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|Vermont: Classic Family Vacation Fun Not-To-Be-Missed - Americana, Majestic Music, and Ice-Cream.
Vermont occupies a small area geographically, but there’s no doubt that Vermont has a lot to offer families. Great museums, culinary delights (maple syrup and cider donuts anyone?), music, theatre, mountain vistas and, of course, Vermont is the home of the innovative ice-cream giant Ben & Jerry’s.
Is that an echo?
The Echo Center at the Lake Champlain Basin is home to over 70 species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates, as well as 100 hands-on interactive exhibits. Some of the great permanent exhibitions include ‘Before the Basin’ which explores what the Champlain Valley would have been like long ago, while the ‘Beluga Whale Dig’ exhibit invites visitors to indulge their inner archaeologists and uncover whale bones at the center’s new dig site. The 2,750 gallon ‘River’s End’ exhibit is home to native snakes, fish, frogs and turtles – a great slice of local wildlife. Visitors are invited to ‘morph’ themselves into a frog at ‘Frogworld’ and come face to face with live frogs from six continents, and budding meteorologists can get screen time with real weather maps as a guest meteorologist for WPTZ NewsChannel 5. Additionally, the Echo Center hosts seasonal and rotational exhibits which cover a wide range of fascinating topics. Past exhibits included: DinoTracks, Body Language, Attack of the Bloodsuckers and a Koala Walkabout Maze. The current seasonal changing exhibit is ‘Wind: Power and Play’, which explores the aerodynamics, force and science of wind, as well as the science, fun and art of flight with a Hurricane Simulator and a beautiful collection of kites from around the world. Bonus points:
For those looking for a more immersive Echo Center experience, the Echo Center offers the Lake Champlain Floating Laboratory tour, which takes participants for a ride on the University of Vermont’s research vessel, the Melosira, for a hands-on, interactive, guest “researcher” experience for visitors aged 13 and up. (ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, One College Street, Burlington, VT 05401. Toll-free 1-877-ECHOFUN or www.echovermont.org
From cow to cone.
No Vermont family vacation is complete without checking out the fabulous Ben & Jerry’s factory tour. Known the world over for their delicious and imaginative flavors, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is a favorite with kids and adults alike. The factory, north of the town of Waterbury, overlooks the Worcester Range in the heart of the Green Mountains. The tour educates visitors about the entire ice-cream making process – from cow to cone. The Cow Over the Moon theater hosts the start of the tour, with a movie that gives the background of the Ben & Jerry’s brand and its development over the years. Following the film visitors get a bird’s eye view of the production process and the tour wraps up in the Flavoroom where everyone gets to try the ice-cream flavor of the day. After the tour everyone will want to check out the gift shop which offers all things Ben & Jerry’s, and the Scoop Shop which is home to the full Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream line. Bonus points:
There are picnic facilities on the factory grounds, and even a Flavor Graveyard that commemorates retired Ben & Jerry’s flavors. During the summer, the pastures surrounding the factory are full of Ben & Jerry’s cows and outdoor activities for the whole family. What’s the deal?
Ben & Jerry’s offers a Factory Tour Package which includes the tour, a Ben & Jerry’s pint coupon or novelty and a unique Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour t-shirt. Ben & Jerry’s Factory. (1281 Waterbury-Stowe Road, Waterbury, VT. toll-free 1-866-BJ-TOURS or www.benjerry.com
) Embrace Americana.
The Shelburne Museum spans 25 historical buildings and features an unconventional and bewildering array of Americana and art, designed to entertain and educate all who visit. The fascinating Shelburne collections include miniature hand-carved circus figures and circus posters, hundreds of paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries by American artists, a large collection of American folk art, and a 1906 passenger steamboat - Ticonderoga, 225 horse-drawn carriages, wagons and sleighs and over 400 antique dolls on display. Additionally, the Shelburne Museum provides specific information on their website for families looking to explore its many Americana treasures. They recommend that families not miss the 1920s vintage carousel near the museum entrance, checking out Alyssia’s Garden, a 19th-century-style playground and garden and of course, the Owl Cottage Family Activity Center, which includes a reading room, and art & crafts area, and a play area complete with costumes, toys, games and puzzles. What's the deal?
The Shelburne Museum offers special family admission rate - $50 for a Family Day Pass (two adults and two children, aged 5-18). Bonus points:
For families looking for a quick afternoon visit, the Shelburne offers half-priced rates for entry after 4PM every day except Thursdays, with tickets at $10 for each adult and $5 each for children. (5555 Shelburne Rd., Shelburne, VT 05482. (802) 985-3346, www.shelburnemuseum.org
Take the stage.
The Lamoille Country Players, operating out of the historic Hyde Park Opera House, have enjoyed more than forty years of popularity, attracting talent and audiences from all over. Not only do they feature a yearly Children’s Theatre Workshop, they also present a full season of theatrical delights. Bonus points:
In addition to the theatrical season, the Hyde Park Opera House also hosts events yearlong, including a Halloween-themed
Haunted Opera House experience, and traveling magic and music shows from around the country. (85 Main Street, Hyde Park, VT 05655. (802) 888-4507 or www.lcplayers.com
Mozart in the mountains.
The marvelous Vermont Mozart Festival brings the strains of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and other famous composers to the Green Mountains for a truly magical musical experience. The idea behind the Vermont Mozart Festival was to bring a European-style festival, with a variety of interrelated musical events, to the mountains of Vermont, with a variety of interrelated musical events. The festival itself spans a period of three weeks (beginning in late July), drawing upwards of 16,000 visitors annually. Since its inception the Mozart Festival has performed in fifty-six venues across Vermont, and featured more than 3,000 pieces of music. The music doesn’t stop when the summer sun sets, the winter season boasts its share of concerts as well. Bonus points:
The festival designs several of the concerts to be kid-friendly, providing children and their families a place to enjoy classical music and become engaged in musical appreciation through interactive programming. (Vermont Mozart Festival (802) 862-7352 or www.vtmozart.com
) Content created by Family Travel Files. Images courtesy of ECHO Center and Shelbure Museum. Copyright 2012.