This past weekend was my daughter's 5th birthday, and of course, Mother's Day. In honor of those momentous occasions, we took a 2-for-1 celebration weekend trip to Vermont. So, on Saturday morning we packed up the minivan (yes, the deed is done) and headed up to Burlington, Vermont for some ice cream, teddy bears, and snow...yes, I said snow.
I've always heard great things about Burlington and after looking at all the sunny pictures of Lake Champlain online, I was convinced this was going to be that sunny, springtime getaway that we needed. Well, as you Tulip-festers know, the weather was less than cooperative. But that, and a few other minor setbacks, did not stop us from having a entertaining and educational couple of days.
Here's some ideas if you are looking for a fun weekend-cation and Burlington is calling your name.
The Vermont Teddy Bear Factory.
This was the first stop on our trip. Minor setback number one was that the actual production line does not run on weekends, so although you can get a tour of the factory floor, you won't see the people actually sewing and stuffing and all that good stuff. That being said, the tour guide was great (we actually got there at a really quiet time, around 3pm, and got a personal tour). She made tons of un-BEAR-able puns that we were encouraged to laugh at and was very knowledgeable and pretty passionate about her work at the factory.
The factory has a gift shop (with overpriced bear apparel) and teddy bears of all flavors, a personalization station where you have messages embroidered on your bear, and a Friend-for-Life teddy bear making station(kind of like 'Build-a-Bear', but trust me, they want you to know that it was their idea first.)
You can find Tour Information here.
2. Lake Champlain/Downtown Burlington
The lake is beautiful, and even in the wind and cold we managed to have some fun. We found a nice little playground on the water and enjoyed the sunset. We even learned a little bit about Champ, Champlain's version of Nessie.We didn't visit the Echo Aquarium, which is right on the waterfront,but if you have more time, it's supposed to be a great place to take the kids.
After searching for parking, we made our way to the Church Street Marketplace, Burlington's 'award winning outdoor mall' to check out the local color. And it was colorful. Lots of granola and funkiness. Kind of funny to see that juxtaposed against The Body Shop and Borders, but somehow it all worked. In the summer there are plenty of options for outdoor dining and entertainment.
3. Hotel courtesy of Priceline.com
50 bucks for a one night stay, with free breakfast and a pool. If you ask the kids, the pool was the highlight of the trip. Of course. We could have gotten a hotel in Albany and they would have been just as pleased.
4. Lake Champlain Chocolate Factory Tour
Ok, so we didn't actually go on the tour, but we saw the factory. The tours didn't start until 12 pm on Sunday and we had to be on our way, but if you are there during the week, stop by for a chocolately delicious peek.
The Ben and Jerry's Factory Tour
Located in Waterbury, about 25 minutes away from Burlington, this was the real reason I wanted to go to Vermont. Of course, in my haste, I did not check that, yet again, the actual factory floor is not open on the weekends, but again, it really didn't matter. The tour guide was funny (again, lots of cow jokes), we saw the factory floor, learned the history of Ben and Jerry, and got some delicious free samples. (The flavor of the day was 'Cookies and Milk', a new flavor, and it was superb. Bonus: Because it was Mother's Day, mommy's got a free cone.
*Interesting side note: The tour guide implored us to try new flavors when we go to Ben and Jerry's. She said a lot of people stick to the 'favorites' (see list), so many of the new flavors don't stick around too long. So the next time you are at B&J's, why not bypass the Chunky Monkey and try something new.
6. The Vermont Country Store - Weston, VT location
You can read more about it here.
Overall, this was a really great and affordable little getaway. Despite the fact that it did snow on Sunday morning and all the factories were 'off' on the weekend, we managed to squeeze a lot out of those two days. We will probably head back at some point, in the warmer weather (I'm sure there is a week like that sometime in August) and check out some of the other things we missed like the Lake Champlain Ferry and the Shelburne Museum.