The Budget Travel Guide to Vermont
During a drive in Vermont, it’s common to see simple, handwritten signs tempting with their advertisements of hyper-local goods. “Eggs for Sale,” “Maple Syrup Here” and “Fresh Produce” beckon drivers all along the state’s country roads.
Unless you’re in a big hurry — and, if you’re driving through Vermont, where the pace is almost island-like, you shouldn’t be — you’ll want to factor in random, unplanned stops, a promising part of a visit to the quintessential New England state.
Nestled in between Massachusetts, New York and New Hampshire, Vermont is the second-least-populated U.S. state. It’s no stranger to visitors, however, who long ago began discovering the sweet state’s trove of treasures.
It starts with its rolling green mountains, duly cherished by skiers and snowboarders. Fans of the winter sport flock to Stowe for its European-like village and Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest mountain, and to Jay Peak, the beloved resort on the US-Canada border. Killington’s sheer vastness (1,509 skiable acres) explains its well-appointed nickname: The Beast. There’s a mountain for every level — and every interest too.
While skiing has never been a budget-friendly sport, those who wish to get in a day on the slopes will find flexibility is key for the gentlest prices. A midweek day pass offers the best value for your buck; at $146/day, upscale Stratton is on the high end, and at $93/day, Mount Snow is on the lower end. But the best deal is for those athletes who don’t need a chairlift to get up the mountain. One can experience The Beast for $35 — and plenty of grit and endurance to ski up the mountain.
Of course, Vermont’s mountains don’t disappear come summer, and for many, it’s a much more pleasant time to check out the trails.
Plus, it’s free in the off-season! Cyclists, trekkers, and ambitious trail runners will be rewarded with mesmerizing views at the top. If the state’s heavily forested landscape is something to see along the road, it’s otherworldly from this vantage point.
For those preferring water activities, Vermont’s warm-weather months offer a bevy of recreational activities. Lake Champlain comes alive in summer. Think paddleboarding, kayaking, fishing, swimming and sunning.
A visit to Lake Champlain is highly recommended, but it’s not the only way to splash around. All across the state are swimming holes, waterfalls and treks of varying degrees of difficulty, many with water crossings.
Some top spots include Clarendon Gorge, Warren Falls, and Bristol Falls, though it’s worth noting it is possible to find random waterfalls and swimming holes no matter where your adventures take you.
Beer is good
After you’ve worked up a sweat and cooled off in a river, it’s time for liquid sustenance. Vermont’s beer scene exploded years ago, but it’s still popping today, as evidenced by the astounding number of breweries across the state. That and the fact that you’re more likely to find a four-pack of craft brews than a six-pack of Budweiser at the local markets and gas stations has aided Vermont’s stellar reputation among beer drinkers.
It’s never a bad idea to visit a brewery, and it’s an especially good idea when there’s a killer view to pair with your pint. Beer Naked Brewery in Marlboro, VT sits on the top of Hogback Mountain; the deck tables are worth waiting for. The rotating selection of craft brews pairs wonderfully with inventive and familiar bites coming out of the kitchen — bone marrow spread to please the adventurous eaters, and the cheese plate as a matter of course.
If you want to get a taste of several different breweries and a deeper understanding of why Vermont’s beer scene is superior, you might consider a Vermont Brewery Tour with 4 Points. For less than a hundred bucks, the tour includes pick-up and drop-off, multiple brewery stops and tastings, snacks and entertaining fodder from your guide. It’s a relative bargain, though not as inexpensive as creating your own beer trail with the help of this nifty website.
You can find excellent local cheese in just about every Vermont grocery or general store. River Bend Market in Wilmington has a particularly unique selection of cheese from reputable cheese makers, including Vermont Creamery, Crawley, and Grafton, which has its own shop in Brattleboro.
A visit to Grafton Village Cheese, which sells wine and cheese accoutrements, may just inspire an impromptu picnic.
If you’d rather gallivant around the state collecting this most delicious of souvenirs, you’ll be delighted to learn there’s a Cheese Trail Map, which lists the cheese makers who welcome visitors.
While the state deserves its cheesy (sorry/not sorry!) reputation, when it comes to wallet-friendly bites, you need not look too hard to find other delicious items.
Charming diners, cafes and bistros can be found throughout the state, but look a little closer and you’ll start to notice a smattering of food trucks.
Vermont’s food truck scene isn’t as diverse as Portland Oregon’s or as big as Austin, Texas’s, but it’s nonetheless an exciting one.
Nomad Food Kitchen Trailer in Wilmington has weekly specials in addition to a menu rounded out by ramen. About that ramen: The prices are a little steep, but the best thing on the menu is the $6 pork bun. Loaded with glistening meat, crispy around the edges, crunchy vegetables and sweet and salty sauce, it’s basically two (three if you’re a more delicate eater) of the best bites in Vermont.
Two Neanderthals Smokin' BBQ located in Springfield is a food trailer featuring Brisket Ribs, Pulled pork, burgers, dogs, handcut fries, homemade sides and more!
Most of the food trucks update their Instagram and Facebook pages regularly, so check there first to make sure you know how and where to find them.
Dose of Culture
Vermont boasts a number of family-friendly activities, many of which are inexpensive or free. A top pick is Bread & Puppet Theater, where puppets perform in a barn in the middle of the Northeast Kingdom. Art can be purchased here too — and for a nominal fee.
Want to add a history lesson to your Vermont visit? The Vermont Historical Society offers an interesting look at the state’s history, including a collection depicting the early days of skiing.
The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum also offers a history lesson with its model gallery showing the evolution of boat building in the region and The Roost, a cabin featuring stories of women on the water -- lighthouse keepers and lake explorers.
Both children and adults will find joy in Vermont’s farms, whether picking blueberries in July or petting alpacas in the fall.
Midnight Goat Farm sells cheese and offers goat meetings in typical times. Maple View Farm sells alpacas and offers information on alpaca breeding, but you need not be in the market for an alpaca — visiting and petting opportunities are available at this farm.
Shelburne Farms is chock-full of animals and kid-friendly activities. Introduce the kids to donkeys, cows and sheep and pick up some pasture-farmed eggs if you haven’t already been lured off the road by an “eggs for sale” sign.
For many visitors to Vermont, a must is visiting the flagship Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream factory. Located in Waterbury, this is also where you’ll find the infamous Flavor Graveyard, just up the hill from the main building. Here you can grieve the flavors that are no longer.
Dog lovers traveling with Fido or missing Fido back at home won’t want to miss Dog Mountain, where dog-lover and artist Stephen Huneck, has created a haven for dog people. Roaming the grounds and visiting the chapel is free.
Just up the road from the sprawling Grafton Village Cheese complex is Jeff’s Basement, an antique store with an impressive as well price-friendly selection of mid-century and postmodern furniture, lamps, and art.
For more fantastic vintage finds, Anjou & The Little Pear up in Burlington delights with cool glassware, snazzy art and old but gently used rugs.
For more eclectic finds and random finds, The Vermont Antique Mall has everything from the old-school bedside clock you didn’t know you needed to the mini cast iron pan.
And, finally, for rock-bottom prices and seriously sweet finds, including rooms full of toys and children’s games, there’s Twice Blessed. Located in Dover, right next to the dog-friendly Snow Republic Brewery, the cash-only shop a fine place to while away an hour or two and make good use of that twenty-dollar bill hiding in your wallet.
Just in time for National Waterpark Day (July 28), vacation rental marketplace HomeToGo is making a splash by releasing its 2022 Water Park Index to help travelers identify the top water parks to visit this year. From Florida to California, from pulse-pounding to placid, they’ve done a deep dive into the best water parks that America has to offer. Most Affordable States to Make a Splash: Water parks in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, California and Illinois climb to the affordable peak of this year’s ranking.Best States for Water Park Enthusiasts: California reigns supreme with the most water parks on this year's ranking (11), followed by Texas (10) and Florida (9). The average total cost per day among the featured water parks in California is $138.06, compared to $132.96 in Texas and $139.16 in Florida.Average Entry Prices: This year’s average entry cost is $39.82. The water parks with the cheapest entry costs are Buccaneer Bay and Sun-N-Fun Lagoon both in Florida, which both cost $13 per adult.The tallest waterside in the country is Thrillagascar at DreamWorks Water Park in New Jersey (Ranked #32), which stands at 142 feet tall and reaches free-fall speeds of +60 mph and features the world's biggest indoor wave poolThe largest water park in the U.S. is Noah’s Ark Water Park in Wisconsin Dells (#44), with a total of 51 waterslides, 2 wave pools, 2 lazy rivers, and 6 additional attractions. Rankings are based on cost of parking, entry, locker and nightly accommodations. 3. Buccaneer Bay - $91.02Weeki Wachee, Florida Buccaneer Bay - Courtesy of floridastateparks.org Buccaneer Bay, located within Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, is the perfect place for families to spend a hot summer day. This water park is Florida’s only spring-fed water park and is home to a variety of different attractions including waterslides, sandy beach area, lazy river float ride, beach volleyball court and legendary mermaid shows in a submerged theater. On top of this, the water park is surrounded by beautiful natural scenery due to its unique location. This water park offers food and beverage options for guests who need to refuel and hydrate, as well as covered picnic pavilions for those who would like to bring their own snacks. 2. Splash Kingdom Oasis - $90.46Shreveport, Louisiana Splash Kingdom Oasis - Courtesy of hometogo Splash Kingdom Waterpark in Shreveport, Louisiana is a water park for the entire family to enjoy and embrace the family tradition of taking trips together. With more than 15 rides and attractions to choose from, people of all ages can come to this fun oasis and never worry about running out of things to do. On top of this, guests can enjoy food and drinks for whenever they get hungry or need to quench their thirst after a long day. Guests can also expect a multitude of different aspects of entertainment, with events being held that showcase music, movies and more. 1. NRH2O Family Water Park - $87.99North Richland Hills, Texas Thunder - Courtesy of NRH2O Family Water Park NRH20 is a 17-acre water park filled with plenty of fun and excitement for guests to enjoy. This water park is home to 14 attractions along with food and beverage amenities. With a great balance between thrilling waterslides and kid-friendly attractions, this water park is welcome to all ages looking to let off some steam and just have fun. NRH20 is known for its friendly environment, relaxing atmosphere, and reasonable prices. Located in North Richland Hills, Texas, the water park’s popularity has flourished within the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Click here to see the complete list of top affordable water parks and the methodology for the rankings.
Florida has some of the most beautiful state parks in the entire United States. They attract visitors from across the world for all kinds of outdoor activities and of course, camping. A new in-depth study analyzed data from multiple sources to rank the top Florida state parks as most loved by campers. The top 5 parks scored highly in all areas of the study including camping-related Google searches, ratio of Instagram hashtags to annual visitors, and Tripadvisor 5-star reviews. Some popular parks such as Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island were removed from the rankings as they do not permit overnight stays. Here are the top 5: 5. Ichetucknee Springs Traveling the pristine waters of the Ichetucknee River is the perfect outing, whether you’re looking for a vigorous adventure or a relaxing day on the water. Although well-known for its warm weather tubing, Ichetucknee Springs State Park is a 2,669-acre wildlife haven, where beaver, otter, gar, softshell turtle, wild turkey, wood duck and limpkin all find a home. The main draw is the park’s eight major crystal-clear springs that join to create the 6-mile Ichetucknee River. 4. Weeki Wachee Springs Pair of Manatees in WeekiWachee Springs State Park - Istock/JulieHewitt Weeki Wachee is an enchanted spring where you can see live mermaids, take a trip on a river boat cruise, learn about Florida wildlife, and swim in the pristine waters at Buccaneer Bay. You can also embark on a paddling adventure down the pristine waterway of the Weeki Wachee River. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is one of Florida’s most legendary and unique family destinations, entertaining audiences since 1947. 3. Fort Clinch Fort Clinch State Park - Istock / KenWiedemann History meets nature at Fort Clinch State Park. Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover or a bit of both, enjoy exploring the unique natural and historic resources of this pristine park. A row of cannons pointing across the St. Mary’s River into Georgia are silent testimony to the strategic importance of Fort Clinch during the Civil War. Visitors can explore the fort’s many rooms, galleries and grounds, and learn about the life of a Union soldier through unparalleled living history programs. Make plans to visit on the first weekend of every month when a soldier garrison fires cannons and demonstrates other battlefield skills. The historic fort is only one aspect of this diverse 1,400-acre park. Maritime hammocks with massive arching live oaks provide a striking backdrop for hiking and biking on the park’s many trails. The park is known for its gopher tortoises, painted buntings and other species of wildlife. Camping, fishing, shelling and shark-tooth hunting are popular activities. 2. Myakka River State Park Bird watching boardwalk in the marsh of Myakka State Park - Istock/LagunaticPhoto The majestic Myakka River flows through 58 square miles of one of Florida’s oldest and largest parks. In a scene reminiscent of what early Native Americans and Spanish explorers witnessed, arching palm trees and live oaks are reflected on a winding tea-colored stream. The cries of limpkins and osprey pierce the air while alligators and turtles sun lazily on logs and riverbanks. This is the Myakka River, Florida’s first state-designated wild and scenic river, and it flows through a vast expanse of unspoiled wetlands, prairies, hammocks, and pinelands that make up Myakka River State Park. Boating, fishing, canoeing and kayaking are popular activities on the water while hikers and bicyclists explore miles of trails and backroads. 1. Bahia Honda Calusa Beach at the Bahia Honda State Park - Istock/Orietta Gaspari Along with its iconic Florida Keys scenery, sandy beaches, gin-clear waters and magnificent sunsets, the park is known for balmy sea breezes that caress the shores year-round. Henry Flagler’s bold effort to build a railroad to Key West in the early 1900s turned the remote island of Bahia Honda Key into a tropical destination. Along with its iconic Florida scenery — palm-lined beaches, gin-clear waters and magnificent sunsets — the park is known for balmy sea breezes that caress the shores year-round. The park is an excellent place to observe wading birds and shorebirds, and introduces nature lovers to the island’s plants and animals. Kayaks and snorkeling gear can be rented, and boat trips to the reef for snorkeling excursions are available. The study was run by EpicGenerators.com who combined data from across the web for all Florida State Parks with more than 150,000 annual visitors. For more information and to see the full rankings click here.
The 8 Best Whiskey Bars in The US
Once upon a time, whiskey was the currency of cowboys and grandfathers. Then the story changed. Over the past two decades, Scotch, bourbon and Irish whiskey have become some of the fastest growing spirits in the world. In the United States, it has become increasingly easy to find bars specializing in uisce beatha. (That’s Gaelic for “water of life” and the source of the word “whiskey”). Most feature bartenders who work in a sommelier-like capacity to answer questions and offer suggestions that best suit your preferences. Here are some of the best spots to slake your whiskey thirst. And curiosity. Brandy Library: New York, New York There’s a casual elegance that pervades the Brandy Library, which opened in 2004, earning it the badge of first whiskey bar in New York. (As legend has it, owner Flavien Desoblin christened it “Brandy Library” instead of “Whiskey Library” because when he opened the place, whiskey wasn’t a fraction as cool as it is now and he worried it might turn people away.) Brandy Library, in the posh Tribeca neighborhood, is a full-immersion experience. Shelves line several walls in the sepia-toned, living-room-like bar. Add to that copper lighting fixtures inspired by liquor stills and a gorgeous leather-bound menu arranged by region, and you have a Mecca-level destination worth a pilgrimage. Silver Dollar: Louisville, Kentucky The Silver Dollar is located in the heart of Bourbon Country © Liza Weisstuch There are many reasons to visit the Silver Dollar. Architecture junkies will be intrigued by how this 1890 fire house, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was transformed into one of Louisville’s hippest hangouts. (Yes, the fire pole is still standing.) Music-lovers will appreciate how it stands as a tribute the Bakersfield Sound, the classic country music style credited to Buck Owens, who, in the 1950s, infused Nashville’s popular swinging country with the strumming Mexican conjunto music he discovered in his local California bars. The fact that bartenders play country music on vinyl only elevates the vintage vibe. Similarly, the southern regional cuisine on the menu has a spicy Mexican accent. And then, of course, there is the American whiskey, which is in no shortage here in the bourbon capital of the world. Jack Rose Dining Saloon: Washington, DC Inside the Jack Rose © Greg Powers The Jack Rose is less whisky bar and more whisky kingdom, of sorts, offering a range of environments for imbibing in Washington, DC’s, vibrant Adam’s Morgan neighborhood. The main bar and dining room is a handsome dark-wood-and-leather affair lightened with soaring ceilings, tall windows, and a marble bar. Those high ceilings are necessary to house the nearly 2700 brands of whiskey, many of which are accessible to the bartenders only by ladder. Not sure what you like? No pressure, you can buy anything as a half-ounce pour here so go on and experiment. Upstairs is a seasonal tiki bar as well as an open-air terrace with a bar of its own featuring a barbecue pit area equipped with heat lamps so you can chill out in the winter. Speaking of barbecue, food here leans southern and hearty, with fried green tomatoes and cornmeal fried oysters playing leading roles on the menu. Julep Cocktail Club: Kansas City, Missouri Courtesy of Julep Art Deco glamour meets mid-century modern simplicity at this classy yet laid-back whiskey bar in Kansas City’s increasingly hip Westport neighborhood. Outside of Chicago, Julep Cocktail Club has the biggest whiskey selection in the region, clocking in at about 500 bottles. The drink list skews American, but Scotch, Irish, Japanese and Canadian are all accounted for, too. Bartenders are knowledgeable and ready to reply to any of your brown-water questions. Flights, which change regularly to showcase a region or a theme, are a popular choice here, as are their outstanding mint juleps, which come in three varieties: vintage, traditional and modern. The food menu is an appealing assortment of pub grub elevated with an Asian twist. Seven Grand: Los Angeles, California The hunting-lodge stylings of Seven Grand in LA © Liza Weisstuch If there’s one thing you should know about Seven Grand, it’s that its whiskey menu is 44 pages long. Yes, 44 pages. You could say that this antique-y, dimly lit hunting-lodge-chic bar, which opened in 2007, is the antithesis of Los Angeles, where so many bars and restaurants are airy and light. Or you could argue that Seven Grand is quintessentially LA, what with its transportive movie-set-like ambiance, complete with details like mounted deer heads and vintage furniture. Regardless, it claims the biggest whiskey collection in the West, making it an attraction for aficionados and the whisky-curious. The whiskey list does soar to super-premium heights, but the vibe here is very down-to-earth. (See: pool tables, live music.) And for those in-the-know, there’s Jackelope, an intimate Japanese-style whiskey bar tucked away in the back. Fiori D’Italia: Anchorage, Alaska When an earthquake struck Anchorage, Alaska, in 2018, many of whiskey bottles from the collection of more than 400 at Fiori d’Italia hit the ground and shattered. Building the collection had been an ongoing pursuit for the young bar manager Ylli Ferati, whose family owns and runs the discreetly tucked-away Italian restaurant. But thanks to his perseverance and vast industry connections, he was able to rebuild the biggest whiskey selection in Alaska. The restaurant, which is owned and run by Ylli’s parents, immigrants from Macedonia, is decidedly old-school Italian, and while they do indeed have a wine list, Ylli encourages exploring whiskey pairings with the food, a fine way to understand the spirit’s universal appeal. Multnomah Whiskey Library: Portland, Oregon The massive collection in the Multnomah Whiskey Library lines the shelves on the wall © Dina Avila There is a good chance that you’ll stop in your tracks the first time you walk into the Multnomah Whiskey Library in downtown Portland, Oregon, and behold its grandeur. True to its name, it’s set up as like a library reading room, complete with long tables and desktop-style lamps. But don’t expect quiet contemplation here. After all, its shelves are not packed with books, but with about 2,000 bottles of whiskey, plus a healthy assortment of rum, tequila and cognac. If cocktails are your preference, you’re in for a treat: the service here involves a dedicated bartender who takes the order at your table and makes the cocktail tableside. While not a speakeasy, its entrance is a tad discreet, so stay on the lookout for the “Whisky Library” sign. And pro tip: It’s a spacious place and very popular, so arrive early to get your name on the list. Delilah’s: Chicago, Illinois For many years, the term “whiskey bar” conjured up images of high-end fusty affairs. The recent bourbon boom has made brown water a more democratic drink, but before bourbon became a hipster spirit, there was Delilah’s, which stood out – and continues to gather fans – for the way it uniquely captures whiskey’s freewheeling, rock’n’roll soul. This Chicago hangout has a dive-y vibe, complete with weathered banquettes, Christmas lights, and live rock bands. You’ll find as much pretension here as you might in your local CVS. Yet the global whiskey selection is world-class and the bartenders can each provide a thorough whiskey education.
Holidu, the search engine for holiday rentals, set its mission to find out what are the must-visit beaches in Cape Cod for this summer. Cape Cod is known as a summer hotspot and home to some of the most stunning beaches. So lay back in your Adirondack chair and let this list will take you on a journey through sandy shores, remote dunes, and sprawling coastlines. Start creating your perfect summer bucket list now with Holidu’s top Cape Cod beaches to help start your planning! 5. Marconi Beach 574 reviews - average rating: 4.8Located in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, Marconi Beach is a picturesque Cape Cod National Seashore beach on the Atlantic Ocean side of the Cape. This beach not only offers refreshing cool water and warm sand, but also activities like hiking and bike paths! With an average rating of 4.8 on Google and a total of 574 reviews, relax and spend the say at this bucket list worth beach! 4. Herring Cove Beach Herring Cove Beach - Istock/Lunamarina 813 reviews - average rating: 4.8As one of the largest beaches in Provincetown, Herring Cove Beach is a bayside beach known for its calm and warmer waters. Herring Cove is the only Cape Cod National Seashore beach on the bay side of Cape Cod. It is also closer to the downtown area, generally making it more accessible than, the also beautiful, Race Point Beach. With an average rating of 4.8 on Google and a total of 813 reviews, Herring Cove Beach is a can’t miss on your Cape Cod beaches bucket list for summer. 3. Coast Guard Beach Lifeguard Chair at Coast Guard Beach - Istock/jaypetersen 842 reviews - average rating: 4.8Located in Eastham, Massachusetts, Coast Guard Beach is a part of Cape Cod’s National Seashore. Coming in at an average rating of 4.8 with 842 reviews, it is hard to not love Coast Guard Beach. During low tide it is a popular destination for skimboarding, although boogie boarding and surfing are also popular at this beach. Fall under the spell of Coast Guard Beach’s natural beauty and charm and make it the next stop for your summer escape. 2. Nauset Beach Nauset Beach - Istock/KenCanning 1,152 reviews - average rating: 4.8You’ll want to gab your swimsuit and boogie board for this next one. Located in Orleans, Massachusetts, on the ocean side, Nauset Beach comes in with a whopping 1,152 reviews and an average rating of 4.8. Known as a popular place for swimming and boogie boarding due to its waves, you won't want to miss this beach gem. 1. Ballston Beach Ballston Beach - Istock/DenisTangneyJr 110 reviews - average rating: 4.9Ballston Beach is an ocean side beach, located in the relaxing town of Truro, Massachusetts. Its crisp ocean salt water is sure to keep you cool even on the hottest of days. Most known for its iconic sand dunes, and being the muse of Edward Hopper Truro paintings, it makes it the ideal first stop to dive into your summer holiday. With an average rating of 4.9 on Google and a total of 110 reviews, Ballston Beach takes first prize in this ranking and should be at the top of everyone's bucket list for summer 2022.The following beaches made the top 10: 6. Corn Hill Beach7. Head of the Meadow Beach8. Mayo Beach9. Mayflower Beach10. Old Silver Beach Methodology:The study was conducted using the Google Maps database and searching for the word "beach" in all of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, we manually filtered all the results that were not beaches. We then compiled a ranking based on the beaches most voted by users, giving priority to those with the most reviews. For Cape Cod beaches with less than 100 reviews they were not considered. To see the full list and more rankings click here.