September 22, 2023
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Things to do in the Beautiful Lake Champlain Islands Year Round

Lake Champlain Islands

Travel to Vermont’s Lake Champlain Islands

The Champlain Islands are a group of islands located in Lake Champlain in Vermont. They are known for their natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities, as well as their historic and cultural significance.

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Although Burlington is one of the most popular destinations in Vermont, if you drive just a few miles to the north and find US Route 2, you’ll find yourself in the magic and splendor of the Lake Champlain Islands. You’ll find plenty to see and do throughout the year and the scenic drive across the causeway is simply breathtaking.

There are a number of things to see and do in the Champlain Islands, including:

  • Exploring the islands’ many state parks and nature preserves areas, such as the North Hero State Park, Knight Point State Park, and the Grand Isle State Park.
  • Visiting the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS), which is located on the largest of the Champlain Islands, Grand Isle. VINS is a nonprofit organization that works to protect and conserve Vermont’s natural resources, and it offers a variety of educational programs and exhibits.
  • Going on a boat tour of Lake Champlain, which offers breathtaking views of the islands and the surrounding landscape.
  • Visiting the historic landmarks and museums located on the islands, such as the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge, the Sandbar State Park, and the Grand Isle County Historical Society Museum.
  • Enjoying the many outdoor recreational activities available on the islands, including hiking, biking, fishing, and boating.
  • Exploring the charming towns and villages that are located on the islands, such as North Hero, South Hero, and Grand Isle, which offer a variety of shops, restaurants, and other amenities.

Overall, the Champlain Islands are a great destination for nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and anyone interested in Vermont’s rich history and culture.

Spring and Summer in the Lake Champlain Islands is a welcome start and marks the end of a long Vermont winter season

The ice melts and the fishing shanties spread about Lake Champlain start to disappear as the weather grows warmer and the days become longer. It won’t be long before the trees start to bud and the hills and fields become green once again, creating beautiful panoramic views with the blue skies and Lake Champlain.

Autumn is a special time of year in the Lake Champlain Islands with lots of things to see and do

…. including apple picking, vineyard tours, farmer’s markets in South Hero and Grand Isle, bicycle tours, nature trails, bird watching and more.

Some of the very best apple orchards in Vermont

Hackett’s Apple Orchard and Allenholm Farm are two of the best orchards in South Hero and located just a short walk between each other. Hall’s Orchard is located a few miles north in Isle La Motte.

You’ll enjoy orchard tours, wagon rides, picking apples in the fall, enjoying such tasty treats as apple pies, doughnuts, maple creemees and apple crisp. Pumpkins and mums are also for sale too.

Victoria’s Cafe Thai & American

The cute, little gal in the photos above and below is Victoria, one of the owners of Victoria’s Cafe in South Hero, Vermont. If you’re looking for some of the best Thai food in Vermont, look no further! They are also well known for their American fare as well, with their own unique Maple Duck being their bestselling dish.

“Pumpkin Vicky”

A photo below shows windmills, off in the distance, in Milton, VT across the lake from Grand Isle.

The Lake Champlain Islands vibrant nature brings a much needed warmth and vitality to the island communities

While the small Champlain Islands towns wake from a sleepy Winter, the warm winds of Spring usher in the return of summer residents and crowds of tourists who enjoy bicycling, fishing and boating, sightseeing and all the beauty of Vermont.

Get this book about the Champlain Islands to learn more about the area and it’s history!

Shore Acres Inn and Restaurant

Tucked away on 46 acres of picturesque grounds, Shore Acres Inn and Restaurant sits on half a mile of private, serendipitous lake shore. Rolling grounds and the delicate waves of Lake Champlain meet just outside of your suite’s door. Whether celebrating a family reunion, enjoying a romantic anniversary, or engaging in a spontaneous weekend getaway, we invite you to immerse yourself in Lake Champlain’s scenic ambiance.

The Lake Champlain Room at Shore Acres

Serving exceptional views from every table. The staff at Shore Acres Inn and Restaurant have taken the time to design a dining experience for all, providing a direct view of the Green Mountains and of course, Lake Champlain.

Commuters on the South Hero ferry to Plattsburgh joining a long line of tourists waiting to be carried across the dark, blue waters of Lake Champlain.

Grand Isle Ferry

The causeway from the Colchester/Milton to South Hero island is scenic and impressive, to say the least.

Lake Champlain Causeway – Photo by Doug Kerr – Flickr
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South Hero VermontSouth Hero VermontScenic vistas and wide open views along with traditional Vermont scenes that are seemingly rare these days…

Explore Grand Isle

What recreational activities are available in the Champlain Islands?

There are many recreational activities available in South Hero, Vermont, a small town located on an island in Lake Champlain. Some of the outdoor activities you can enjoy in the area include:

  • Hiking: South Hero is home to several beautiful hiking trails that wind through forests, along the lake, and up to scenic vistas.
  • Biking: The region has a number of bike trails that are perfect for riders of all skill levels.
  • Swimming: The lake offers plenty of opportunities for swimming, whether you prefer a sandy beach or a rocky cove.
  • Fishing: Lake Champlain is known for its excellent fishing, with a variety of species including bass, pike, and perch.
  • Boating: Rent a kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard to explore the lake, or take a boat tour to see the area from a different perspective.
  • Golf: There are several golf courses in the area, including the South Hero Country Club, which offers a challenging nine-hole course.
  • Winter sports: In the colder months, you can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing at nearby resorts.

In addition to these outdoor activities, there are also several cultural and historical attractions in the area, including the South Hero Land Trust, which preserves and protect the natural beauty of the region, and the Hero’s Welcome General Store, (in North Hero) which offers a taste of local culture and history.

Grand Isle Art Works is a Vermont artisan gallery in Grand Isle, Vermont. Located on Route 2 just north of the village in Grand Isle. The property is a quirky old farmhouse built in 1797, with lots of character and interesting spaces for displaying art and fine crafts.

Island Arts is located in the small but visually stunning town of North Hero

Island Arts fosters and promotes artistic creativity in the rural communities of the Lake Champlain Islands and beyond through their celebration of the Arts, stewardship of our environment and education, for the enrichment of all. Island Arts is a grass roots non-profit organization with an all volunteer board.

South Hero Vermont

Vermont traditions are alive and well in the Lake Champlain Islands

You can still find traditional Vermont family farms throughout the island villages. The views are spectacular and there are many places to visit and enjoy. Also, be sure to check out the North Hero Historical Society.

In 2019, Island Arts celebrated 35 years of artistic, cultural, and educational life in Grand Isle County

This year, their activities and events are celebratory. They have carefully chosen them for residents who have supported them since 1984, as well as an ever-increasing number of guests who are enchanted by the beauty and charm of the Champlain Islands.

Photo by William Alexander – All Rights Reserved

They serve as the Grand Isle County Arts Council by supporting local artists and artisans, bringing professional artistic events and performances to the community and promoting a strong Youth Agenda.

Island Arts Gallery at Community Bank of South Hero

Summers will be packed with a number of events in the Lake Champlain Islands

Discover Island Arts and more in the Lake Champlain Islands, including classes and events for people of all ages.

Photo by William Alexander – All Rights Reserved

Island Arts provides a number of events, concerts along with a variety of educational and just for fun classes for people of all ages. They have offered bird watching sessions, culinary classes, and even the opportunity to enjoy your favorite beverage or cocktail while creating your own artwork. Those are just a few of the classes they have provided.

Former South Hero Inn

Did you know that the spectacular building now occupied by the Community Bank in South Hero was once known as the South Hero Inn? There’s a lot of history and beauty to explore in the islands and a great community to visit and get to know.

Take a look around the town of South Hero from above. Click the image below…

Lake Champlain Islands South Hero

Did you know that the Hyde Log Cabin could possibly be the oldest log cabin in the United States?

The simple log cabin still exists today next to a typical old style Vermont schoolhouse in Grand Isle. Ironically, the Hyde Log Cabin and the old schoolhouse are right next door to a large, more modern school.

Hyde Log Cabin – Grand Isle, Vermont
Hyde Log Cabin – Grand Isle, Vermont

Lake Champlain Islands is Unique!

Dinosaurs and birdhouses in South Hero, Vermont? You bet! You can see them all when you drive by White’s Beach.

south hero dinosaurs and birdhouses
Photo courtesy of Chad Abramovich

The last thing you would expect to see as you drive along a scenic, lakeside road are dinosaurs and hundreds of multi-colored birdhouses. Yet, this unusual scene is exactly what you will encounter. See a video of these friendly dinosaurs at the Facebook page.

Drive around the Lake Champlain islands and you’ll also see castles…really!

These odd little castles can be found at sporadic locations, such as on lawns, gardens or in front of lakefront properties in the South Hero area.

From Obscure Vermont:

Harry was known as a likable guy in general and was known for his kind heart, sense of humor, and his yodeling. But it was his fine craftsmanship that the locals were inspired by the most, and as a result, many patrons asked him to build castles for their properties. There are no records of if he actually profited from them, and for how much.

It was said that every castle he built had a different story behind it, and featured lavish details such as glass windows, flags and even drawbridges. Local lore even has it that some would use the castles for trade or bartering. I heard one story of a neighbor offering a bed and breakfast one of the castles in return for free trash removal service. The castle was later moved to the inn’s property where it rests today.

Despite his amiable personality, tragedy was also woven into his framework. For reasons unknown, he committed suicide in 1966 at the age of 66.

To discover the origin of these odd and seemingly out of place castles, along with the story about the dinosaurs and birdhouses, read the full article by Chad Abramovich of Obscure Vermont.

Photo courtesy of Chad Abramovich
castles in south hero

more castles in south hero

The hauntingly interesting photo was seen just past the South Hero town line in Grand Isle. It marks the entrance to a local, Halloween favorite, Emmons Island Haunted Trail, which is very popular for all ages around that deliciously, spooky time of year. Make sure to get there early though as it becomes very busy and traffic can get a bit heavy around the entrance.

Don't Feed the Sasquatch

If you’re driving through North Hero and would like to enjoy reading a book within view of Lake Champlain, check out the North Hero Library. Knight Point State Park is nearby and a great place to relax along Lake Champlain and have a picnic. The North Hero House and Hero’s Welcome store are both unique and enjoyable to visit.

North Hero Library

Great options for places to stay in the Lake Champlain Islands

Looking for a place to stay in North Hero or like antiques? Check out The Village Farmhouse at the Way Farm.

Come enjoy a stay at our charming New England Farmhouse nestled in the center of historic North Hero Village located on City Bay Lake Champlain. Browse the Back Chamber Antique and Collectibles Shop. They also carry a unique blend of antiques, collectibles, and home décor with a Distinctively Vermont country flavor!

St Anne’s Shrine in Isle La Motte is not to be missed

St Anne’s Shrine

Whatever you decide to do or wherever your path may lead you, one thing is for certain. A visit to the beautiful Lake Champlain Islands will certainly be a place you will fondly remember for years to come. Come on out to the “islands” and enjoy yourself!

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