This past 4th of July was especially unique for me because I was able to spend it in Vermont. In fact, this was my first time experiencing the New England area at all. My boyfriend and I made the trek after work that Thursday evening and arrived at our destination (Charlotte, VT) around 3:30am the next morning. By the way, the buggy got me from Westminster, MD all the way to Charlotte on a single tank of gas. Am I bragging a little? Maybe….. 😉
I was surprised by how beautiful Vermont actually was. I’m an avid fan of mountainous terrain and scenic open spaces, probably because they remind me of the time I’ve spent out West. Vermont had this “West-type” of beauty, in my opinion. The massive amounts of rain we’ve acquired here on the East coast have also made their way to Vermont, allowing for beautiful lush green mountains and offering a perfect display of scenery for a Vermont newbie.
Charlotte is a very small area. Then again, from what I’ve been told (and seen), it is a pretty desolate state anyway. Despite its small size, there were plenty of beautiful surroundings. There wasn’t much in the area, but there was a cute little market that people seem to frequent. The Old Brick Store is small but carries the essentials. My favorite part was that they had a little cafe where sandwiches and various drinks could be purchased. However, the service was meh and sometimes it felt like I was standing there for an eternity before someone would acknowledge my existence. When I was finally able to order, however, the drinks were wonderful. Many of their items were organic, which was a plus in my book, but also quite pricey as many organic items are.
One of the cooler parts is Charlotte’s proximity to the Adirondacks. As a matter of fact, this small part of Vermont is nestled between the Green Mountains and the Adirondacks, so each way you turn there is a beautiful view in the distance. The drive in and out is quite scenic and incredibly beautiful.
Charlotte sits close to Vermont’s biggest city (although it isn’t a very big city at all), Burlington. Our travel time from Charlotte to Burlington was about 20-25 minutes tops. I have to admit that I loved Burlington! It was such a vibrant and artsy city with beautiful old architecture. We walked Church Street, a pedestrian-only road lined with boutique shops and local restaurants with a few chains mixed in. The best part? People are not allowed to smoke on Church Street! Oh, and did I mention L.L. Bean offers free wi-fi for those perusing? Yeah – pretty cool.
During our Church Street experience we checked out Red Onion, a little sandwich shop. They even make their own bread there. I opted for the spinach melt, which turned out to be fantastic! It was probably one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had – no joke. I highly recommend it. Nonetheless, this place was nothing fancy. Just a small restaurant with outdoor seating for the warmer months, making it perfect for people watching. We also checked out Lake Champlain chocolates (the store) and Uncommon Grounds Coffee & Tea, inc. Anyone who knows me well enough will tell you I’m a nerd for lattes, and Uncommon Grounds had one that certainly didn’t disappoint. Being in Vermont, I had to try their Maple Latte. It was SO good! Vermont won extra points that day for all the amazing foods/drinks.
After Church Street we headed over to the Lake Champlain Chocolate factory. For a broke chocolate addict, this is a way better option than going to the store. Here you can buy the factory seconds, which are cheaper due to packing errors and such. Lake Champlain Chocolates aren’t the cheapest in the world so purchasing the factory seconds will help keep a broke traveler from breaking the bank, but still able to indulge in their chocolate addiction. The factory features a large window showing workers actually making chocolate too. Unless you end up there on their day off….like me, you’ll get a “tour” of the factory for free.
The fireworks in Burlington were the best I have ever seen. It was as if the finale was erupting the entire time! They exploded from a barge on the water with an enormous crowd of viewers spread out all over Waterfront Park. And people are serious about their fireworks there! The crowd was far from silent throughout the display. It was a great time! Take a look at my video of the fireworks by clicking here and see how amazing they were for yourself.
On our last full day, we all drove to the mountains and hiked a couple of miles from our parking spot to Sterling Pond. Sterling Pond is the highest trout pond in the state of Vermont and an unexpected reward at the end of a relatively steep hike. It attracts many people, but it’s a beautiful spot at the top of the mountain. From here, we hiked over to Smugglers Notch, a ski area with a great view. It felt like we were entering an old abandoned ski resort, seeing the lifeless lifts and empty buildings. The view from there was exquisite though, and most definitely made it worth the hike.
Our last stop was the Ben & Jerry’s factory, a must for anyone visiting Vermont for the first time. We didn’t have time to do the tour, but we made sure to hit the shop to grab some ice cream. I recommend getting the cookie cookie sundae! It was heavenly! While I generally try to eat healthy, I have a sweet tooth I can’t deny. We checked out their gift shop, which had some neat items, ate our fattening treats, and called it a day.
We crammed a lot into such a short trip but enjoyed every bit of it! Hopefully we can make the 9 hour drive again soon and spend even more time there. Thanks for a great time Vermont, and thanks to my friends Isreal and Julie for hosting us and giving the quick tour!