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Summer is all about exploration. At the end of a long, action-filled day, who isn't tempted to follow the sun as it drops below the western horizon?

In mid-June, my family and I spent a few days at Burton Island State Park, wandering the grassy trails, skipping stones on the lake, listening to birds and bees. As part of our participation in the Vermont State Parks' Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge, we kept track of the many plants and animals we encountered. Our list grew to include garter and milk snakes, cedar waxwings, American toads, great blue herons, pike, perch, sunfish and bullpout.

My son, Oliver, checked his map of the island as we walked, and trailed his toy boat alongside our canoe when we paddled. It was pretty close to my idea of heaven — especially since I had great coffee every day; a new insulated French press made that possible, even without electricity.

The trip proved you don't need to go far to explore: Burton Island is less than 10 as-the-crow-fly miles from our house, but we felt a world away.

That's the goal of our summer "Day-cations" series, which continues this month with a trip to the Billings Farm & Museum in Woodstock with its rolling green farmland and homemade ice cream. Willing to venture just a little farther? Santa's Village in Jefferson, N.H., is a great theme park for little kids.

Our aim is to encourage and assist in your adventures, whether they're to cities, towns, farms or amusement parks. Kids VT covers indoor exploration, too. Literary editor Margot Harrison offers a young-adult book roundup in this issue that should be required reading for every parent.

Check out the calendar for ideas, and when you're on the road, use our new mobile-friendly website to make finding fun super quick and easy. Life is short, and summer in Vermont doesn't last long. So get out and enjoy it, even if you don't get farther than your own backyard.

—Kate Laddison, managing editor, kate@kidsvt.com

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