Summer Road Trip Vermont: It's Just Like NH, but Different
Photo — Pixabay
Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Maple syrup, granite quarries and autumn leaves; lots and lots of them. Foliage followers bring in millions of dollars to the state each year. The countless colorful leaves and an equally impossible number of Massachusetts drivers heading there to get a peek is certainly a draw, but get up there before fall. You won’t be sorry.
Vermont looks like New Hampshire, just flipped on its end. And backwards. And upside down. The shared border of the Connecticut River makes this so. It’s the only thing keeping you from a great summer road trip. Hop on Interstate 89, head west and let your adventure begin.
There is a strong connection between New Hampshire’s most famous statesman and soldier, General John Stark and the Green Mountain State. There is a large monument to the Londonderry, New Hampshire-born general who was the hero of the Battle of Bennington and went on to give us a little something to put on our license plate. People there boast it is the state’s most popular historic site.
Before things get a little weird, go to Shelburne and spend some time at the Shelburne Museum, a self-described “unparalleled and unique experience of American history, art and design.”
The art, textiles, toys, firearms collection and furniture doesn’t just fill buildings, the buildings are the museum itself. And of course the boat. A very large boat.
This boat is where Vermont goes a bit off the rails. The Ticonderoga is a big part of the museum. There is no water there. That didn’t stop Vermonters from saving the retired and once grand paddle wheel steamship, hauling it over land to its new home at the museum in 1955.
Photo — Wikimedia/The Ticonderoga steamer
A giant landlocked steamboat not exciting enough? How about what could be the world’s tallest filing cabinet (believe it or not, this is a contested claim).
The enormous 38-drawer-high sculpture serves as a lasting comment regarding the long-planned and as yet to be built parkway near Burlington.
"I wanted one drawer for every year the project's been in existence," she told a writer in 2002. "The sculpture is very site-specific; it's right on the center line of the Connector."
Sound familiar? It smacks of the famed Circumferential Highway around Nashua or the Gate City’s Broad Street Parkway, which was eventually built to bring a trickle of traffic in and around downtown.
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You've heard of the bra tree, right? Well, you have now. There are tales of the original bra tree being in Aspen, Colorado, and moving to Vail but easterners claim it as a Vermont thing. Killington, to be exact.
Famished from all of the touring? You can’t do Vermont without doing Ben and Jerry’s. They have chocolate. They have vanilla, they have peanut butter cup, coconut seven layer bar and red velvet cake. The famed hippy duo that brought the world its oh-so-Vermont socially-conscious attitude and the goods for the world-record 27,000-pound sundae back in ’83. But don’t just go for the ice cream. Go for the dead ice cream, and we don’t mean Cherry Garcia. Be sure to visit the company’s (now a Unilever brand, BTW) flavor graveyard and pay your respects to Peanut Butter and Jelly, Schweddy Balls and Vermonty Python.
Photo — Ben and Jerry's/Facebook
Vermont is beautiful, no doubt, so make sure you plan a way to take in all of its outdoorsiness. Bonus points for anyone who can pronounce the names of these Vermont rivers and lakes:
- Ompompanoosuc River
- Ottauquechee River
- Lake Memphremagog
Note, that lake, located in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, is allegedly (wink, wink) home to the state’s Beaver Trout. Please let us know if you catch one. We'll proudly post your photo on our Facebook page. Oh, and Memphre, a lake-dwelling monster. But the trout legend is small potatoes compared to Champ.
While in Burlington enjoying the giant file cabinet, keep a sharp eye on Lake Champlain for Vermont’s most famous resident. People have said they have seen a creature similar to Scotland’s Loch Ness Monster since, well, before Vermont was Vermont. The legend can be traced to Abenaki Indians who lived in the area. Is it a plesiosaur-like swimming dinosaur related to others that somehow found their way from the St. Lawrence River into the lake? Is it a gimmick to bring in tourists like you? Believe in Champ or not, the legend has made for a convenient logo for local sports teams and Magic Hat’s Wee Heavy Champ scotch ale (also made in Burlington).
Travel time from Concord, New Hampshire, to the Vermont border is approximately an hour, give or take a few minutes. The time spent ambling around Vermont and its sights is up to you.