It’s April and it’s finally spring in Vermont. This was a good winter for the skiers and boarders – lots of snow and temperatures cold enough to make even more. Now, with higher temperatures and longer days, skiers are taking their last runs and looking for their next adventure. (Don’t forget to buy your passes for next year. Many resorts are offering special pricing. You might even get in a few final runs in April – a bonus, thanks to a snowy, cold spring.) Look no further. Vermont has all the adventure you could want, even in April.
For the outdoor enthusiast, getting back to nature and doing some hiking is a welcome activity. The Green Mountain Club publications can suggest a number of day hikes throughout Vermont. You can even walk a section of the Long Trail which runs from the Canadian border to the Vermont/Massachusetts state line. Check with the Green Mountain Club to find out the best places to hike as well as those areas that are too muddy. (Hiking on trails that are too wet and muddy can damage the trails or contribute to soil erosion.) Although they are officially closed until May, you can also hike within the many Vermont State Parks. A hike through the woods before the leaves cover the trees affords you views you wouldn’t otherwise have. In addition, you may get a glimpse of wildlife emerging after the winter cold. Once you have chosen your hike, visit Vermont.com to select lodging nearby.
If fishing is your sport, April is a great time to take to Vermont’s lakes, rivers, and streams. Vermont Fish and Wildlife can answer all your questions about where to fish, what to fish, and what regulations apply. There is no closed season for many fish on Lake Champlain and beginning the second Saturday in April and continuing into June is catch-and-release season for bass. Trout season begins the second Saturday of April, but some streams and rivers offer year-round trout fishing. Consult Vermont Fish & Wildlife for a full list.
If you’re not really the “outdoors” type, there are also plenty of less strenuous activities in Vermont. Stay in Manchester and combine your stay with some excellent shopping opportunities. Visit the many outlet stores as well as shops selling everything from hand-made jewelry to gourmet foods to Vermont souvenirs for the friends back home. Visit Hilldene, the Lincoln family home, or check out the art on display at the Southern Vermont Arts Center. The Manchester area has a large of number of lodging choices from traditional bed and breakfasts to luxury hotels. Experience traditional Vermont hospitality at the Barnstead Inn in Manchester Center, a short walk to Northshire Bookstore and many of Manchester’s unique restaurants. Or treat yourself to the luxurious accommodations of the boutique Kimpton Taconic Hotel right on Main Street in Manchester Village. Manchester’s magnificent setting, tucked into the Battenkill river valley and surrounded by mountains, can be enjoyed from the Manchester View at the northern end of town. Or, choose the Wilburton Inn at the southern part of town for another magnificent view at any season of the year.
Or head to Burlington the largest city in Vermont and home to the University of Vermont. Shop ‘til your heart’s content at the Church Street Marketplace or grab a quick bite at one of the many unique bistros and restaurants.
For something different, take the Burlington Brew Tour. Vermont is home to a large number of craft breweries. You can also visit ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, the Fleming Museum of Art on the UVM campus, Lake Champlain Chocolates (where you can see how the chocolates are made), or take a Segway Tour of the city. Visiting the area for college visits with high school age children? Consider the conveniently located Comfort Inn & Suites in Burlington. Or, treat yourself to something special with a stay at the nearby Essex Resort & Spa for a hotel that not only gives you a place to sleep, but also offers world-class cuisine and a full service spa.
For visitors from out of state, April is a very good time to come to visit. Many hotels offer rock-bottom room rates to entice visitors during this “off-season.” For example, The Grafton Inn in Grafton, Vt., is offering a weekend 2-night stay, breakfast each day plus a three course dinner for two at a special spring price of $499. The Red Clover Inn & Restaurant in Mendon, Vt., offers the Vermont Maple Package with accommodation and lots of extras for $295 per couple/night. Phineas Swann B&B in Montgomery Center, Vt., combines spring room rates with specially-themed extras. Choose from the Maple Syrup Lovers Package, Top of Vermont Beer Tour (April 21-23 only), and the “Muddy Dog” Chocolate Lovers Package (where you enjoy the chocolate and your pooch gets to hang out with you.)
Although April falls after the winter tourist season and before the summer season officially
begins at the end of May, there are still a number of events taking place around the state. Check out the following:
April 1 Brew fests are scheduled at Smugglers’ Notch (Smugglers’ Notch, Vt.), Mt. Snow (W. Dover, Vt.), and Okemo (Ludlow, Vt.). Come taste some local brews, listen to some music, and welcome spring Vermont-style.
April 7-8 Minus Zero Music Festival comes to Stratton Mountain (Stratton, Vt.) combining electronic music and winter sports.
April 14 Visit Billings Farm in Woodstock, Vermont, for “Baby Farm Animal Celebration.” This 1890s farm house and working dairy farm is a popular stop during the summer. This event is scheduled before the season officially opens in order to allow everyone to meet the farm’s baby animals which can include calves, lambs, chicks, ducklings, and goslings.
For more events in April or any time, check the Vermont.com Calendar of Events.
April is also an excellent time to begin planning a summer family vacation. Basin Harbor in Vergennes, right on the shores of Lake Champlain, opens for the season in May. Tyler Place Family Resort in Highgate Springs, Vt., also opens in May. If you have kids, Tyler Place is the “place” for you. If your summer vacation just has to include golf, consider Stratton’s 27-hole championship course. Golf memberships are on sale until May 15. Vermont is also home to some wonderful summer theater. Check out the Weston Playhouse in Weston, the Dorset Theatre Festival in Dorset and the Oldcastle Theater Company in Bennington for their summer schedule of live theater.
And, last but not least, April is a good time to think seriously about your summer garden. Pick up some heirloom seeds during your visit to Billings Farm. Plan your garden and visit a local garden center to purchase seeds or plants. (Or check out the Vermont-based mail order garden center, Gardener’s Supply.) If the weather is still threatening, start your seedlings indoors. For organically grown fruit trees, visit Elmore Roots Nursery in Wolcott, Vt. For those in the Manchester area, consider the Community Supported Agriculture at Earth Sky Time Farm. Buy shares and purchase fresh, organic produce and delicious, hand-made breads with your shares. You get the wholesomeness of fresh-from-the-garden without the hard work of growing your own.
Not much of a farmer? Visit local farmers’ markets in Vermont for locally grown produce, cheeses, meats, honey, and the famous Vermont maple syrup. Dutton Berry Farm and Farm Stands of Manchester, Newfane, and West Brattleboro are open year round.
Whether you gravitate to the outdoors or would rather limit your experiences to indoor activities, April in Vermont can promise to entertain and amaze. Don’t let the end of winter deter you from enjoying everything Vermont has to offer at this time of the year.