Vermont is a state that begs to be photographed. The entire state is like a gigantic picture postcard that is filled with scenic beauty at every turn, historic buildings and towns that are considered some of the prettiest in the United States. Fall is a delight as the leaves turn their gorgeous colors. Winter is great for skiing and snow activities. Spring and summer offer a plethora of festivals and outdoor activities, such as camping and hiking. Yep, Vermont’s got it all. Here’s a look at the best places to visit in Vermont:
When you hear Woodstock, your first thought is probably of the famous music festival. You’d be wrong: wrong state. Vermont’s Woodstock is far, far from a rock festival. It’s a sleepy village that has been described as quaint meets charming. This picture postcard village is considered one of the prettiest small towns in America, and has the plaque to prove it. It’s a place to drive over a picturesque red covered bridge, visit a sugar maple farm, breathe in the crisp air as you hike in the surrounding mountains and shop at unique boutiques and galleries.
Quechee Gorge is Vermont’s answer to the Grand Canyon. Not as big as its cousin in the distant West, it still provides some pretty views. At 165 feet deep, it is the deepest gorge in the Green Mountain state. The gorge was formed by glacial action 13,000 years ago. The Ottauquechee River provides exciting whitewater rafting at the bottom. Less adventurous travelers can walk to Mill Pond Falls that cascade down 30 feet. The historic Quechee Gorge Bridge connects the banks. Built in 1911; it is Vermont’s oldest surviving steel arch bridge.
Manchester has many things going for it. It’s an historic town that makes a good base from which to explore the Green Mountains. It’s got lots of shopping, including outlet malls that attract people from New York and Connecticut. Named after an English duke of Manchester, the town first made history between 1812 and 1819 for being the home of America’s first wrongful murder conviction case, a case that’s studied even today. Most historic towns in Vermont only have one historic district, but Manchester has three: Depot district, and Bonnet and Main streets.
Montpelier has the dubious distinction of being the least populated state capital in the United States. At least it is at night; the daytime population triples as people come to work for the state government. The city is named for a city in France in honor of that country’s contributions during the American Revolution. Visiting the State House is the No. 1 thing to do in Montpelier, but if you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’ll want to visit a maple sugar/syrup factory. Stop by the statue of Ethan Allen, a Revolutionary War hero and a founder of Vermont.
Shelburne is a quiet town seven miles south of Burlington, the Vermont’s largest city. Founded in 1763, it was named for William Petty, earl of Shelburne and British prime minister. It has deep roots in farming, and several farms, including vineyards, are open to the public. Its most visited attraction, however, just may be one devoted to making your kids happy. Open for tours, the Vermont Teddy Bear Co. has been making cute, cuddly teddy bears since 1981, and is one of Vermont’s more popular attractions. If you like water better, Shelburne is located on Lake Champlain.
If you’re an adventuresome skier, you may want to hit the slopes at Killington Resort on Vermont’s second highest mountain. It’s known as the “beast of the East” because it’s the largest vertical drop in New England. Killington, which opened in 1958, is the largest ski area in the eastern United States. While Killington Peak is the primary ski area, the resort also offers skiing across six mountains. There are 155 trails that handle skiers from beginners to experts and 21 lifts to carry them up the mountains. A few of the trails have ramps and jumps.
Grafton, considered one of New England’s prettiest towns, got its name in a unique way. Originally known as Thomlinson, the right to rename it garnered $5 and some rum in an action; the winning bidder named it after his home town of Grafton, Massachusetts. Homes and buildings have been restored to their historic grandeur, so Grafton looks pretty much like It might have a century or two ago. Be sure to check out the Grafton Inn, which has been operating as a hotel since 1801. Standing guard over the village is the iconic White Church that was built in 1858.
When the outdoors beckons, the Champlain Islands are one of the best places to visit in Vermont. The islands are an archipelago, perhaps a total of 30 miles long, located in Lake Champlain that separates Vermont and New York. Reachable by ferry, they provide some of the most scenic drives in Vermont, a state that is known for scenic drives. In the summer, you can camp, visit the state’s first vineyard or cycle the scenic Island Line Trail. You can go ice-fishing in the winter. And, best of all, you won’t have to worry about running into a lot of other people since the largest town in the chain counts only 2,000 residents.
Stowe keeps visitors busy all year ‘round. There’s skiing and snow sports in the winter, and festivals, including one featuring balloons, and art shows in the summer. One of the biggest is September’s British Invasion, when fields are filled with all makes and models of British automobiles. Stowe is a must-visit if you’re a Sound of Music fan. It’s where the von Trapp family settled and operated a ski lodge after they fled Austria during World War II. The lodge’s meadow was a venue for the Vermont Mozart Festival. You can also hike and mountain-bike on nearby trails.
OK. Admit it. You love ice cream, especially if it’s made by Ben and Jerry. Burlington may be known for many things, but it’s likely most famous as the home of this sinfully delicious ice cream. The town is located on the shores of Lake Champlain, so there are plenty of water activities to burn off those calories. The four-block pedestrian mall known as Church Street Marketplace hosts a variety of festivals throughout the year. They range from art to celebrating beer and giant pumpkins. It also hosts one of the largest year ‘round farmers markets in Vermont.