Ice Cream Dreams in Burlington Vermont
Vermont is like an ice cream sundae, beautiful in its own right, mountains of ice filled with delicious surprises and wonderfully refreshing on a warm summer day. It is appropriate therefore that the ice cream dreams of Ben and Jerry led our family to Burlington, Vermont to do “challenging” research on a Grade 8 project on ice cream manufacturing. Ben & Jerry’s ice cream was just the first of many wonderful discoveries we made in the Green Mountain state.
My daughter Shannon had a major Grade 8 research project and presentation on a technology subject. Given her sweet tooth, Shannon chose ice cream manufacturing as her subject. Our family then decided to go to Vermont for a February long weekend to tour Ben & Jerry’s ice cream manufacturing facility in Waterbury and to enjoy ourselves on a short break.
Burlington, Vermont is about a four hour drive from the greater New York area. You can stay on the Interstate, but I recommend seeing more of a beautiful state that is filled with mountains, lakes and streams by taking some of the local roads.
We made a stop in the Putney Diner in Putney (I94 at Exit 4) on the drive up and discovered a little diner that serves American comfort food and some of America’s best homemade pies. My choice is apple but there is a daily fresh selection.
Burlington is a lovely University city set on the shores of Lake Champlain. We stayed at Hilton Burlington overlooking the lake. We had million dollar views even in the winter. There is a small indoor pool that kept our girls entertained. The meals at the hotel were very good and the staff was particularly friendly. In the dining room, several of the staff were University of Vermont students who took a personal interest in our family and when I complemented the kitchen, the chef took the time to come out and speak to us. Nearby Waterfront Park offers great views year round and swimming in the summer.
For a small city, Burlington offers a nice selection of things to do throughout the year. There are often cultural activities going on at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts (153 Main Street). The Echo Lake Aquarium and Science Center (1 College Street, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain) is a small science center and aquarium. The Robert Hull Fleming Museum in Burlington has Native American art. The Shelburne Museum, 15 minutes away in Shelburne, displays traditional Americana objects.
History buffs will enjoy the Ethan Allen Homestead Museum dating from 1787. It displays colonial life. Ethan Allen led the Green Mountain boys in the first battle of the American Revolution, the conquest of Fort Ticonderoga. The fort is an hour drive away on the New York border and is well restored.
Shopping in the Outlet Malls in nearby Essex was a hit with my two daughters. There is also good outlet shopping in Manchester and in Brattleboro. No good road trip is successful unless everyone’s interests are satisfied and Vermont has options for everyone.
Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour
We visited Ben & Jerry’s Factory in Waterbury for the ice cream factory tour. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield were childhood friends who opened an ice cream scoop shop in Burlington in 1978. The unlikely entrepreneurs were committed to producing the finest quality, all natural ice cream in a business that recognized a social commitment.
The factory tour is interesting for all ages. It takes about a half hour. You see the production floor, learn about the myriad of flavors and you get free samples. In the summer you can picnic, visit the Flavor Graveyard and see the infamous Cowmobile. In 1986, the original Cowmobile burned in a fire in Cleveland, Ohio while on a national tour. The ever resilient entrepreneurs described the disaster as the world’s largest Baked Alaska and ended up with a public relations triumph.
Food, Sports and Sightseeing
After leaving the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream factory, we also visited the Cabot Cheese Annex and the Lake Champlain Chocolate Outlet, both of which are nearby and are very good.
We also explored Manchester. We enjoyed a fun Mexican lunch at Gringo Jack’s. Besides the aforementioned shopping, in Manchester you may also learn fly fishing at the Orvis Fly Fishing School (866-531-6213) and or even learn to fly trained falcons at the British School of Falconry (802-362-7873).
In winter, the skiing is great throughout Vermont. Besides skiing, there is also snow shoeing and skating at most resorts. I can personally recommend Killington, Stowe and Stratton, all of which offer a wide range of slopes for all skills plus a range of non-skiing activities. In the summer, there is golf, tennis, hiking, canoeing and zip line adventures at most major resorts. The green countryside is beautiful and life moves at a more relaxed pace.
The key is deciding on what part of Vermont you want to visit and then working from there. Whether you start your tour in Burlington, Vermont or elsewhere, find your family’s own dreams fulfilled when visiting this special part of America.
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Our Hilton Mom Voyage team members live throughout the U.S. and have traveled by air and car all over the world with their families!