I’m often asked what cool things are there to do in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom in the Summer with children, beyond Mountain Biking or the typical tourist attractions or spots? Specifically, what are the “Must Dos” if I’m visiting the NEK for just a weekend and want to really take in NEK life?
Generally speaking, the weekend a family is visiting the NEK can make a big impact on that must do list. For example, if a family is visiting mid-July, attending Lyndonville’s Annual Stars and Stripes parade is a must, if only to catch a glimpse of the Bread & Puppet Theater. However, if a family simply wants a generic list of must dos or adventure a bit off the beaten tourist path, that’s another story.
Thanks to the help of local Northeast Kingdom Moms, here’s a short list of 9 must dos on a limited visit to Vermont’s beautiful Northeast Kingdom.
9 Must Dos
1. Drive up the Burke Mountain Toll Road. It will set you back a mere $5 bucks, but the memories will be priceless. Parents and kids alike will love the view from the top of the mountain, enjoy sitting in an empty chair lift seat, and checking out the wind turbine up close. Don’t forget your camera!
2. Spend a morning or afternoon (or day!) at Lake Willoughby. This super deep lake (deepest in the state) offers a beautiful view and two beach options (north or south end). Enjoy the drive along the lake. Fish. Rent a boat, canoe or kayak. Pack a picnic and relax on the beach while the kids play.
3. Stroll along Lake Memphremagog. Grab a bite to eat in downtown Newport at one of the newest eateries, and then take a stroll on the path along this scenic fresh water glacial lake.
4. Shop a Farmer’s Market. Familiar with the expression shop local? Well, here’s your chance to shop as local as it gets and support local farmers and artisans. Find a Farmer’s Market near where you are staying or exploring, and spend some time taste testing local foods or buying fresh produce for a family dinner or BBQ.
5. Relax in the Shade while the Kids Play at the Kingdom Trails Parr’s Park Pump Track. If you feel like chillin’ out while the kids play, grab a magazine and the bikes and let your kids ride around Parr’s Park while you sit under the shade at a picnic table.
6. Rent a kayak. Rent a kayak or canoe for part of a day (or all of it!) and head to a local pond. One local mom suggests Center Pond or Newark Pond. Another local suggests spending the day paddling on Norton Pond. But there are other beautiful spots, too.
7. Eat at a Snack Bar. If you’re from the city or the suburbs, this is a must do. Yep, go ahead and try greasy, but irresistibly scrumptious fries and milkshakes. Try the Will-o-Bee Snack Bar past the North End of Lake Willoughby or the B&W in Orleans. For Ice Cream, try the classic family favorite, Carmen’s in Lyndonville.
8. Find a Geocache or Lots of Them. There are geocaches (think hidden treasure boxes) hidden throughout the Northeast Kingdom. Your kids will love, love, love finding them. Some are easy. Some are tough. See what’s near you here.
9. Go For a Hike. Hiking is great family fun. Go for a long or short hike, depending on your mood or interest. One local NEK Moms suggests “hike Pisgah, Hor, or Wheeler!”
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What do you consider a “must do” in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom? Leave a comment below to share.