We have been camped for the past week at the Champlain Resort Adult Campground in Grand Isle, VT. I know this is probably a layup to make jokes about staying at an “adult” campground. You’re probably asking yourself a) what kind of activities go on there, and b) how did we qualify to get into any adult-designated place? It is in fact a beautiful, rustic campground on South Hero Island along the shores of Lake Champlain, 25 miles north of Burlington, VT, and 70 miles south of Montreal. This is a great campground.
We biked all around South Hero Island, which is about a 20-mile ride circling the island on mostly back roads. The character of this island is just so engaging – an extremely rural setting sitting between two somewhat major cities. Many of the homes, farms, views, and roads are just gorgeous. The area is mostly rural – as in dairy, corn fields and orchards, and with its proximity to Burlington I would imagine that maintaining its’ unique and rural character will be a challenge in the years ahead. For now, it is stunning.
We also took a bike ride on the Island Line Bike Trail and Ferry. This bike trail, a rail-to-trail bike trail features a donation-funded ferry that carries you and your bike a short ways across a boating access point in the middle of Lake Champlain. Note that the ferry runs largely on weekends seasonally, so check availability before setting off. The trail can take you from Burlington to South Hero Island. We didn’t go as far as downtown Burlington, but we could have. Our ride totaled about 28 miles, departing, and returning directly to the campground, with most of those miles either on the trail itself or back roads with very little traffic.
We did reward ourselves for our efforts with a maple creamee, which if you have never had you need to add to your bucket list. SO good. Technically, I believe we rewarded ourselves multiple times on this trip. Don’t judge.
Camping with friends, we had a fabulous time. One day we drove over Smugglers Notch into Stowe to visit the Von Trappe Lodge (and brewery) and the Alchemist, another brewery, in case you are detecting a theme. Smugglers Notch, with a steep 9% grade, is a “two-lane” gnarly patch of roadway, bordered by enormous boulders, that at parts only fits one vehicle at a time. I should note that in the past we have towed our 30-foot trailer over the notch. One of our friends suggested we write a book, entitled All the Places We Have Towed but Shouldn’t Have. He makes a valid point.
The campground is close to the 24-hour Champlain Ferry that runs from South Hero Island over to Plattsburgh, NY. I don’t believe passports are needed to get into New York, but one can never be too sure.
We took the ferry one day to Plattsburg for lunch. In conjunction with our 5-star epicurean life journey, Karen identified a Michelin-rated restaurant for lunch at Clare and Carl’s Texas Red Hots – a high end (not) hot dog stand in Plattsburg. I believe the only Michelins at Clare and Carl’s were in the parking lot but work with us. Can I get an amen?
We ordered the “Michigan” – a hot dog on a Michigan roll, covered with a spicy meat/tomato sauce and topped with onions and mustard. Oh, so good. The Michigan roll is made with a little more sugar and heavy cream to make it sweeter. And, of course, healthier. We ordered our dogs with a side of poutine, just to make sure we had the full experience. I believe poutine is a fruit – don’t quote me.
If you don’t care to sit inside their 10-stool diner, servers will come out to your car and take your order, and then bring the food to your car on a tray. Or there are picnic tables. Expect nothing less than full service. Operating since 1943, Clare and Carl’s was designated a Historic Business in 2022. In 2023, I am nominating Clare and Carl’s as a Must Visit restaurant. Such goodness. Apparently, “Michigans” are unique to the Plattsburg area, so sadly you’re going to have to go here to get this goodness. Totally worth the trip.
We have had a fabulous week here with friends in the north country on South Hero Island. Here are a few parting sunset shots from our campground. Be safe!