Lake Champlain is amongst the largest bodies of fresh water in the United States after the Great Lakes, with a length of 120 miles, an average depth of 400 feet, and a diameter of 12 miles. Its pristine beauty, however, is more striking than its vastness.
Lake Champlain is the hidden destination for a rising number of New England tourists in a state already renowned for conservation and back-to-nature holidays. For many, a visit to Vermont is synonymous with fall foliage and charming wooden farmhouses.
How to get to Lake Champlain?
If you are planning to fly into Lake Champlain your best bet is Burlington. The Burlington International Airport (BTV) is the biggest airport in the area and you can find cheap flights from most of the major cities on the east coast like New York, Boston, or Philadelphia. Once you arrive you can rent a car at the airport and you are ready to explore the beauty that is the Lake Champlain area.
Car, RV, Bike
Regardless of your choice of motorized wheels, you will appreciate the spectacular vistas and amazing visual beauty of the Lake Champlain Region. Motorcyclists like the rolling hills, sweeping curves, and biker-friendly villages along Routes 9N and 22 that run beside the lake. Meanwhile, RVers appreciate the abundance of campgrounds.
Interstate highways are often the most direct route to these destinations. Whether arriving from the south or north, Interstate 87 passes through the Hudson and Champlain Valleys. This interstate connects to the Lake Champlain Region through exits 28 through 34.
New York City and Montreal, Canada, are served by a number of train routes. Amtrak’s Adirondack Line runs north/south between Penn Station in New York and Gare Centrale in Montreal. This is the line that connects these two important centers.
Morning departures from both stations are possible, with evening arrivals at either ultimate destination. There are four stops along the way to visit the Lake Champlain Region: Port Kent, Westport, Port Henry, and Ticonderoga.
The best things to do at Lake Champlain
When you visit the Lake Champlain area, these are our top locations and attractions that you need to check out. If you are someone who loves nature, you would make a huge mistake by skipping out on this amazing location.
Vermont Style: Island Hopping
A beautiful mix of islands may be seen in the northern part of Lake Champlain. Route 2 in the south and Route 78 in the north link the biggest of the Islands to each other and the Vermont mainland. From south to north, Route 2 passes through the charming villages of South Hero, Grand Isle, North Hero, and Alburg, all of which are only a few kilometers from the Canadian border.
Because the topography on the Lake Champlain Islands ranges from flat to mild rolling hills, biking is a popular method to get about while on holidays. Most locations provide uninterrupted views of the Green Mountains of Vermont to the east and the Adirondack Mountains of New York to the west.
Burlington is the city to be at Lake Champlain
Whereas Montpelier is the administrative headquarters, Burlington is the biggest city in the state, located on the shores of Lake Champlain with the beautiful Green Mountains to the east. As such, it can’t be missed from your things to do at Lake Champlain itinerary.
ECHO, Vermont’s world-class lake aquarium and science center on the waterfront, Lake Champlain Chocolates guided factory tour, where you can witness these renowned chocolates produced right before your eyes, and The Ethan Allen Homestead and Museum are just a few of the activities available in Burlington.
Lake Champlain Exciting Cruises
Throughout the summertime, two cruise boats operate on Lake Champlain: the “Spirit of Ethan Allen III,” which can seat 500 passengers, and the “Northern Lights,” which can seat 150 people. Both of these boats depart from Burlington’s piers.
While sailing, tour instructors will talk about the Lake Champlain region’s rich revolutionary history, the significance of the area’s Native Americans, and other fascinating facts about the lake. The magnificent vistas of the Islands and the neighboring mountains of Vermont and New York, however, take center stage on both cruises.
If wreck diving is your interest, you’ve come to the perfect spot in Lake Champlain. Several divers believe the Lake has the greatest collection of historic shipwrecks in North America.
Eight of such shipwrecks have been maintained for divers’ pleasure, and the Lake Champlain Underwater Historic Preserve keeps an eye on them. The wreckage provides a one-of-a-kind diving experience for divers in the northeast. The wrecks range from a horse ferry to canal vessels, and some are situated along with the Lake’s Vermont and New York shorelines.
Caution: Beginner to advanced diving experience is needed. If you haven’t tried diving yet, maybe it’s best to skip over this part of our things to do at Lake Champlain guide.
Maritime Museum in Lake Champlain
The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, which is situated in Vergennes, is a fantastic opportunity to learn about the lake’s history. Exploring a Revolutionary War warship, seeing artisans utilize conventional construction techniques, and learning about maritime life in the Champlain Valley during the 18th century are all available at the museum at Basin Harbor.
The Museum is self-guided, although there are lots of demos to see while wandering around.
The state parks of Lake Champlain
The Lake Champlain region has 12 state parks, including Alburg Dunes, Knight Point, Sandy Bar, Burton Island, Grand Isle, Knight Island, North Hero, and Woods Island, which are all part of the Lake Champlain Island chain. Kill Kare, Kingsland Bay, Button Bay, and DAR are some of the other state parks along the Lake’s coast.
Hiking, bicycling, camping, boating, fishing, picnicking, and swimming are all available at these Vermont State Parks. The parks are a great place to unwind and enjoy the Lake for a day or longer, as well as walk paths in between swimming and reading.
Green Mountain Railroad
What child doesn’t like a train trip through the countryside? The Green Mountain Railroad offers three beautiful lines with old-school diesel locomotives. The coaches have been refurbished and are now quite comfortable. The majority of the excursions take place in the spring and summer, although there are Easter Bunny journeys in March, Halloween trips for parents and kids in October, and Polar Express journeys in December.
Crown Point Historic Site
During the French and Indian War, Crown Point was a vital strategic location for governing the waterways of Lake Champlain. The French built a fort between 1734 and 1737 from which they launched attacks against the British. The British eventually took possession of Crown Point in 1759, after many efforts and expeditions, and constructed their own fort.
The Crown Point Historic Site has relics from the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. A self-guided trip may be taken to see the remains of the French Fort St. Frederic and the bigger British fort known as His Majesty’s Fort of Crown Point.
Guests may enjoy a picnic by the lake at one of the numerous tables and grills after taking in all the park has to offer. The Champlain Bridge provides a beautiful background. It’s one of those things to do at Lake Champlain where you can learn about history, and enjoy great nature at the same time.
Burlington Bike Path
Cycle the Burlington Bike Path for a bike ride with mountain views along the Lake Champlain coastline. Captivating vistas of the Adirondack Mountains will go by as you pedal around the lake to the Winooski River.
As you travel along the well-marked and reasonably level route, you’ll pass through links to beaches, parks, and six main waterfronts. Near Waterfront Park, you’ll find food and public toilets, as well as benches and places to relax along the way.
Shelburne Museum is indeed an inviting museum with over 150,000 items representing the traditional New England lifestyle. There are 38 display houses that are designed to seem like traditional New England homes. Twenty-five of such structures are old and have been chosen to make ground for the museum.
Three different tours are provided every day and are also included in the entrance fee. On the tour of your choosing, you may learn about Colonial Revival, the history and mechanics of a 1906 riverboat, or American art. Because of all the museum’s size and breadth, your admission is valid for two days.
The Vermont Teddy Bear Factory
At the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory, there’s usually plenty entertaining going on. Every day, children’s activities are available. You’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the operating factory and witness how the gorgeous Bears are made personally. Cutting, stitching, filling, and sewing are all part of the process.
During the summer, tours fill up fast, so plan ahead for your vacation. Also during summertime, there is the Hungry Bear Cafe, which offers breakfast, lunch, and snacks Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The Beauty of Lake Champlain
We recommend Lake Champlain as a holiday destination to anyone who loves being in nature. Going to this region means getting immersed into nature on a hiking trail, doing tons of outdoor activities, enjoying truly amazing views, being away from the big cities, and finding interesting activities for the whole family.
Traveling to Lake Champlain is a good base for an enjoyable family holiday. The airplane tickets to Burlington are very affordable and due to the good interstate connections, it’s not hard to find other means of travel.
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