Here is a list of things to do in Vermont AND a list of things you should know before embarking on a long car ride- especially with young children (we live 8 hours from the grandparents so we know this stuff!).
1. North East Kingdom (Route 14 North from Montpelier)
This is our home, so I'm partial. But many say it is the most beautiful part of Vermont...
Some towns to try:
On your way up, visit Hardwick.
eat at Connie's Kitchen for lunch or world famous cookies,
CLAIRE's for sophisticated farm to table, or Positive Pie for upscale pizza.
Take the time to browse in Galaxy Bookshop- a REAL independent bookstore!
Lake Caspian is beautiful- there is a beach and you can kayak all day around the lake
Do not miss CIRCUS SMIRKUS- a circus performed by children. It will knock you off your feet.
Jasper Hill makes some fine cheese and Hill Farmstead Brewery some equally fine beer.
Special, not to be missed, Library plant sale in May and Antiques fair in July. www.craftsburypubliclibrary.org/
Don't miss the Farmer's Market- 10am-1pm every Saturday. The cheeses from Bonnieview Farm are melt in your mouth, the pies from Mother-Daughter Pies are sinful, and the veggies and plants from Wild Branch Valley Farm are delicious.
And stop into Pete's Greens. He's become quite famous. One taste of his veggies, and you'll know why.http://www.petesgreens.com/
Next, visit Mill Village Pottery for beautiful and functional pieces:
Stop into the Art House for coffee and some beautiful local "artisanry".
Then go to the Village Store and the General Store for homemade foods, great beers, and genuine smiles.
Village store- 802-586-2554
The Craftsbury Outdoor Center hosts world famous Nordic Skiiers. In the summer, it has plenty to do as well!
Lovely nurseries if you don't live too far away:
In July and August, visit Brown's Beautiful Blueberries and get fat on delicious blueberries- prepare to have blue hands!
Eat at Parker Pies (in the middle of nowhere but so worth the trip! amazing pizza and on tap selections)
Then head over to Red Sky Trading: wonderful antiques shop/eatery with adirondack chairs by the river and chickens.
If you come in August, go to the Barton Fair- a wonderful, old fashioned country fair.
It's beautiful. You can kayak, fish, canoe, and hike.
Montshire Museum, King Arthur Flour & VINS
Stop at King Arthur for lunch between the two.
Montshire is an awesome hands-on museum for young and old, nestled among woods and trails.
VINS (Vermont Institute of Natural Sciences) has a nature playground, many rescued birds of prey (our boys have fallen in love with the very vocal snowy owl), and lovely wooded walks.
King Arthur Flour is delicious.
(all are close together about an hour south of Montpelier- Quechee Gorge is a big tourist attraction- way too crowded- you will drive past it on your way to VINS- look out your window and you've seen it!)
-ECHO science center is fabulous with a touch tank, wilderness play area, and fossil dig. Rumor has it, there are dinosaur bones visiting this summer!
-the waterfront is very pretty with a walk/bike path. Take the time for a ride out onto Lake Champlain. They have a nice lunch with wine, fruit and cheeses - or pizza. Don't call it a ferry- they get a little offended.
Stowe: (ok, while this is touristy- it's not so bad in summer)
There is a walking trail for those who prefer not to hike vertically.
And you pass by many, many yummy restaurants for breaks.
For those up for a challenge, hike Stowe Pinnacle. It is fantastic. Bring your lunch and sit at the top for a panoramic view.
NOW, the hints:
Do bring wet wipes, more water than you think you'll need, snacks, fruit, veggies, and sandwiches, activity books for the children, and yes, gulp, a portable dvd player for emergencies (like being stuck on the NJ Turnpike for an hour). Bring a diaper and/or a big mason jar - stuck in traffic plus little bladders...
Do not take 95. Just don't do it.
Know the good rest stops: Welcome Center in CT is great (exit 2 heading north) as is Welcome Center in Vermont (5 minutes across the border). Do not get off at the West Chester, NY airport stop- we made this mistake twice and still couldn't find a restroom!
leave early early early on saturday morning. or late late late on friday night- do not get near the TAPPAN ZEE BRIDGE anytime b/t 4pm and 6pm.
Get EZ Pass- really. Just do it.
Don't buy gas in NJ- long long lines.
If you have to break up the trip, stop in Northhampton Mass overnight.
Once you reach the Vermont border, breathe deeply. The smell of mountain pine and fresh air will remind you why you came.