Best Time to Visit Lake Champlain


When Not to Visit

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Fall—with the University of Vermont in session and foliage at its peak—is high season on Lake Champlain, and the region can be crammed with people. One way to escape? Head offshore. The lake is still open for freshwater recreation of all types, even a quick dip on warm days.

Summer is busy and festive (read: make lodging reservations early), especially with events like Burlington’s Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival (August), Discover Jazz Festival (June), Vermont Brewers Festival (July), and the Lake Champlain International Fishing Derby (June)—which is the oldest and largest freshwater fishing derby in the United States (prize money totals $300,000).

Though it slows down, Lake Champlain still sees plenty of activity in the winter months, including ice fishing, snowshoeing, and ice skating. Plus, it’s the time for Burlington’s First Night celebration on New Year’s Eve, Winter Festival in February, and Magic Hat Brewing’s rowdy Mardi Gras parade (and ensuing parties) in March.

Come spring, the lake starts melting and the maples start seeping, giving the Lake Champlain Valley yet another reason to celebrate. It’s only when the trees and flowers begin blooming—and students finish up class and head home—that for a moment, or maybe two, there’s a chance to quietly take in the lake’s vast waters and lush green mountains.