This past Memorial Day weekend, my husband and I drove north to Vermont. As chance would have it, we both started to get various emails that were connected to the Green Mountain state. None of these emails were travel related, but rather about the GMO labeling law, Democratic Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders and other news-related emails. We had originally intended to go to Prince Edward Island. Fate it seemed was inciting us to change our plans.
“I think we are supposed to go to Vermont,” my husband said as the coincidences continued to add up.
My limited knowledge of Vermont came from the 1980's film, Baby Boom. In the film, Vermont was characterized as a rural farming state with small town traditions. That film, was not far off. There was much more we uncovered during our trip that makes this postcard worthy state a must visit.
We drove up through the Western side of Vermont heading through a series of small towns on our way to Burlington. Farms were plentiful. The abundance of grassy fields, mountains in the distance and homes tucked in here and there reminded me of my in-laws home in Packenham, Ontario.
I absolutely, unequivocally, fell in love with Vermont from the moment we crossed the New York border. That love lasted all the way up the western side and into our time in Burlington. Vermont is the most sacred place to visit on the East coast. Vacationers, a word of caution. You may want to move there if most of this list jives with you.
10) Mother Nature is well preserved in Vermont. 76% of Vermont is forested. As you make your way through the state, mountains and trees surround you. Neighbors outside of cities seemingly have almost a mile in between them leaving lots of natural space in between properties. Vermont is also the largest maple syrup producer in the U.S.
9) Farms are everywhere. As you drive up through the western part of the state, you are looking at farmland, if not forests. Vermont has almost half of the dairy farms in New England.
8) You can see the land because billboards and tall buildings don't obstruct your view. Vermont banned billboards in the 1960's and buildings are capped at 124'.
7) Adventure lovers and outdoor folk, you have a vast land awaiting you. With over 1,000 hiking trails, 50 state parks, 6,000 miles of snowmobile trails and over a dozen ski hills, the state captures the heart of the outdoor enthusiast.
6) You have a good chance of seeing wildlife. Vermont boasts a healthy population of moose, black bears and fish, not to mention approximately 45,000 turkeys.
5) Water, water, everywhere. If you are drawn to bodies of water, you will not only be drawn to the massive Lake Champlain, but to the 808 lakes and ponds, as well as rivers and streams that stretch out to a combined 8,000 miles.
4) All this nature comes with a more ecoconscious community. Solar power farms and wind turbines crop up along the drive through the state. Recycle bins are quite common next to the solar powered trash cans by Big Belly Solar.
3) Burlington has a thriving art scene. It's no wonder with its South End Arts District that houses a wide array of art galleries and studios. Vermont has produced over a dozen musical successes including Phish and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. The state has a handful of annual music festivals including the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival. While we visited, a young local band jammed for the Vermont City Marathon runners.
2) Vermont is a foodies paradise. Fairly soon after crossing into Vermont, we passed by food huts serving barbecue and tacos. These worn little miniature structures often had homemade signs enticing drivers. In Burlington, a vast array of restaurants lined the streets, each one with their own personality. From juice bars to the famous Montreal-style Myer's Bagels, from Sherpa Kitchen serving Nepalese and Himalayan Sherpa cuisine to simply delightful cafe, Chubby Muffin, it's impossible not to pop in and support local businesses while filling your belly. Oh did I also mention the small farm stores throughout the state selling maple syrup, jam and cheese?
1) Vermont residents are interactive, kind and seemingly love dogs. We brought our little two munchkins with us and easily found a pet-friendly hotel. Each restaurant or food stand welcomed our little guys to eat outside with us, joining many others doing the same. Area high school seniors in prom dresses and tuxes even took the time out from photos to pet Charlie and Teddy.
Vermont presents itself as a state filled to the brim with hospitality, land and wildlife preservation, environmentally friendly endeavors and a conscious plan to bond man with nature through outdoor activities. After our holiday, it's no wonder why Vermont was listed as the 2nd most peaceful place to live in the country in the United States Peace Index.
Statistics courtesy of Vermont.org. Top photo courtesy of wikipedia.org. Want to know how your state ranks in the United States Peace Index? Visit economicsandpeace.org.
Susan Kiskis is the publisher for Freedom Journal and author of memoir, Born Fire Dragon. She has a deeply seeded case of wanderlust.