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Vermont's Best Kept Secrets 4
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If These Spokes
Could Speak

Local fare, scenic vistas, and regional wildlife:
VBT trip leaders share their little-known favorites.

Whether you’re coasting down a smooth forest trail, riding along the glistening banks of Lake Champlain, or peddling across a flowery meadow, it’s easy to understand why Vermont has long been a premier destination for cyclists. And while the well-traveled trails and bike paths surrounding Burlington and the Champlain Islands boast national acclaim, it’s the lesser-known vistas and small local shops you’ll find just off the main drag that gives the state its inimitable allure. Read on to learn about the favorite stops and little-known sites of VBT trip leaders, each an expert on bicycling in and around the Green Mountain State.

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Vermont's Best Kept Secrets 9

Artisan Shops and Local Eats with Moira Deziel

There’s a lot more to the Vermont art scene than cartoon cows and kaleidoscopic photos of fall foliage. Just ask VBT trip leader Moira Deziel. “Strolling along Pine Street in Burlington and visiting all of the shops and art galleries is one of my favorite stops on our tour,” says Deziel. Ranking highest on her list of suggested Pine Street stops is the 10,000 square feet studio of AO Glass, a glass-blowing studio that has sold unique crafts and held private glass-blowing workshops since its founding in 2007. From custom-made, high-end glass components to tableware, AO Glass continues to be one of the city’s most respected craftspeople.

And if your morning ride and local arts exploration helps you work up an appetite, Deziel has just the spot in mind. Just a short two blocks down Pine Street and you’ll find Tom Girl Kitchen, Moira’s favorite for “super delicious, healthy salads and smoothies.” Tom Girl Kitchen has become a favorite of locals and visitors alike, with can’t-miss favorites such as Avocado Pickle Toast created from ingredients harvested at nearby Shelburne Farms, a tasty and nutritious breakfast before a day out riding. Tom Girl also features grab-and-go lunches you can save for the hillside, ranging from salads topped with locally caught salmon and homemade vegan baked goods.

Quirky Silos and Maple Creemees with Chip Martin

Vermont’s natural landscape is as vibrant and colorful as the species that call it home. And while the state’s reliance on agriculture has waned in recent decades, the towering silos that dot the hillsides still play an important role in the environment. As VBT trip leader Chip Martin explains, “On one of our rides—Pilots Point Road in North Hero—there’s an osprey nest on the top of an old silo,” Chip says, “It defies gravity that it remains up there, year after year.” The nest is just one of the many unique sights’ cyclists can catch with a knowledgeable and experienced VBT trip leader captaining their ride. In fact, silo oddities are one of Chip’s specialties. “There’s another abandoned silo in Grand Isle that we pass on our ride. It must have been left full because a large tree has been growing up out of it for several years now,” says Martin, “I’m tempted to look inside and see how tall the tree really is.”

Chip is also a bit of an expert on another hallowed Vermont tradition: the creemee. “Vermont is the only state that calls soft-serve ice cream by this term,” says Martin, “and the Maple creemee is the one to find.” In Martin’s extensive bike travels throughout the state, he’s formed a running list of the few creemee purveyors who use 100% pure Vermont maple syrup in their creemees, one of which is Burlington Bay Cafe on the waterfront in Burlington. Burlington Bay is also home to a traditional American fare menu and outdoor deck dinging with sprawling views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains. You might even spot an osprey soaring back to its renovated farmhouse home.

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Exploring Shelburne Farms with Kara Hubbard

The Shelburne Museum, complete with an annual calendar of exhibitions, outdoor summer concerts, and works by artists such as Homer, Wyeth, and Monet, is one of New England’s most celebrated cultural centers. But according to VBT trip leader Kara Hubbard, no trip to Shelburne is complete without a visit to both the museum and nearby Shelburne Farms.

“No matter what time of year you visit, the paths around Shelburne Farms are stunning,” says Kara. “There is also a rotating schedule of demonstrations, such as cheese making and birding, and a petting zoo that kids love.” Shelburne Farms is a non-profit education center for sustainability as well as a working, 3,800-acre farmhouse. Their broad range of seasonal activities includes everything from summertime picnics to holiday sleigh rides, each an unforgettable way to experience Vermont at its most wholesome best.

Kara’s favorite summer spot? Easily the Waterbury Reservoir. “There’s a nice little beach and beautiful surrounding area to explore,” says Hubbard. “I often combine my visits with a trip to the nearby Cold Hollow Cider Mill — their cider donuts and other treats are delicious!”

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