Full of fertile fields, farms, and forests, the mostly rural state of Vermont is a very peaceful and picturesque place to visit with lots of stunning scenery on show. Nestled away in the northeast of the States, it lies on the border with Canada, next to Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New York.
While lots of people come for its charming towns and villages or to sample its tasty local produce, just as many visit for its fascinating historic tourist attractions and mountain ski resorts. Although Vermont is a delight to explore at any time of year, fall attracts the most visitors due to its famed and fetching foliage. With everything from exploring majestic mountains to idyllic lake islands among things to do in Vermont, as well as the enticing Appalachian Trail to hike along, the Green Mountain state truly does have something for everyone to enjoy.
21. Lake Willoughby
A very peaceful and picturesque place to spend some time, the lovely Lake Willoughby lies amidst the almost endless forests of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Tucked away in between two massive fjord-like mountains, its reflective waters offer all kinds of fun outdoor activities with stupendous scenery, nature, and views on show wherever you go.
Known for its crystal-clear waters and chilly temperature, the large lake was carved out of the Earth aeons ago by slowly moving glaciers. Flanked by the steep, craggy cliffs of both Mount Pisgah and Mount Hor, its southern shores are surrounded by the unspoiled Willoughby State Forest with pretty hiking paths and cycling trails snaking their way here and there.
In addition to swimming, fishing, and sailing out on the lake, visitors can stay in cosy cottages or at campsites with the tiny lakeside town of Westmore being home to a couple of restaurants and shops.
20. Creamery Covered Bridge
Lying on the outskirts of Brattleboro, not too far from the border with Massachusetts, is one of the state’s standout historic sights. Set in an isolated spot overlooking a gorgeous stream, the charming Creamery Covered Bridge makes for some fantastic photos as it stands out delightfully against the lush foliage all around it.
The last surviving covered bridge of its kind in the region, it impressively dates to 1879 with some intricate lattice work and exposed wooden beams lining its sides. Very well-preserved, its attractive exterior is painted a dark red hue which makes it look somewhat like a farmyard barn.
As it is now closed to traffic, visitors can only stroll across the terrific truss bridge and snap photos of the stream below or stop off for a picnic in the colorful little garden that lies alongside it.
19. Sugarbush Farm
If you’re looking to try some of Vermont’s famous local produce, then the scenic Sugarbush Farm is surely one of the best places to go. Located just outside the quaint little village of Woodstock, it has various cheeses and maple syrups for you to sample while free self-guided tours teach you how they make their award-winning delicacies.
Set on a hillside in Central Vermont, the family-run farm sprawls over a huge area with fertile fields and centuries-old farmhouses situated next to soaring maple trees. While exploring its nature trails, guests can meet cute farm critters and see how trees are tapped before watching sap be boiled down into syrup and cheeses being made in its atmospheric old barns.
As well as trying some of Sugarbush’s sumptuous cheeses and maple syrups, visitors can also buy mustards, jams, and spreads in its on-site shop.
18. Buttermilk Falls
As it is home to not one, not two, but three twinkling waterfalls, the breathtaking Buttermilk Falls is definitely well worth checking out when driving around the Green Mountain State. Nestled amidst lots of lush woodlands, its cascades, gorges, and swimming holes lie not far from Ludlow with the excellent Okemo Mountain Resort set just a stone’s throw away.
Although each of the three falls only reach up to fifteen feet in height, they all make for spectacular sights as they course their way down rugged rock formations with dense foliage lying all around. At the bottom of both the lower and upper falls there are sizeable swimming holes for people to splash about in with the bubbling Branch Brook connecting them all together.
Aside from snapping some photos of the scenic spot and stopping off for a picnic, you can always hike about the surrounding woods and gorges which are full of idyllic trails.
17. Billings Farm
Widely considered to be one of the best outdoor history museums in the US, the brilliant Billings Farm can be found right in the center of Woodstock. As well as interesting educational exhibits and hands-on activities, it has paddocks full of farm animals and colorful gardens for visitors to amble around with impressive old historic buildings dotted here and there.
Dedicated to the telling of Vermont’s rich rural heritage, the working farm and its adjoining museum highlight what life was like in the countryside back in the nineteenth century. In addition to strolling around barns full of original artifacts, photos and farm equipment, guests can watch daily milking demonstrations and shop for souvenirs in its store.
Afterwards you can always explore its resplendent gardens and refined farm manager’s house, which dates to 1890, and pet adorable calves, foals and lambs in its pristine pastures.
16. Smugglers Notch State Park
Winding its way through the gorgeous Green Mountains, Smugglers Notch State Park boasts lots of stunning landscapes, scenery, and nature. Once used as a smuggling route into Canada, its elevated confines now instead have some epic hiking, biking, and rock climbing routes to enjoy while superb skiing and snowmobiling can be had in the cold winter months.
Located at a height of over 2,000 feet, the picturesque park is named for the lofty pass that separates Mount Mansfield from Spruce Peak and the Sterling Range. Due to its rugged and remote terrain, both goods and livestock were ferried through the area with smugglers and fugitive slaves using its numerous caves as hideaways.
Nowadays, both Vermonters and tourists come here to hike and bike about its shady woods or climb its vertical cliffs and large boulders with campsites and lean-to shelters also found here and there.
15. Moss Glen Falls
Not far away is yet another scenic nature spot for visitors to Vermont to enjoy; the marvelous Moss Glen Falls. A very popular attraction, the wonderful waterfall lies at the end of a short but slippery trail, just a few minutes’ drive from the center of Stowe.
Impressively enough, it towers 125 feet in height with its jet white waters tumbling down the side of a steep ravine. Although it is not the tallest in the state, it is certainly one of the most spellbinding as its pretty pool is also surrounded by lots of lovely trees and shrubs.
Besides basking in its beauty, you can also hike a bit further along its boardwalk which meanders its way through patches of wildflowers, pockets of pristine woods and offers some fantastic views of the peaceful creek.
14. Quechee Gorge
Thanks to its sublime views and startling scenery, the gaping Quechee Gorge is visited by countless tourists each and every day. While most hail from New England, many come from further afield to ogle at what is often called ‘Vermont’s Little Grand Canyon’.
Now protected as part of a state park, the gigantic gorge remarkably plunges more than 160 feet to the rushing Ottauquechee River down below. Formed millennia ago by slowly moving glaciers, its sheer walls are lined by lush woods with rough rocks and the fast-flowing river lying at its bottom.
The best place to view the natural phenomenon is from the lofty U.S. Route 4 bridge which spans the gorge and offers up unrivaled photo opportunities. In addition, you can also hike along either of its verdant banks while thrillseekers may want to whitewater raft its roaring rapids.
13. Church Street Marketplace (Burlington)
As it is packed with cafes and restaurants, bars and boutiques, the lively Church Street Marketplace really is the best place to dine, shop, and go out in Burlington. The heart and soul of life in town, the massive outdoor pedestrian mall attracts people from all around the state with interesting historical sites and entertaining street performers also on show.
Since being established in 1980, the shopping area has expanded enormously with almost a hundred establishments now sprawling across four blocks in the city centre. These include not only open-air cafes and chain stores, but little local art galleries, brilliant restaurants, and of course a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream parlour.
Aside from enjoying its vibrant feel and taking in its attractive architecture and fine public artworks, visitors can also watch some superb street performers and attend some of the fun cultural events and festivals that regularly take place.
12. Cabot Farmers’ Village Store
First opened all the way back in 1919, the Cabot Farmers’ Village Store has been serving not only the community but cheese lovers and tourists ever since. Located in the small and secluded village of Cabot, it is here that you can buy and try the ‘World’s Best Cheddar’ cheese.
Besides its delicious dairy products, the store also has lots of sumptuous sour creams, dips and yogurts on offer. While tours of its factory are no longer taking place, there is a great video on how all its dairy products and cheeses are produced.
As everything is sourced from its cooperative of over 800 farm families, the store is the perfect place for sampling some lovely local Vermont products and buying some award-winning cheeses to take home as souvenirs.
11. Bennington Battle Monument
Towering over its surroundings, the Bennington Battle Monument commemorates what many consider to be a major turning point in the American Revolutionary War. Set in the southwest corner of the state, its ninety-three meter high stone obelisk certainly makes for a spectacular sight.
While the battle of 1777 actually took place 10 miles away in Walloomsac, New York, a local historical society settled on this site to erect a monument for its centenary celebration. At the foot of its ostentatious obelisk are numerous statues of influential officers such as John Stark and Seth Warner; both of whom fought in the battle.
From the obelisk’s observatory level, visitors can enjoy phenomenal views out over the charming countryside with the gorgeous Green Mountains to be spied in the distance.
10. Burlington Waterfront Park
The largest city in the state, Burlington boasts a wonderful waterfront park that lies on the scenic shores of the shimmering Lake Champlain. Nestled away in the northwest of Vermont, the pretty, pleasant, and peaceful park lends itself perfectly to all kinds of recreational activities and is very popular among both locals and tourists alike.
Besides ambling peacefully along its beautiful boardwalk, visitors can cycle along its bike path, use its outdoor fitness amenities or enjoy stupendous sunsets over the lake. In addition to this, there are also some fantastic flowerbeds and good-looking gardens to wander around.
Over the course of the year, Burlington Waterfront Park hosts numerous cultural events, concerts, and festivals with lots of people packing into the park to enjoy the shows and performances.
9. Shelburne Museum
Set just to the south of Burlington is the sensational Shelburne Museum which is remarkably home to the largest collection of Americana in the States. Sprawling over thirty-nine buildings are over 150,000 items for you to peruse with astounding art, artifacts, and architecture all on show.
Founded by Electra Havemeyer Webb in 1947, the colossal collection includes everything from ceramics and carriages to folk art and furniture with a plethora of American prints and paintings on display.
In addition to its innumerable items, objects, and artworks, the museum also has lots of historic buildings from around New England and New York for visitors to explore. Many of these were actually relocated and resembled on the museum’s village-like grounds with numerous old houses to be found alongside a schoolhouse, sawmill and county jail.
8. Hildene (Lincoln Family Home)
Once the summer home of Robert Todd Lincoln, the extensive and extravagant estate of Hildene can be found on the outskirts of Manchester in the southwest of the state. Set amidst lovingly landscaped lawns and gorgeous gardens that overlook the Battenkill Valley, the Georgian Revival mansion is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vermont.
Inhabited by descendants of President Abraham Lincoln right up until 1975, the stately home and its grand grounds were subsequently turned into a magnificent museum. Full of fine furniture and fetching furnishings from the famous family, the massive mansion is fascinating to explore with lots of age-old antiques and artifacts on show.
Besides wandering around the Lincoln Family Home, visitors can also take a look at its adjoining agricultural center and old outbuildings. On top of this, there are also twelve kilometers of hiking and skiing trails to explore through its marvelous meadows, forests, and wetlands.
7. Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour
Famed around the world for its irresistible ice creams and fabulous frozen yogurts, Ben & Jerry’s was founded in 1978 in Burlington. At the nearby town of Waterbury, visitors can take a tour around its factory to learn all there is to know about its iconic ice cream and even sample a scoop or two.
Besides hearing about how Ben and Jerry met and came up with the idea to make ice cream, you can also see the production line in action. In addition, there is an informational video presentation that tells you all about how they became the all-conquering ice cream empire they are today.
After taking the terrific and tasty tour, visitors can stop by the ‘Flavor Graveyard’ to see little tombstones to outlandish flavours that were discontinued or didn’t make the grade.
6. Skiing in Killington Resort
The largest ski area in the Eastern United States, Killington Resort spans seven summits and boasts lots of stunning snow-coated slopes and scenery. Dominated and defined by the prominent 1,289 meter Killington Peak, the popular Vermont getaway is commonly known as the ‘Beast of the East’.
Perfect for beginners, intermediates, and advanced skiers and snowboarders alike, the resort has over 150 runs to choose from which can be accessed by its twenty-one ski lifts. While Killington Peak attracts the most visitors due to its 930 meter vertical drop, both Skye Peak and Bear Mountain have some lovely trails and pistes to explore.
Dotted about the ski area’s slopes are a huge array of lodges, inns, and cabins for visitors to stay in with lots of restaurants and cafes also on offer. While skiing is the main reason that everyone visits Killington Resort, it also has some great hiking and mountain biking in the summer months.
5. Stowe Recreation Path
Winding its way through the wonderful woods and mountains of north-central Vermont, the superb Stowe Recreation Path is popular with locals and out-of-towners alike. Spanning eight kilometers in length, the gorgeous greenway stretches from Stowe Village right to Top Notch Resort on the Mountain Road.
Internationally recognized for its scenic nature and outstanding beauty, the recreational trail passes through lots of lovely landscapes with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. On the way, visitors can stop off at the handful of local restaurants and lodges that line the route.
Besides hiking along the picturesque and peaceful path, many people choose to jog, run or cycle with snowshoeing and cross-country skiing also being popular in the snowy winter months.
4. Hike the Appalachian Trail
One of the best and most beautiful hiking routes in the States, the Appalachian Trail stretches all the way from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. Of its 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers), 240 pass through Vermont taking you past lots of incredible natural sights and stupendous scenery.
Largely following the ridge of the southern Green Mountains, the Vermont part of the trail takes you over such lofty mounts as Stratton Mountain and Killington Peak. From up high you can enjoy lots of marvelous mountain vistas and fantastic views over the surrounding wilderness and countryside.
Hiking among all of the serene and secluded nature really is a treat as you pass through lots of untouched and unspoiled landscapes. Amidst the verdant forests, you’ll come across babbling brooks and shimmering streams with quiet campsites for you to stay at.
3. Skiing in Stowe
Nicknamed the ‘Ski Capital of the East’, the cute, charming and quintessential Vermont village of Stowe is one of the best places to enjoy snow sports in New England. Nestled in a scenic valley with majestic mountains rising up all around it, it lies in in the northwest of the state along the almost mythical Mountain Road.
On the snow-coated slopes of the 1,340 meter high Mount Mansfield, the tallest peak in Vermont, visitors will find the superb Stowe Mountain Resort. With over 110 runs to choose from, it really is ideal for beginner, intermediate, and advanced skiers with its numerous trails and terrain parks which are serviced by gondolas, surface lifts, and chairlifts. In addition, it also has one of the longest vertical drops in the northeast to try out.
Besides basking in the resort’s cosy and classy ambience, visitors can also check out the amazing Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum. While most people come for its sensational ski slopes, Stowe also has some excellent hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing in the summer months.
2. See the Fall Foliage
One of the most magical and memorable times to visit Vermont is in fall when its luscious landscapes are coated in an astounding array of kaleidoscopic colors. Widely regarded to be one of, if not the best place in the whole world to view fall foliage, it truly is a special and spectacular time to travel around the state.
For a few weeks in September and October, the largely rural state is awash with color as brilliantly bright reds, yellows, and oranges that light up its mountains and meadows. As it is almost impossible to go anywhere without seeing pretty pockets of captivating color, Vermont’s quaint towns and villages are full of visitors who have come to see the fall foliage.
To make the most of their time in the state, many people drive along the stunning Shires of Vermont Byway or the ravishing and romantic Route 100. While the former takes you past historic towns and magnificent mountains, the latter meanders its way past farms, streams, and waterfalls with show-stopping scenery and fetching fall foliage wherever you go.
1. Champlain Islands
Lying in the northwest corner of Vermont is the large and lovely Lake Champlain which borders both the state of New York and Canada. Dotted about its wonderful waters are a number of idyllic islands for you to visit which boast lots of gorgeous scenery and outstanding outdoor activities.
Due to their peaceful and picturesque nature, the Champlain Islands are a treat to explore with no cities or crowds to speak of. Instead, there are lots of serene and secluded shorelines on offer as well as some charming countryside and scenic state parks. These lend themselves perfectly to all kinds of recreation activities with lots of superb swimming, kayaking, and boating to be enjoyed alongside hiking and cycling.
Of the eighty or so isles, Grand Isle is the largest and liveliest with some wonderful family-run inns and B&Bs to be found here and there. Many of the other islands are delightfully untouched and unspoiled and as such are ideal for a quiet getaway. One of the best and most beautiful places to visit in Vermont, the Champlain Islands are certainly worth checking out if you have the chance.