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An Epic Bucket List to Help You Plan Your Summer


Texaco Beach - JOHN JAMES
  • John James
  • Texaco Beach

Traditionally speaking, summer of 2018 includes 99 days spanning Memorial Day to Labor Day. Technically speaking, we have even less time: 93 days, 15 hours and 47 minutes, to be precise — June 21 to September 22. And then there is the cold, hard truth: Summer in Vermont might be all but over by the time you finish reading this paragraph.

OK, we exaggerate. The warm-weather season in Vermont is woefully brief, but that doesn't mean it can't be chock-full of adventure. Taking full advantage of summer's fleeting bounty requires a bit of planning: You need a bucket list.

To that end, we've compiled an admittedly exhaustive list of stuff to do. It's unlikely the average Vermonter could get to even a quarter of the activities presented here. But use our suggestions as a guide, and you'll be on your way to an epic summer.

  • Matthew Thorsen
  • Sunset Drive-In
  • Catch the sunset from a boat on Lake Champlain.
  • Catch the sunrise from the New York side of the lake.
  • Swim with the dogs at Texaco Beach (aka Bum's Beach) in Burlington.
  • Swim in any or all of the following lakes that aren't Champlain: Willoughby, Dunmore, Caspian, Memphremagog, Silver, Elmore, Carmi, Bomoseen, Seymour or the Waterbury Reservoir. Watch out for blue-green algae.
  • Jump into Bristol Falls.
  • Dip your toes in the water from the end of a wooden dock.
  • Read Joe Hill's short story "By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain" sitting by the silver water of Lake Champlain.
  • See a show at Bread and Puppet Theater in Glover. While you're there, visit the Museum of Everyday Life. Then sample beers at Hill Farmstead Brewery in nearby Greensboro Bend.
  • Sit behind home plate at a Lake Monsters game — ideally on Hot Dog Heaven night, because 25-cent dogs.
  • Call Dad on Father's Day. Granddad, too.
  • Camp on the island at Green River Reservoir State Park in Hyde Park.
  • Watch the outhouse race in Bristol on the Fourth of July.
  • Make it through a double feature at the Sunset Drive-In in Colchester.
  • Sip jalapeño margaritas at the Spot on the Dock in Burlington.
  • Do the zipline at ArborTrek Canopy Adventures at Smugglers' Notch Resort.
  • Ride the alpine slide at Bromley Mountain.
  • Bike along the Champlain Causeway.*
  • Drive to a Vermont town you've never been to. (Bonus points if it's a gore.)
  • Chill out at Summervale: Summer in Vermont means fresh veggies and fresh tunes. Find both at the weekly Summervale series at the Intervale Center in Burlington, beginning Thursdays in July.
  • Catch at least one show in the Ben & Jerry's Concerts on the Green series at Shelburne Museum.
  • Catch a concert at Burlington's Waterfront Park from a boat in the harbor.
  • Spend a lunch break or three at Burlington City Arts' summer concert series, which runs Wednesdays and Fridays at noon June through August at Burlington's City Hall Park.
  • Apply sunscreen liberally.
  • Watch pro tennis at the Stowe Mountain Lodge Classic, August 18 to 22, at Spruce Peak Stadium in Stowe.
  • Take sailing lessons at the new Community Sailing Center in Burlington.
  • If you like boats but not water, get a dose of culture by perusing the outdoor exhibits at Shelburne Museum — specifically the side-paddle steamer Ticonderoga.
  • Scarf lobsters on the new deck at Shanty on the Shore in Burlington.
  • Rent a standup paddleboard at the new Burlington Surf Club.
  • Sing karaoke at the St. John's Club in Burlington on a Friday evening, if only to catch the sunset.
  • After July 1, smoke a joint ... legally!
  • Make "frends" at the Frendly Gathering music festival, June 28 to 30, at Sugarbush Resort.
  • Cruise Lake Champlain on the Spirit of Ethan Allen.
  • Grab a piña colada at Splash at the Boathouse in Burlington. Extra points if you arrive by boat.
  • See a show at the Big Pond Improv comedy festival, July 19 to 21, at Vermont Comedy Club in Burlington.
  • Get a dose of classical at the Vermont Mozart Festival summer concert series, which runs July 18 to August 5 at various locations around the state.
  • Spend a day on the beach at Sand Bar State Park in Milton.
  • Play hooky from work at least once.
  • Book a guided fly-fishing trip with Catamount Fishing Adventures in Stowe.
  • Catch a free show every day of the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival — and a couple of ticketed ones, too.
  • Explore the Chazy Fossil Reef — a U.S. National Natural Landmark — in Isle La Motte.
  • Book a daytime, sunset or moonlit sail on Lake Champlain through Whistling Man Schooner in Burlington.
  • Play bocce at Oakledge Park in Burlington.
  • Watch a stock car race at Thunder Road Speedbowl in Barre — and at the Devil's Bowl Speedway, "New England's fastest dirt track," in Fair Haven.
  • Watch clowns and trapezists on the Circus Smirkus Big Top Tour.
  • Drench your running buddies with a squirt gun on Sunday, May 27, at the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington.
  • Champlain Valley Dinner Train - EVA SOLLBERGER
    • Eva Sollberger
    • Champlain Valley Dinner Train
    Hop aboard the Champlain Valley Dinner Train for some seriously scenic supper.
  • Bring a picnic to Kingsland Bay State Park in Ferrisburgh.
  • Watch the pig races at the Champlain Valley Fair, August 24 to September 2, at the Champlain Valley Exposition in Essex Junction.
  • Explore the history of farming science through the hands-on exhibits at Billings Farm & Museum in Woodstock.
  • Go to any farmers market, weekly.
  • Stroll the gardens while sipping a cocktail at the Inn at Shelburne Farms.
  • Before taking in a summer season show, picnic outside Unadilla Theatre in Calais.
  • Grab a pie at Pizza on Earth in Charlotte.
  • Make a pit stop at the vintage A&W Drive-In in Middlebury.
  • Take a nap in a hammock.
  • Play a round of disc golf at Center Chains DGC in Waterbury Center and/or a round of mini golf at the Essex Family Fun Entertainment Center.
  • Take Fido to Stephen Huneck's Dog Chapel in St. Johnsbury.
  • Poop in an outhouse.
  • Eat s'mores by a campfire on Burton Island.
  • Tear up the mountain biking trails at Kingdom Trails in East Burke — we're partial to Moose Alley and Camptown.
  • Hike one of Vermont's 4,000-foot-plus peaks: Mount Mansfield, Killington Peak, Mount Ellen, Camel's Hump or Mount Abraham.
  • For gentler mountaineering, take a walk up Mount Philo in Charlotte.
  • Don't get Lyme disease. We're not being cheeky. Few things will ruin your summer faster. And cases of Lyme and other tick-borne illness are increasing rapidly throughout the Northeast — 1,100 cases of Lyme were reported in Vermont in 2017, the most ever. So be careful out there.

Take a glider trip with Stowe Soaring.


You already know Vermont is scenic AF. But you may not realize just how gorgeous the Green Mountain State is until you've experienced it from a bird's-eye view: soaring silently, several thousand feet up in the air.

Take Skyline Drive up Mount Equinox in Manchester.


The longest privately owned toll road in the country, Skyline Drive winds 5.2 miles up the mountain. From the 3,848-foot summit, you can take in a panoramic vista overlooking five mountain ranges: the Green Mountains, White Mountains, Taconic Mountains, Adirondacks and Berkshires.

Attend a Burlington Concert Band performance at Battery Park in Burlington.


True, it's not the hippest way to spend a hazy Sunday evening. And the community orchestra might not be the tightest ensemble around. But there's something undeniably wholesome and charming about sitting in the grass listening to the concert band play its way through John Williams medleys, John Philip Sousa marches and orchestral pop-rock classics. The Burlington Concert Band performs Sunday nights from June 17 through August 12 at Battery Park in Burlington.

And while you're there ... eat a cheeseburger with Michigan sauce from Beansie's Bus.

Hike and meditate at Taconic Mountains Ramble State Park in Hubbardton.


Vermont's newest state park opened to rave reviews last summer. In addition to miles of scenic trails, it offers a serene, immaculately cultivated Japanese garden as its crown jewel. The soothing waterfalls and koi ponds alone are worth the trip.

Go to at least one of the following small outdoor music festivals:


Go tubing on the White River.

Tubing on the White River
  • Tubing on the White River

Few activities are more quintessentially summer-in-Vermont. Tweed River Tubing in Stockbridge is one of several local companies that take the hassle out of spending a day bobbing in the current. Tube rental includes a life jacket and a free shuttle back to your car at the end of the trip.

Eat as many creemees as you can from:

Visit any or all of these Vermont vineyards:

*Update, July 9, 2018: Since this story was published, the Champlain Causeway and the bike ferry have both reopened after spring storm damage.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Summer Vermonting"

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