‘Let’s move here,’ had been uttered more than once in Vermont, the Green Mountain State.
Even if you’re not yet ready to pack up and move, a drive through Vermont and the Northeast Kingdom will certainly leave you temped.
In a rare stretch of US soil that has yet to see hefty development take over, Vermont promises the classic great outdoors complete with Lake Willoughby and Burke Mountain.
While popular for hiking, taking to the road by car can give you some of the best highlights of Vermont, a captivating part of the world.
The area has a wealth of sights on offer with many towns and villages to explore beyond the natural scenes. Here are some of the top spots.
Newport and Lake Memphremagog
Vermont can’t take full claim to Lake Memphremagog as only one third of it sits in Newport, the rest of it has a Canadian home, but that does not detract from its dramatic beauty. Take a summer cruise on the lake and if you time your trip for July, you might see the Memphremagog International Aquafest where fitness fanatics take a swim 32-miles (51km) from Newport to Magog.
Lake Willoughby and Crystal Lake
Pining for Lake Memphremagog? You won’t have lake withdrawal for too long as you arrive in Westmore, home to Lake Willoughby. Towering tall, like pillars next to the lake, are Mounts Hor and Pisgah. Adding to the enchanting scenery is the thick forest that completes the backdrop. Route 5A is a beautiful route to follow, traversing the east shore of the lake. Another stunning lake in the area is Crystal Lake, which is also framed by peaked mountains and is a great spot for a picnic or barbecue.
Lyndonville and St Johnsbury
Lyndonville is notable as the location of Bag Balm, which was originally produced for cattle but has become popular with humans. Also look out for the five covered bridges. Just north is the resort of East Burke and Burke Mountain, great for kayaking in summer.
St. Johnsbury has a happening arts scene but has a serious science side too. Visit the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium, which is the place where the Eye On The Sky Weather Report is broadcast from, popular within more than 3 million listeners. On the arts side, check out the Catamount Art Centre which has a large theatre, studio and gallery to host live music, theatre and dance performances in addition to showing films.
Cabot and Derby Line
Cabot’s claim to fame is its legendary cheddar cheese, and the town can’t be passed without a tasting. Tours are available for the dairy minded.
Pause for thought at Derby Line, a border town that ventures across the Vermont/Canadian border. Take particular note of The Haskell Free Library and Opera House, which was purposefully placed in both countries to allow entry to both citizens. Oddly, the performances take place on a stage situated in Canada while the audience take their seats in the US.
Peacham, Boltonville and Greensboro
Peacham is a place of photogenic farmland and villages while Boltonville is the location of intriguingly named Ticklenaked Pond. There doesn’t appear to be a clear reason behind the name. One theory is that the name derived from a Delaware Indian word meaning ‘beaver kittens here’, shedding no more light on the matter. Greensboro is a great place to stop if you can time your visit for the famous Circus Smirkus, which brings the summer Big Top Tour to town.
Island Pond and Jay Peak
Where roads give way to water and anglers and hunters are the common sights, Island Pond is the thick of Northeast Kingdom’s wilderness and was historically an area of loggers and railroad, which makes for interesting exploration. Don’t miss the huge island in the middle of the ‘pond’. Brighton State Park, just beyond the village, can provide camping and picnic facilities as well as boat hire.
Continue north until you get to Jay Peak (on the Vermont-Canada border) where you can summit the peak to survey Lake Champlain, Lake Memphremagog, and the tallest of the peaks in the Green Mountains, Camel’s Hump. If you don’t feel like hiking, take the tram.
Visit the Trout River Brewing Company in East Burke, which has a tasting room. Go salmon and trout fishing.
Vermont Is A State I Love - Calvin Coolidge
When To Go
The best time to drive the Northeast Kingdom is from April to October. September and October are exceptionally beautiful with the autumn foliage in effect.
From April to October, the average high temperatures range from 54.2 to 80.9°F (12 to 27°C), low temperatures range from 31.3 to 56.8°F (0 to 14°C), and precipitation ranges from 3 to 4 inches (75 to 100mm) each month.
Getting There & Around
The Northeast Kingdom is located in northern Vermont near the Canadian border.
The best place to start the scenic drive is from Newport. To get to Newport fly into Burlington International Airport located 87 miles (140km) west of Newport.
- Mid-range accommodations: $100-150
- Meals: $15-25
- Bottle of beer: $3
- Stop at the Fairbanks Museum in St. Johnsbury.
- Rent bicycles to ride portions of the trip.
- Visit Hope Cemetery in Barre.
- Forget to stop a the Cabot Creamery for some delicious ice cream.
- Miss a taste of arguably the worlds best maple syrup.
- Forget to pack your allergy medicine. Freshly cut hay is common in the summer.
- The Northeast Kingdom’s highest point is Jay Peak at 3,858 feet (1,176 m) above sea level.
- Northern hardwood, spruce and fir are common trees in the region.
- The Northeast Kingdom is home to moose, black bear, deer, bobcat, coyote, fox, fisher cat, loon, wild turkey, and ruffed grouse.
Feature Image Credit: cm195902