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Linda Brophy

Catch a Great Place for Ice Fishing in Vermont

There are plenty of great outdoor winter activities in Vermont, from skiing to dogsledding to skating. But only one activity lets you enjoy the outdoors, spend time socializing, and stay toasty warm inside your own personal hut. We're talking, of course, about ice fishing.

Ice Shanties on the Retreat MeadowsIce fishing is a very popular Vermont winter pastime in the colder months of the year, and it's easy to see why. On the ice, friends and family can stay warm and have fun together and, if you're any good, you can get dinner out of it, too.

There are plenty of places that allow ice fishing in southern Vermont. For example, here in Wilmington we have the Harriman Reservoir, which allows ice fishing for several different types of fish, including largemouth and smallmouth bass. The reservoir also plays host to an annual ice fishing derby, an extremely popular event with decades of history and attendance. Also, as part of the Molly Stark State Park, the Harriman Reservoir has plenty of hiking trails, campsites, and other outdoor facilities nearby.

Another popular local hotspot for ice fishing in Vermont lies just outside Brattleboro. Called the Retreat Meadows, this ice fishing area does not lie on a lake, but rather an extension of the West River that cuts across southern Vermont towards New Hampshire. That might sound scary, but the slow-flowing waters can freeze several feet thick, yet are deep enough to allow ice anglers to fish for largemouth bass, pike, pickerel, and perch. There's a good reason this is one of the most popular ice fishing destinations in southern Vermont.

If you're not feeling up to finding your own ice fishing spot, another strategy is to use a guide service that will take you out on the ice and help you catch plenty of icy dinner. A good choice in southern Vermont is the Picket Hill Guide Service, which can help you find the best places for ice fishing, hunting, tracking, and any other outdoor activity you can think of.

The one drawback to ice fishing is that your hut isn't big enough for you to stay in all night. That's why we recommend booking a southern Vermont rental home -- you'll have all the space you need to wake up early and energetic, and you can make your fishing trip as long as you want! Take a look at all the listings and find the perfect place to host your southern Vermont ice fishing vacation.

Dash Through the Snow on a Sleigh Ride in Vermont

Looking for a fun winter activity in southern Vermont for you and your family? Or perhaps a romantic Valentine's Day date idea with that special someone? Look no further, because we have the perfect cold-weather treat for any occasion -- a Vermont sleigh ride.

Sleigh Rides in Vermont, Freisians of Majesty horse-drawn sleighsSleigh rides in Vermont are the perfect throwback to yesteryear -- there's something almost magical about being towed through the snowy white Vermont forests and hills by a team of majestic horses. And whether you're snuggling with your romantic partner or taking the family for an adventure, we know you'll have a great time.

There are a number of different places to go if you want to take a sleigh ride in southern Vermont. First, you can visit the Adams Family Farm in Wilmington, which offers sleigh rides during the winter alongside a number of other farm- and animal-related activities. In fact, a visit to this farm is a great way to spend an entire day, and the sleigh ride becomes the icing on the cake.

Another great option for a Vermont sleigh ride is Green Mountain Orchards, just outside Putney. You'll need to make an appointment to schedule your sleigh ride, but it's as simple as calling ahead. You can also top off your ride with a visit to the orchard's bakery and cider press, where you can get fresh-made apple pies, cider, and other products straight from the farm to you.

Finally, a bit further north in the town of Townshend, you'll find Fresians of Majesty, a specialty horse farm that offers sleigh rides and tours in ornate two-person and four-person sleighs. With private trails groomed just for their sleighs and horses bred to tow, these sleigh rides are unmatched in authenticity (and romantic potential).

If you do go for a sleigh ride in Vermont, remember that winters here can be very cold. Don't forget to bundle up with lots of layers that you can add or remove as conditions change. You might also want to bring a treat for the horses, such as some fresh fruits or crunchy vegetables - just make sure you ask before you hand them out!

After your sleigh ride, you can retire back to your long-term Vermont rental home to warm yourself back up and relive the memories - or just to get "Jingle Bells" out of your head. You can stay as long as you like, and you'll be in the perfect place to do something else fun tomorrow!


  1. Patty Killion on

    […] a long day of skiing, snowboarding, sleigh rides, and ice fishing, you’ll probably be experiencing some powerful hunger. Lucky for you, […]

    Tips for Solving a Corn Maze

    Fall Activities Corn Maze in VermontThe corn maze ranks among favorite fall activities in Vermont for young and old, whether you're hoping to get lost for a few hours or to make it through in record time. With fun designs, lots of twists and turns, and sometimes a few frights (we'll get to that later), corn mazes are a great way to get out and enjoy the crisp autumn air in Vermont. Many Vermont corn mazes offer more than just the "maize", and you can expect to find a lot of extra things to do with the kids.

    At Gaines Farm in Guilford, Vermont, after making it through the maze, visitors can ride a "cow train," nosh on favorite fall foods, play pumpkin bowling and visit goats, pigs, rabbits and chickens in the barn. For older maze-goers, the ghosts and ghouls from Gaines Farm's "horrifying" 230-year history rise up for a haunted hayride and haunted maze in October (see tip #5).

    Since you only want to get temporarily lost in a labyrinth of stalks, here are a few helpful tips for successfully solving a corn maze:

    1. Take a look at the map to get an idea of the shape of the corn maze. Even if you don't use the map to navigate, studying it before hand will help you know which general direction to go in. Plus, figuring out the first few turns will help ward off early corn-maze-vexation.

    Tips for Solving Corn Mazes2. Look for landmarks at the edges of the maze. Trees, telephone poles, buildings, even road noise can help you bear in the right direction -- find them before heading into the maze. At the Kettle Farms corn maze in Hoosick Falls, NY, a broad tree line on one side of the maze will help you keep your bearings.

    3. Want to do it the easy way? Keep the map out (if you have one) and track your progress through the labyrinth. For more of a challenge, stash the map in a pocket. Gaines Farm hides clues in the maze for a quick hint, or you can choose to rely on a sense of direction and trial-and-error -- if you dare.

    4. Track where you've gone. When the walls are made out of corn, well, they start to look the same pretty quickly. Look for landmarks, like broken stalks, ones that grew crooked, fallen ears or even trees in the distance.

    5. If you go for a fright in a haunted maze at Gaines Farm, make sure to pack your typical monster defenses: garlic, a tennis ball or squeaky toy to distract the werewolves, and good running shoes if all else fails.

    6. If all else fails, and you're really, really lost, put your left hand on the left wall and keep walking -- eventually, you'll get out.

    Unlike the exit to a corn maze, it's not hard to find a comfortable and convenient fall vacation home rental close to the famous Vermont fall foliage, food and festivals.

    Ideas for Valentine's Day in Vermont

    Valentine's Day 2013 falls on Thursday, February 14. And if you're thinking about heading north to Vermont to spend a few days in a romantic, snowy atmosphere, you should start planning now, as spots tend to fill up quickly.

    DINING Let's not kid ourselves. The "nice meal out" is probably the most important component of any successful Valentine's Day. Luckily, southern Vermont, and the Deerfield Valley/Mount Snow region in particular, is chock full of restaurants that would turn even the most jaded lover into a mushy romanticist.

    The White House Inn is just a few miles from the intersection of Routes 9 and 100 in Wilmington, Vermont. Head chef Aaron Mitchell-Patrick is a stickler for local ingredients and his attention to detail is apparent in dishes that look just as good as they taste. The dining room is intimate (some might say "small"), which lends to the romantic atmosphere nicely and means you'll get personalized, attentive service from the staff. We recommend picking up your phone now, like right now, to make a reservation because this little gem will fill up quick.

    TJ Buckley's is located in downtown Brattleboro, Vermont, about a half hour drive from Mount Snow. It's just a few minutes from Exit 1 off of I-91, but it's a world away from any of those chain restaurants you'd find near the mall (sorry, Olive Garden). Like The White House Inn, the dining room is cozy and intimate, with seating for about a dozen revelers. Chef Michael Fuller designed the kitchen to open directly into the dining room, so in between longing gazes into your lover's eyes you can watch your rabbit being sauteed to perfection. Again, you'll want to make reservations by calling (802) 257-4922.

    DAYTIME ACTIVITIES Well, for starters, you could get married. Mount Snow will have a real live Justice of the Peace at the bottom of its Sunbrook lift on Valentine's Day, February 14, 2013, at 10am. Any and all who wish to be married can meet up, say some "I do's" and then take a romantic ski down. It's the ultimate way to say I love you. If you're already married, Mount Snow invites you to use the opportunity to renew your vows. Either way, you'll have a great story to tell at every wedding you attend in the future.

    Snowshoeing southern Vermont.

    Not ready for the commitment? Start things off slowly with a lovely snowshoe romp through the woods. You'll both get some fresh air and exercise and feel invigorated for whatever may come later (wink, wink). Check out the trails at Timber Creek, just across Route 100 from Mount Snow (photo at right. Photo by Timber Creek). They rent snow shoes and have an extensive trail system.

    LODGING You could stay at a hotel or inn, but you'll most likely need some privacy after a full Valentine's Day schedule. We invite you to stay with us Chimney Hill. We're just 15 minutes from Mount Snow in Wilmington, Vermont, and we have a wide variety of rental homes to suit your needs. Please call our office at 802-464-2181 or e-mail info@chimneyhill.com if you'd like us to hold a space for you, and visit our rentals on our website to peruse our homes.

    Happy Valentine's Day!



    1. Patty Killion on

      […] for a fun winter activity in southern Vermont for you and your family? Or perhaps a romantic Valentine’s Day date idea with that special someone? Look no further, because we have the perfect cold-weather treat for any […]
      • Patty Killion on

        […] for a fun winter activity in southern Vermont for you and your family? Or perhaps a romantic Valentine’s Day date idea with that special someone? Look no further, because we have the perfect cold-weather treat for any […]

        Ice Skating in Vermont

        Remember the first time you went ice skating as a kid? It was a magical (if not butt-bruising) experience. When the winter Olympics were on TV you idolized champion figure skaters like Dorothy Hamill or Michelle Kwon (depending on your generation). Or, on the flip side, you were a hockey lover through and through. You took to the local pond with a couple of friends, some make-shift goals and enjoyed heated matches of stick and puck until your parents called you home for dinner. Don't let your skates hang in the closet collecting dust any longer. You'll find a number of skating rinks in Vermont for getting on the ice at any age.

        It doesn't matter if you're more of a Wayne Gretzky or a Scott Hamilton fan, ice rinks embody that timeless connection to our childhood and will bring back memories of your first days skimming across the glassy surface. Here's a guide to set your compass by and find your way to a skating rink near Wilmington.

        To the East:

        Nelson Withington Skating Facility, Brattleboro, VTPerched on the hill behind Living Memorial Park, the skating rink offers regular public skating as well as sticking hours. Rentals and lessons are available, along with speed skating and there's even a figure skating club that meets on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

        To the North:

        Riley Rink at Hunter Park, Manchester Center, VT The Riley Rink offers programs for students, parents and kids alike. Adult and youth hockey leagues compete throughout the winter season. Looking to try something new?The rink hosts a few non-traditional on-ice activities like curling and broomball.

        Youth hockey at Riley Rink

        To the South:

        Peter W. Foote Vietnam Veterans Skating Rink, North Adams, MA Just a short ride below the Vermont/Massachusetts border, the North Adams Skating Rink has a large indoor facility, professionally maintained and with a freestyle, public, speed and stick skating sessions to meet the needs of every ice-lover. Pop over to MASS MoCA while you're in the neighborhood to warm up and tour the contemporary art exhibits on display.

        Right here: Birchwood Recreation Skating Area, Wilmington, VT (pictured at top). Located right here in the Chimney Hill community, our uncovered outdoor skating rink provides the traditional pond-style skating you grew up with. Open to owners and guests only. 9AM to 10PM.

        For the closest access to ice skating and stick and puck action throughout the winter, there's no better option than one of our long term winter rental homes. So close you could practically figure eight from the rink to your door.


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          • Armando on

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            How to Ski or Snowboard for Cheap at Mount Snow

            There's no getting around it, skiing in Vermont is an expensive hobby. But it doesn't always have to be. With a little help (you're welcome) savvy skiers and riders can save big on their turns at Mount Snow this season. Here's to being thrifty.

            1. Founder's Day -- December 12, 2012 Birthday parties are always fun, especially when it means you can ski or ride for dirt cheap. On Mount Snow's birthday, known as Founders Day, they're offering $12 lift tickets for advance purchase online (limit 1,000) only. Make haste.

            2. Season Pass Holder Bring-a-Friend Fridays Got a friend with a season pass to Mount Snow? Tag along on any non-holiday Fridays this year for a discounted lift ticket. Adults are $50, Youth (6-18 years) & Seniors are $29. Offer valid for one guest per passholder. Not Valid on Dec. 28, 2012 and February 17, 2013.

            3. St. Patty's Day Special -- March 17, 2013 Purchase tickets online for Mount Snow's annual St. Paddy's Day Celebration 48 hours in advance and pay just $17. A great day of spring skiing is complemented with live music, green eggs and ham, and of course, beer. Lot's of it. It wouldn't be a proper Irish holiday without it.

            4Buy Online and Save When was the last time planning ahead gave you a disadvantage? Skiing is no different. If you've got a long weekend or some stored up sick days, purchase your multi-day lift tickets online and save as much as $50 on a 3-day Adult pass compared to buying daily tickets at the window.

            5. Discounts for Military personnel To thank our service men and women, Mount Snow continues the tradition of a $10 discount on full-price single day lift tickets for any active AND retired military personnel with a valid military ID. This offer is good any day of the year, no blackouts.

            Additionally, Mount Snow will present any military personnel (with valid ID) a free FANFare Card ($79 value), good for savings of 50% on midweek, 25% on weekend, or 10% on holiday single & multi-day lift ticket prices.

            As always, all kids ages 5 & under ski free any day at Mount Snow.

            Now that you've got your tickets, all that's left is a place to crash after your day(s) on the slopes. You didn't think we'd leave you hanging, right? Check out our listings of long and short-term southern Vermont real estate rentals, available all winter long. Located just 15 minutes from the base of Mount Snow.


            1. Patty Killion on

              […] for you, there are a number of ways to get discounted Mount Snow lift tickets throughout the ski and snowboard season. We’ve put together a guide on some of the best ways […]

              Nordic and Cross Country Skiing in Vermont

              For being known as the Green Mountain state, Vermont sure pins a lot of its tourism and success on the skiers and riders that frequent the state's snow-covered slopes in winter. But downhill, or alpine skiing isn't for everyone. Sure there's other activities you can do at Vermont ski areas, but sometimes you just want to retreat into nature and get away from it all. Cross country skiing offers a perfect escape from the masses and a great chance to connect with Vermont's picturesque landscape.

              It's a little known fact that Vermont offers nearly as much for the cross country skier as it does to mogul junkies and apline skiers those with the need for speed. More than two dozen nordic ski centers located throughout the state provide hundreds of kilometers of machine groomed cross country ski trails for sliding along while admiring breathtaking mountain views.

              Southern Vermont alone is home to a handful of nordic ski centers with meandering, well-maintained trail networks that explore the surrounding forest. Snowshoers will also find an abundance of fresh snow to break on well-marked trails through the woods. Many nordic centers even have rental departments that can outfit you with all the necessary gear for a great day.

              If you're looking for a leg-burning workout this winter, without the hassle of lift lines, crowded parking lots and hunting for cheap lift tickets, then head to one of these great nordic centers near Wilmington.

              1. Timber Creek, West Dover, VT Located just down Rte. 100 from Mount Snow, Timber Creek offers 14km of cross country ski trails and 4km of new snowshoe trails along with a restaurant and lodge on-site to warm up between laps.

              2. Prospect Mountain, Woodford, VT Less than a 30 minute drive from Wilmington proper on the scenic Molly Stark By-Way (Rte. 9), Prospect Mountain cross-country ski center boasts the highest base elevation of any Nordic ski area in the state and a combined 45km of tracked and skating terrain for nordic explorers.

              3. Brattleboro Outing Club, Brattleboro, VT Just up the road from bustling downtown with great shopping and intimate cafes, sits the Brattleboro Outing Club Hut where friends and family meet to ski. Open weekends and holidays with 33km of terrain, lessons and rentals available.

              After a long day of swooshing through the woods, hang up the skis and soothe your aching muscles with a long hot bath at one of our winter rental homes. You won't even have to break trail to get here.


              1. Patty Killion on

                […] you can also enjoy some of Vermont’s less traditional snowsports, including snowshoeing, nordic and cross country skiing, and tubing. There are plenty of activities for you to try out, without the lift lines and crowds […]

                Ski and Snowboard Tuning Shops Near Mount Snow

                Ski and snowboard season is just around the corner,  which means equipment tuning should be at the top of your pre-season checklist -- right behind buying a season pass or taking note of all the special lift ticket deals of course. After 8 months of sitting in the closet, the attic or inside a board bag, odds are your gear will need a thorough going-over. But tuning yourself can be a pain. You've got to have the right tools, a good work space where you won't be melting wax onto your living room rug, and a pretty good idea of what you're doing. If you don't, you can end up doing serious damage to your equipment. So consider what's worse: sucking it up and taking your stuff to a pro or having to resort to rental equipment because you filed your edges off?

                Thankfully, here in the Mount Snow Valley, skiing and snowboarding is kind of a big deal. There's a wide selection of ski shops to call on when the sliding gets slow or just to get a pre-pow-day checkup. After all, there's nothing worse than sticking to the snow because your base is bone dry or catching an edge because they've got walnut-sized burrs rusted onto them. A visit to one of these professional ski and snowboard doctors will get you set up and ensure you're sliding effortlessly on snow this season.

                First Trax Sports Shop - Catering to the four-seasons of the active lifestyle, they offer a full service repair and tuning center. Rough edges to core shots from early season conditions, the technicians at First Trax will be able to repair and tune your skis and boards to get you ripping down the North Face at Mount Snow in no time.

                Dover Sports Center - When you ski or ride hard, it's impossible to know when something on your setup might give. Not only will the Dover Sports Center get you waxed and sharpened for the season, but they offer custom boot fitting and other gear for sales

                Mountain Riders - A shop for boarders, run by boarders. These guys understand the best tuning setups for park riders versus all-mountain shredders, so if you're looking to go big, go pay 'em a visit.

                Grind at Mount Snow - Unlike when it comes to ski rentals, sometimes the on-mountain tune shop is the way to go. For quick adjustments between runs the convenience is hard to beat. If a surprise storm is supposed to roll in and drop a foot of powder, being able to pick up a freshly waxed setup on the way to first chair is ideal. Plus, should things get rocky in the early, or late conditions, a full base grind in their professional Montana robotic grinder might be just what the doctor ordered.

                When you've beat on your equipment all day, drop it by one of the shops for an overnight and head to one of our winter rental homes, just a short hop from the shop doors.


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                  Where to Buy Christmas Trees in Vermont

                  The Christmas Tree is a true icon of the holiday season. But every year, people scramble to find the perfect tree. Starting to look early, like the end of foliage season, is great, but it also helps to know where to look and what to look for. Since we can't just go lopping down any ol' tree we like in the forest (there's laws against that kind of thing), we look to professional tree growers and Vermont Christmas Tree farms to find the perfect holiday decoration to fill the living room and watch over Santa's bounty.

                  Vermont is home to many Christmas Tree farms where you can also find wreaths, yule logs, christmas balls and all the ornaments necessary to bring good tidings around the holidays. We've all heard horror stories about trees flying off car roofs on the interstate, dropping all their needles before Christmas eve or looking like something that would show up in a Charlie Brown comic. That's where the professional tree growers come in. They know theses things from their roots to their needles and can help you pick out the best tree that will make your holiday celebration complete.

                  Here's a few tips of what to look for when tree shopping and where to buy Christmas Trees in Vermont.

                  SIZE AND SHAPE: Aside from picking a tree that has a nicely rounded, full shape, it's good to pick out one that's not too big for the room where you'll be putting it. Otherwise you'll be left hacking away at your perfect tree, just to make it fit.

                  TYPES: The Balsam Fir is the traditional Christmas tree of New England, known for its aromatic, soft needles and excellent needle retention (less maintenance). The needles are a deep green and have the fragrance that we associate with Christmas. Fraiser Firs are very similar with a slightly different needles for a more decorative look. Blue Spruces are an other commonly preferred Christmas Tree for their soft needles and good retention.

                  BUY LOCAL: It's a good idea to order or pick out your tree early. Elysian Hills Tree Farm in Dummerston, Vermont holds a special event where can actually visit your tree ahead of time, tag it and come back before the holiday to pick it up, chopped and ready to go.

                  Boyd Family Farm in Wilmington opens their Wreath Barn just before Thanksgiving to provide wreath making demonstrations and allow you to customize your wreath with bows and decorations to send as a gift. Plus, they've got a big selection of fresh cut VT Christmas Trees for sale. They even deliver in the valley.

                  Match the perfect tree with one of our warm and cozy rental homes and you'll have the recipe for a perfect holiday celebration.


                  1. Patty Killion on

                    […] stately pines make for beautiful forests, and they also make ideal Christmas trees. You can find many local tree farms that will be happy to provide you with a sustainably-grown tree. Most have several varieties […]
                    • Bill Nicholas on

                      Looking for a buyer of Christmas tree brush. I have 2000 trees that I'm looking to get rid of.

                      Getting (and staying) Fit for the Ski Season

                      It happens every year. When mid April rolls around, we hang up our skis and pack away the gloves, jackets and thermal base layers to make room for swimsuits, shorts and sandals. Along with the outwear and sports equipment, a lot of us hang up our workout programs as well. Skiing is a great source of exercise, we're not arguing otherwise, but staying in shape in the off season is an equally important part of preparing for the ski season to come. Here's some tips for defining your ski season workout.

                      Skiing in Vermont is one of those sports that engages a lot of different muscles in a single top-to-bottom run. And if you ski like Bode Miller, we might be talking less than a minute here. That's an aggressive workout to say the least, so in training it's important to focus on flexibility and stamina versus brute strength. Some strength is definitely important, but improving balance and endurance is what will help keep you charging the hill until last chair.

                      1.  Start with some cardio. Biking, running, or using an elliptical or stationary bike will help to get your heart rate up while you can work on breathing. It's important your heart and lungs are in shape before you try for a long day on the slopes. Vary up the length and intensity of your workout a few times a week.

                      2. Build some strength. There's no universal ski workout that works for everyone. It's important to train the muscles you'll be engaging most on your skis and focus on your weaker areas. Following a Tough Mudder workout wouldn't be a bad place to start.

                      A few places to start... Squats and lunges are a great way to work your quadriceps. Deadlifts with some weights or a medicine ball will strengthen your hamstrings and glutes. Calve raises can also help your downhill posture. Box jumps will improve your explosive power for crushing the moguls on Mount Snow's Beartrap trail. And don't forget your back and arms, they're a key part of maintaining good form on the slopes.

                      3. Don't forget to relax. Part of exercising, and skiing, is knowing when to stop and getting plenty of rest. This helps to avoid injury and ensure you'll be ready for first chair on the next big powder day.

                      If you need a place to rest after a long day on the hill, we've got a great selection of winter rental homes, just a short hop from the lift line.

                      • P.O. BOX 415, 9 Haystack Road, Wilmington VT 05363