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Low-Cost, Fun Things to Do This Summer in Vermont

Family Biking during the Summer in Vermont

As a mom of two young children, summer is an exciting time! School is out and this year we have a transition from daycare to preschool. The change in routine means we will have some extra time to explore and enjoy our state over the next couple of months. Thankfully, I am an avid planner and deal lover, and I put those two traits to work each summer to fill our calendar with free and low-cost fun. Now I’m going to share some of those ideas with you!


If you’re in search of a free or low-cost summer activity, the first thing I will say is go outside! Our beautiful state has so much to offer. Our family loves biking. My son completed his first 25-mile Point to Point bike ride at age five. We take advantage of the many trails our state has to offer to go on long and short rides. Our favorite ride is along the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail, which is now 93 miles and stretches all the way from Swanton to St. Johnsbury. We start our ride in Cambridge and park at the “train playground” (Cambridge Junction), which provides the perfect setting for a picnic at the end of our ride. You can eat in a train car and your children will love playing in each section of the locomotive play structure.

The other bike ride that my family really enjoys is along the Burlington Bike Path and then the Causeway in Colchester. The Local Motion bike ferry, which is by donation, will take you over to South Hero. Once in the islands, there are countless options to continue your exploration. We love to go check out the dinosaurs at White’s Beach. Food allergies mean my family always travels with our own food, but ice cream from Seb’s Snack Bar is the perfect treat to cap off the beautiful ride.


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Don’t feel like you always have to venture far to enjoy the outdoors either. There are of course great biking, hiking, and swimming spots all throughout our state, but your own backyard has plenty to offer as well! Pandemic parenting taught me to get very creative with enjoying our own space. Here are some ideas you can do right at home:

  • A nature scavenger hunt/walk: All you need for this is a piece of paper and a bag. Write down a list of what your family should spot or safely gather. You can tailor the number of items and how hard they are to find to the age of your hunters!
  • An animal ice excavation: For this, you need some sort of container, water, and a small animal or object. Fill your container with water, add in the object (my children love to add a pom pom or two as well as a small plastic animal), and put it all in the freezer. Once solid, bring the ice block outside and you have a fun excavation activity that will help everyone stay cool at the same time.
  • Bubbles: There isn’t a lot of explanation required for this one. Bubbles make just about any day more exciting. If you’re attending one of the many free, outdoor concerts our state has to offer in the summer, consider bringing some bubbles along to level up the dancing fun!
  • Plant a garden: The cost of a garden really depends on how involved you want to get. But there are options! My family does not have the greenest thumb. Some years, we have one big pot for cherry tomatoes (which never actually make it inside, as my kids like to snack right off the plant). When I am on top of things, we plant seeds in the winter and use those to have a larger garden. Seed packets through a fundraiser at my son’s school usually run us about $15, or less from your neighborhood garden supply center. I will be honest—that didn’t happen this year. Our one raised bed is a mix of a few leftover plants from a relative and a few starters we did decide to buy.


I recognize that not every day in our state has a clear blue sky. If you are looking for a rainy-day activity, I always recommend starting with your local library. Just about every library has a summer reading list as well as other amazing programs. My son loves to visit the Lego Club at our library in Jericho. While at your local library, you can also ask if they have any passes available for checkout. Most have a set number of passes to places like ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, or the Montshire Museum of Science, which are both great places to go when it’s wet out.

Depending on where you live in the state, an ECHO pass could be a great investment. We purchase the family pass yearly as it pays for itself in only a few visits. It provides an option for indoor and outdoor fun, no matter the season. While the focus of this post is on free or low-cost fun in our state, it is worth noting that buying an ECHO pass can actually be a huge cost saver out of state too. Through the ASTC Passport Program, your family can use its ECHO pass to visit countless other museums and science centers nationwide—for free! If your summer adventures do take you out of our home state, definitely check out the list to see if there is a fun new place to explore in the area you’re visiting.

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About Abbie Jefferis

As a Mortgage Loan Origination Supervisor, Abbie Jefferis helps meet the mortgage needs of Vermont families with over 15 years of experience in the credit union industry. Abbie grew up in Essex, Vermont, and now resides in Jericho with her family. In her free time, she enjoys biking, eating Mexican food, and relaxing with her family and friends.


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