Framed by the tree-spotted foothills of Vermont, Rocky Ridge Golf Club’s 18-hole course unfurls across a verdant expanse of rolling farmland. Throughout the course, elevated fairways and greens offer breathtaking panoramas of the surrounding mountains, as well as a safe lookout from which golfers can detect rival armies of croquet players. Flower beds and rocky outcrops along short-grass corridors further accent the layout’s bucolic environs. Clubbers looking for lessons can seek out golf pro Ed Coleman, who roams the grounds in a zen state attained through 20 years of coaching experience and aromatherapy that uses the odor of freshly mowed fairways. Cozy, green-side seating and tables nestled in shaded porches await golfers for post-round relaxing at the clubhouse restaurant.
The course at West Bolton Golf Club measures 5,937 yards from front to back. But even where the competitive yardage ends, the property's lush greenery keeps going. It spills over into the surrounding land and it eventually creeps up into the surrounding Green Mountains. Golfers have faced off against this picturesque landscape since 1983, when the family-owned club opened the first half of its course and planted its first nine flag-stick seeds. Today, those fully grown banners punctuate 18 holes that range from 128 yards in length up to a daunting 600. Golfers attempt to navigate the course's challenges throughout the year, including during leagues for men and women, camps for boys and girls, and tournaments that showcase the area's seasonal beauty.
For Petra Cliffs owners Steve and Andrea Charest, purchasing the climbing and bouldering school wasn't just a good business opportunity, but a way to add value to the local climbing community. Avid climbers themselves, they helped the facility develop into a place where beginners feel comfortable grabbing their first grips, but also one where advanced climbers and boulderers still feel challenged. Within the 8,500-square-foot space, visitors can climb, take lessons, tackle a high-ropes course, or even work out on strength-training equipment. Of course, the staff puts safety and knowledge above all else, and they teach and keep up with professional development courses so they don't miss learning about new protocols or new rock formations that may have evolved in the last five years.
Spanning 140 feet and welcoming up to 424 shipmates, the Spirit of Ethan Allen III stages public and private cruises along Lake Champlain's shoreline in prime view of the Adirondack and Green Mountain ranges. Furnished with heating and air conditioning, each of the ship's three decks seat guests for an array of occasions, including luncheon cabaret shows, brunches, dance parties, and murder-mystery dinners all fueled by the ship's executive chef. The captains disclose historical tidbits and folklore during daily narrated scenic cruises and remain quiet during nightly sunset cruises to let guests groove to background music, sip on spirited beverages, and fill out long-overdue tax forms.
The story of the United States Navy begins on Lake Champlain. The year was 1776, and the fledgling American Revolution seemed doomed to failure almost before it began after a naval retreat to the town known today as Whitehall, New York. Then the Continental Congress issued a command on June 17 of 1776 "to build, with all expedition, as many galleys and armed vessels as ... shall be sufficient to make us indisputably masters of the lakes Champlain and George." By August, eight new gunboats were afloat on the lake—just in time to face the British in the Battle of Valcour.
That story and hundreds more come to life in the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum's collection of more than 15,000 artifacts, images, and documents. Visitors can marvel at the massive 10' x 8' rudder of the steamboat Champlain II, and explore her shipwreck in real time using a remote-operated vehicle. In the Hazelett Watercraft Center, the 111-year-old ice yacht Storm King towers over 90 dugouts, bark canoes, kayaks, rowing skiffs, and sailboats. But the core of the museum is the Key to Liberty exhibit, where visitors can read eyewitness accounts of the Battle of Valcour and marvel at a 9-foot scale model of a gunboat. On fair days, the full-size gunboat replica Philadelphia II sets sail, giving passengers a glimpse of a distant era without the bother of going though a time machine broker first.
Thanks to its size and seven trillion gallons of water, Lake Champlain creates the perfect microclimate for growing grapes. East Shore Vineyard is one of its direct beneficiaries, with more than 8,000 vines creeping across 11 acres along the lake's shores.
Bob and Linda Livingstone planted the vineyard's first grapevines in 2000. In the years since, they've weathered the Grand Isle's challenges?including the notoriously unforgiving weather?to create award-winning wines that are now available in 160 retailers and restaurants throughout Vermont. But fans don't have to go shopping or hide in a sommelier's cummerbund just to get a taste of the vineyard's products. Instead, they can visit its Burlington-based tasting room and pair sips with Vermont-made cheeses and chocolates.