A lot of our visitors to our state think of mountains when they think of Vermont. Some of them think of rivers and lakes. But don’t forget about the Champlain Islands! While quiet in the winter, this popular area brings tourists and locals alike for a serene stay or an active afternoon every summer. Just a 30 minute drive from downtown, this great day trip is right in Burlington’s backyard! Check out our recommendations for a day trip -- you’ll find there’s a little something for everyone in Grand Isle County.
A DAY TRIP FOR NATURE LOVERS
Start your day trip at the most Northern tip of the Islands - Alburgh. It is really quite a unique place -- this little town is an exclave, known as the Alburgh Tongue. This means it is technically only connected by land to Canada, but the 45th parallel, and the resulting international border, makes it American soil. Here, you will find the Alburgh Dunes State Park , which hosts one of the longest beaches on Lake Champlain with shallow water for hundreds of feet. The park just underwent a beautiful renovation so it’s a must if you’re in the area!
Next up, check out the world’s oldest coral reef - no, seriously! In Isle La Motte, population 500(ish), you’ll find the Chazy Reef which is approximately 480 million years old. You’ll find fossils and a tiny museum that explains this amazing natural phenomenon. Head just a bit further North to grab a quick bite (and maybe a cute local product or two) at Hero’s Welcome. From there, walk right next door to the North Hero House Pier , and hop on board with Driftwood Tours to take a water taxi out to Knight Island State Park to explore and enjoy your picnic. As Captain Holly brings you back into North Hero, grab a table for dinner at the beautiful North Hero House - if you’re lucky, the Pier Bar might even be open to enjoy a delicious lobster roll and cocktail. The amazing hospitality & culinary team will round out a perfect, nature-filled day on Lake Champlain!
A DAY TRIP FOR LOVERS
Seeking a romantic getaway in the Lake Champlain Islands? Look no further. Head to the town of Grand Isle, where you will find the Breakaway Farm - a locally owned and operated horse farm with 160 acres of possible trail rides. Take advantage of one of their picnic rides, where you can enjoy a picnic basket or an anniversary cake with a beautiful scenic view. Your afternoon of romance continues in South Hero with a delicious wine tasting at Snowfarm Vineyard . Their collection of wines will leave you wondering why you’ve never visited before! Enjoy the wine-tasting room and snag a bottle for later -- and don’t forget, this beautiful little vineyard doubles as a wedding venue with the lovely Crescent Bay Farm Bed & Breakfast right next door, run by the same owners. You’ll finish the evening at Shore Acres , a gourmet restaurant right along the shores of Lake Champlain.
There’s no better sunset than an island sunset to finish your evening! Too sleepy and full to drive back? Don’t worry, Shore Acres just happens to be an incredibly cozy inn - and after all, you bought that bottle of wine for a special night, right?
A DAY TRIP FOR FAMILIES
If your kids are ready to experience a special, memorable day trip, you’ll just have to bring them up to the Islands. First stop? Lunch, because no one wants to do anything with hungry bellies. The best place for kids? Sebs Snack Bar , a walk-up-window experience with lots of space to enjoy a picnic or a game of cornhole. This seasonal little snack bar is filled with kid-friendly summer eats - even your pickiest will have a hard time saying no!
Right after, in the same building, hop over to the brand new Island Escape Room ! Your mission? Find Champ! If you make it out in time, treat your clever little family to a snack from Seb's Snack Bar, which is full of delicious options. Your last mission of the day: grab one of the best maple creemees in the state. And to note: in this particular day trip, every place mentioned is no more than a mile apart - that’s Island life for ya!