Hackett's Orchard in South Hero offers 47 varieties of apples grown on 50 acres, on conserved land. The Hackett family has owned the orchard since 1967, three generations of which have honored these trees, some over 100 years old. Hackett is a wonderful stop for apple picking, fresh cider donuts, cider, and Vermont maple syrup. You'll find apple crisp, farm-grown fruits, and vegetables, pumpkins and gourds. Families enjoy bringing a picnic lunch, hopping on the wagon for a tour of the orchard, and collecting both produce and treats for home.
Snow Farm Vineyard on West Shore Road on South Hero has the mission to preserve their slice of agricultural lands, many of which have been forfeited in the face of development. They grow cooler climate vinifera grapes (with a growing season comparable to that of Burgundy in France), where Pinot Noir and Riesling, and cold hardy French Hybrids, Vidal Blanc and Baco Noir thrive. Thanks to our chilly winter temperatures, Snow Farm also produces an ice wine (an unusual product for most growing regions worldwide). The Vineyard also has a killer summer concert series where you'll want to bring a picnic dinner to listen vineyard-side, to well-known and loved local acts (June through August).
The Hyde Log Cabin in Grand Isle is said to be one of the oldest in the country, built of locally harvested cedar logs around 1783 by Jedidiah Hyde, Jr. The cabin is owned by the Town, was furnished by the Grand Isle County Historical Society which also used it as a meeting place, a museum, and a local information center.
North Hero's “Great Ice Event,” the Vermont Ice Festival, takes place on City Bay Village, North Hero in February. A 1 K skating oval, hockey rink, and drag strip are all plowed, to create the venues for Nordic Skating, a Kids Fishing Derby, Dog sled rides and the “Frozen-Chozen Regatta.” You'll also find a pancake breakfast, chili cook-off, and Ice bike racing. Visitors from several Towns surrounding stop by for this extraordinary event, one of those not-to-be-missed Vermont wintertime experiences.
One of the Great Ice Event's leading sponsors is the Hero's Welcome General Store/Bakery/Café/Marina. It is everything to many – offering a community gathering place (they refer to it as a gossip mill), a plethora of stuff from furniture to games, books and body care, hot coffee and cool treats, and respite four seasons of the year. Arrive at Hero's Welcome by any means you please, whether seaplane or ice skates, as it sits directly across the street from the water's edge (the Town of North Hero stands to face the water on one side of Route 2, Lake Champlain 12 feet from the other).
The North Hero House is a historic inn and restaurant just north of the Welcome. With an excellent location, a variety of accommodations including waterside cabins and charming rooms in the Inn, one of the best meals on the Islands, sandy beach, and marina, you'll find yourself among several others fully enjoying this getaway. Watch the skies change spring, summer, and fall, from the vista-view sunrise, to the waning pinks and purples of sunset, whether beachside or from the balcony of your room in the Inn.
The North Hero House is one of several dining spots, from the hot-spot Blue Paddle Bistro in South Hero (where live music is paired with maple chili-glazed sea scallops from a “back yard” Adirondack chair), to the 50 shoreline acres of rolling lawn and gardens at Shore Acres Inn and Restaurant, and then the above-mentioned North Hero House. The Islands have no shortage of roadside snack shacks and food trucks to choose from, including several offering Islands residents the best of one of their main food groups – creemee. Speaking of chilly treats, Island Ice Cream in Grand Isle creates to-die-for flavors (e.g., Ginger, Pumpkin cheesecake, Vermont Maple Bacon, and not to worry if your tastes are a little less adventurous as basics are always available). On the hottest of days, their sorbets are the best bet, but you're sure to find pints across the state year-round (and purchased with equal vigor on the iciest days of February).
Learn more about what the Islands have to offer: