It’s officially summer! To properly enjoy Vermont there’s only one real rule: be ready for anything!
By Brooke Geery
Vermonters are a resourceful group, and for good reason. Living and playing here isn’t easy, and you never really know what to expect. But anyone who’s survived the Green Mountains should be able to tell you: there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.
Much like winter, a summer day in Vermont can require multiple outfits. Ever wonder why so many of us drive big cars? It’s not just to avoid the ruts during mud season and frost heaves in the winter, but because we also need room for our mountain bikes, kayaks, fishing poles, golf clubs, clothing for any occasion, etc. any day, all summer long.
Sure, you could choose just one recreational activity, but working hard for your many thrills is just another thing that makes the Vermont experience truly unique. And being properly prepared can make it possible to get even more out of your day.
A sample Vermont schedule
Dusk-sunrise: Starting on a crisp morning (it is not just possible — but likely— to wake up chilly) you’ll need long pants and long sleeves. A hoodie and jeans is typical place to start.
Sunrise-late morning: As soon as the sun crests the hills, it’s time to switch to shorts and a T-shirt. This look can be improved with a solid farmer’s tan. Don’t worry about trying for it, though, just go play in the sun and it’ll happen. It’s not too early to put on some sunblock and a hat, and it’s also the ideal time to do your dry-land activities: golf (real, mini or disc), biking (downhill, trails or road) or hike.
Midday: By noon the sun is bound to be scorching and even that T-shirt and shorts combo may be feeling a little suffocating. You now have three options: change into something even skimpier, move to the shade, or get wet! Go fishing, kayaking, or just float on a tube down a river or on a lake. The good news about Vermont’s higher latitude is that the sun’s rays are indeed less harsh than a Florida beach. Still, If you’re trying to recreate — on the water especially — it’s important to protect yourself. Believe it or not, the cloudy days are harsher on your skin due to the filtered UVA and UVB rays. There’s no shame in covering up, but there is pain in a nasty sunburn.
Happy Hour (after work-sunset): The water temp itself doesn’t change much in the rivers throughout the day — so as the air temp drops, the water temp can actually feel warmer. Add in the end of the work day and the party starts any day of the week at Vermont’s various swimming holes around 5:30 p.m. (If you need help finding a free public cliff to jump off, visit vermontriverconservancy.org.) This is also a second chance to enjoy the activities you couldn’t accomplish before it got too hot! And if you’re hungry, any of Vermont’s many snack bars are open and waiting for you.
Dusk-dark: Hopefully you’ve remembered to eat and drink lots of water during the day, but now it’s time to indulge. Sample Vermont’s impressive beer selection, enjoy some local cuisine, or hit up a lakeside happy hour. While advertised Happy Hour pricing is illegal in Vermont, giving food and drink discounts is not! So call the nearest local saloon about specials — chances are they have some.
Dark: Oh, you thought we were done? Now’s the time to lather yourself up with bug spray, go back outside and hang out around a bonfire! Whether you’re sleeping in a tent, a hotel, or even your own bed, this final daily Vermont activity has no defined end. If you do happen to see the sunrise, though, you’ll know you’ve truly done Vermont right.
Muck boots: Stay dry whether you’re catching frogs or walking through dewy grass. Also great for the mud, which can pop up any time it rains!
Water shoes: Get yourself some aqua socks or the like. In other words, something better than flip flops! Going to the “beach” in Vermont may require a trek, and you’ll be happier trying to scale a cliff with a pair of official shoes. Don’t have anything official? An old pair of sneakers will also do the trick, just make sure to leave them out in the sun to dry when you’re done!
Solid hiking shoes: If you hit the trails, a pair of good sturdy-soled hiking shoes or boots that lace up will keep you comfortable, dry and (hopefully) tick free — though we still recommend checking yourself for ticks when you get inside. Also, bring extra socks! Being able to change them when you accidentally step in a puddle and sink to your knee will greatly improve the experience.
Sunglasses/good sun hat/sunblock: There’s a reason we call them “rednecks” — the summer sun burns! A full brim sun hat is the easiest and best way to keep the sun off your neck. Grab something waterproof too, and it’ll double as a rain hat when the clouds decide to let off some steam.
Raincoat: It might start raining at any time. If it does you could go inside, or you can pop on a waterproof jacket, flip up your hood and slow your pace. Fun fact: If you walk slowly through light-moderate rain, you’ll actually stay drier than if you run!
Summer dress/kilt: When it is really hot and humid, airflow is key. As a lady, a summer dress is my go-to and there’s a reason many men in Vermont wear kilts (and it’s not just their Scottish ancestry). If you don’t want to spring for an official utility kilt, an apron is actually a great second layer.
A bike: Pick your poison — downhill, flat track, trail riding or bike path. The appropriate bike/terrain is available and you’ll be glad you used the right one!
A flotation device: Vermont has no shortage of ways to enjoy the water. A kayak is a good all-purpose vehicle for lakes and/or rivers, but maybe you’d prefer a canoe, tube, or stand-up. Just make sure it has a sturdy bottom if you’re floating any of Vermont’s rocky-bottomed rivers. Hit up a tire dealer for a tractor trailer tire tube and inflate it at any gas station for the sturdiest way to get down the river.
Golf clubs: Vermont’s rolling hills and vibrant green grass make for epic major golf (check out Killington Resort’s course, Green Mountain National Golf Course, Quechee Club, Rutland Country Club, or the Proctor-Pittsford Country Club). Or if you’d prefer to be a little less serious, Vermont is also filled with mini golf courses that’ll let you rent a putter and give you a ball to smack for under $10 bucks.
An old-fashioned road atlas: Vermont is stuck in the early ‘90s when it comes to Internet access. If you’re relying on Siri or Alexa to tell you where to go, you may be in for a harsh reality when you head out to a remote spot. Once the leaves grow in, dead zones increase and even SpaceX’s Starlink satellites can’t reach you way down in the valleys.
Bug spray: If you’re scared of bugs, Vermont is not the place for you. But if you want to avoid bug bites, a can of bug spray will help!
Beer passport: Vermont Brewers association offers a Beer Passport that will take you all over the state. Learn more at vermontbrewers.com.
Helpful links to get the most out of your adventure in the Greens
- Let’s Go Fishing: vtfishandwildlife.com/learn-more/conservation-education/lets-go-fishing-program
- Kayak Tours: Appalachian Trail Adventures in Killington (802) 347-4343
- Blue Ridge Outfitters in Chittenden (802) 345-6934
- Reservoir Dogs (802) 483-9144
- Lakeside happy hour: lakebomoseenlodge.com/eat
- Vermont Brewers association: vermontbrewers.com
- Swimming holes: vermontriverconservancy.org