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.
Over seven years, the Boston String Quartet has vibrated strings in collaboration with artists such as John Mayer and the Boston Ballet, stirred the air molecules at Symphony Hall and PBS, and performed by invitation for former President George H.W. Bush. With this deal, eighth-note connoisseurs can wrap their eardrums around the quartet's dulcet tones as they present "Xibus," an evening of contemporary and classical that marks the zenith of a two-day workshop collaborating with Finneytown High School orchestra students. Over the course of the evening program, the quartet and the students will cajole their chordophones into ringing out in harmonious arrangements of music by Carlos Santana, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Bill Gates's new Viking-punk band, as well as performing original compositions by members of Boston String Quartet.
Stowe's idyllic scenery is defined by its prime location between the Green Mountains and Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak at 4,395 feet. Winter sport enthusiasts flock to Stowe Mountain Resort, whose powdery slopes encompass 485 skiable acres across 116 trails. After a morning on the slopes, guests and their snowman plus-ones can swing by the West Branch Gallery & Sculpture Park to marvel at artwork including the statuary in the outdoor sculpture garden.
The resort at Pico Mountain has come a long way since it opened on Thanksgiving morning in 1937. It was a blustery day, and skiers held tight to a 1,200-foot towrope powered by a Hudson motorcar engine as they rose up the mountainside and tried to get reception on their rotary-dial phones. Today, the mountain is striped with 52 trails and seven lifts, including two high-speed detachable quads. Gentle learning terrain beckons newbies, smooth cruisers give intermediate skiers an easy ride, classically narrow New England steeps entice beginning and intermediate skiers, and a double-black-diamond trail challenges advanced athletes. Snowboarders and freestyle skiers interested in tricks can use the jumps, boxes, and rails in the Triple Slope terrain park, and the Snow Sports School sharpens the skills of first-timers and seasoned pros alike.
Although the resort has advanced in size and technology, it maintains a personalized, small-mountain charm. The trails all converge at one convenient central base area whose lodge boasts a sports center with a heated pool and a sauna. Guests can grab a beer and a burger or slice of pizza beside the crackling stone fireplace at the Last Run Lounge before retiring to their hotel room or condo.
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.
Though members of the McCullough family began conserving their 500 acres for recreation in 1978, the land’s story begins even earlier. In 1796, Thomas Chittenden—Vermont's first governor—built his estate on the current site of Catamount Outdoor Family Center, and his old stone house still remains. Today, Jim and Lucy McCullough use the historic home as a bed and breakfast, inviting visitors to relax in three guest rooms and a sunroom overlooking rolling meadows and coniferous forests. In a formal dining room, servers ferry plates of seasonal fruits and vegetables from the homestead and local farms; in the master parlor, a baby grand piano and fireplace pay homage to historic pastimes and confuse visiting time travelers.
Outside, a panorama of the Green Mountains and the Winooski River Valley spreads out to the east. To the west, the Adirondacks stand against the sky and Lake Champlain unfolds across the horizon. The surrounding hills, woodlands, and croplands boast more than 35 kilometers of trails, where park staffers set visitors loose to hike, cycle, snowshoe, and cross-country ski at different times throughout the year.
Staffers equip visitors for outdoor exploits in the park store, renting cycling and skiing apparel as well as Bear-to-English dictionaries. Furthering a mission to educate others in local wildlife, they also host events such as cross-country cyclocross races and group trail runs. During day camps, children and adults can learn to navigate trails on mountain bikes, middle- and high-school students can practice trail running, and kids 12 and younger can grow to appreciate ecological conservation practices and nature journaling.