Family Vacations: Lake Champlain

Sailing is one way to enjoy the pristine waters of Lake Champlain.

Samuel de Champlain explored so much of New England that it was only fair to name the spectacular Lake Champlain after him. He discovered the lake in 1609 while in the Champlain Valley, which lies between Vermont's Green Mountains and the Adirondack Mountains of New York. Lake Champlain has since served the needs of merchants and mariners, scalawags and soldiers, smugglers and spies, and patriots and traitors.

The lake has seen its share of naval conflict, too: Warfare on the lake climaxed in 1814, when in a fierce fight troops led by U.S. Commodore Thomas McDonough defeated the British Navy. During the 19th century, canal boats and steamboats carried coal, timber, iron ore, and grain across the lake. Today, industry has given way to recreation.

Lake Champlain has become a year-round playground featuring boating, hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice climbing, and rock climbing. Bicycling around Lake Champlain is a special favorite, and cyclists take advantage of the Lake Champlain Bikeways' 35 loops and 10- to 60-mile tours.

Bounded by Vermont, New York, and Quebec, the lake's Alburg Peninsula juts southward from Quebec, making it one of the few places in the United States that can only be reached through Canada. A more familiar north crossing extends through Ticonderoga, New York. Just east of the town is Fort Ticonderoga, a sterling 18th-century fort with a museum and guided tours.

Lake Champlain Information

Address: Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce

60 Main St. Burlington, VT

Telephone: 802/863-3489, 877/686-5253

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Vermont State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Vermont, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.


Laura Sutherland is a widely acknowledged authority on family travel and has published several books on the topic, including Best Family Ski Vacations In North America and Tropical Family Vacations.