Winter Must-Dos in Vermont: Holiday Markets, Forest Bathing and Snowshoe Tours

By Emily Hamilton  

BTV Winter Market 
Through December 23: Fridays, 2-6 p.m.; Saturdays, noon-6 p.m.; Sundays, noon-4 p.m.; and Thursday, December 22, 2-6 p.m., at Burlington City Hall Park. Free. Info, burlingtoncityarts.org. 

There's something magical about an outdoor winter market — especially in the lead-up to the holidays. Burlington's version is the BTV Winter Market, where shoppers will find local crafts, food and art most weekends this month in City Hall Park. 

Among the offerings are earrings made of preserved flowers, mushrooms and ferns by Wild Perennial; radical prints straight off the antique press from A Revolutionary Press; South African handbags and totes by Bosisi Designs; beer-inspired sugars, candles and bath bombs in funky varieties such as chai and chile lime from Beer Feelings; and kiln-fired glass dishes, ornaments and wind chimes by artist Jackie Bishop. 

And, of course, visitors can refuel after all that shopping with warming bites by local Thai, Somali, Québécois and Afro-fusion eateries. Highlighting experienced and emerging makers, the BTV Winter Market aims to create "a vibrant, joyful space for our community to gather and celebrate the most wonderful time of year," Burlington City Arts communications director John Flanagan said.  
Winter Must-Dos

Forest Bathing 
Saturday, December 10, 9-11:30 a.m., at Shelburne Farms; and Saturday, December 17, 9:30 a.m.-noon, at Green Mountain Audubon Center in Huntington. $30-35; preregister. Info, natureconnectionguide.com

The Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku — which translates literally to "forest bathing" — uses mindful walks through the woods as tools to slow down, rest and enjoy the restorative vibes of nature. Anyone itching to try it can make their way to the rolling hills and woodlands of Shelburne Farms or the hardwoods, hemlock swamp and babbling brooks surrounding Huntington's Green Mountain Audubon Center for a forest bathing session led by Duncan Murdoch of Nature Connection Guide. 
Murdoch encourages curious Vermonters to "create the time and space for yourself to connect to the natural world and join a growing community of forest bathing kin." Winter in the Green Mountain State is teeming with just as much life as any other season; participants will take in the stark beauty of the land, spot beavers and enjoy the invigorating chill in the air. Both walks conclude with a collective warming around a bonfire.  

A practicing certified guide since 2015, Murdoch said he is "grateful to witness the profound revelations and transformations from my participants throughout the years. Nature has so much to offer us in each and every season. As the poet Mary Oliver aptly states, 'You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.'"  

Wine & Cheese Snowshoe Tours 
Monday, December 26; Wednesday, December 28; Friday, December 30, through Sunday, January 1; and Saturdays, January 7 through March 4, 1:30 p.m., at the Grafton Inn. $45; preregister. Info, graftoninnvermont.com

Vermonters whose ideal winter day is less "shredding the slopes" and more "hitting up the ski resort bar for mulled wine," rejoice: The Grafton Inn presents Wine & Cheese Snowshoe Tours, featuring the perfect amount of outdoor time followed by a relaxing sojourn in a cabin, complete with local libations.  

Small groups of guests enjoy a one-hour trek along the Grafton trails in all of their stunning, snowy glory. (Borrowed snowshoes are complimentary for those who don't happen to own a pair.) After taking in the woods, icy ponds and other hallmarks of a winter wonderland, everyone packs it in to warm up by a fireplace with two glasses of wine. There's also a cheese plate that's as local as it gets, featuring award-winning dairy delights from Grafton Village Cheese, right down the road from the inn. The reserve cheddars, cave-aged sheep's milk wheels and flavored offerings — think smoked maple, truffle and chile — pair perfectly with the vino and the cozy cabin. 

"This unique experience is only done here in Grafton at our outdoor center," innkeeper and general manager Angela Comstock said. "Many of our guests that stay here at the Grafton Inn love it." 

Participants must be at least 21 years of age, and groups are limited to eight people. Register early to secure your spot! 

Photo credit: BTV Winter Market; courtesy of Sam Yang  

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.