Vermont

Get out your Vermont travel map as we visit Vermont resorts and give you venue and destination suggestions in the Green Mountain State. We talk about Vermont’s unique authenticity, the many places and activities it offers, and, most importantly, its great people. We venture inside the Ben & Jerry’s factory, where we learn about the important work Ben & Jerry’s is doing towards social justice. From its famous covered bridges to its burgeoning craft beer scene, Vermont is a great destination for business, meetings, and many other reasons. Join us for a tour of your next exciting destination — Vermont, a majestic beauty.

Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth are travel and hospitality entrepreneurs and owners of the global meetings organization, American Meetings, Inc. From sourcing meeting venues in Vermont, to corporate event management around the world, their team selects corporate event venues and meeting planners for a wide array of enterprise business clients, providing ideas for convention themes and strategies for running global meetings and events. Learn more at www.americanmeetings.com.

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Vermont

Vermont, ice cream with a cause and keeping Vermont weird. A place lost in time and more cows than people are easy ways to describe the green mountain state, yet it is much more. From its famous covered bridges to its burgeoning craft beer scene, Vermont is a bucket list destination for many reasons. It’s a four-season playground with award-winning bed and breakfasts, impressive hotels and outdoor activities any time of year. A popular local shirt states, “Keep Vermont Weird.” This conveys the unique authenticity of the inhabitants of one of the smallest states in the union in both size and population. Its people are one of the many reasons it’s a bucket list must. From bustling cities to the smallest of towns, you can find unlimited experiences wrapped in the majestic beauty of her green mountains. In this episode, join us for a flavorful conversation with Ben & Jerry’s Grand Poobah PR Sean Greenwood. Sean will share some bucket-list secrets on the best way to experience a trip to the Ben & Jerry’s factory, discuss celebrities with whom they have partnered and the company’s important work towards social justice. Grab your bike and your snowmobile, and let’s head to the Green Mountain State. Welcome to this episode, Vermont: Ice Cream With a Cause and Keeping Vermont Weird.

We’re glad to have you here for a special episode because we’re going somewhere that is special to us, which is the State of Vermont. It’s an incredible state. If you haven’t been, you’ve got to go. We’ve been coming for years. It’s a four-season destination. Every time of the year, there’s something to do. Nowhere else in the world better to see the fall foliage. Vermont is where we’re going and it’s going to be incredible. Todd, what are some of your experiences that you’ve had and why do you think you love it so much? What makes Vermont special? 

It’s one of the coolest places because I’ve seen it during all seasons. Vermont is an all-season state, summer, spring, fall and winter, there’s always something to do here. In Downtown Burlington, there’s Church Street and just walking up and down it is amazing. There are lights above it and when it snows, it’s pretty. When it’s summer there are street performers. Whenever I’m here, I’d like to go down to Church Street to just sit, hang out and people watch. 

It’s one of the smallest states in the union and there are only about 700,000 people in the State of Vermont. It’s rural but that’s what makes it beautiful. One of the interesting things I always thought was great about Vermont is you’ll never see a billboard. There are no billboards on the freeways, which speaks to the culture here but also magnifies the beauty of the state. The rolling hills, the mountains, and the lakes make it a special place. If you haven’t been, it’s only a four-hour drive from Boston. It’s a six-hour drive from New York City. 

That’s a four-hour drive to the Canadian border. That’s all the way on the Northern end of Vermont and six hours from New York, all the way to the Canadian border. Another great thing about Vermont is it borders Quebec. On the Southern side of Quebec, there’s much to see, but we’re going to stay in Vermont for this episode. 

What’s always interesting about Quebec is you go over the border and all of a sudden everyone speaks French. No one speaks English but it’s incredibly beautiful. We’ll do a special on Quebec sometime soon. Back to Vermont, we got the entire state to look at. We’re going to look at our bucket list items. We’ve got a special guest as well, Sean Greenwood from Ben & Jerry’s. He’s the Grand Poobah of Public Relations for them. He’s going to tell us a little bit about why you should come to visit the factory here and what you can do there. It’s going to be a great interview. We also have great places to stay. We’ve got a lot going on for Vermont. We’re going to take you from the Southern end of the state all the way to the Northern end of the state. 

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We’d like to welcome Sean Greenwood from Ben & Jerry’s. Sean has provided communication strategies for the company’s global climate Save Our Swirled initiative. Sean quarterback the launch of The Tonight Dough, starring Jimmy Fallon of The Tonight Show. He co-hosted alongside comedian Michelle Buteau the launch event for Ben & Jerry’s new partnership and flavor with Netflix called Netflix & Chill’d. He managed communication strategy for the company to dismantle white supremacy. 

We’d like to welcome Sean Greenwood. Welcome, Sean. Thank you for joining us. 

How cool to be here. I love that you are already here. Look behind you, you can smell ice cream in the air.

We like to make our guests feel at home. What can we say? We hope we do it and we’re huge customers and champions of Ben & Jerry’s. It’s a great product and a great brand. We’re glad to have you on the show. 

It’s kind of you to have me. We love talking about what we do.

You’ve got bucket list experiences as your job. Based on what I’m seeing, you’ve worked with Sir Elton John, Ziggy Marley, Stephen Colbert, Nike. You’ve been doing this over 30 years for Ben & Jerry’s. 

I was lucky. Everybody who’s been around that long, we talk. It’s a good thing we got in when we did because now you need talent to work here. I started in 1988 and Jerry was hanging out with the chairperson of our board. Jerry said, “Jeff, remember the class of 1988? We would take anybody with a pulse.” It’s nice to know you’re appreciated after three decades of work.

What are Ben and Jerry like as individuals? I’m sure our readers would love to know from someone that knows them personally. 

I went for a walk with Jerry who tries to do an old man’s exercise. We were up at 7:30 and went for a 4 or 5-mile walk. They’re great guys. They’re good people. Their idea was, “Let’s use business for something positive and try to do good things with it.” They make a fun dessert and make great ice cream. Ben’s always said, “A business is the most powerful source in our society to be able to get anything done. That’s where all the money goes. Let’s try to do some good stuff.” That was the beginning of the Ben & Jerry’s mission.

You’re talking about the social justice piece of what Ben & Jerry’s is focused on. They have a great product, but they also focus on making things better in the world overall. Tell us a little bit about that. Tell us what your focus is. There are many things that you could choose. How do you choose the ones that you’re going to focus on?

There’s a lot of need in the world whether you’re here in Vermont locally or across the country. One of the things is it’s not a nonprofit business. We’re a for-profit business, but the mission is three parts, product and making great desserts. Also, the economic piece is making a fair return, but it’s not about maximizing shareholder return. The idea is like, “Let’s make sure we do this in a fun way.” It serves our company mission and gives back to the community. That’s the big difference because there are a lot of great ice creams out there, but Ben & Jerry’s believes in saying, “Let’s go out there and make sure we use some of those profits and the voice so we can make a difference in the world.”

DE 4 | Vermont

Vermont: There are a lot of great ice creams out there, but Ben & Jerry’s makes use of some of their profits and their voice to make a difference in the world.

What are some of the things you’re working on?

The big one is we’re switching over. Racial justice is the one we’ve been working on for months. We had a flavor out called Justice ReMix’d. It’s a great flavor of spicy brownies that were made special for this campaign. The idea is, in a nutshell, criminal justice reform in our country. There are many people in prison. We have 5% of the world’s population, but 20% to 25% of the world’s prison population. Countries that you’d say like, “Look at regimes like China or Russia.” You’re like, “No, we have way more people in prison than those people,” which is an amazing thing. When you start looking into it and researching it, what you learn is there are a lot of people who are there because they’re poor. They couldn’t afford bail and couldn’t get out. They get caught up in this system even though they’ve never been convicted of anything. There are also minor offenses like marijuana possession that 25 states have some laws either of legalize use or some way that it’s legal in their states. Those things that we think unfairly affect people of color, much more than they do for white people. It’s one of the things we try to work on. We’re focusing on that one area for years. It’s that criminal justice.

You’ve got your pulse on what’s happening. You were doing that even before everything that’s happening during COVID. You had your pulse and you chose it. You’re a step ahead of the game.

I remember back in 2009, marriage equality passed here in Vermont and it was the first state to pass it through the legislature. You had a campaign and it was the Hubby Hubby campaign after your Chubby Hubby flavor. I thought that was groundbreaking at the time and even to this day. You saw online and people write hateful comments. In my opinion, every single time you’re in the right, but how do you deal with that negative? You’ve never bowed down, which is amazing to me. 

When you take action that’s consistent with your values, people can say they don’t like it, but they can’t say that’s wrong because we believe in doing that. Ever since I started working with the company in the late ‘80s, we were one of the first national businesses in the US to give health benefits to same-sex partners. It hadn’t happened before then. I remember an interview with Inc. magazine that Jerry was interviewed saying, “Why are you such a gay-friendly company?” Jerry said, “We’re not gay-friendly. We’re friendly that we want to treat everybody with the same respect that we want to be treated with.” I’m a young guy then in my early twenties. I’m growing up and I’m learning about all these things that Ben & Jerry’s believe in. You’re working beside people and you’re going like, “They want to go out and march on the street because there’s a local pride parade.” You go, “I want to stick up for them, so we’re going to march with them.” That’s the belief at Ben & Jerry’s. We’re going to take to the street for those things that we care about.

We started to do that and people would say like, “Why does an ice cream company involved in sticking up for those people in the LGBTQ community or taking a stance on same-sex issues like same-sex marriage?” We’re just sticking up for our coworkers. We had gay people that were working for the company then. Since then, we’ve done a lot of those. I was looking at my pints that I have up here in my office. This was the decision you’re talking about. It says, “I Dough I Dough” pint that we put out. I’ve worked on the Hubby Hubby campaign. There were four of us there that worked on that and came up with the idea and put that into place. The idea is sometimes you want to stand up on the soapbox and shout about what you believe in because you feel it helps in terms of equity. Sometimes we do things because we think it’s the right thing to do. With marriage equality, it’s one of the things we’ve been loud and vocal about to say, “We believe in this.”

Your question of saying, “There are going to be haters that come in.” When my name is on the press release and I’ll get a lot of those emails, a lot of times, the first 24 or 48 hours, you’re going to get a lot of hatred from a lot of people who are not in support of what you’re doing. I put that in one folder on my computer that the consumer services team can help us get back to say, “I appreciate you sharing your feedback. We feel differently about this.” After that, you also get a big string of people who are going, “I’m buying two pints tonight because of what you did.” You get those heartfelt emails. I remember when we did the I Dough, I Dough campaign, I got a letter from a woman who was in the Midwest and she said, “I’m talking to my daughter and I’m telling my wife that there’s an ice cream company in Vermont that cares about us as a couple. We’re going to come to visit someday.” Those are the things that you hold on to because you know it’s the right thing. It matches our values and that’s why we do it.

Continue to do it because it’s making a difference. 

One of the things I would like to be on my bucket list that you say you get to do is you get to be a taste tester. I don’t know if people get to be taste testers, but I’m curious about that. I want to go into how people can visit the factory itself. Tell us how you as an employee and a longtime partner over there at Ben & Jerry’s gets to be a taste tester. How fun is that.

It is no coincidence. I walk out this office store, turn five steps and then turn right ten steps and the Research & Development Lab is right there behind. This is not an accident, when you get to choose your office you want to be close by. The other thing you can do is even if you’re not part of that official project, you can walk by the window real slow and looking. Occasionally, you’ll get the, “Come on in and try out what’s going on.” Our employees are ice cream aficionados. If you put a flavor in our freezers, one of the benefits of working at Ben & Jerry’s, you get three free pints a day for every employee here at the headquarters. If it doesn’t get taken, then you know it’s not going to work out on the shelves. Our people know good ice cream. The chance to be able to be involved like I was sampling some top-secret new dough chunks that we’ve been doing in the last few years. It’s the Cookie Dough that people say, “I want to try eating that.” We put that in a bag and you can find it in your frozen food section in your supermarket. I try a new flavor of those that we’re working with one of our partners. It’s all about the food.

I was looking on your website. I saw you have a recipes page for extended recipes of your already great ice cream. Some of them were quite creative. We’re going to try some.

To cook with ice cream and to find bread pudding recipe. There are some fun recipes that way. During the COVID time, we’ve been trying to do some other recipes on there, and even have our flavor gurus who make and innovate flavors. They have done videos at home with their own kids so people can get on and watch with their kids and get involved. There’s a dessert book that’s out. You can find the Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book. If you have one of those home ice cream makers, it’s a great time right now, especially in Vermont with fresh fruit. You go out and get blueberries or strawberries or all of that. You can make these great ice cream flavors. Check out that Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book. It’s pretty cool.

Can you tell people what a K9-5ers is? 

K9-5ers is the term because we have a dog-friendly office. We’ve closed our corporate office down here in Burlington because of COVID. We want people to stay safe and healthy, and we’ll get back to work at the office when it’s healthy. We have a dog-friendly office. Usually, any day you come in, there will be anywhere from 10 to 30 dogs here in the building. The idea is we’re looking for a fun term to be able to give to that group, so K9-5ers are what they’re known as.

All the dogs are on your web site with their photos and their names that I’ve seen. It was cool. We used to have a dog-friendly office and we moved.

It’s amazing how it takes away the stress. The hard part is you have to remind people when they’re giving a tour of the office. They walk by and they’re like, “Here’s Pontch and he’s a French bulldog.” You’re like, “Talk about Pontch’s owner. Introduce her too because we don’t want to give all the dogs the love.”

Let’s talk about the tour because if you come to Vermont, no matter whether you’re from Northern Vermont or even if you’re coming from New Hampshire or Massachusetts, Ben & Jerry’s factory is iconic. The people of Vermont take great pride and knowing that you are there. It’s a must-see, whenever anybody comes here, everybody’s like, “Did you go to the Ben & Jerry’s factory?” Can you talk a little bit about the experience that people get when they walk through the factory and then what’s around it, including the graveyard, which has an interesting little piece to see of the chef?

[bctt tweet=”Mansfield has one of the best bike trails in the entire state that goes right through the center of the town.” via=”no”]

We love the spa. It’s where I started working there. My first job was working out at the Waterbury plant and driving the truck around scooping ice cream at events, and then giving tours there. I’m fond of the place and all the people that are there in Waterbury. For Destination Everywhere readers that are going like, “I’m coming now.” We do have the scoop shop open there. You can stop and get your ice cream. We do have the grounds open, so you can walk around. You can have a place to sit down. There are a couple of fun things to see. It’s not only the background behind you, Todd, that’s our front patio view. It’s colorful and there’s some fun stuff. Our Flavor Graveyard is where we retire any Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavors that no longer exist in the virtual world. It’s a chance to be able to go and pay respects to your dearly de-pinted flavors we call them sometimes and have a little fun that way. In terms of social mission, there’s a great art exhibit that you would’ve seen there on the walkway. It’s all people who were previously incarcerated who did this higher. It’s a whole wall of it there. We’ve turned that over.

In 2019, it was about Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign from 50 years previous. We had an exhibit there on loan from the Smithsonian that we showed off to support that idea of racial justice and around criminal justice to say that’s what we want to do. When we know we have hundreds of thousands of people coming by every year, just them walking by to be able to see this and say, “Let’s have a conversation about that. That’s why we put those things out.” You can stop in. There is a tour that exists. The inside tour to see where ice cream is made is on hold because of safety’s and we’ve got to wait until everyone’s safe to go in. You’ll have to jump on our website and look it up to see if and when the hold on COVID is still going on, or when we do lift that.

You have a gift shop as well so that you can get your favorite merchandise. What else? Is there anything else there that’s unique that our readers may not know about?

There is a little bit about innovation station checkout and hear what our latest campaigns are. There is a booth outside that’s set up so that people can still get some souvenirs and stuff to be able to take home. It’s a great town. One of the things for Ben & Jerry’s is we’re thrilled that fans want to come to see us, but it’s also about Vermont. A lot of people who may not live in Vermont are coming up to visit, have a chance to be able to go try maple syrup and got great cheese and great craft beer. Waterbury has such a great little community restaurant. There’s a lot of progressive stuff that you can do. If you are coming up, any of your readers who are planning a day trip or a weekend, look around because there’s some great stuff to be able to see in Vermont.

To that point, other than Ben & Jerry’s, what are some of your other favorite things that you do in Vermont personally, that you would say if someone’s coming to see you. What else should they do that they have to do? 

I liked getting out on two wheels. If you’re a motorcycler, coming right up on Route 100 is one of the most beautiful roads in the state. It’s always called out on these motorcycle magazines saying it’s one of the best rides. You don’t have to do it on a motorcycle. You can do it on four wheels, but getting wind breeze blowing by you is an enjoyable thing on the motorcycle or the convertible. That’s a great road, Route 100. Summer is always a great time in Vermont too. Getting out on a boat. We’ve got Lake Champlain right here in Burlington. That’s a good size lake that offers a lot of great things. We’re about visitors. We want people to come to see Vermont, try the products out, see the leaves, play in the snow, go skiing any time of the year.

There’s so much to do.

Jay Peak.

We keep saying it’s an all-season state. Winter, fall, spring, summer, there’s always something to do here. Whether it’s an intense or extreme thing like skiing and snowmobiling around the state. I’m noticing this summer a lot of the side-by-sides, which are the four-wheel all-terrain vehicles. I’m seeing those out on the back roads. There’s a huge infrastructure for those things around here. It’s amazing. You can’t be bored and if you are, you’ve got your priorities a little whacked out. There’s always something to do here. Get outside of Vermont. 

Sean, before we let you go, we have some rapid-fire questions we’re going to ask you around your travel habits.

Should I stretch out?

Make sure that’s nice and loose. The readers love to learn from our guests about what they like to do and their secrets. The first one is, have you ever completed anything on your bucket list? If so, what was it? 

Yes, entirely because of Ben & Jerry’s. Many years ago, they created that little Ben & Jerry’s balloon that you see up there. I went for a hot air balloon ride because of this corporate program that we were doing and loved it. I ended up getting trained to go fly a hot air balloon. Now, I own a hot air balloon and that was a bucket list thing to go for a hot air balloon ride. I took it to eleven, as they would say, “It’s Spinal Tap” to become a hot air balloon pilot. It was a cool experience.

You’re here so you’ve landed safely. 

I’ve flown up in the Kingdom before. I’ve flown in Barnard, launched near Newport, Vermont. There are lots of great places up there.

Is that balloon still around? 

Yeah. Those two balloons that you see there are still in existence. They’re in Scotland. I bought my own. I’ve got one that I keep at home in a trailer and love to pull out and go jump in.

DE 4 | Vermont

Vermont: Route 100 is one of the most beautiful roads in the state. It’s always called out as one of the best rides.

Number two is if you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would it be?

I’ve never been to Australia and I’ve been fortunate to be able to travel for work a handful. Japan was an incredible place to visit and Singapore. I love Europe. I could be happy there anytime, but I have not done Australia and I would love to be there for a year.

It takes about a year to see the whole country for sure. If you could travel with someone infamous or famous, who would it be? 

Do you know who I’ve been reading a lot on because we lost him? I heard the term instead of rest in peace, it’s rest in power. It’s Representative John Lewis. We were fortunate to have John Lewis come up to Ben & Jerry’s last fall and stopped in because we’ve been working on a project together. There will be more information. Stay tuned around that. The man was an incredible civil rights leader. The more I read and learn about him and hear his story from being a young man and participating in the Freedom Rides to how he stayed committed to nonviolent protest and to acting with class. I would love to have either a piece of history or maybe the second time around. He would be a tremendous individual to spend a little more time with.

Here’s a fun one. When packing for your trip, what is something you pack that may surprise our readers?

Beard trimmer is probably not going to surprise them at this point.

You didn’t have used it in a while. 

It’s COVID. We have a little bit of allowance. One of the things I often pack with whether it’s individual or traveling with my family is a big power strip with half a dozen outlets. A lot of times you get to a hotel and you get there and each of the kids has their phone and they need to charge and you have your laptop and all of a sudden, you’re all fighting over two outlets.

It’s a great one. I haven’t heard that one before. 

Big power strip with six plugs.

They cause many family arguments.

The last one is what is your most memorable experience in Vermont? I know you’re a local, so it’s hard, but do you have anything that stands out? 

The first thing that comes to mind when you say is my Ben & Jerry’s experience in Vermont was a retired couple was coming up from Massachusetts back when I was giving tours. This is the late ’80s, early ’90s, and befriended them. They were the only two people on my tour one time. I got to talk with them and get to know them. We get three free pints a day so I brought them my three pints at the end. We got to the lobby and I said, “Hold on.” I came out and said, “Here, take my three pints.” They were going to visit their daughter in Stowe. They ended up writing a nice letter to the company saying, “This young man is nice.” We went and going back and forth with letters. They would visit in every couple of years. One time, I got a page to the lobby and I go down. There’s this woman that’s 35 years old. I’d never met her and she introduced herself saying she was the daughter of the parents, and the father had passed away from cancer. Right before he had passed away about 3 to 6 months before our Research & Development Lab was cleaning out their closets. They have everyone sending them candies, chunks, chocolates and brownies, and all this stuff flavorings. They had a table full of this stuff. It’s all these little bottles. I knew this guy was an ice cream maker at home. That was his hobby.

I gathered up a box up and shipped it to him at home. I didn’t know he had cancer at that point. His daughter was like, “The last couple of months of his life, he would go out into his little workshop out behind their house in Massachusetts and make ice cream.” He had said to her, “Who would have thought an ice cream company would have cared enough to reach out and send stuff like this?” To me, it was like, “That’s the job I get to do with Ben & Jerry’s.” I get to connect with people and how lucky of a career is that.

Sean, we want to thank you and thank you for your commitment to social justice, for what you’re doing personally, and what Ben & Jerry’s is doing as a company and as a corporate partner. It’s incredible. We want to also thank you. You are going to supply a swag bag to one of our readers. If you’re reading, go to Destination-Everywhere.com and sign up. You could win a swag bag from Sean and his team at Ben & Jerry’s. Sean, we can’t thank you enough. Thank you for your time. We’ll be down sometime soon to take a tour and eat some ice cream. 

We look forward to seeing you there and all your readers to stop into. Give us a shout. Thanks for having me.

Thanks, Sean. Take care.

[bctt tweet=”If you’re an avid mountain biker, some of the best mountain biking in the state can be found in Vermont.” via=”no”]

Sean is an awesome guy to interview because he’s passionate about what he does, but I loved hearing everything that he had to say about the company and his experiences. He’s raised here in Vermont. It was a good conversation we have with him. 

He gave those insight of what you can do when you go. Add that to your bucket list. You will be grateful that you did. It’s going to be a lot of fun and a great experience for you to come to Vermont and put that on your bucket list. We’re going to go talk about our bucket list now. 

Let’s go into some of these things that we’ve done around the state. Vermont, it’s a long state. It’s wide at the top. It’s narrower at the bottom. Vermont borders New Hampshire on one side, New York on the other, and then down South, you have Massachusetts. There’s a lot around it. The access is easy, but you fly into Burlington. That’s what most people do. Let’s talk a little bit about the Northern part. Let’s go with Burlington. You fly in and you’re close to a lot. It’s the largest city in Vermont. 

The University of Vermont is there. It’s got a lot of young and fun places to go. When I think of Vermont, I think about outdoors. That’s what’s appealing about it. In the airport you always see skis coming off of the luggage cart. You see people driving in with kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards. There’s a feel that everybody’s outside doing something in the state. If you’re not outside doing it, you’re probably missing out on something. South of Burlington, there’s an amazing property and it’s called the Shelburne Museum. It has recreated a period village of what life was like back in Vermont in the 1800s.

It’s a bucket list item. It’s Americana all put together for you in one place. Speaking outside, Todd, almost the entire thing is outside. You walk outside. It’s a great thing to do in the summer with the family. You walk from exhibit to exhibit and tell us a little bit about who put it together. 

It was done by one of the Vanderbilts. She would go to auctions and purchase buildings. The buildings are not recreated buildings. They’re the original buildings and then they were moved to this property. What you’re walking onto is a town and it has an apothecary. It’s got a schoolhouse. There’s a ferry boat and a blacksmith. It’s neat. You do get immersed in what it was like to be in Vermont.

I believe there are something 39 to 40 buildings on the property. You can walk it and see how people lived. It’s immaculate and beautiful. Put that on your bucket list. That’s called Shelburne Museum, which is right South of Burlington. 

What borders that is also the Shelburne Farms. It’s the old state for the Vanderbilt Family. It was the summer state. The wealthy New Yorkers, Connecticut would come up here. The original house is kept in immaculate condition. You’d want to see them both. The tour guides are amazing, but both beautiful right on Lake Champlain. The views are spectacular. That’s a must. 

Speaking of Lake Champlain, that’s something you have to see either from right at the bottom of the hill in Burlington, or even if you go up to South Hero or North Hero Lake, North of Burlington. It’s an incredible Lake that is skinny. It runs almost the entire length of Vermont and breaks the border with New York. Like any Northern lake, it is very deep. You can take rides on boats and see the history. You can go fishing. You can rent your own boats. Pontoons are exciting and fun to do. I would highly recommend that as well.

There are a couple of ferries that go across it at some different points, going from New York to the Vermont side. If you’re on the Vermont side, you’re looking at the Adirondack. If you’re on the New York side, you’re looking at the Green Mountains in Vermont. You could see Mount Mansfield, which where Stowe is. It’s huge and gorgeous. Take a boat trip. There’s a boat that goes out on Lake Champlain. It’s a big tour boat and the Spirit of Ethan Allen is what it’s called. That leaves from Burlington and it’s a large cruise ship. It’s a great way to see both sides from the water. It’s a lot of fun.

I’m glad you mentioned Mount Mansfield, which is the tallest peak in Vermont. At the base of it is Stowe, which is this incredible, quintessential, ski-resort town in Vermont. There are a lot of incredible things to do there. They have one of the best bike trails in the entire state that goes right through the center of the town. 

What’s great about it is if you’ve got smaller people, it’s a paved trail. It’s a nice, smooth ride for anybody of all ages. It’s not a difficult mountain biking trail. It goes through towns. It goes behind restaurants so you can pull your bike in. The total distance it’s a few miles. 

Six or seven miles.

Anybody can do it and it’s not a hard trail, but it’s beautiful. It goes by the Corn Maze in Stowe, which is cool. You’ll get lost in this Corn Maze. The corn is 8, 9, 10 feet tall.

I know one of your favorite bucket list things to do is where Maria is from and where she ended up after The Sound of Music. Why don’t you tell everybody about that? You talk about it all the time.

It’s a piece of history and who doesn’t know The Sound of Music? If you don’t know the music, you do know the story. It’s the Von Trapp family. When they left Europe, they settled in Central Vermont, in Stowe. There is the Von Trapp Lodge which is a working lodge. It’s open year-round. They have apple trees, but you can go and see Maria’s grave and some of the other family members are buried there as well. If you’re there and you have any connection to this movie, you’ll want to go and see that. You can just feel it. People come and they take pictures of the plot markers. 

The area looks like Austria in a way. It’s beautiful with the high mountains and the climate itself is just like it, which is a great trip as well. Salzburg, Austria, if you want to put that on your list too. I highly recommend you go to Von Trapp Lodge.

DE 4 | Vermont

Vermont: You’ll never see a billboard in Vermont, which really speaks to the kind of culture it has, magnifying the beauty of the state.

There are microbreweries and there are some great craft beers that are made at breweries in and around the Stowe. It’s around the whole state, but Stowe itself has some great ones. Idletyme was a place that we went and had lunch. Their beers, you can get a pint and try a little bit of everything they had. It wasn’t my favorite, but there’s something for everybody. They had sour beers, which I’d never had a sour beer before. It does leave a pucker on your face. I don’t know if you’ve got to have the right taste buds for it. Their IPAs were amazing. It was a great stop.

What I love about Vermont and this is a nice little tidbit people wonder why there’s a town like every 5 miles. I asked once, and the reason is a town every 5 miles is how far a horse could go before they needed water. There are all these unbelievable towns. Every 5 miles or so, you’ll notice it. Each one has its own city government, has its own things that they’re proud of, things that they produce, whether it’s cheese, wine, maple syrup. There are all different things in Vermont. Meandering through all these different towns in and of itself is a joy. It’s one of the reasons I love it. We’re looking for all the covered bridges all over the state. There’s a great program to keep them up-to-date and make sure they’re not falling apart. They do a beautiful job with it. It’s something to do if you’re an avid bike rider. A great way to see the state is to go look at the cover bridges. I would highly recommend that as well.

There’s a town called Burke. It is also a place for mountain biking. They have got I don’t know how many miles of trails in Burke.

This is the Northeastern part of the state. Burke is in Bike Burke Mountain. I don’t know how many trails it has. There are hundreds and hundreds. It goes across 90 separate property owners’ property at the base of Burke Mountain and it’s beautiful. If you’re an avid mountain biker, some of the best mountain biking in the state can be found there.

All the trails are groomed. They’re smooth rides. The levels of difficulty are different all around the space, but it’s a neat place. If you’d like to bike, you don’t want to be on a street bike on these trails, but if you have a hybrid or a mountain bike, you could get around comfortably. That was a lot of fun. We enjoyed doing that and did that. Another thing with one of my first exposures to Vermont. Vermont’s one of those places that you have a vision in your head. It seems a very romantic state. If you remember the show, Bob Newhart was in it. He moves from a city and he opens up an inn called The Stratford Inn.

The show makes the locals seem a little quirky. I would say the locals in Vermont, the speed is great, but it’s not going to be anything like you might expect to find it in New York. People enjoy dinners and you’re not seeing horns honking in cities. You might get behind a tractor on one of the off roads and be delayed, but it’s not anything that’s going to make anybody get some road rage, especially if you’re from the area. When you’re driving around and see some of these small places, you do get stuck behind, there’s a season where you might get stuck behind manure trucks. It’s not always the most pleasant-smelling thing, but when that happens, you look to your left and right and it’s the scenery, wherever you go is amazing. Did we talk about the swimming holes? 

You should talk about them because it is one of the great secrets of this area of the country.

All the times we’ve been coming to Vermont, it wasn’t until maybe the 3rd or 4th year even, where someone said, “Have you been to three holes?” I didn’t know what they were talking about. It’s a swimming hole. It’s not Florida, not everybody has in-ground pools. They said, “It’s great. It’s these little rivers, there are waterfalls, and then you swim, you can jump off the rocks.” We found it. It’s nothing you’re going to find. I doubt a concierge is going to tell you if you’re staying at a hotel. If you ask the locals in many of these towns, ask for a swimming hole, there is something nearby. It’s gorgeous. The water is crystal clear. It’s cold, but on a hot day, there’s nothing better and usually, there are nice little trails in pass. They’re everywhere. 

There’s a river that there’s a swimming hole somewhere. The locals know them. If you’re in Vermont, always ask. They’re great to see in the fall because they’re beautiful and remote. Usually, you’ve got to hike in a little bit, but they’re awesome. One other thing I’d like to point out and then we’ll move on to some of our favorite hotels to stay at in Vermont that is great for either vacation, meetings, and events. In Northern Vermont, there is a sculpture park called the Cold Hollow Sculpture Park, which is the work of David Stromeyer. He purchased this dairy farm 30 years ago and then made the barn his studio. Over the course of the last 30 years has created these giant moving metal sculptures that are sold and put in major destinations all over the world. Near his farm, which is free to go to, it’s incredible. He has about 40 of them spread all across these wide hills.

There are more than 60 and it’s a little town. It’s right next to Enosburg Falls in Northern Vermont. You drive by it and you can’t tell from the road. You’ll see a sign out front. It’s a sculpture that says a CHSP, which is Cold Hollow Sculpture Park. When you go in, the field opens up and he creates everything on the property, but you’ll see these things are huge. It’s on acres and acres of property and then they move. Someone may request one for an office building. These are the sculptures that you see at the base of skyscrapers in New York City or inside of a huge office building foyer and they’re different colors, they move, they’re abstract. All of these sculptures are an evolution of this particular artist work over several decades. It’s fascinating to see.

Let’s go ahead and talk about some of our favorite places to stay. Let’s start in Southern Vermont and a place that is well-known. It’s a luxury property called, The Equinox. That is down in Manchester, Vermont. Manchester is an adorable small town. If you want to get a real feel for it, but not be too far from Boston or New York City. It’s incredible. The Equinox has been there since the Revolutionary War, the main part of the hotel, but it’s expanded greatly. They’ve done a fantastic job keeping it up. The government of Vermont was formed in the small restaurant there back in 1777 or 1778 whatever year it was. There’s a lot of history there as well. What do you think about The Equinox?

The Equinox is beautiful because it’s a historic property. Different presidents have visited it. Down the road is the summer home of Robert Todd Lincoln, who was Abraham Lincoln’s only surviving child. It’s a beautiful estate. It overlooks the hills. He was a lawyer from Chicago and acquired it with one of his partners at this law firm. All these things are close enough back in the day where they could come from the cities and then getaway. That being in Southern Vermont was ideal and it’s beautiful. Manchester also has a lot of outlets. If you like to outlet shop and you find time to do that, you get this historical feel if you’re in the right spot, but then you go down the road and you’ll see all different types of outlets, great shopping.

If you go a little farther away, there is a great town ideally called Woodstock. There’s The Woodstock Inn & Resort there. It is right in the middle of town and a fantastic place to get the real Vermont experience in a concentrated way. They have cooking classes and tours that you can set up for and it’s comfortable. That’s a great one. If you want a smaller and more real Vermont experience, we highly recommend that property as well.

If you’ll find, you drive through some towns and some of them aren’t any more than 1 or 2 blocks. Sadly, there are many towns in Vermont that they’re past a lot of the economic prosperity that they had seen once before, but there are a lot of great finds. If you’re driving through them, like Andy said, they’re about every 5 miles apart. Park your car and go walk the street. You’re not going to be walking a lot, but you could see some cool things whether it’s a place to grab some food or a lot of antiques and people selling things from barns. You go in and you’re like, “Wow.”

There’s a lot of history there for sure. 

You could drive up from Woodstock, and then there’s Quechee. There’s a big gorge in Quechee that people swim in. They have a bridge that goes across it and it’s another spot that you get out of your car and go walk it. There’s a 1.5-mile trail. From there, you go down and check out the water, jump in one of those swimming spots off of the Quechee Gorge. It’s wonderful.

If you want a quick place to ski and stay as well, we talked about Stowe a little bit. The Stowe Mountain Resort is a fantastic place to ski from. It’s ski-in and ski-out and modern. If you don’t want to go all the way to the West Coast or to Colorado, Stowe is a fantastic place to fly straight into Burlington. It’s only a 20-mile drive. It reminds you of a Salt Lake in Park City where you can get there quick and you can ski on the same day. You get to enjoy Stowe there but the Mountain Resort is best in class. We highly recommend that as well. Finally, in Northern Vermont, we have Jay Peak Resort, which is a resort that’s been around a long time, but did $60 million upgrades with the new hotel, a new water park, championship golf course, which is spectacular in the fall. It is a great place to see rural Vermont but has the amenities of a first-class hotel. They have meeting space and conference center as well. We highly recommend the Jay Peak Resort up on the Quebec border. It’s beautiful. 

[bctt tweet=”Vermont’s just one of those places you kind of have a vision in your head that seems like a very romantic state.” via=”no”]

Did you even talk about the indoor water park at Jay? 

We talked about that forever.

It’s got a retractable roof. You go in and it could be winter or summer. In the summer, they usually retract the roof and it’s got one of the artificial waves like the FlowRider or Flow Dog as some of them are called, a bunch of slides, a lazy river, but then on the winter, it’s all glass. You see snow falling all around you, and then you get access to this water park, which is amazing. That’s right at the base of the mountain. Right next to that, there’s a brand-new indoor rink where leagues play, but they also have a free skate for people that are touring and want to putz around on ice skates, but it’s gorgeous. 

Those are our four venues and hotels we recommend if you’re coming to Vermont. There are many more. Bed and breakfast is all over here, locally-owned that can give you a quintessential Vermont experience as well. Make sure you look those up as well. We have a special giveaway and a way for you to sign up for it and get a special gift from Ben & Jerry’s.

That concludes this edition of this show. Thank you for joining us. Register and go visit our website at www.Destination-Everywhere.com. Ben & Jerry’s and Sean have given us a great swag pack, be sure to go in and register for that. It’s got some great collectibles and coupons for ice cream. You don’t want to miss out on that. Thank you for joining us. We’ll have you back here soon.

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About Sean Greenwood

DE 4 | VermontStarting in 1988, Sean has seen the triumphs and tribulations during his three decades with the company. His title of Grand Poobah of P.R. has been earned one scoop at a time.

Along the way he has taken a serious interest in sharing the Ben & Jerry’s story and mission, namely, that businesses can thrive when they lead with their values and consider more than simply making a profit.

In his PR position, Sean has created programs, flavors, and managed relationships working with the likes of Sir Elton John, the band FUN, Ziggy Marley, Stephen Colbert, Nike, and more. Sean has provided communication strategy for the company’s global climate “Save Our Swirled” initiative. Sean quarterbacked the launch of The Tonight DOUGH starring Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show. Most recently he co-hosted – alongside comedienne Michelle Buteau – the launch event for Ben & Jerry’s new partnership and flavor with Netflix, called “Netflix & Chilll’d” and managed communications strategy for the company’s statement to dismantle white supremacy.

In his Poobah work Sean serves as Director of Public Relations and Communications at Ben & Jerry’s headquarters in Vermont consistently tallying over 4 billion annual impressions. The Gonzaga Master’s graduate often can be found loafing near the Research & Development Lab volunteering as a taste tester all the while enjoying the company benefit of three free pints of ice cream per day. His favorite flavor is Cherry Garcia.

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