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Four Summer Must-Dos in Vermont, From Art Adventures to Zip-Lining

Words and photos courtesy of Seven Days

Four Summer Must-Dos in Vermont, From Art Adventures to Zip-Lining
By Kristen Ravin & Bryan Parmelee

Waterbury Adventure Challenge

May 27 through October 11 at various Waterbury locations. $75; free for kids 14 and under

Philosopher John Dewey theorized that learners must interact with their environments in order to acquire new knowledge. In other words, to learn, we must do.

Tourism organization Discover Waterbury gets on board with the learning-by-doing approach with its Waterbury Adventure Challenge. This ongoing activity encourages folks to discover local history and present-day attractions through a stimulating scavenger hunt.

Guided by the story of a Waterbury-born Civil War surgeon, participants explore the village and surrounding areas as they solve a series of puzzles and riddles to discover a mystical bridge between past and present.

"There is plenty of puzzle-solving for folks who want to stretch their mind and hiking for those who want to stretch their legs," explained Revitalizing Waterbury marketing associate Ariel Mondlak.

Participants may play individually or in teams and may complete tasks at their own pace. Finishing the challenge is no quick feat, so out-of-towners may wish to take advantage of the Stay & Play package, which includes discounted lodging at participating hotels with the purchase of two Waterbury Adventure Challenge tickets.

In addition to bragging rights as a local expert, rewards include the chance to win prizes valued at $250 to $500. Win or lose, players are sure to learn a thing or two. As Mondlak put it, "The game takes players to locations throughout town that bring these stories to life in a way that books cannot, with players discovering or rediscovering the people and places who helped shape the town as we know it."

In the area:
Bridgeside Books, 29 Stowe St., Waterbury
Little River State Park, 3444 Little River Rd., Waterbury
The Reservoir, 1 S. Main St., Waterbury

Summer Exhibitions at Shelburne Museum
Wednesdays through Sundays through October, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., at Shelburne Museum. $12-65; free for members and kids under 5.

Many Vermonters are familiar with Shelburne Museum: The 45-acre campus is home to 39 unique structures, including one landlocked steamboat, housing everything from folk art to French impressionist paintings. This summer, four new exhibitions provide a compelling reason to return, or perhaps visit for the first time.

"At the heart of all Shelburne Museum's offerings are its endlessly compelling and extensive collections," reads its website. To that end, "Painting a Nation" reintroduces viewers to works from the museum's extensive American paintings collection. Composed of pieces by John Singleton Copley, Winslow Homer, Grandma Moses and others, the collection was assembled by Electra Havemeyer Webb, who founded the museum in 1947. This season marks the first time patrons have seen these paintings in Vermont in more than a decade.

The USA theme also threads through "Revisiting America: The Prints of Currier & Ives." Hand-colored lithographs from the largest printmaking company of the 19th century depict bucolic pastimes, as well as social and political issues of the day.

The Northeast and its residents get their due in "New England Now: People." This multimedia group show is the second exhibition in a new biennial series featuring regional contemporary artists. Photography, paintings, sculpture and performance art "portray multifaceted and evolving concepts of the 'New Englander,'" according to the show's description.

One of the best reasons to visit Shelburne Museum in the summer is the opportunity to get out of the gallery and view art outside. The lush grounds feature walking paths, more than 20 gardens and, through October 17, mixed-media sculptures by Peter Kirkiles. The artist's open-air show "At Scale" showcases his interpretations of everyday objects, such as a clock, a ruler and a truck, rendered at what Kirkiles calls "human scale."

In the area:
Furchgott Sourdiffe Gallery, 86 Falls Rd., Shelburne
Peg & Ter's, 5573 Shelburne Rd., Shelburne
Shelburne Country Store, 29 Falls Rd., Shelburne

Bread and Puppet Theater
753 Heights Rd., Glover, 525-3031

Since Peter Schumann founded it in 1963, Bread and Puppet Theater has gained international recognition for its distinctive papier-mâché puppets, unabashed political commentary and the homemade bread served at its large-scale outdoor productions.

This summer, the theater will acknowledge its storied history with Our Domestic Resurrection Circus, a new show held Saturdays and Sundays from July 10 through the end of August.

The production celebrates the 50th anniversary of the iconic circuses that began when the troupe first relocated to Vermont from New York City in the early 1970s. The massive two-day festivals were held annually through 1998.

"More Bread and Puppet alumni have influenced this show than ever," said resident company member Uriel Najera. "It's going to be a really big spectacle."

Audiences can expect the usual combination of what makes the theater's performances so unique and memorable: stilt-dancing, puppetry and a bombastic brass band.

Visitors to Bread and Puppet's Glover farm can also revisit the theater's remarkable history at the Bread and Puppet Museum, open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Housed in a 150-year-old barn, the museum is filled to the rafters with artifacts from past productions, including larger-than-life puppets that tower over visitors as they explore the sprawling space. Hand-printed posters and banners are available for purchase in the museum shop and on the nearby Cheap Art Bus.

Tickets to Our Domestic Resurrection Circus must be purchased in advance on Bread and Puppet's website.

In the area:
The Museum of Everyday Life, 3482 Dry Pond Rd., Glover
Parker Pie, 161 County Rd., West Glover
● Willey's Store, 7 Breezy Ave., Greensboro, 533-2621

ArborTrek Canopy Adventures
1239 Edwards Rd., Jeffersonville, 644-9300. Advanced reservations encouraged.

Summer provides countless ways to explore the natural beauty of Vermont, but few options allow folks to see the forest from the trees. ArborTrek Canopy Adventures invites guests to soar, swing and climb their way through the treetops on three separate family-friendly eco-adventures.

Adventurers with a need for speed will be drawn toward the award-winning Zip Line Canopy Tour. The fully guided excursion combines the high-speed thrills of zip-lining with a bird's-eye view of northern Vermont and commentary on its ecology and history.

Those seeking more of a physical challenge can test their prowess in the Treetop Obstacle Course. With more than 85 elements, including wobbly bridges, rope swings and cargo nets, the self-guided courses range from easy to extremely challenging.

People who prefer to start with their feet on the ground and work their way up will enjoy the Climbing Adventure. Thanks to its innovative climbing holds, it has never been easier — or more tree-friendly — to conquer a conifer.

Each adventure can be booked individually, or guests can choose to tackle all three in a single day by purchasing an All-Day Adventure Package. ArborTrek also offers private events and team-building programs to groups looking to develop new ways of working together.

Said ArborTrek president Michael Smith, "Our tours are designed to reconnect not only with the outdoors, but with yourself and the group you're traveling with."

In the area:
Bryan Memorial Gallery, 180 Main St., Jeffersonville
Smugglers' Notch Distillery, 5087 Route 15, Jeffersonville,
Smugglers' Notch Resort, 4323 Route 108, Jeffersonville

About the series

This series, a partnership between Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing and Seven Days, will run seasonally, presenting curated excursions in every corner of Vermont. The idea is to highlight the state's restaurants, retailers, attractions and outdoor adventures so Vermonters and visitors alike can plan safe, local trips and discover new corners of the state. Happy traveling, and stay safe.