The Northeast Kingdom is a term used to describe the northeast corner of Vermont, comprised of Essex, Orleans and Caledonia Counties. Bordered on the east by the Connecticut River and on the north by Canada, the Northeast Kingdom is a rural area that is said by some to reflect Vermont “the way it used to be.” It is sometimes referred to as “NEK” or simply “The Kingdom.”
The area is blessed with many beautiful lakes and ponds, open farmland, quaint villages, many wilderness areas and two major downhill ski resorts, Jay Peak and Burke Mountain. Jay is known for its tramway and abundant snowfall, while Burke is a local favorite that may see changes under its new owners. Jay Peak resort also has a new indoor water park, open year-round. Hiking, biking, cross-country skiing and snowshoe trails are abundant throughout the Northeast Kingdom both at established centers and in the parks and wilderness areas.
Traditional dairy farms have been joined by farms raising goats for artisan cheeses and by farms focused on growing produce for community sustained agriculture (CSAs), farm stands, and farmers markets. Many restaurants collaborate with area farmers to feature fresh, locally harvested agricultural offerings, including local produce, grass-fed beef, free-range chicken and artisan cheeses into their menus. The farm-to-table movement also extends to some schools.
Snowmobiling is popular in the area, as are other sports from cross-country skiing to biking, hiking, fishing and hunting. The Burke region is known for its mountain biking trails, such as the Kingdom Trails, a multiple-use trail system, and the many lakes are prized for swimming and boating. Most of the larger lakes have public beaches and boat ramps, and there are many waterfront homes on these lakes for rent on this site.
The Northeast Kingdom has two major cities, St. Johnsbury and Newport, and many large and small towns, but the population density in this region is generally lower than in the rest of Vermont. St. Johnsbury, while off the beaten path, never-the-less has a strong core of arts groups. Visit the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum, which is open year round.
If you are looking to “get away from it all,” a vacation rental in the Northeast Kingdom may be just the ticket. Fall can be a beautiful time to visit this region. Foliage peaks earlier here – usually in late September – than in most of the rest of the state. Please note, cell phone service may not be available everywhere in the Kingdom.
Tourist attractions include the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium, the Catamount Center for the Arts, both in St. Johnsbury and the Bread and Puppet Museum in Glover, which also offers performances in the summer.
The Northeast Kingdom is easily accessed from the south by I-91 or I-93. If you are flying into the area, the options include airports in Burlington, Montreal and Boston.