There’s nothing tropical about Vermont’s “islands,” but they’ve got plenty of other enticements to lure visitors northwest. The windswept causeway at the southern end is one of several public engineering marvels between South Hero and Alburgh, including the fully functioning North Hero drawbridge. And the Missisquoi bridge, at the northern end of the island chain, is also a source of public-works pride...
Missisquoi Rail Trail
From St. Albans, the Missisquoi Rail Trail runs 26.2 miles to Richford. “Trail users enjoy picturesque views of Franklin County’s farms, forests, fields and wetlands,” Yankee Magazine noted in a recent article — and also eateries, such as The Abbey, which welcomes riders with trailside benches and food. Rumor has it some Québec wineries are within striking distance, too. The route, which is mostly flat, winds along the river through Enosburg Falls, East Berkshire and Sheldon Springs.
The northern reaches of Vermont seem an unlikely setting for authentic Thai food. Yet, in a strip mall just north of St. Albans village, the Thai House cooks up complex dishes that layer together the four flavors of Thai cuisine — salty, sweet, creamy and sour — using contrasting textures, temperatures and hues. Keep reading...
Photo: Matthew Thorsen
Swimming & Boating
Sand Bar State Park
Where there’s a wind, there’s a way, and it’s almost always blowing in Champlain Islands. That, combined with lots of beach access, makes the area ideal for windsurfing. At Sandbar State Park, you can catch a southeast breeze, or a northwest one, and go the distance. White’s Beach on South Hero is also a favorite launch spot. Serious surfers head out between Stave and Providence islands to the broad lake, where they can ride the big waves all the way to New York. Depending on the wind direction, the Grand Isle Lake House can be a sweet spot, too.
Goodsell Ridge Fossil Preserve
You can’t bring them home, but the fossilized corals that make up the Chazy Reef on Isle la Motte are definitely worth a visit. Paleontologists believe the reef was formed almost half a billion years ago, when Lake Champlain was part of the shallow Iapetus Ocean, where Zimbabwe is today. A well-marked path leads through the field to outcroppings swirled with signs of life — swirled skeletal remains of cephalopods and stromotoporoids. “Discovery Areas” are numbered and identified. The one-room museum sheds light — when it’s open. Photo: Matthew Thorsen
St. Anne's Shrine
If one side of 7-mile Isle La Motte — the Goodsell Fossil Preserve — is evidence of evolution, the other is faith-based: St. Anne’s Shrine attracts thousands of pilgrims every year. Fifty-seven years after Samuel de Champlain “discovered” it, in 1609, Fort St. Anne became Vermont’s first settlement. The first Mass was celebrated at the site of the shrine — now a rustic, open-air chapel in a spectacular natural setting. Don’t miss the roomful of discarded crutches. Summertime services are conducted Saturday evenings at 7 p.m. and Sunday mornings at 9 and 10:30 a.m. Photo: Don Eggert
Food & Drink
Snow Farm Winery
Vermont’s first commercial grape vineyard has been “aging” nicely for 13 years. The winery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for tours and tastings, but it’s best experienced in concert with live music outdoors on Thursday evenings. Weather permitting, Snow Farm brings in popular local acts such as Sandra Wright, Jenni Johnson and the Phil Abair Band to complement the sunset. The music starts at 6:30 p.m. Come earlier with a picnic, but plan to buy wine — it helps fund the fun. The area’s spectacular Island Ice Cream is also available. The flavors reflect whatever’s being harvested locally that week. Photo: Jordan Silverman
View Larger Map
- Fortress of Solitude: Touring Fort Montgomery
- Work: Interview with the Drawbridge Operator
- Highgate Gets a Bakery-Café, With Art on the Side
- Gallery Profile: STAART Gallery
- Fossil Fueled: Goodsell Ridge Preserve
- Home Tweet Home: Island Bird Houses
- Bombs Away: What Happened to 12 Former Nuclear Missile Silos in the North Country?
- Rouses Pointe: An Island Dance Program
- Slow Boats: Lake Champlain Paddlers' Trail
- Franklin County Pho: Vietnamese comes to St. Albans
- Drive-By Booty: On a Swanton commuter route, Mother Hubbard's cupboard is far from bare
- Snack Attack 2: Roadside Snackbar Reviews