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Woodstock Magazine

Cure Cabin Fever With A Day Trip To The Vermont Institute Of Natural Science

Jan 22, 2015 05:22PM ● Published by Victoria Pipas

If you’re fighting cabin fever during these bright, cold winter days, you and your family might love an expedition to the Vermont Institute of Natural Science or VINS, in Quechee, Vermont. This impressive science education and animal rehabilitation center comprises 47 acres and offers exhibit spaces, classrooms, enclosures, trails, and much more. Not all animals hibernate during the winter months and the exhibits and activities featuring live animals are just as active in the winter months!

The most exciting activities at VINS feature birds. During winter as well as summer months, you can attend live raptor shows where you will learn about the anatomy and habits that make these birds unique. Trainers educate and entertain, with programs designed especially for younger members of the audience. On weekends, you can attend a tour of the raptor enclosures to take a closer look at the birds’ habitats in the wild and in captivity. As you learn the stories of the birds that are in permanent residence because of injuries, you will become more conscious of your own impact on the wildlife around you. You can also participate in feeding time, and see what turtles, small amphibians, and a wide range of birds enjoy for dinner.

VINS is a great place for winter activities as well. You and your family can rent snowshoes here and hike for miles! Start with the VINS Nature Trails, which feature kiosks, signs, and observation platforms. Along the Ottauquechee River and at Dewey’s Pond, you’ll get a wonderful, snow-covered view. If you are looking for a longer adventure, snowshoe into the adjacent Quechee State Forest; you might find yourself hiking all the way to Quechee Gorge! Even if you’ve already visited these landmarks, you’re likely to be surprised by the different journey the winter months offer when the landscape is completely transformed.

Great indoor activities can also be found at VINS, where children can release some pent-up energy. They will enjoy the Nature Nook, where they can learn about amphibians and reptiles in wetland habitats. Or they can visit the Crawl Space to act like an animal, play in the puppet theater, make nature-themed crafts, or read an educational book. If you and your children fall in love with all that VINS has to offer, you can even organize a birthday party here. All these activities are great ways for children to continue to learn, exercise, and engage in nature, even when the weather outside is frightful. Adults, too, will delight in VINS during the winter. Make reservations for February 6th’s Winter Wine and Dine event, an evening with an educational winter snowshoe trek followed by a three-course dinner at the Quechee Inn at Marshland Farm. This is a winter adventure not to be missed!

While at VINS, be sure to check out the charming Nature Store, which features everything from nutritious Vermont granola bars to birdhouses and interactive toys such as kites and science kits. Also in keeping with winter, enjoy the watercolor paintings of Jeanette Fournier. Her art is being exhibited in the VINS Nature Center through March 31st. Jeanette’s beautiful, intricate paintings are inspired by the mountainous landscapes of New Hampshire and Vermont and composed with an Audubon-like attention to detail and observation of nature. Her work brings the beauty of the forest indoors for all to enjoy.

The excitement of VINS can’t be expressed on a page; you have to go and experience it for yourself. Visit the website for a complete list of hours, admission prices, and special events.

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