10 Ways to Have Fun at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science in Quechee, VT

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The Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) in Quechee, Vermont is a 47 acre complex that includes indoor and outdoor exhibits, the Forest Canopy Walk, three hiking trails, a Meadow Walk, a Center for Wild Bird Rehabilitation, adventure playscape, and plenty of classrooms and exhibition spaces. Opened in 1972, the programs featured at VINS focus on conservation, preservation, and rehabilitation of wildlife. The center is the perfect, family friendly way to explore nature and learn about the local wildlife.

Travel Tips:

  • VINS is open seven days a week from 10am-4pm; information on admission pricing and various discounts and promotions can be found here
  • There is plenty of free parking and restrooms are located near the admission desk and gift shop, by the Raptor Enclosures, and in the Administration building
  • Leave the stroller in the car- kids will want to walk and have easy access to the Canopy Walk (the main path is handicap accessible). The hiking trails are cleared but rough (and slippery in the winter), except for the McKnight Trail, which is stroller and handicap accessible. See the full site map here.
  • Wear sneakers or closed toe shoes.
  • The Nature Store gift shop sells  drinks, snacks, and plenty of souvenirs related to the wildlife and animals showcased in the exhibits.
  • Information on special events here and camps here.
  • No dining facilities on site but check out this index and this index of nearby restaurants in Woodstock and Quechee. If you’re coming from the Hanover, New Hampshire area, we highly recommend King Arthur Baking Company Cafe
  • Plan on 2-3 hours to fully explore the exhibits, Raptor Enclosures, Forest Canopy Walk, and a couple of the hiking trails.

10 Ways to Have Fun at VINS:

  1. Meet up to 30 raptors, many of whom are injured, including hawks, owls, falcons, and eagles in the Raptor Enclosures. Each raptor has their own space with various structures for exercise and engagement. There are signs explaining the biography of each raptor and their personal history. Be sure to grab a scavenger hunt to complete .
  2. Test your grip strength against various birds (owls, eagles, and hawks) and compare your wingspan against a raptor.
  3. Hike one- or all- three hiking trails, totally over 1.5 miles. The trails guide visitors to great views of Ottauquechee River and Dewey’s Pond. Some of the trails also connect to trails that are part of Quechee State Forest that lead to Quechee Gorge. See the trail map here.
  4. Follow the Meadow Walk and learn about flowers and plants that grow on the property.
  5. Get up close to wood turtles and corn snakes in the Reptile Room.

6. Act like a spider and spin your own web in the giant rope web suspended in the Forest Canopy Walk. There is even an additional platform six feet above to look down into the web.
7. Climb 99 steps to the very top of the observation tower in the Forest Canopy Walk and check out beautiful views of Dewey’s Pond. At the highest point, guests are 65 feet above the ground, truly making it a birds eye view of the landscape. The entire boardwalk is handicap and stroller accessible, remaining fairly level even as the land slopes.
8. Check out the indoor Forest Exhibit, which includes interactive quizzes, a leaf rubbing station, costume corner, and a second floor slide that takes kids (and kids at heart) outside to the lower ground.
9. Play aboard the outdoor Adventure Playscape and create your own adventure.
10. Check out the daily calendar for activities like Raptors Up Close.

Looking for more fun in Woodstock? Check out our full Woodstock City Guide, our dining guide to Woodstock, and our post featuring the Montshire Museum of Science. And follow along on our adventures on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest

Disclaimer: My family was given a media pass to explore VINS- All opinions expressed are my own.

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  1. The Vermont Institute of Natural Science looks really fun. Vermont is really beautiful. Love the picture in from of the Eagle wings.

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