22 Top Things to Do in Vermont During the Summer

mountain reflected on the lake
130920 / Getty Images

Vermont may lack an ocean coast, but summer vacationers never feel shortchanged. This uncrowded, independent-minded state known for its rural and natural beauty over-delivers when it comes to freshwater beaches, family-friendly resorts, outdoor adventures, golf courses, craft breweries, and farm-to-table restaurants. If you're heading north to escape the heat, here are some of Vermont's most memorable getaways and experiences for summer visitors.

01 of 22

Jump in a Lake

Swimming In Lake Champlain, Vermont
Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images

You won't miss the ocean when you discover Vermont's plentiful freshwater beaches. Many of them, such as Boulder Beach in Groton, are tucked inside Vermont's state parks, where admission fees are family-friendly and you can combine swimming with other park activities like hiking, biking, or kayaking. Lake Willoughby's North Beach in the town of Westmore is one of the best lake beaches in New England. And you'll find more than a dozen public beaches on Lake Champlain, the granddaddy of all Vermont lakes. Of course, there are more than 80 old-fashioned swimming holes in Vermont, too, when you're ready for an exhilarating dip.

02 of 22

Treat Your Family to a Memorable Getaway

Smugglers' Notch Resort in Vermont
Courtesy of Smugglers' Notch Resort

Vermont is home to New England's superlative family resorts. Put Smugglers' Notch—with its eight heated pools, mountainside water playground, freshwater swimming spots, and award-winning children's programs—at the top of your list. The Tyler Place Family Resort in Swanton caters to all ages, too, with water sports and other outdoor adventures, supervised activities for toddlers to teens, and all-inclusive dining. The dog-friendly Wildflower Inn in Lyndonville is also a perfect landing spot for active families. Situated on 300 acres with easy access to Kingdom Trails, you'll bond over country breakfasts, hiking, bike rides, lawn games, refreshing swims, and farm-to-table dinners.

03 of 22

Shop at a Farmers Market

Vermont Farmers' Market
Courtesy of the Vermont Department of Tourism & Marketing

When Vermont's town greens and parks become gathering places for farmers and gourmet food producers, you're in for a treat. There are dozens of weekly farmers markets in Vermont, where you'll see the state's fresh-harvested bounty on display. The best markets, such as the Waitsfield Farmers Market on the Mad River Green, offer so much more than fruits and vegetables. Hear live music, sample baked goods, and purchase handcrafted souvenirs. You'll be supporting Vermont growers, artisans, and entrepreneurs while enjoying a summer day outdoors. Picking your own strawberries is another fun summertime activity that supports Vermont farms..

04 of 22

Cruise Lake Champlain

Spirit of Ethan Allen
Lake Champlain

Lake Champlain's one and only cruise ship, the "Spirit of Ethan Allen," allows summer vacationers to experience the state's largest lake on a variety of leisurely voyages. From mid-May through mid-October, narrated, scenic trips are offered several times daily. You can also combine cruising with lunching or brunching, or book passage aboard a sunset cocktail cruise or a dinner cruise. On Thursday nights, you can solve a murder mystery or partake in a scavenger hunt over dinner, while Friday night dinner cruises feature lobster. And on Saturdays, a DJ spins tracks as passengers dine and dance the night away. Check the ship's official website for the full schedule of events.

Continue to 5 of 22 below.
05 of 22

Ride a Thrilling Mountain Coaster

Okemo Mountain Resort

Vermont's ski areas have devised some awfully clever ways of attracting summertime visitors. When you find yourself longing for a downhill thrill long after the snow has melted, head to Killington, where the Beast Mountain Coaster races 4,800 twisting and turning feet through the woods. Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow, Vermont, will elevate your heart rate, too. Its Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster is a breathtaking and smooth ride down the forested mountainside, and you control the speed.

06 of 22

Go Behind the Scenes at Ben & Jerry's

  jonathansloane/Getty Images 
1281 Waterbury-Stowe Rd Route 100, Waterbury Village Historic District, VT 05676, USA
Phone +1 802-337-1201

Factory tours at Ben & Jerry's in Waterbury, Vermont, will give you a new appreciation for summer's top treat. During your 30-minute guided experience, you'll see cherished ice cream flavors like Chunky Monkey being produced in huge batches and have the opportunity to sample the day's fresh—sometimes limited edition—frozen creation. You'll also hear the enchanting back story of this global brand's humble Vermont origins. Don't miss the Flavor Graveyard, where discontinued concoctions like Bovinity Divinity are humorously memorialized.

07 of 22

Take Up Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing For Trout In Vermont
kevinmwalsh / Getty Images

Vermont is the fly fishing capital of New England. Visit the 50-year-old American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, home to the world's largest collection of fishing-related artifacts. Among its treasures, you'll find rods that belonged to legendary people like artist Winslow Homer, author Ernest Hemingway, and slugger Babe Ruth. Vermont's Battenkill and Mettawee Rivers are premier places to cast for wild trout. If you don't know the first thing about fly fishing, Vermont has you covered, too. Orvis operates a fly-fishing school in Manchester: Choose a one- or two-day experience including instructional opportunities geared specifically for women or for parents and children. Further north, Burlington-based Maple Country Anglers offers guided fishing trips on Vermont's fish-rich rivers and streams.

08 of 22

Sleep at a Farm

Liberty Hill Farm 
511 Liberty Hill, Rochester, VT 05767, USA
Phone +1 802-767-3926

Fun for kids and restorative for grown-ups, a farm stay is an immersive way to experience Vermont's rural rhythms. The cream of Vermont's crop of farm escapes is Liberty Hill Farm & Inn in Rochester. Here, you won't just feast on farm-fresh, family-style meals and observe the daily operations of a working dairy farm with 270 cows on-site. You can help with milking, bottle-feeding calves, and other chores. And you'll absorb farm values, which may just change the way you view our world and your own life.

Continue to 9 of 22 below.
09 of 22

Dine at a Farm-to-Table Restaurant

Vermont Farm to Table Dining

Kim Knox Beckius

Vermont's best farm-to-plate restaurants make optimal use of summer's bounty. This agrarian state was at the forefront of the locavore movement and has worked since 2009 to double access to local food. Many of Vermont's top chefs have wholeheartedly embraced this philosophy, and you'll want to taste the intriguing dishes they are creating using freshly harvested ingredients. With locations in Waterbury and Burlington, Hen of the Wood offers one of the state's best foodie experiences. This eatery boasts a daily-changing menu that is alone worth raving about, but if you're celebrating a special occasion, consider booking the multi-course, chef's tasting menu.

10 of 22

See a Genuine Rodeo

Rodeo in Vermont
Courtesy of Pond Hill Ranch
1683 Pond Hill Ranch Rd, Poultney, VT 05764, USA
Phone +1 802-468-2449

There's an unexpected yet authentic touch of the Wild West in Castleton, Vermont. From July through Labor Day weekend, Pond Hill Ranch—a genuine, 2,000-acre working ranch—hosts Saturday night rodeos that are alcohol-free and fun for families. You'll see top-notch professional bull riders and exciting events like barrel racing, calf roping, and steer wrestling. The bull riding competition for novices is the biggest hoot.

11 of 22

Enjoy a Perfect Evening of Theater

Weston Playhouse Theatre Company 
8 Park St, Weston, VT 05161, USA
Phone +1 802-824-5288

For a fraction of the cost, you can see Broadway-caliber shows at the intimate, 300-seat Weston Playhouse in Weston, Vermont, this summer. Plays have been staged in this repurposed Greek Revival church for more than 80 years. Kick off a memorable evening with dinner beside a waterfall at the playhouse's restaurant. After the curtain call, there's more fun in store. Young Company players join the show's performers for a comical hour of additional entertainment in the downstairs cabaret.

12 of 22

Head to the Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site

Log Cabin Birthplace President Calvin Coolidge Plymouth Vermont
Robert_Ford / Getty Images
3780 VT-100A, Plymouth, VT 05056, USA
Phone +1 802-672-3773

They called him "Silent Cal," but 30th U.S. President Calvin Coolidge's legacy resonates through time in Plymouth Notch, Vermont. The Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site preserves essentially the entire rural village where Coolidge was born, where he was sworn in as president following Warren Harding's death, and where he set up his "Summer White House" during his presidency. You can even visit the general store and Plymouth Cheese Factory; established in 1890 by Coolidge's father, it is one of America's oldest still-operating cheese companies.

Continue to 13 of 22 below.
13 of 22

Follow the Vermont Cheese Trail

Vermont goat cheese
Brian Doben / Getty Images

Speaking of cheese, the state prides itself on the quality and diversity of its dairy products, and this Vermont Cheese Trail map will help you locate and visit cheesemakers statewide. The Cabot Cheese Farmers' Store is a popular stop in Waterbury Center, Vermont. During your visit, you can browse its selection of award-winning cheeses and dairy products, as well as microbrews, hard ciders, and local and international wine. Don't miss the chance to discover artisan cheeses made in small batches, too, at destinations like Blue Ledge Farm in Salisbury; its self-serve farmstand is open daily, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., April through December.

14 of 22

Picnic at a Music in the Meadow Concert

700 Trapp Hill Rd, Stowe, VT 05672, USA
Phone +1 800-826-7000

The backdrop for these outdoor performances is as spectacular as it gets. Pack a picnic, spread out a blanket, and enjoy the music and the mountain views during one of summer's Music in the Meadow concerts at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont. Tickets are required for most of these shows, held on select Sundays in July and early August. Arrive up to two hours early to claim your spot on the sloping lawn.

15 of 22

Give ATV Riding a Whirl

1763 Memorial Dr, St Johnsbury, VT 05819-8921, USA
Phone +1 802-748-7841

If you've never been on an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), NEK Adventures will introduce you to this adventurous summer pastime. Their guided ATV tours, which depart from Concord, Vermont, take place at a sightseeing pace and rumble through remote areas you'd probably never see without a four-wheeler beneath you. Participants must be 18 years old (16 if accompanied by a parent).

16 of 22

Tour the World's Largest Granite Quarry

granite quarry, rock of ages

Courtesy of Rock of Ages 

Rock of Ages Granite Quarry, Barre Town, VT 05641, USA

Touring the world's largest deep-hole dimension granite quarry is one of the most incredible things you can do in Vermont. A trip to Rock of Ages in Graniteville is actually two tours in one. A bus will take you to the 600-foot-deep Smith Quarry, where you'll see machines hoisting 400-million-year-old blocks of stone. Back at the 160,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, self-guided tours include the chance to observe artists at work, who use modern and traditional tools to sculpt and carve memorials. Visitors are encouraged to take home a free sample of enduring Vermont granite from the grout pile. Be sure to try out the outdoor granite bowling before you go!

Continue to 17 of 22 below.
17 of 22

Bike the Kingdom Trails

In Vermont's remote Northeast Kingdom, there's an extensive network of multi-use trails that beckons mountain bikers. Purchase a one or two-day membership, and you'll have access to Kingdom Trails' diverse riding options for all ability levels. This non-profit has negotiated legal access to private lands in one of the state's most scenic natural areas, and you'll be awed by the care that goes into maintaining these trails.

18 of 22

Support the Preservation of the Morgan Horse

Close-up of Morgan Horse
Fotosearch / Getty Images
74 Battell Dr, Weybridge, VT 05753-9778, USA
Phone +1 802-388-2011

If you love horses, you'll want to include a visit to the UVM Morgan Horse Farm on your Vermont itinerary. Located near Middlebury and open to the public from May through October, this picturesque facility was established in 1878. You'll see more than 40 of these strong and versatile horses, the state animal of Vermont. And your admission fee helps to sustain the breed. Vermont is also home to the National Museum of the Morgan Horse, not far away in Shelburne.

19 of 22

Reserve Your Tee Time

Okemo Golf Course VT
Courtesy of Okemo Mountain Resort

Vermont has more than 75 scenic golf courses: some historic, some modern. Opportunities to play nine or 18 holes are scattered statewide, but you'll find the highest concentrations of courses in resort destinations like Stowe and Killington. Mild summer temperatures make Vermont an ideal place to golf. While some of the state's top-rated courses are open only to members, there are plenty of gorgeous public golf courses in Vermont where you can play, including Equinox Golf Resort & Spa's mountainside course; designed by Walter Travis in 1926, it was updated in 1991 by Rees Jones.

20 of 22

Attend a Waterfront Beer Festival

20 Lake St, Burlington, VT 05401, USA
Phone +1 802-865-7247

Sure, you could drive all over the state visiting craft breweries—like Hill Farmstead Brewery and The Alchemist—that have made Vermont one of the best destinations in the world for beer lovers. But the annual Vermont Brewers Festival, held the third weekend of July in Burlington's Waterfront Park, is a safer and more efficient way to taste buzz-worthy brews from Vermont and beyond. This epic, adults-only summer event attracts more than 10,000 people and features local food, too.

Continue to 21 of 22 below.
21 of 22

Admire Antique Autos

The annual Vermont Antique and Classic Car Meet, held in Waterbury, takes place in early August. And if you've attended the show in the past, you know this is one of the biggest opportunities of the summer to connect with others who love vintage automobiles. Traditions like the flea market and Saturday's parade and street dance are in the mix, and even if you don't own a classic car, you can dress in vintage style and compete for prizes.

22 of 22

Take Your Pup to Dog Mountain

Stephen Huneck Gallery at Dog Mountain  
143 Parks Rd, St Johnsbury, VT 05819-8907, USA
Phone +1 800-449-2580

Both a memorial to its creator, artist Stephen Huneck, and a magical place for dogs and their people to explore, Dog Mountain and its one-of-a-kind Dog Chapel make a perfect summer day trip destination. The dog-themed chapel's walls are plastered with love notes to pets who have enriched their families' lives. The hillsides are lush and perfect for long walks. And sales in the gallery help to sustain this non-profit. Try to time your visit to coincide with the Summer Dog Party on the first Saturday in August.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • When is the best time to visit Vermont?

    The best time to visit Vermont is in the wintertime, when the state's ski resorts welcome snow sports enthusiasts from all over the East Coast to hit the slopes. Fall, too, is a popular time to road trip around the Green Mountain State—particularly from late September through to the first three weeks of October—as the trees come alive with shades of yellow, orange, and red.

  • What do people wear in Vermont in July?

    In July, Vermont sees average highs in the low 80s, so locals will often wear wear shorts and T-shirts. Temps cool in the evenings—be sure to bring a sweatshirt for campfires and stargazing.

  • Is Vermont worth visiting in the summer?

    Although Vermont is a more popular fall and winter destination, summer is an excellent time to go—especially if you don't like the cold. There's plenty to do this time of year, including relaxing at a freshwater beach, golfing, sipping an ice-cold beer at one of the state's top breweries, and exploring more than 55 state parks.

Back to List

22 Top Things to Do in Vermont During the Summer