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St. Johnsbury to Derby Line: Planetarium, Puppets, Parks and Pups

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Dog Mountain
  • Dog Mountain
The Northeast Kingdom — made up of Essex, Orleans and Caledonia counties — is just as magical as the name suggests. Remote but rich in mountains and lakes, the NEK has long beckoned artists, activists and homesteaders seeking refuge from the modern world. This route offers an eye-opening journey deep into rural Vermont, where humans are scarce, and cell service is spotty. Pro tip: Download directions to your destination before you leave, or bring an actual road map.

Attractions

1. Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium

Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium
  • Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium
St. Johnsbury industrialist Franklin Fairbanks founded this eclectic natural history museum during the Victorian era and filled it with a “cabinet of curiosities” from around the world. The stately red sandstone building still contains an odd amalgam of fossils, weapons and stuffed wildlife specimens, as well as artwork made entirely of dead bugs. The interactive Soucy Family Exploration Station, with its interactive displays inviting hands-on exploration, is a more recent addition. Catch the planetarium’s engaging 30-minute “Night Sky” presentation for an additional fee. $$
Location Details Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium
Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium
1302 Main St.
Caledonia
St. Johnsbury, VT
Museums, Science / Nature and After School Programs

2. Dog Mountain

Dog Mountain - TRISTAN VON DUNTZ
  • Tristan Von Duntz
  • Dog Mountain
Leashes are optional at this 150-acre, canine-centric compound. The main draw is a nondenominational Dog Chapel, established by the late artist Stephen Huneck and plastered with photos, notes and heartfelt remembrances of departed doggie companions. Two- and four-legged visitors are also welcome to stroll the grounds, which include trails, ponds and gardens. 
Location Details Dog Mountain
143 Parks Rd.
Caledonia
St Johnsbury, VT
802-748-2700

3. The Museum of Everyday Life

Housed in an unheated roadside barn, this whimsical, self-guided attraction celebrates ordinary objects, such as toothbrushes, dust and the safety pin. An exhibition of “bells & whistles” opened at the end of May. 
Location Details The Museum of Everyday Life
3482 Dry Pond Rd.
Orleans
Glover, VT
Museums

4. Bread and Puppet Museum

Bread and Puppet Museum - COURTESY OF BREAD AND PUPPET THEATER
  • Courtesy of Bread and Puppet Theater
  • Bread and Puppet Museum
Provocative German puppeteer Peter Schumann founded Bread and Puppet Theater in New York City in 1963 and moved it to a Vermont farm 11 years later. His activist troupe, so named because the puppeteers bake and distribute free bread at performances, is known for depicting warmongers, cruel capitalists and the suffering poor. Its “museum” is a 150-year-old barn that’s packed to the rafters with a colorful — and PG-rated — collection of masks, paintings and giant puppets. Be sure to turn out the lights when you leave, and stop at the Cheap Art bus across the road. 
Location Details Bread and Puppet Museum
753 Heights Road
Orleans
Glover, VT
802-525-3031
Museums

5. The Old Stone House Museum

The Old Stone House Museum
  • The Old Stone House Museum
Built in 1836 by educator and minister Alexander Twilight — the first African-American to earn a bachelor’s degree in the United States — this impressive granite building originally housed students attending Twilight’s nearby school. The picturesque grounds provide the ideal spot for picnicking and warm-weather roaming. $$ 
Location Details Old Stone House Museum
109 Old Stone House Rd.
Orleans
Brownington, VT
802-754-2022

6. Haskell Free Library & Opera House

Haskell Free Library & Opera House
  • Haskell Free Library & Opera House
This unusual library straddles the U.S.-Canada border. Upstairs, an ornate and functioning opera house features a stage in Québec with spectators’ seats primarily in Vermont. You don’t need your passport to enter. $
Location Details Haskell Free Library and Opera House
93 Caswell Ave.
Orleans
Derby Line, VT
802-873-3022

7. Crystal Lake State Park

Crystal Lake State Park
  • Crystal Lake State Park
Surrounded by mountains, this stunning glacial lake attracts visitors with a long stretch of sandy shoreline, a historic granite beach house, plus charcoal grills, play areas and rental boats. $
Location Details Crystal Lake State Park
96 Bellwater Avenue
Orleans
Barton, VT
802-525-6205
Parks, Swimming and Parks & Playgrounds

Food & Drink

8. Red Sky Trading

Red Sky Trading - JOCELYN BEAUDIN
  • Jocelyn Beaudin
  • Red Sky Trading
This quaint antique store/bakery often operates on the honor system. With to-die-for doughnuts and assorted sweets, Jasper Hill Farm cheese and Patchwork Farm Bakery Bread, it’s the ideal spot to sip a cup of coffee while lounging on an Adirondack chair beside the Barton River. 
Location Details Red Sky Trading
2894 Glover St.
Orleans
Glover, VT
802-525-4736
Restaurants and Home & Garden

9. The Parson’s Corner

Dave Rath - BRENT HARREWYN
  • Brent Harrewyn
  • Dave Rath
This small-town eatery touts its “culinary enthusiasm for diner fare.” A casual atmosphere with a creative and scrumptious menu — think slow-smoked pastrami and fried green tomato BLTs — makes this a fine family choice. 
Location Details The Parson's Corner
14 Glover Rd.
Orleans
Glover, VT
802-525-4500
Restaurants

Family-Friendly Hikes

10. Mount Pisgah, North Trail

Lake Willoughby from Mt. Pisgah - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Lake Willoughby from Mt. Pisgah
A moderately difficult, four-mile hike rewards families with jaw-dropping views of pristine Lake Willoughby, aptly dubbed “the Lake Lucerne of America.” Cool down post-hike at Willoughby’s free public beach, which has ample sand — and parking. 
Location Details Mount Pisgah
Mt Pisgah
Orleans
Westmore, VT
Paths & Trails, Water Sports, Fishing and Climbing

11. Barr Hill

Barr Hill Natural Area - TRISTAN VON DUNTZ
  • Tristan Von Duntz
  • Barr Hill Natural Area
This meandering loop on Nature Conservancy land offers stunning panoramas and a pretty picnicking area, with open fields for a game of tag. Watch for wild blueberries. 
Location Details Barr Hill
Barr Hill
Orleans
Greensboro, VT
802-533-2911
Hiking and Climbing

Detour

Bend your trip back through Greensboro along Route 16 for more scenic views and attractions.

12. Caspian Lake

Caspian Lake
  • Caspian Lake
Its beach boasts clean, shallow water well-suited for small children, and it’s just steps from the white-fenced village green and the old-school Willey’s Store — a purveyor of fresh berries, groceries and dry clothes, should you need them. 
Location Details The Willey's Store
7 Breezy Ave.
Orleans
Greensboro, VT
802-533-2554
Home & Garden

13. Cassie’s Corner

Cassie’s Corner
  • Cassie’s Corner
Sample a scoop at this family-owned ice cream shop that locals love. Or wind north on Route 114 to East Burke for mountain biking.
Location Details Cassie's Corner
38 Beach Rd.
Orleans
Greensboro, VT
802-533-2360
Restaurants

14. Kingdom Trails

Kingdom Trails
  • Kingdom Trails
Bring your mountain bikes to traverse this vast network of nonprofit-maintained scenic trails. Certain loops are designed just for kids — from unsteady youngsters to teens ready for a longer course. Don’t let your kids try the Troll Stroll, Tap ’n Die or the Coronary Bypass unless you know they’re ready. Rent two-wheelers at a local shop if you left yours at home. $$
Location Details Kingdom Trails Association
478 Route 114
Caledonia
East Burke, VT
802-626-0737
Bike Paths, Hiking, Snowshoeing and XC Skiing

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