Cows Grazing in Rural Vermont in the Fall

Your Trip to Vermont: The Complete Guide


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Vermont is agricultural yet edgy, modern and progressive yet still a bit backwoods. Its natural beauty is undisputed, and these contradictions only add to the state's allure. You'll marvel at the sophistication of restaurants and museums and also at how solitary you might feel while hiking a trail or paddling a pristine pond. More people live in the city of Boston than the entire state of Vermont, so when you want to get away in the purest sense of the idea, the Green Mountain State is your place to detach. 

This guide will help you plan a Vermont vacation, from inspiration right through the last longing glance in your rearview mirror as you return to "real" life. As you dream of your journey, play Trevor Hall's "Green Mountain State" on YouTube or your favorite music app, and you'll begin to feel the pulse of a destination that truly does "speak through ten thousand leaves."

 Planning Your Trip

  • Best Time to Visit: Vermont is best known as a winter sports destination, and winter lingers for nearly half the year. Go in late March or April, and you can ski snowy slopes and witness the making of maple syrup at sugarhouses statewide. Spring, summer, and autumn all have unique charms, too, and Vermonters will tell you their fall foliage is tops in New England—and perhaps even the world.
  • Language: English
  • Currency: U.S. Dollar
  • Getting Around: Amtrak's Vermonter train makes nine Vermont stops in cities like Brattleboro, Montpelier, and Burlington and near the resort town of Stowe en route to St. Albans near the Canadian border (see current service adjustments). Green Mountain Transit operates buses in the most populated regions and tourist destinations. But you'll need a car if you want to drive Vermont's backroads and visit its small towns and rural expanses, as most visitors do. Rental cars are readily available at Burlington International Airport and in other hub locations.
  • Travel Tip: Don't expect your cell phone to work everywhere in Vermont. Depending on your carrier, you may run into dead spots even in popular getaway spots. Remote areas can be even trickier. You may want to print driving directions instead of relying on your phone's GPS, and, particularly in the winter, you should stock your car with emergency gear and supplies. The State of Vermont Department of Public Service provides an interactive map of cell coverage by carrier you may want to check before your visit.

Things to Do

Each season, Vermont offers new thrills for outdoor adventurers. This is New England's skiing and snowboarding capital in the wintertime, attracting millions of skiers and riders each year—Vermont claims 30 percent of skier days in the winter, despite its population paling in comparison to its fellow New England states. And, after the thaw, the state is a top spot for fly fishing. The state's rugged terrain beckons to mountain bikers and ATVers in the summer and fall, and its lakes and rivers challenge paddlers. The only natural feature Vermont lacks is an ocean coast, but there are sandy beaches on Lake Champlain when you long to swim and sunbathe and even the Champlain Islands—a half-hour drive from Burlington—to explore. If you'd prefer to elevate your heart rate by exercising your credit card at local shops, you'll find plenty of opportunities to do that, too.

  • There is so much "Made in Vermont" pride, you'll want to load up on fine-quality goods, from wood furnishings handcrafted at ClearLake Furniture in Ludlow to Vermont Flannel's perfect lounge pants, available along with other cozy creations at five store locations. For one-stop shopping, visit the Vermont Country Store in either Weston or Rockingham.
  • Don't miss the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in Woodstock. The history of environmental conservation is the focus at Vermont's only national park, which is home to splendid walking trails, gardens, and an art-filled mansion. Billings Farm and Museum, across the street, is also a must.
  • Near Middlebury, the UVM Morgan Horse Farm sustains the breed that is Vermont's official state mammal.
  • There are more than 100 covered bridges in Vermont: You can see five on this Bennington-area drive.

Explore more Vermont highlights with our guides to the best ski resorts in Vermont, 10 top hikes in Vermont, the best things to do in Burlington, and things to do in Vermont during the summer.

What to Eat and Drink

Vermont produces almost half the maple syrup in the country, and once you taste the real thing, you may never go back to the fake stuff. Maple-flavored everything is sold at sugarhouses and gift shops, and each year, Vermonters seem to find ways to take maple in new, uncharted directions. Maple water, maple seltzer, maple vodka, Maple to Go, Sparkle Syrup—the possibilities are sweet, delicious, and endless.

Cheddar cheese, too, is a Vermont specialty, and cheeseheads will love sampling the array of flavors produced by leading producers, from big names like Cabot and Grafton Village Cheese to artisan makers like Blue Ledge Farm: Try their maple chevre. You can also visit historic cheese factories in Vermont including America's oldest: Crowley Cheese in Mount Holly.

If you find driving miles of rural roads to be kind of a snooze, you'll wake up—or at least your tastebuds will—when you begin sampling the cuisine that's made Vermont a leader in the farm-to-table movement. Eating farm-fresh, local fare is a way of life here, and many Vermont visitors find themselves shopping and eating differently at home after their stay.

In 2021, Maine robbed Vermont of its long-held title of state with the most breweries per capita. Still, if you're a beer lover, you're going to find liquid enticement wherever you roam in Vermont, and you'll want to try famous brews like The Alchemist's Heady Topper, Hill Farmstead's Edward, and Foley Brothers' Maple Brown (made with real Vermont maple syrup, of course).

Explore our articles on nine foods to try in Vermont, the best breweries in Vermont, the best farm-to-plate restaurants in Vermont, and Stowe's top 10 restaurants.

Where to Stay

Vermont accommodations range from rustic campgrounds to two of New England's best spa resorts: Topnotch Resort and Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa, both in Stowe. There are a multitude of historic inns and bed-and-breakfasts to consider, too, including the Waybury Inn in East Middlebury, which famously "played the part" of the Stratford Inn on Bob Newhart's TV show, "Newhart," which aired from 1982 to 1990.

Among these classic properties, dog-friendly options like Basin Harbor and The Wilburton abound. If your dog is the family decision-maker, though, you may wind up at the Paw House Inn in West Rutland, where pups are not just welcomed: You'll actually pay a surcharge if you don't bring a dog. Vacation rentals are another popular option, and you may score a deal on a ski-area condo in the summer or fall. Keep in mind that having a kitchen available is a great way to save money on meals out, and you'll love shopping at farms and farmers' markets and cooking Vermont's harvest.

Explore the best destination spas in Vermont, the top Burlington hotels, Vermont's best ski hotels, and the best places to stay in Vermont in the fall.

Getting There

Driving a car to Vermont offers maximum flexibility, but you do have other options. The Amtrak Vermonter train typically departs daily from Washington, D.C. (see current service adjustments), and it picks up Vermont-bound passengers from stations in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York City, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. The train travels 13 hours and 45 minutes along its entire route from D.C. to St. Albans in northern Vermont.

Two major bus lines, Greyhound and megabus, also connect Vermont stops with stations in the Northeast and beyond. Air travelers have the option of flying one of five major airlines to Burlington International Airport (BTV), located 4 miles east of downtown Burlington. Pick up a rental car on arrival, or take a taxi, Uber, or Lyft to your destination. Many Vermont vacationers also fly into New York's Albany International Airport, Boston's Logan Airport, or New Hampshire's Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.

Culture and Customs

Vermonters are hardworking, no-nonsense folks for the most part, and they're generally accepting of all. Customs tend to reflect the seasons and the state's agrarian way of life. Pond skimming events at ski areas are a comical rite of spring. Maple sugaring season is accompanied by a host of events, and the fall fruit and vegetable harvest is celebrated with gusto. You may be surprised by how rich the arts scene is in Vermont. Music, in particular, is part of the fabric of everyday culture, and Burlington is a hub of live performances, from folk and jazz to rock.

Money-Saving Tips

  • If you can visit in May or September—while kids are in school and ski areas are quiet—you'll dodge crowds, save on lodging, and enjoy pleasantly mild weather.
  • Choose a Vermont state park for overnight camping or even just a day of recreation, and you'll find the fees to be a remarkable value. A season pass can save you even more if you're a frequent parks visitor.
  • If you're driving to Vermont, don't be afraid to overpack. You'll be thankful for the extra layers when a storm blows through or a summer day turns chilly after sundown, and you won't have to spend vacation dollars on a flannel shirt or moose-emblazoned sweatshirt.
  • Heading for the slopes? You'll generally save money if you buy your lift tickets in advance. Also consider checking out some of Vermont's lesser known ski areas like the Middlebury Snow Bowl and Magic Mountain if you want to ski on the cheap.
Article Sources
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  1. Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing. "2017 Benchmark Report: Tourism in Vermont." December 2018

  2. UVM Food Feed: Sustainable Food Systems & The University of Vermont. "A Sweet Deal: Why Maple Syrup is Big Business." March 15, 2018

  3. Bangor Daily News. "Maine Now Has the Most Breweries Per Capita of any US State." April 5, 2021