Vermont is much more than a winter ski destination. In the first blog of this series, we looked at all the activities available during the summer in northern Vermont. Now we look at central Vermont which includes the Woodstock, Killington, and Ludlow (Okemo) areas.
With 55 state parks throughout the state, Vermont offers an abundance of outdoor activities for visitors. Hiking is certainly one of the more popular pursuits. The Vermont State Parks website will provide information for hikers, park by park. It details trail length, difficulty, estimated hiking time and kid-friendliness. In addition, the more adventurous might want to hike the ski trails on the mountains of Killington, Ascutney, or Okemo. For the less adventurous, many communities have local walks which allow you to enjoy nature and experience village life. The Trail Around Middlebury offers 16 miles of footpaths that circle the village through town and conservation lands. If you are staying in the Woodstock area, a hike up Mt. Tom with a picnic lunch is recommended.
Mountain or back-country biking is another wonderful way to see a bit of Vermont and enjoy its incomparable scenery. Rent bikes locally or bring yours from home. For a real adventure, Okemo Mountain Resort offers lift-served mountain biking with access to more than three miles of trails.
If summer just has to include water sports,central Vermont has all it all. Once again, the Vermont State Parks offer swimming, boating, and fishing. Many rent canoes or kayaks. Some even rent fishing equipment. Check with Vermont State Parks website for details on each park. Local rivers and streams are often home to local swimming holes which villagers are happy to share. The Ottauquechee River in the Woodstock area is known to have a few swimming holes perfect for a quick dip.
The ski resorts at Killington and Okemo transform themselves in the summer to fun adventure parks. At Killington, you might start your adventure with a ride on the Beast Mountain Coaster, a 4,800 foot long alpine coaster that twists and turns through the woods. Now that you have your blood pumping, try the Skyline zipline for an exhilarating ride or the Skyejump, a bungee-assisted fall from the ledge of a 30’ tower. Killington Adventure Park also offers Skye Bounce, Skyeride, Skye Ropes Course, Terra-Maze and more. Fun for the whole family!
Okemo also morphs into an amazing summer adventure resort. Start with a ride on the Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster, where sled-like cars carry you down the mountainside. You control the speed, so go as fast or slow as you like. Try the Stump Jumper Bungee Trampoline or launch yourself onto the AMP Energy Big Air bag (the same kind of air bag used for movie stunts). Play miniature golf or try Okemo’s disc golf course. Take a scenic chair lift ride or tackle the climbing wall.
If a vacation is just not a vacation without some shopping, central Vermont will not disappoint. Stroll through the quaint village of Woodstock and make sure not to miss Gillingham’s which has been operating in Woodstock since 1886. Choose from unique Vermont products, crafts and gifts. While in Woodstock, you should also check out Farmhouse Pottery, old-world potters who produce beautiful pieces perfect for the modern day. If you have an appreciation of old world crafts, head to nearby Quechee to visit Simon Pearce for beautiful glassware and pottery made right on site. You can even watch how it’s made or stop for a bite to eat in the restaurant.
Shops near Killington offer everything from souvenirs to sports clothing to sporting equipment. For more conventional shopping, head to the city of Rutland. You can even drive the hour or so to Manchester for everything from souvenirs to outlet stores to unique Vermont-made artworks.
Other “not-to-be-missed” attractions in the area include Billings Farm and Museum in Woodstock. Visit with farm livestock including the award-winning Jersey cows at this fully-operational dairy farm. Tour the restored 1890 farm house and take part in hands-on activities. Just across the road lies the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park. You can tour the 19th century mansion and gardens, hike the managed forest, and visit the conservation stewardship exhibit in the Carriage Barn Visitor Center.
Celebrate summer along with Vermont natives at special festivals and events. Here is just a partial list of things happening in Central Vermont this summer. For a more complete list, consult the Vermont.com Calendar of Events.
6/16-18, Quechee, 2017 Hot Air Balloon, Fine Art, Craft and Music Festival
6/24, Springfield, Springfield Strawberry Festival
7/1, Ludlow, Ludlow Arts and Craft Festival
7/9-15, Middlebury, 39th Annual Middlebury Summer Festival on the Green
7/14-16, Killington, Killington Wine Festival
8/4-6, Ludlow, Okemo’s Annual Hops in the Hills Beer & Wine Festival
8/8-12 New Haven, Addison County Fair and Field Days
8/12-13, Rutland, Rutland Art in the Park
8/15-19, Rutland, The Vermont State Fair
8/19, Castleton, Castleton Colonial Day
8/26-27, Ludlow, Okemo Valley Antique & Classic Truck/Car Show
So much to do! It’s worth mentioning that Vermont also has a huge number of lodging choices throughout the state to meet all your needs. Everything from quaint country B&Bs to luxury hotels to family-friendly campgrounds. For a really special place, consider the Basin Harbor Resort & Boat Club on the shores of Lake Champlain in Vergennes. Or perhaps The Red Clover Inn in Mendon has the old-world charm you’re looking for. For a totally kid-friendly choice, you can’t go wrong with the Holiday Inn Club Vacations Mount Ascutney Resort in Brownsville, Vermont. For many more suggestions, consult the Vermont.com hotels & lodging web pages.
We can’t wait to see you this summer!