Vermont science and nature centers offer a world of unexpected adventure
Vermont is an unsurpassed classroom for science and natural history with indoor and outdoor hands-on exhibits and programs for children
and adults. There are countless museums, nature centers, walking trails, live animal feedings and more to enjoy. Discover hundreds of species of birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians. Learn maple sugaring from sap collecting through candy making. You can pick your own
fruit, flowers and vegetables, take a farm tour, meet bees, and participate in harvest days.
Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium
1302 Main Street
St. Johnsbury, VT, 05819
Natural science collection of 160,000 objects housed in a landmark Victorian building. The historical collections contain examples of 19th-century agricultural, industrial, and household life. The natural history collection houses New England mammals and birds, rocks and minerals, shells, butterflies, insects, bird nests and egg sets, and hummingbirds. Exhibits on astronomy and rural history.
Admission: Adults, $6; seniors and children age 5-17, $5; family, $18; planetarium show, $5.
Hours: Year-round, Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 1 - 5 p.m. Call for planetarium show times.
Southern Vermont Natural History Museum
Marlboro, VT, 05344
This natural history museum in the foothills of the Green Mountains offer mounted specimens of 600 native New England birds and mammals as well as live hawks and owls. The museum presents an amphibian and reptile exhibit and a wildflower exhibit in the summer and fall. A good side trip is a hike up nearby Mount Olga. The museum has one of the largest collections of mounted birds to be found in New England, containing over 600 birds in 100 small dioramas. Raptor center has live exhibits of owls and hawks.
Hours: Summer hours are Memorial Day to late October, daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; winter hours are Late October to Memorial Day, Open most weekends, weather permitting. Please call ahead.
Cost: Adults, $5; children, $2; seniors, $3.
New England Maple Museum
Rutland, VT, 05763
Visitors to this museum will learn all about the manufacture of Vermont maple syrup. Exhibits include demonstrations of sap collecting, candy-making, and syrup making. A slide show and tastings are included, and a gift shop is open on the premises.
Hours: May 23-October 31, daily, 9-5 p.m.; November 1-December 23, daily, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; January & February, closed; mid-March-May 22, daily, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Montshire Museum of Science
One Montshire Road
Norwich, VT, 05055
This award-winning, hands-on museum offers more than 125 of exhibits indoors and out, relating to the natural and physical sciences, ecology, and technology. The building is located on 110-acres next to the Connecticut River, and the Museum’s outdoor environment is a large part of the visitor experience, including a network of walking trails and trailside exhibits. Two-acre Science Park features water exhibits from early May to mid-October. Food service is available in the Hughes Pavilion July and August. Hours: Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week, (closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day). Admission: One day pass is $14 for adults and $11 for children age 2–17. Free for members and children under the age of 2. Two-day passes are available. Information: www.montshire.org
Echo at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain
1 College Street
Burlington, VT, 05401
Discover 60 species of fish, amphibians, invertebrates, and reptiles, over 100 hands-on experiences, traveling exhibits, and the Awesome Forces Theater. Live animal feedings. The 2.2-acre site also includes the Lake Champlain Navy Memorial, Eclectic Gift Shop, and seasonal café.
Cost: Adults over age 18, $12.50; seniors over age 60 and students, $10.50; children age 3-17, $9.50.
Hours: Year- round, daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Birds of Vermont Museum
900 Sherman Hollow Road
Exhibits feature carvings of over 450 species of birds, including an archaeopteryx and other extinct and endangered species. There is a wild bird observation area, as well as nature trails, carving demonstrations and a gift shop.
Cost: Adults, $6; seniors, $5; children age 3-17, $3; family, $15.
Hours: May 1-October 31, daily, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; in winter by appointment
Vermont Institute of Natural Sciences Nature Center
6565 Woodstock Road (Route 4)
Quechee, VT, 05059
Open: Year round, daily, May 1-October 31, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; November 1-April 30, Wednesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day
Outdoor exhibits of owls, eagles, falcons and other birds of prey, flight demonstrations, ecology programs about the landscape and wildlife of Vermont, walking trails, and a nature shop featuring science kits, field guides, binoculars, toys and gifts. Cost: Adults: $8; children 3-16, $6.50.
Lake Champlain Maritime Museum
4472 Basin Harbor Road
Vergennes, VT, 05491
Four acres of exhibits, shipwrecks nautical archaology, antique boats and more. Explore the vibrant history of the Champlain Valley through its military, commercial and regional periods. Climb aboard the 54' replica gunboat Philadelphia II. Twelve exhibit buildings, collections, working forge, boat building courses and workshops, replica gunboat, shipwrecks, nautical archaeology center, antique boats, boat livery, visitor center and museum store, field study, outreach, summer programs.
Hours: Late May to mid-October, daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: Adults, $10; seniors, $9; students age 5-17, $6.
American Museum of Fly Fishing
Manchester, VT, 05254
The American Museum of Fly Fishing, home to the world’s largest collection of angling art and angling-related items, brings the history of fly fishing alive for anglers and others. The museum contains an impressive exhibit gallery space, a library and reading room, a museum store, and other resources. The exhibit’s opening section contains an illustrated timeline, which takes the visitor from Aelian’s comments on fly fishing in 200 A.D. to the developments and issues surrounding the sport today.
Cost: Adults, $5; children over age 10, $3.
Hours: Year-round, Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Green Mountain Audubon Center
255 Sherman Hollow Road
Huntington, VT, 01238
This 255-acre center offers five miles of trails through northern hardwood forest, hemlock swamp, and other habitats that are home to birds, amphibians, and beaver. In late winter, stop by the sugarhouse to watch maple sugar making. During the summer, visit the butterfly garden. At The Barn, check out the Discovery Room, with interactive displays and activities. Lookout Rock offers spectacular views of the Green Mountains
Merck Forest & Farmland Center
Rupert Mountain Road (Route 315)
Rupert, VT, 05768
Merck Forest is open to the public free every day year-round. This conservation area includes forests, a farm, hiking trails, and camping. Educators offer workshop programs for children and adults on many topics of ecology. Events include pick your own flowers and vegetables, farm tours, meet the bees, mushrooming, and harvest day.