Looking for free outdoor activities to do with your family this winter in Vermont? Make sure to check out these seven fun options.
Skiing is super fun, but it can be a costly activity, especially with a larger family. Between ski gear rental and ski lessons, a day on the slopes can set you back quite a bit of cash. Whether you live in Vermont or are visiting Vermont, here are some other free things to do in Vermont in the winter with kids.
Green Mountain Audubon Center
Located in Huntington, Vermont, the Green Mountain Audubon Center is 250 acres of fields, forests, and wetlands along the Huntington River. While typically the Audubon is known for birds, in Vermont, you’ll see all sorts of wildlife in this outdoor habitat, including beavers and butterflies, sometimes fox, deer, and moose. Located about 19 miles southeast of Burlington in the foothills of the Green Mountains, you can enjoy five miles of nature trails. In the winter, these trails are snow covered and perfect for snowshoeing. In late winter/early spring, check out the Sugar on Snow event, which give access to great education demonstrations for free and a snacking option (for a small fee).
Little River State Park
One of our favorite family locations year round, Little River State Park in Waterbury, Vermont, has no entrance fee in the winter months. It has several trails that are maintained for non-motorized used, such as the Stevenson Brook Trail, a nice level trail for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. This four mile round trip trail will lead you past abandoned former settlements for some educational stops in addition to your beautiful serene winter hike.
The best part about this option? You’re just a few miles from the Ben & Jerry’s factory where you can stop for an inexpensive factory tour with free samples. From December through March, you can even take a short snowshoe tour right at the factory. You can then continue the food sampling in Waterbury with cheese at the Cabot Creamery Annex store and grab cider and donuts at the Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury Center.
Stroll the Burlington Waterfront Park and then explore the 7.5-mile scenic Burlington Bike Path that runs along the scores of Lake Champlain. Explore three waterfront parks, city neighborhoods, and breathtaking views of the Adirondack Mountains in New York overlooking Lake Champlain. Swing on the long park swings and enjoy a gorgeous sunset or view of the snowcapped mountains unlike any you’ve ever seen.
Church Street Marketplace
Burlington’s Church Street Marketplace is home to music festivals, Mardi Gras parades, and much more. Experience year-round entertainment, street performers, and festivals on a pedestrian-only brick walkway that spans four city blocks. The Church Street Marketplaces is one of my favorite tourist destinations in the entire country for it’s unique, hip shops and open-air cafes. I miss living there and being able to dine in among the outdoor seating on a regular basis. First Night and the Jazz Festival are two of my personal favorites.
Stowe Recreation Path
Visit the 5.3-mile Stowe Recreation Path in Stowe, Vermont. This greenway runs from the Stowe Village all the way to the Top Notch Resort on the Mountain Road. It crosses along the Little River for great views and access to food and lodging. In the winter, the path is open to snowshoes and cross-country skiers so it’s a great place to get some winter activities in for free! The GMTA also has free shuttle transportation available in the winter if you want to make a one-way trip for your ski or snowshoe trek.
Maple Street Park
Possibly my kids’ favorite playground and park of all eternity is the Maple Street Park in Essex Junction, Vermont. They love everything about it, from the bike park to the spider web climbing structure to the community pool and water park area. With 38 acres of park land including nature trails and no dogs allowed, there is great space to sled in the winter, so that is one place my kids loved to head when we lived in Vermont. Maple Street Park free for all to enjoy and features covered picnic areas, paved pathways, restrooms, and more.
Sledding at the Round Church
The Natural Historic Site of the Round Church in Richmond, Vermont, has an excellent hillside that is open to the public for sledding. This 1800s church has a unique and gorgeous 16-sided architecture that gives it a “round” shape, so you get a cool view, too. It it’s open, you can also walk around inside and get a tour, but that is generally only on special event days.
Each of these seven featured locations is an excellent outdoor location to enjoy the rest of the year, as well, and most of them offer even more activities during the spring, summer, and fall seasons. All locations except Little River State Park are free year round, too. Maple Street Park has a fee for the pool use, but the rest of the park is free to access.