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No Place Like Home 

click to enlarge A family photo at the top of L.A.'s Griffith Park
  • A family photo at the top of L.A.'s Griffith Park

My family traveled to Los Angeles for the first time, in early July, for a long-planned vacation to visit my sister. We had a blast exploring the city and the coast, but we were also happy to return to Vermont just as summer hit its stride.

As I reflect on our trip, I can't help but draw some comparisons between California and Vermont.

A desert hike in Malibu's Charmlee Wilderness Park, where we picked sage and took in sweeping ocean views, was pretty magical. But so is an excursion up Camel's Hump.

The bánh mì from a Vietnamese food truck in Venice Beach was delicious, but it didn't have much on the gnocchi and short ribs I scarfed down last summer at ArtsRiot's Friday night Truck Stop in Burlington.

Frolicking in the powerful Pacific was invigorating, but I'm just as rejuvenated by an after-dinner paddleboard on Lake Champlain.

The Santa Monica Farmer's Market, which locals told us was a can't-miss destination, boasted juicy, ripe peaches, pears and pluots. But they weren't any more mouthwatering than the ruby red strawberries and plump blueberries we get from Adam's Berry Farm in Charlotte.

My conclusion? Nothing beats Vermont in the summertime. And because the season is so short and our winters can be so brutal, Vermonters probably appreciate the season a bit more than those who enjoy balmy days year-round.

Kids VT celebrates summer with our annual series of family day trips — or "Day-cations" — that explore the unique beauty and culture of our region. In this season's final installment, Sean Markey and his family bike around the urban oasis of Montréal, and Jessica Lara Ticktin and her girls hike to the top of Elmore Mountain and descend for a dip in Lake Elmore.

Find more summer fun in "Fit Families." Contributor Gretchen Stern visited the Tuesday Night Trail Running Series at Williston's Catamount Outdoor Family Center, where enjoyment, not competition, is the primary goal. Newark-area residents get to speed around trails every week on two wheels at the Ide family's backyard bike park, featured in "Habitat."

All of these stories should give you a sense of what's so special about Vermont at this time of year. Now get out there and pack as much camping, hiking, biking and merrymaking into the month as you possibly can! Then read this month's "Checkup," which offers tips for helping kids transition back to school.

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