The Top 14 Destinations in Vermont

Montpelier town skyline in autumn, Vermont, USA
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In Vermont, even the most prominent cities feel like small towns, and you're never far from the things that give the state its character: dairy farms, mountains, covered bridges, craft breweries, maple sugarhouses, and apple orchards. Scroll around a map of Vermont, and you'll be hard-pressed to find a bad destination. This is the second safest state in the U.S. (after Maine), and a place where the wide-open outdoors beckons in every season. So don't just see one of these top Vermont destinations—plan to visit a few during your trip to the Green Mountain State.

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Burlington

Boats in Harbour and Autumn Colours
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Sitting on the shores of Lake Champlain, Vermont's largest city almost feels more like a resort town than anything else. Start your trip by biking along the waterfront, embarking on a boat tour of the lake, or hitting up the Lake Champlain Islands. Then, check out the scene at Church Street Marketplace, where 150 retailers and restaurants provide goods, grub, and lively entertainment.

Energized by its college students, Burlington is also the first American city to run entirely on renewable energy, and you'll see signs of the city's green leadership in everything from farm ingredient-driven menus to Hotel Vermont's green roof. Spend a day at Shelburne Farms, just 7 miles south of downtown, and discover all this 1,400-acre working farm is doing to promote a sustainable future.

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Woodstock

Hereford Cow in Woodstock, Vermont
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As pretty a town as you'll find in Vermont, Woodstock is the perfect destination for lovers of architecture and the arts. It also just happens to be one of the best places to learn about the state's agrarian history and role in the origins of environmentalism. Must-visit attractions include Billings Farm & Museum and the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, where you can tour the former home of Laurance and Mary Rockefeller and George Perkins Marsh: the father of the environmental movement.

Don't miss your chance to venture south to Reading to snap your own pictures of New England's most photographed farm. Or, head east to Quechee to hike along Quechee Gorge, see birds of prey at VINS Nature Center, and dine and shop at Simon Pearce Restaurant and Mill.

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Stowe

Stowe, Vermont, in the Fall

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Characterized by its white steepled church and the imposing silhouette of Mount Mansfield (Vermont's highest peak), the village of Stowe has captured many travel guide covers and calendar pages. The town is Vermont's top destination for elite skiers in the winter, though the skiing and riding remains remarkably good into the spring. In the summer and fall, this is a hiker's paradise, while leaf peepers won't want to miss the stunning drive from Stowe to Cambridge through Smugglers' Notch. For those looking for a spa getaway, you'll love all of the amenities provided by resorts like Topnotch, known for its Tennis Academy, and Stoweflake, famous for its Aqua Solarium and Spa.

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Manchester

Boomer Couple Walking together with fishing rods
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Centrally located, Manchester's gracious historic inns like The Equinox make it Vermont's top spot for romantic getaways. But there's more to Manchester than maple-infused spa treatments, fireside fine dining, and designer outlet shopping. Home to the American Museum of Fly Fishing and the Orvis flagship store and fly-fishing school, this is your place to hone your tying and casting skills, or even to experience the zen-like calm of the sport for the first time. While in Manchester, you'll also want to tour the Hildene estate, the former residence of Abraham Lincoln's son, Robert Todd Lincoln.

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Killington

People Skiing On Snowcapped Mountain Against Cloudy Sky
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Killington is synonymous with skiing; in fact, the winter sports season here lasts more than half the year. But if you've only visited Vermont's largest ski resort during wintertime, you've missed this mountain town's summertime tranquility and autumn glory. Make this your destination for off-season thrills like downhill mountain biking and fall foliage gondola rides. Golf, kayak, fish, or hike a stretch of the Appalachian Trail before enjoying Killington's restaurants without the après-ski crowds. In the fall, you won't have to venture far to find pick-your-own apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and fresh beer at Long Trail Brewing Company's riverside, German-style pub.

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Bennington

Red Covered Bridge in Bennington, Vermont
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Situated in the Green Mountain State's southwest corner, Bennington is the perfect day-trip distance from Boston, New York City, Albany, or Hartford. It's known for quintessential New England attractions, including a collection of five historic covered bridges. While you're here, you'll want to see Grandma Moses' paintings at the Bennington Museum before visiting New England poet Robert Frost's grave at the Old First Church next door. Ascend Vermont's tallest structure, the Bennington Battle Monument, via elevator for views of Vermont, New York, and Massachusetts; go at the height of fall for an especially dazzling panorama.

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Waterbury

Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury, VT

© Kim Knox Beckius

While Waterbury may not have quite the same name recognition as some other Vermont cities and towns, you likely know its number one attraction: Ben & Jerry's ice cream factory tours! Stay a while, though—maybe even in one of New England's coolest treehouses—and you'll quickly discover there's an abundance of fun to be found here. Watch apples turn into adult beverages at Cold Hollow Cider Mill, observe artisans at work at Ziemke Glassblowing Studio, and climb Camel's Hump (one of Vermont's top hikes) for incredible views.

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Montpelier

Montpelier, Vermont, State Capitol Building
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Smallest of all the U.S. capital cities American kids have to memorize during their elementary school years, Montpelier offers visitors a central home base from which to sightsee, ski, and collect all of Vermont's quintessential experiences. Without leaving this tiny city, you can eat breakfast topped with Vermont maple syrup at any time of the day; support independent retailers like Bear Pond Books, Woodbury Mountain Toys, and The Quirky Pet; sip Vermont-made wine; and go for a hike at North Branch Nature Center.

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Brattleboro

Brattleboro, Vermont
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This vibrant small city in southeastern Vermont, just across the Connecticut River from New Hampshire, has its own distinct character. Where else will you find art and antiques galleries, a food co-op, vintage boutiques, two bookstores, and a circus arts school all in the heart of a throwback downtown? You can even rent a kayak or canoe from Vermont Canoe Touring Center and paddle right through downtown—a great way to stimulate your appetite before visiting one of Brattleboro's eclectic restaurants. Be sure to head to the city's outskirts to visit the Retreat Farm and the Grafton Village Cheese Co. factory, located right next to each other.

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Ludlow

Ludlow VT Home to Okemo Mountain

Courtesy of Okemo Mountain Resort

Vermont's scenic Route 100 winds through Ludlow, and many skiers and snowboarders are content to land at Okemo Mountain Resort. All of the lodging that's here for winter visitors can become your affordable home base in the summer or fall, when Route 100 is your byway to blissful experiences like shopping at the beloved Vermont Country Store in Weston. Or, poke around in Plymouth, the remarkably preserved village where Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president the U.S., was born and sworn in. You can even see cheese being made the traditional way at Plymouth Artisan Cheese.

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St. Johnsbury

St. Johnsbury, Vermont

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The town of St. Johnsbury is the gateway to Vermont's bucolic and remote Northeast Kingdom, but there are more reasons to make your way to this outpost than most travelers realize. Love art? The St. Johnsbury Athenaeum is filled with masterpieces, including Albert Bierstadt's enormous canvas, "Domes of the Yosemite." Into science? The Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium has fascinating collections. Obsessed with dogs? Stephen Huneck's one-of-a-kind Dog Chapel is one of New England's best free attractions, and your furry companion will adore it, too. Of course, there's plentiful recreation nearby, from skiing at Burke Mountain to biking the Kingdom Trails.

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Jay

Woman Cross Country Skiing
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Located 5 miles south of the Canadian border, it goes without saying that winters in Jay are cold, and Jay Peak skiers and other snow lovers are treated to an average annual dump of 359 inches of the white stuff. Ever since the mountain resort added an indoor water park to its offerings, though, it's built up an off-season clientele and has become a favorite among families. Summer and fall visitors can also golf, hike, fish, mountain bike, birdwatch, and explore the scenic and peaceful Northeast Kingdom.

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Windsor

Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge New England

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The Vermont Republic, an independent country from 1777 until 1791, was birthed in Windsor on Vermont's eastern border. Linked to Cornish, NH by the world's longest two-span covered bridge, it's an ideal destination for a two-state vacation. In Windsor, you'll be surprisingly fascinated by the American Precision Museum, enthralled by the hang gliders you can observe when driving or hiking to the summit in Mount Ascutney State Park, and well-satiated at the indoor-outdoor Harpoon Brewery Taproom and Beer Garden.

Head to Cornish to visit one of the most under-appreciated national parks, Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park, which showcases the work of one of America's foremost sculptors. In the summer, when Opera North is in residence at Blow-Me-Down Farm, open-air performances mesmerize all ages.

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Vergennes

Vergennes, Vermont
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Vermont's oldest and smallest city is 2.5 square miles of worthwhile experiences. Full of cultural activities to partake in, it's best known for its active library and historic opera house. Shops and restaurants are clustered along the city's picturesque Main Street, though do plan a picnic with a view of the Otter Creek waterfalls in Vergennes Falls Park. On Lake Champlain, away from the heart of the city, you'll find dog-friendly lodging and nostalgic hospitality at Basin Harbor. Or, vacation on the cheap by camping lakeside in Button Bay State Park.

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