Whether you like wine, spa treatments or fishing, Vermont has it all.

The Essex Resort & Spa

When my husband and I and our three children were in Vermont, I knew we had to take a side trip to Burlington. If not only to check out the college town itself, then to take a visit to The Essex, Vermont's Culinary Resort and Spa. I like to try new gourmet items. (If only I knew how to fix them as well as I like to eat them!) And my soon-to-be-8-year-old has added chef to his career possibility list, so with the lure of the wonderful gourmet food and the obvious experience I wanted for our son, I knew we had to make time for The Essex.

It should go without saying that the food at a culinary resort should be outstanding and ours certainly was. We chose to lunch in the resort's tavern. It offers a more casual American dining experience than Butler's Restaurant and was perfect for our visit. For those wanting a more formal dinner, then definitely head for Butler's. It has a modern European-American dining style and you'll need to plan to spend a couple of hours for your experience.

While of course it's always nice to sit and enjoy a great meal, for the foodies out there, you'll appreciate knowing that at The Essex you can actually enroll in cooking classes. Classes are purposely kept small, so the cooking experience is intimate and fun. And if you prefer to watch more than to do, then check out the students at work. For those traveling in a group, you can customize a cooking class that will suit your interests.

Obviously, the food is important at this resort, but that's not the only benefit to visiting. Did I mention, Spa at the Essex? There are over 10 treatment rooms, including those that will accommodate two (perfect for that special romantic getaway) and you'll find your self relaxing amidst the steam, sauna and fireplace sanctuaries. With such attention to health and wellness, the resort also has made sure that fitness buffs are taken care of with the 25-yard indoor pool, workout equipment and studio classes. After a day of health and wellness, you'll be pleased to know that the restaurants offer spa cuisine that won't undo all of your hard work!

From hot air ballooning, hiking, skiing, and swimming there is something for everyone. My husband and sons love to fish and were thrilled to learn that the Inn at Essex is the only Orvis-endorsed fly fishing lodge in Vermont. And what does that mean? It means that you can be sure that guides will be attentive and helpful and you'll enjoy a first-class fishing experience.

What to expect

The Essex Report & Spa is a 120-guest room resort that offers culinary, spa and indoor/outdoor activities. This resort is easily assessable from Burlington and the Burlington International Airport (10-15 minutes). Call ahead or check online for upcoming culinary events and activities. Visit www.VtCulinaryResort.com, or call (800) 727-4295.


Boyden Valley Winery

When we planned our visit to the Green Mountain state of Vermont, we knew we'd enjoy the beautiful mountains, the fresh air and the rolling green pastures. But what my husband and I didn't know was that we were in for a special wine treat. Who knew Vermont is famous for their wine? We didn't.

The Boyden Valley Winery has been in the business for over five generations. And once you step onto the property, you can tell that the Boyden's care about quality. The grounds are beautifully groomed and the buildings are full of character. There's just the right amount of rolling pastures and mountain background to make the setting perfect, but the winery of course is the real draw. Located in a restored 1825 carriage barn in Cambridge Vermont, the winery produces 4,000 to 5,000 cases of wine each year.

Vermont has a premier line of ice wine. In fact, the Boyden Valley Winery introduced their premier wine label Vermont Ice in 2007. New to "ice" wine, my husband and I got a quick lesson from Linda Boyden on what ice wine is all about. Turns out that the grapes and apples are cold frost harvested and the end result is simply magic. From flavors such as Vermont Ice, Vermont Ice Red, to of course, Vermont Ice Cider, you can enjoy this unique wine. But beware. The ice wines are limited editions and are produced in batches of only 300. It's definitely a specialty product.

What makes this winery a special Vermont destination though is the history behind this fifth-generation working farm. It's about a family coming together to make their dreams a reality.

What to expect

Beyond sampling the wines, visitors may take tours and enjoy cheese plates on the terrace overlooking one of the vineyards. There also is a special playground set up for children.

For more information or to order products, please visit www.boydenvalley.com, or search them on Facebook and Twitter.