Seven Secret, Special Spots Worth Visiting In Vermont
Vermont is indisputably one of the hottest winter locations in the United States, but that doesn’t mean that every sight you visit on vacation needs to be accompanied by a flurry of fellow travelers. Despite the state’s relatively small population, you’d be surprised at how crowded resort sites can get. These are some of Stock the House’s favorite secret spots in Vermont. You won’t necessarily find them at the top of every travel listing, but they’re bound to offer you and your family some unforgettable experiences.
Dog Mountain (St. Johnsbury)
It might sound like a fairytale or a Wes Anderson movie, but Dog Mountain is a very real location you and your family’s best friend can visit. The park is full of wilderness trails, fishing ponds, wildflowers, and potential adventures for humans and their canine companions. Owners are both permitted and encouraged to allow their dogs to go without leashes at this doggy paradise. Be sure to take advantage of the seasonal offerings nature has in store for you. In the winter, you and your dog can snowshoe over pristine white slopes and pretend you’re walking on a cloud. And for those who want to eulogize and memorialize dogs that have passed away, you’ll definitely need to pay homage at the Dog Chapel.
The Trapp Family Lodge (Stowe)
Everybody’s heard of the famous von Trapp Family, whose lives as singers in World War II era Austria were dramatized in the classic musical, The Sound of Music. What a lot fewer people know is that they eventually moved to Stowe, Vermont, and opened up a four and a half star ski lodge. For the winter sport enthusiasts, there are 100 kilometers of cross-country, snowshoe and back-country skiing trails. The Trapp lodge also has its own home brewery for kraft beer aficionados and a Bavarian pastry filed café among other luxuries. There’s even a graveyard where the famous stepmother and matriarch of the family, Maria is buried for fans of the movie. Whether you’re just stopping by for tea or planning to ski all season, the Trapp family, (many of whom still reside and work at the lodge), will give you something to sing about.
The Old Bennington First Church and Cemetery (Bennington)
A house of worship and its graveyard might not seem like the liveliest place to visit, but Old Bennington’s First Church is a particular historic gem. The Protestant commissioned building, built in the European style and carved from local pine trees, was the first of its kind in Vermont to signify the separation of Church and State. Today, its doors and congregation remain open to the public. Legendary poet and writer Robert Frost spoke at the Church’s rededication, and while he and his family were not members, they were buried in the First Cemetery after they passed. The graveyard, which always kept in pristine condition, presents a glimpse into history going back to the 1700’s and a beautiful arrangement of weeping willows, stone cherubs, and some of Frost’s most poignant pieces. It’s sure to be a quiet and less traveled, yet worthwhile spot on your trip.
The Islands of Lake Champlain
Lake Champlain presents some of the best sunset views by the water in a state known for them, but you won’t want to blink and miss the archipelago within the lake. The ferry schedule can sometimes be fickle in the wintertime because of strong winds and a chance of the lake freezing over. However, the Lake Champlain Transportation Company prides itself on literally breaking a small sliver of water into the ice to give you the journey of your dreams. For $10 a vehicle, you can even have them ferry your car. During the winter, the area offers special opportunities for ice fishing and bird watching, and of course, the obligatory selfies amidst the silver and white waters. Each tiny island in the family of 80 from Bell to Juniper to North Hero has its own unique history, legends, and culture, and they are guaranteed to be peaceful and secluded anytime of the year.
There are plenty of adorable, sleepy little towns dotted throughout the state, but the roughly 700-person Peacham is especially beloved. The exact origin of the town’s rustic, southern sounding name remains a mystery to this day. Still, there is ample photographic evidence that Peacham is a place of quaint and quiet majesty. Originally primarily a farming town (make sure to visit the local farmer’s market or we’ll gladly pick something up for you), tourism became and continues to be one of the most important industries in Peacham. For nature-lovers there are a smattering of hills, ponds, the 750-acre Peacham bog, and enough foliage in the fall to break Instagram. Stargazers will love to know that the town has two observatories. Throughout the year, Peacham enjoys a fair amount of cultural programming in the form of such events as The Peacham Acoustic Music Festival in the summer and the Peacham Winter Carnival.
Seyon Lodge State Park
Located in the sprawling Groton State Forest, Seyon Lodge State Park has a special distinction: it’s the only state park in Vermont to be open all year round for your hiking and cross-country skiing needs. Guests of the lodge and any other visitors can also rent a rowboat and enjoy the beautiful waterside sights of Noyes Pond. Noyes is an impeccable breeding habitat for the squaretail brook trout and is also recognized as the only public fly-fishing only pond in the state. The lodge itself offers living quarters to stay in, spaces for weddings, and conference rooms for business meeting. Entry to one park in the forest allows access to the other six, including the swimming waters of nearby Boulder Beach State Park, but Seyon Lodge is the only one guaranteed to be open from 6 AM to sunset if you just want to drop by.
The World’s Tallest Filing Cabinet (Burlington)
People might usually leave their offices and home states behind for rest and relaxation in Vermont, but you’ll definitely want a quick photo of this wacky Burlington sculpture. Technically, it’s a bunch of smaller filing cabinets stacked and attached to one another, but together, they form a might structure that stands 38 feet tall. The handiwork of Burlington-based artist Bren Alvarez, the sculpture was built in 2002 as a kind of protest to proposed road construction and city-planning, though the lack of exposition at the actual site has generated heaps of speculation and urban legends. It may be pushed out by exactly what it stood against, but for now, it’s a proud monument on a deserted lot, and a nesting complex for local birds.