Monday, April 7, 2014

On the Road: Sampling Fun in Burlington, Vermont Featuring Lake Champlain Chocolates and Magic Hat Brewing Company

Today, I am continuing our Spring Break trip with a little window on the fun stuff we uncovered in Burlington, Vermont! When we arrived, we immediately checked into our room and were welcomed by a gorgeous view of Lake Champlain--even in its frozen state. Great view, right?


Burlington is a charming town and definitely worth a walk around. Vermont's pride in locally sourced products and companies that contribute to the community is very evident. When we were there, the Church Street shopping area was dazzling with lights at night which really added some fun to our evening walk!



We arrived in Burlington later in the day after our "tasting" trip through Waterbury, so we did not have too much time to amble around. The next morning, we walked around a bit and then headed to the Lake Champlain Chocolate Factory for a tour. When we walked in to Lake Champlain Chocolates, we already were in awe of all of the gorgeous chocolate beautifully wrapped--with a whole section boasting the pastel hues of Easter. The store is an adventure in itself!


On to the tour! The tour is 30 minutes long and will really be one that will hold your attention for the whole time--at least it did for us! Plus, it is free--who can complain? While you are waiting for the tour, you can explore this handy station that displays all the components of chocolate in  various stages. You can smell each so you will see the difference between the parts of the cacao bean at each stages. Nifty!


The tour itself is a seated tour. You sit with your "tour mates" near a large glass window overlooking the factory. They were in production when we visited, so that was cool! We learned the story of Lake Champlain Chocolate--that the dream actually began as a dare when restaurant owner Jim Lampman dared his pastry chef to better the fancy chocolates Lampman gave out for holiday gifts. The resulting truffle was absolutely delectable and things grew from there! We also learned that the company tries to use as many locally produced ingredients as it can. Lake Champlain's concern about ingredient sources extends to the cacao producers themselves as 86% of the chocolate Lake Champlain uses is Fair Trade Certified. After learning about what goes into Lake Champlain Chocolates, discussion shifted over to how the company creates its treats. Much of the equipment was explained and seeing it action was fun! Of course, with our tour we did have some sweet treats to try. My daughter was so quick to enjoy her samples, she "savored" them before they were explained!

After the tour, we browsed the store for items to bring back. To say that the store provides samples is an understatement. Lake Champlain provides a plethora of fairly large samples throughout the store--so many that my daughter felt a wee bit sick after trying too many! {My protests unfortunately went unheeded!} Lake Champlain truly does have high quality chocolate--so may be her stomach ache was worth it?

If you visit the store, they do sell big blocks for baking at a great price. There also is a factory seconds section which is worth looking at for deals. There is a lot to look at, so plan on spending a little bit of time there.


After visiting Lake Champlain, we headed over to Magic Hat Brewing Company for a little more relaxation--well, for us adults anyway! My husband is very into craft beers and he had tried and liked Magic Hat before, so a visit was necessary! Sampling at Magic Hat was a truly enjoyable experience. My husband and I each were allowed to sample four beers each--so we had a nice sampling of what Magic Hat has to offer. I even found a couple I like, which made my husband's day. The store was vibrant and fun to look around. My daughter enjoyed looking at all of the fun tappers Magic Hat had on display. You can tell from the outside, the place is worthy of a side adventure!
Image via Magic Hat Instagram




We had a lovely time exploring Burlington, Vermont! We have definitely put it on our "we must return" list. Hopefully, we have more time to explore next time. Truly a town worth visiting!

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