It’s the land of the Green Mountains, Lake Champlain, and the original Ben & Jerry’s—a combination that practically defines summer in New England. It’s Vermont, of course, where the winter ski slopes and vibrant autumn colors are rivaled only by the outdoor fun of summer.

Looking to take advantage of warm weather and pristine blue skies? Read on for an inside scoop on the best things to do in Vermont in the summer.

1. Visit a Maple Sugar House

syrup at Sugarbush Cheese and Maple Farm
Sugarbush Cheese and Maple Farm | Photo courtesy of Kiki W.

On some vacations, it’s enough that you have the time to make homemade pancakes each morning. On this one, it’s what you drizzle over those pancakes that will get you out of bed.

As the leading producer of maple syrup in the United States, Vermont is home to hundreds of sugar houses where the trees are tapped each spring and visitors are welcome year-round. Anxious to satisfy your fix of maple syrups, sugars, creams, and candies? Take a tour of the Green Mountain Sugar House in Ludlow, Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks in Montpelier, or Sugarbush Farm in Woodstock—you’ll return home with enough maple sweetness to last until next year.

2. Cast a Line on Lake Champlain

lake champlain harbor
Lake Champlain at day’s end | Photo courtesy of Mobilus In Mobili

It covers a sprawling area of 435 square miles and meets its shoreline in Vermont, New York, and Quebec. But for anglers who escape to its picturesque islands, Lake Champlain is all about the bass.

Make your summer home in South or North Hero, Grand Isle, or one of the other Lake Champlain island communities, and enjoy some of the nation’s best bass fishing within an easy drive of Burlington. Launch a boat from your backyard, soak in majestic views of the Adirondack and Green Mountains, and admire such local wonders as the world’s oldest coral reef on the shores of Isle La Motte.

3. Hit the Slopes… on Your Bike

mountain biking in vermont
Mountain biking | Photo courtesy of Bureau of Land Management

Each year, as the winter frost makes way for summer sun, Vermont’s most famous slopes undergo a transformation of their own. It’s the perfect time to pack away your skis, tune up your mountain bike, and hop on a lift to get some single track thrills.

Hit the road for the six peaks of Killington, where you’ll find 30 miles of trails and three lifts in the ever-growing Killington Mountain Bike Park. Heading to Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow? Check out the newly expanded Evolution Bike Park, which offers steep, challenging terrain and a brand new trail to the summit. And in the gorgeous mountains around Stowe, the Stowe Mountain Bike Club is your one-stop shop for maps, information, and general expertise about the local trails.

4. Find a New Favorite State Park

smugglers notch state park
Bingham Falls in Smugglers’ Notch State Park | Photo courtesy of Doug Kerr

With 55 state parks and 29 beaches managed by Vermont’s State Parks and Outdoor Recreation Division, summer vacationers need never travel far to find new trails and shores. Unsure where to begin? The 253-acre Burton Island State Park is the Vermont of your dreams—serviced only by private boats and the Island Runner ferry and a picturesque place to swim in Lake Champlain’s Inland Sea.

Looking to head inland? At the base of Vermont’s tallest peak, Smugglers’ Notch State Park was named for the illegal trade with Canada that once thrived in this narrow mountain pass. Today, the park is ideal for a hike on the Long Trail, a visit to Bingham Falls, or a climb to the 4,393-foot summit of Mt. Mansfield.

5. Catch the Sunset on Burlington’s Waterfront

lake champlain sunset
Lake Champlain at sunset | Photo courtesy by Nicholas Erwin

You would need more than two hands to count the reasons to visit Burlington in the summer. Perusing the local produce at the Saturday farmers market. A cup of coffee at Scout & Co. The flavor-packed pizzas at American Flatbread. The seasonal fare and hand-crafted cocktails at Hen of the Wood.

To make this a tidy five, let’s add one more: Watching a summer sunset from the shores of Lake Champlain. Whether you choose to ride your bike, sail in on a boat, or pack a basket with a picnic dinner, you’ll find a prime sunset viewing location in Burlington’s Waterfront Park—as well as a schedule of lively events to provide the evening entertainment.

6. Grab a Beer at the Source

Dining room at Zero Gravity Brewery
Dining room at Zero Gravity Brewery | Photo courtesy of Zero Gravity Brewery via Yelp

If you’re searching for new places to visit in Vermont this summer, why not let beer be your guide? This state of nearly 625,000 people has more breweries per capita than any other—as well as new operations and taprooms opening all the time.

Consider attending the Vermont Brewers Festival that takes over Burlington’s Waterfront Park in July, or take a walk around town to sample the goods at Foam Brewers and Zero Gravity. Outside the city, stops at Prohibition Pig in Waterbury, The Alchemist in Stowe, and Hill Farmstead in Greensboro are the makings of a beer-focused road trip to remember.

So don’t believe for a second that the fun in New England ends with autumn and winter. Whether you’re hiking, fishing, biking, or beer-tasting, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Vermont in the summer.

Featured image courtesy of Anon Lobb

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Author: Maura O'Brien

Born and raised in Northern California and now based in Portland, Maura credits her mom with her sense of adventure. Maura has a special affinity for national parks, the Greek island of Folegandros, and a three-month trip across Europe with her sister that opened her eyes to the magic of travel.