A winter stream in Vermont.
YONDER

Penguin Plunge Into Scenic Vermont This Winter

A place that could offer a surprisingly fun culture shock for Southerners is Vermont. Known as the Green Mountain State, most of the land is heavily forested hills and mountains, and the outdoors are a huge part of Vermont’s culture.

The town of Stratton in Southern Vermont had only 216 residents in 2010, but it has thousands of visitors annually, especially in the winter. Located at the bottom of Stratton Mountain, the downtown area called “the village” features many unique buildings, restaurants, shops and bars.

The main activities are skiing, snowboarding, and tubing offered November to March, depending on how severe the winter is. Stratton Mountain offers many skiing and snowboarding trails for all levels of experience and many lodges. Skiers and snowboarders can park their equipment outside and go inside for a nice hot chocolate or local beer.

Every year, at the base of the mountain, Stratton hosts the Penguin Plunge, and some ski or snowboard across a pond in freezing cold water. There are prizes and rewards, such as free ski passes to those who make it all the way across without falling into the water. 

Even if you are not participating, it is a wonderful experience to attend. The Penguin Plunge supports athletes with intellectual disabilities in Vermont and is open to anyone brave enough to take the Plunge. Businesses, schools, families, sports teams, and groups of friends form teams to raise funds and take the Plunge together, according to the Penguin Plunge website.

A ski resort in Vermont.

Even though Vermont is known for maple syrup, a variety of other delicious foods and treats can be found throughout the area.  At the base of the mountain where tired skiers and snowboarders often catch a breath, there is a true hidden treat. The Vermont Grilled Cheese stand offers some of the freshest and best tasting cheese in the region. All ingredients come from the surrounding Stratton area, so they are local, fresh and delicious. Each customer can choose his or her cheese and add Canadian bacon. After a long day of snowboarding, I can confidently say this was the best grilled cheese sandwich I had ever eaten. 

A grilled cheese sandwich from a Vermont restaurant.

Stratton has plenty of hidden gems. When I was in Stratton this winter with a group of friends, we all ate at the Red Fox Inn, a restaurant and bar that resembles a Hobbit home. Hard working people who live in the area visit to have a fantastic meal and catch up. Everything is decorated with an old wood finish, and there is a classic radio jukebox in the corner.  President Barack Obama had his inaugural party pies ordered from there.

People sit at a table inside a Vermont restaurant.

Stratton, as well as the state of Vermont, is an incredible place to visit. Whether you are looking for amazing skiing and snowboarding, or if you want to explore delicious food spots, Stratton has it all.

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