For your troop of toddlers or platoon of preteens, there are inspiring activities and hospitable establishments in the Lake Champlain area that welcome families big and small with open arms. These kid-tested, parent-approved recommendations will help you see all the variety and splendor that Vermont has to offer.
The ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain on the waterfront is a first-stop for families in Burlington. Through 100 interactive exhibits, the scientific education center encourages visitors to explore, learn about, and engage in opportunities for stewardship. Daily events include live animal presentations, naturalist talks, a hands-on engineering program, and more. For a trip back in time, the Ethan Allen Homestead Museum is the only surviving residence of state founder Ethan Allen in Vermont. A tour of the historic site overlooking the Winooski River offers a glimpse of life in the 18th Century as well as the skills and daily tasks required for survival on the frontier.
When it’s time to play, drive out to Smugglers’ Notch – rated the #1 Family Resort in the Northeast by FamilyFun Magazine – for a host of activities including the Mountainside Water Playground (open through September 21), inflatable obstacle courses, tennis, disc golf, biking, and so much more. If bad weather pushes you indoors, head to Petra Cliffs where you can climb, boulder and test out your strength with the indoor ropes course. Younger children will be thrilled with a visit to Vermont Teddy Bear where they can tour the production factory, visit the Bear Hospital, and even leave with a personalized, new friend.
Taking your kids out to eat is a cinch at any number of the family-friendly restaurants in our area. Start off with breakfast at Henry’s Diner, a unique slice of Americana that has been serving up eats in the classic downtown setting since 1925. Grab a quick but healthy lunch featuring locally-sourced ingredients at B. Good where you will also find kid-sized kale smoothies and milkshakes. At dinner time, visit American Flatbread for handmade pizzas prepared with the finest natural ingredients – request a table within view of the fiery hearth to keep young ones entertained.
Kid-friendly accommodation options range from upscale hotels to affordable national chains. Tyler Place Family Resort in Highgate Springs is an all-inclusive getaway offering highly rated teen and children’s programs including lake sports like fishing and waterskiing and land activities like arts & crafts and log sawing. Within the city, Marriot Courtyard Burlington Harbor boasts impressive views of Lake Champlain and is situated mere steps from the Church Street Marketplace and waterfront. Guests enjoy use of an indoor saline pool, complimentary bicycles, and a fire pit. Homewood Suites Burlington features separate living and sleeping areas and fully equipped kitchens in all rooms as well as an indoor pool and hot tub. At the Holiday Inn Burlington, kids ages 18 and under stay for free when sharing their parents’ room and up to four kids ages 11 and under eat free any time of day at the on-site restaurant. Just be sure they don’t splash around in the indoor or outdoor heated pools with a full stomach!
Did you know?
Smugglers' Notch, the pass separating Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak, served as a secret trade route for Vermonters to exchange goods and livestock with merchants in Montreal after the Embargo Act of 1807 forbade U.S. trade with Great Britain and Canada. The Notch was also used by fugitive slaves fleeing to Canada and later as a route to transport liquor in from Canada during the Prohibition Era.