takes small groups of travelers to Germany, Poland and Ireland, where they stay in one place as home base and explore by train. The company obtains research information from tour members in advance, which is forwarded to researchers on the scene who make contacts and arrange meetings in each family’s village. Family Tree also offers private tours.

Several firms arrange visits to Salt Lake City, where participants have access to the voluminous records available at the Family History Center. When not poring over records or seated before a computer, visitors may spend free time enjoying extra-curricular activities such as attending a rehearsal of the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir and touring the magnificent Temple Square Garden, which sprawls across 35 acres. Among tour companies that offer research visits to Salt Lake City are Ancestor Seekers and Ann-Mar Genealogy Trips.

A one-stop-shopping website for an international inventory of genealogy research tour providers is www.ancestraltravel.net. It offers direct links to the websites of the companies that are listed.

Another must-see website is www.cyndislist.com, a free categorized and cross-referenced list of more than 335,000 links to helpful resources. Categories include localities, ethnic groups, religions and more. This can help people planning a trip to locate archives, courthouses, cemeteries and other places where they can seek family history information before they leave home.

Those seeking the ultimate in a personalized tour may find what they’re looking for at www.ancestralfootsteps.com. A researcher accompanies clients throughout their journey to places where their ancestors lived, attended school, worked and worshipped. Its luxury offerings might even include travel by private jet and a chauffeur-driven car.

Roots researchers who prefer to combine the pleasures of a cruise with their family exploration also can find inviting alternatives. For example, Legacy Family Tree cruises combine daily genealogy classes taught by experts in the field with itineraries that range from the Caribbean and Panama Canal to Alaska and Australia.

When not getting valuable information and assistance relating to their family history hunt, passengers can enjoy the usual cruise ship amenities and activities, plus some surprises such as an ice-skating rink, miniature golf and classes in wine-tasting, jewelry-making and other pursuits.

People who sign up with Cruise Everything for a genealogy voyage get to help plan the subjects that experts in the field will discuss. Passengers receive a questionnaire several months in advance that allows the speakers to cover the topics of greatest interest.

WHEN YOU GO

Family Tree Tours: www.familytreetours.com

Ancestor Seekers: www.ancestorseekers.com

Ann-Mar Genealogy Trips: www.genealogytrips.com

Legacy Family Tree cruises: www.legacyfamilytree.com

Avoid ripple effect of airport stress by planning ahead this holiday season

November 19, 2015  
Filed under Travel

Passengers going through airport security check

Big crowds, long lines and delayed flights – while they don’t put you in the mood for holiday cheer, they are often unavoidable during this time of year. An expert at Baylor College of Medicine gives tips on avoiding airport stress and says that planning ahead is key in avoiding the ripple effect of stress.
“The holidays can be a stressful time to travel, but if you anticipate some of the traffic, parking issues and long lines and allow extra time, you can avoid some of the stress,” said Dr. Asim Shah, associate professor in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor.
Before even leaving for the airport, prepare by making sure you have all of the appropriate travel documents, including tickets and proper identification. Weigh your luggage to be sure there will be no delays or extra fees once you check a bag and be sure all of your liquids for your carry-on luggage are the appropriate size.  “Try not to pack things that can be removed, such as extra liquids or other items that are not allowed in carry-ons, to avoid wasting time once you get to the airport,” said Shah.

In anticipation of long lines and delays, be sure to pack activities for young kids, such as games and music. If traveling with older adults, be sure to pack all appropriate medications in your carry-on luggage.

Don’t forget that travel time to the airport might be longer due to traffic, and parking lots at the airport might require extra time. If you usually arrive one hour before a flight, consider arriving two or more hours ahead to avoid any added stress.

Shah says to always be aware of when the next flight is after your original flight, and always have a backup plan in case you are delayed.
He also recommends not being upset if you find yourself selected for a random security check at the airport.  “Remember that they are doing their jobs – for your safety and for the safety of others,” he said.

Holiday stress can lead to arguments, and Shah offers tips on how to deal with these, whether they are with loved ones or strangers.  “If you find yourself in a tense situation or you are upset with someone, try to keep your cool,” he said. “Remember that an argument will cause even more delays.”
Shah recommends taking deep breaths and even closing your eyes to disassociate yourself from the situation for a few moments. He even recommends listening to soft music or playing a game of Sudoku to try to calm yourself. “Know what your stress reliever is, whether it’s listening to music or playing a game, and do that,” he said.
Shah also reminds us that there is a bigger gain at the end of all of this stress – spending time with loved ones during the holidays. Keeping this goal in mind is important when in a stressful situation. For those who are concerned about being united with their loved ones during the holiday season and have added stress because of this, Shah says to remind yourself it’s only a short period of time that you will be spending together.
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Day trips to enjoy with family and friends

August 2, 2015  
Filed under Travel

Boyden Valley Winery    
Nestled in the Lamoille River Valley, the Boyden Valley Winery offers tours and tastings that celebrate the rich agricultural heritage of Vermont’s Green Mountains. Visitors can explore the tank and barrel rooms with tours starting at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily. Tastings are offered daily that include a taste of six different types of wine, one cream liqueur, a local chocolate truffle and a souvenir tasting glass for $10. Visitors can also order “French Gourmet” cheese plates to pair with their wine or take one of their guided canoe trips along the Lamoille River —“Water and Wine” or “River and Spirits.”

64 Vermont104, Cambridge
(802) 644-8151
www.boydenvalley.com

Calvin Coolidge Homestead
The President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site is located in the small town of Plymouth Notch, where the 30th President of the United States was born and raised. The historic site includes the preservation of the homestead as well as over 600 acres of the 19th century village that shaped the life of a President. The Historic site is open through October and features events and educational programs for all ages as well as tours of the village including barns, school house, church, working cheese factory and more.

3780 Vermont 100A, Plymouth
(802) 672-3773
www.coolidgefoundation.org

Vermont Backroad Brewery Tour
Vermont Backroad Tours offers two pre-made tours, the “Northern” and the “Eastern” for people looking to visit some of Vermont’s finest craft breweries. The Northern Tour takes guests to breweries such as Switchback and Fiddlehead and ends with dinner at The Bobcat Café while the Eastern Tour visits the likes of Long Trail and Harpoon with dinner at Seven Barrel Brewery. Tours include transportation and start at $50 per person with a minimum of 10 people per group. Custom tours are also available.

(802) 446-3131
www.vtbackroadtours.com

Crown Point Historic Site
Located just 30 minutes from Middlebury and one hour from Burlington, the scenic Crown Point Historic Site offers a variety of activities for visitors looking to explore the ruins of this 18th-century fort.  Visitors can tour the newly renovated museum featuring a multimedia orientation and exhibits as well as self-guided tours of the grounds. Admission to the museum is $4 for adults, $3 for seniors and free for children under 12. The historic site is also home to the Crown Point Bird Conservation Area where over 180 species of birds have been observed.

21 Grandview Dr, Crown Point, NY
(518) 597-4666
www.nysparks.com/historic-sites/34/details

Covered Bridges Tours
Take a drive and visit Vermont’s famed covered bridges. With over 100 bridges to choose from, you can plan a route that will last an afternoon or a full day depending on how far you’d like to travel. For a self-guided tour, directions to a collection of covered bridges can be found at www.visit-vermont.com/state/covered-bridges. Pre-made tours are also available through Tucker Hill Inn in Waitsfield, ranging from seven bridges in a two hour trip to 10 bridges in a four-hour trip (including stops at popular area attractions such as Cabot Creamery).

www.tuckerhill.com.

Saratoga Racetrack
Hit the racetrack in Saratoga — the season runs through Sept. 7 featuring thoroughbred racing, harness racing and steeplechase races. After visiting the tracks, head to downtown Saratoga Springs for shopping, dining and attractions.

267 Union Ave, Saratoga Springs, NY
(518) 584-6200
www.saratogaracetrack.com

Lake Memphremagog Scenic Lake Cruises
Head to the Northeast Kingdom for a one-of-a-kind international adventure. Scenic cruises of Lake Memphremagog are available Monday through Saturday at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Tickets are $21 for adults and include a light lunch buffet as well as a personalized and informative talk from the Captain. Learn about the geological makeup of the lake, the various creatures that inhabit the area and the rich history of the U.S./Canadian border line. Reservations are strongly encouraged and tickets can be purchased in advance online. No passport needed.

Newport City Dock
84 Fyfe Dr, Newport, VT
(802) 334-5726.

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