Quechee Gorge State Park is one of Vermont’s most popular natural areas. The focal point of the park is the gorge that drops as far as 165 feet to the rapids of the Ottauquechee River.Hiking trails through the park and viewing areas along Route 4 provide endless “gotta get a shot of this” stops. There’s even the mandatory scenic covered bridge over the river. From the adjacent parking lot, you can scramble to the boulders below the bridge to splash and picnic.
Adjacent to the park, the Vermont Institute of Natural Science is a great family spot. With interpretive “scavenger hunt” nature trails, a raptor rehabilitation center, a nature-themed interactive playground and a songbird aviary, it pulls off the trick of educating while entertaining.
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Internationally acclaimed glassblower Simon Pearce set up his studio (www.simonpearce.com) by the covered bridge in a restored mill. It has expanded into a major commercial enterprise. He and his fellow artisans produce high-end glass housewares, vases and accent pieces. The Mill Restaurant at the glassworks overlooks the river and is renowned for its locally sourced, seasonal menu.
Across the bridge, Anichini (www.anichini.com) sells colorful drapes, bed clothing, pillows and other household pieces made from fabrics and inspired by designs from across the globe.
Quechee Village (www.quecheegorge.com) is the epicenter for finding goods from Vermont and other parts of New England. You’ll find Cabot Cheese, Vermont Spirits distilling Vermont Gold Vodka, Danforth Pewter, Yankee Candles, Lucky Elephant Asian Imports, a toy and train museum and an old-time country store.
Savor the fall foliage with a ride on a hot air balloon. Balloons Over New England (www.balloonsovernewengland.com) floats over the mountains for a panoramic view of the autumn colors.
For more travel advice go to www.insightguides.com.