It’s Fall y’all!! And one of the quintessential thing on everyone’s itinerary is to go on a fall trip to see all the beautiful fall foliage. The ultimate fall paradise in the United States is the New England area – predominantly Vermont & New Hampshire.
Impressive mountain peaks, splendid fall colors, postcard villages, the maple syrup, apple picking, pumpkin patches, winding roads and covered bridges – its all Vermont! The Green Mountain State is beautiful in every season, but Vermont in the fall is like a fairy-tale come to life.
After spending the most amazing 10 day vacation in New England, I wanted to put together a travel guide that summarizes the best things to do in Vermont! Honestly there is so much to do, see, and eat in this charming state that it’s impossible to do it all over a weekend – but you can definitely cover all the highlights.
So I have structured this blog post to feature must-visit spots, fun fall activities and best leaf peeping places, so that you can mix and match things according to the number of days you plan to visit the Green Mountain State. Read along for everything you need to know to plan your perfect fall trip to Vermont.
How to get here?
Do you need a car? Definitely a big YES! The most convenient and affordable way to get to Vermont – is to fly into Boston/ New York and rent a car to drive up to Vermont. New England is fairly small, so a couple hours drive will take you easily from one state to another.
Connecticut, Albany, NY and Boston, MA are all a short drive from Vermont. There’s also an airport in Burlington, Vermont.
The freeway VT-100 is one of the most scenic drives in the US, during fall and also one of the first stops you’ll make to capture the beautiful fall colors. Several elevation changes through the drive will give you a wide variety of color to see. Trust me, you don’t want to give up this drive.
By Train: If you are coming from the Northeast area, Amtrak is also a feasible option. There are two Amtrak trains that run through: the Vermonter & Ethan Allen Express. The AMTRAK Vermonter goes from Washington, DC to St. Albans (a 14-hour ride in total), Vermont with major stops in New York City, Albany, Springfield, MA, Amherst Brattleboro, White River Junction, Montpelier, Waterbury, and Burlington/ Essex Junction. The Ethan Allen Express is a 5.5-hour ride between New York City and Rutland, Vermont.
By Bus: Greyhound or Vermont Translines buses run from New York City, Montreal, Hartford, CT, and Boston, MA with connections to major Vermont cities.
When to visit?
The best time for a fall trip is during the months of September and October. The exact dates of peak leaf peeping varies every year based on temperature and location. Foliage color generally starts to change in the higher, cooler areas, spreading down into the valleys, and moving from north to south across the state. But typically you can see peak colors in most areas from last week of September through mid October.
Check out the foliage tracker for more updated information to plan your trip.
What to pack?
When you visit Vermont during fall, you can pack a bag full of sweaters(yes it gets cold) and fall dresses but here are a few things you need to add to your bag first:
- A pair of hiking boots/sneakers (for hiking & biking)
- Shackets, flannels and warmers
- Umbrella (the rains here are unpredictable)
- Knit beanies and scarves
- Socks and leg warmers
- Don’t forget your winter jacket.
Where to stay?
Vermont is the perfect place to rent a vacation home— enjoy a cozy, romantic stay, away from all the hustle & bustle of the city life. Also in this entire state, you have more Airbnb and vacation homes options than hotels – So I suggest booking one for the ultimate Vermont experience.
1. Tree House nestled in the woods
I bet staying in a tree house, is on your list too and ours was a dream come true when we found this gem on Airbnb. Nestled in the wood, by the creek – the Lola’s Brookside tree house was one of the rare finds in Vermont and lucky for us; was available during our travel dates.
The tree house was equipped with a tiny kitchen and bath, BBQ grill, coffee table and a cozy bed. Wake up to the sound of a rushing brook, sip coffee on the deck enjoying some of the best views, read a book under the trees, spend a lazy afternoon listening to the sound of nature while resting in a hammock or enjoy a delicious BBQ dinner under the stars- This place was just utterly romantic and perfect for a fall getaway. I highly recommend booking such unique stays on your trip.
2. Log Cabin
A log cabin with a crackling fireplace is basically synonymous with a Vermont vacation. No matter the season, a cabin stay is worth your while.
We stayed at a log cabin at the Mountain View Campground, which was equipped with a full kitchen and bath – Just perfect for two. Also booking a place with a kitchen really helps, as there are not many dining options around and you will most likely resort to a barbecue night or a home cooked meal(rather cabin cooked meal).
The cabin we booked, was right by a river – so we had a great time, taking some romantic walks on the property and snapping some fall photos by the river.
3. Barn & Silo Home
For larger groups (up to 8 or 10), a full-sized barn with silo makes a super fun and unique stay for a weekend in Vermont! Located near Stowe, this place is in a great option. also super close to hiking, skiing, beer drinking, and more.
What to eat and Where?
While there are limited fine dining options in Vermont as in any big state, but here are a few things, you’ve got to try:
1. Maple Syrup at the Sugarbush Farm
Vermont is home of the world’s best maple syrup (after Canada ofcourse) While you’re traveling in Vermont, be sure to sample some of this liquid gold.
The Sugarbush Farm is famous for its excellent waxed cheeses and pure Vermont maple syrup made right there on their hillside farm. They also provide self tours with walks to view the tree-tapping process.
2. Ben & Jerry Ice Cream at the Ben & Jerry Factory
Did you know Ben & Jerry’s was founded in Vermont? The Waterbury location, houses the first factory built in 1985 and continues to manufacture approximately 350,000 pints per day. They offer tours of the factory – where you get to see the ice cream making process, taste some of their creative flavors from the scoop shop and visit the flavor graveyard and pay tribute to the sunset flavors.
If you are ice cream lover like me, you’ve go to add this to your list.
3. Pumpkin Spice Latte at K.C.’s Bagel Cafe
Your fall trip is incomplete without a Pumpkin Spice Latte – grab a delicious cup at the K.C.’s Bagel Cafe. Pair it with one of their wide variety of freshly baked “New York Style” bagels and you’ve got yourself a full breakfast. We went in there, three days in a row, so the recommendation stands strong.
4. Cider Donut at Cold Hollow Cider Mill
While Cider Donut is famous all throughout Vermont – Cold Hollow Cider Mill was my fave place to get one. In addition to their classic cider donuts, Cold Hollow Cider Mill also makes a donut called the, “Dreemee“. The Dreemee is basically a cider donut sliced in half with vanilla creemee in the middle – SOOOO delicious.
5. Cheese Sampling in Vermont
Cheese lovers get ready – This is your paradise. If you haven’t heard already; Vermont has a cheese trail – a Trail runs the entire length of the state through beautiful scenery and delicious pit stops. We didn’t have time to do the entire trail, but we hit the quintessential stop at the Billings Farm & Museum. It is a working Jersey dairy farm combined with interactive educational exhibits. You can visit the friendly farm animals, explore the 1890 farmhouse, and sample some fresh cheese – Don’t forget to try the Cabot cheese.(famous all over Vermont)
6. Lamb at Hen of the Wood
The lamb you’ll find on farm-to-table menus in Vermont is most likely local, pasture-raised, and undoubtedly some of the tastiest you’d ever had. Check out the seasonal menus at Hen of the Wood in Waterbury and Burlington if you’re craving beautifully prepared lamb.
7. Sip a sample of seasonal brews
Vermont is a bucket list destination for craft beer lovers, In the fall, relish the flavors of the season by seeking out pumpkin ales, autumnal IPAs, and more. Here’s a list of few worth checking out:
- Zero Gravity Brewery, Burlington
- Burlington Beer Company – Brews up to 75 different beer each year.
- Von Trapp Brewery, Stowe
- Prohibition Pig, Waterbury
- Foam Brewers, Burlington( new but very popular)
- The Alchemist, Stowe
Now lets jump right into the Vermont itinerary. As I mentioned before I have categorized things to do, fun fall activities and must-visit spots based on areas(location). You can totally mix & match them based on how much you can do in a day and the places you wish to cover during your trip. Or if you just want to do the main tourist attractions- watch out for the highlighted activities.
Here’s a quick glimpse of our itinerary :
Day 1 – Woodstock & Quechee area
Day 2 – Smuggler’s Notch Pass & Mt Mansfield
Day 3 – Burlington & Lake Champlain
Click on each day if you just want to skip to that specific area.
Here’s an interactive map showing all the places of interest mentioned in this blopost.
- Orange – Stowe
- Yellow – Smugglers’ Notch area
- Green – Burlington
- Red – Woodstock
- Blue – Other activities in Vermont
Things to do in Woodstock & Quechee Area
Named the “quintessential New England Village” Woodstock is filled with covered bridges surrounded by fall colors and Georgian homes that have been lovingly restored. A few things you can do around there are:
1. Hike to Quechee Gorge
Our first stop along the way, was Quechee Gorge aka Vermont’s Little Grand Canyon. The deepest gorge in Vermont (165 feet deep) appeals to all travelers for its naturistic trails and stunning views all along.
Enjoy beautiful vistas 168 feet from the bridge above the Ottaquechee River or have a picnic overlooking the waterfalls. For more active groups you can hike the trails (2 miles) to see the gorge up close.
2. Drive through the Taftsville Covered Bridge
In a land full of picturesque covered bridges, you have to drive across one of the oldest bridges in Vermont at over 220 years old. On Route 4 this dramatic, striking, red covered bridge that sits on the Ottauquechee River is a worthwhile stop for photographs or to just admire the bridge against the backdrop of a waterfall.
3. Visit the Sleepy Hollow Farm
No visit to Vermont is complete without visiting the Insta-famous Sleepy Hollow Farm (or Elm Grove).The Sleepy Hollow Farm sits off Cloudland Road, a winding dirt road lined by stately maples and restored farmhouses. With its big barns, late-1700s Cape farmhouse, and a perfect fall foliage backdrop, Sleepy Hollow is catnip for photographers. It is outright gorgeous, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
4. Walk through the Forest Canopy Walk at VINS
One of the unique places to visit in the Quechee area is the VINS(Vermont Institute of Natural Science) – a non profit, environmental education, research, and avian rehabilitation organization. Open year-round, the 47-acre campus features state-of-the-art raptor enclosures, exhibit spaces, classrooms, and interpretive nature trails, including a Forest Canopy Walk.
You can explore the grounds, attend an exhibit or take a walk through the Forest Canopy Walk- my favorite part of the VINS. The canopy walk is 50 feet above the forest floors and brings you eye-to-eye with tiny woodpeckers and squirrels The path has an oversized nest that you can climb into to see the world from an eagle’s vantage point and a spider web that you can crawl into if you are brave enough to suspend yourself 43 feet above the ground.
But the highlight of this place is an elevated Tree House, reached by helical stairs that provide you with unobstructed views of the entire Quechee & Vermont area. 🏔
5. Sample cheese at the Billings Farm
An award-winning dairy farm and cultural museum in the heart of rural Vermont. It’s a great place to roam open pastures, stroll along river walk, cuddle farm animals, go nose-to-nose with a friendly cow and try some fresh farm-to-table food items.
Don’t forget to sample their Cabot cheese – Vermont’s specialty.
Read more details about the farm here.
Things to do in Smugglers’ Notch & Mt Mansfield area
From Stowe, head to Smugglers’ Notch for a beautiful drive and epic views along the way. I love how the road compliments the bright yellow leaves. It’s a photographer’s paradise.
1. Drive through Smugglers’ Notch Pass
Where to find impressive fall colors? A drive through Smugglers’ Notch will quench your leaf peeping desire.
Smugglers’ Notch is Vermont’s most dramatic road, which passes through picturesque forests and bold rock outcroppings, the state’s most famous resort village, and over a shoulder of Mount Mansfield, its highest mountain. The road through the Notch, Route 108, is one of two officially designated scenic highways in the state and only opens in summer.
You can take a hike through breathtaking forests and amazing rock outcroppings or just find parking at a pull off spot and take in the gorgeous scenery.
2. Take a gondola ride to Mt Mansfield
The quintessential Vermont thing- Hop on a Gondola Ride at Stowe. Mount Mansfield is the tallest mountain in Vermont. While it’s home to ski trails come winter, during the summer & fall, visitors can head to the top in the iconic red Gondola SkyRide. The views at the top & during the ride are mindblowing – You can see the entire valley come alive with fall colors and an aerial view of the fall foliage will definitely carve a special place in your heart.
Get the gonadola ride tickets here.
3. Hop on a horse drawn carriage ride
Sleigh your way through Vermont! One of the best ways to enjoy the beauty of Stowe, is to take a sleigh/carriage ride. Drawn by a handsome Belgian horse, the carriage ride takes you through picturesque paths, forest trails and covered bridges and lets you soak up all beauty & charm of New England. It’s one of the most romantic things to do in Stowe and if you are looking to enjoy some spectacular views of Mt. Mansfield as the houses clop their hooves through the woods- I highly recommend adding a carriage/sleigh ride to your list!
Head to the Gentle Giants Sleigh Rides & Carriage Rides to book your ride.
4. Hike amidst fall foliage in Smuggler’s Notch
Crunching on the crispy leaves as you walk along the mountain trails is truly spectacular. Get in nature and leave your phones behind. Breathe in the rich air, hear the rustling of leaves and let yourself be a part of the Vermont landscape. Some great trail options to hike are:
- Sterling Pond trail
- Hike to Bingham Falls
- Upper Gorge trail
- Butler Lodge trail
5. Dine at The Roost
After a day full of adventure and exploring, head over to The Roost at the Topnotch Resort. Treat yourself to delicious American eats with craft cocktails & beer and great views of Mt Mansfield as you dine. You can dine at their indoor shuffleboard dining bar, stylish patio living room or outdoor pergola, right beside a fire pit. We loved their Smoked Duck Flatbread and House-Bringed Wings.
6. Visit the picturesque covered bridges in Vermont
Vermont has more than 100 covered bridges – These historic structures, most of which are still in use, are dotted throughout the state and are scenic points of interest in every season. Take a walk along, drive across or admire them from afar. But don’t forget to take your postcard picture from Vermont in front of one of these.
Some of the most beautiful covered bridges in New England are:
- Taftsville Covered Bridge, Taftsville, VT
- Quechee Covered Bridge, Quechee, VT
- Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge (the longest covered bridge in the US)
- Fisher Covered Railroad Bridge, Wolcott, VT
- Brookdale Bridge, Stowe,VT
Things to do in Burlington & Lake Champlain
1. Ride along the Burlington Bike Path
Bike along Lake Champlain with best fall views? I’d do this over and over again. The Burlington Greenway Bike Path is a paved bike path that runs along Lake Champlain and connects parks, beaches and residential areas. It’s a 7.6 mile recreational route beloved by avid cyclists, walkers, and visitors and you are bestowed with unparalleled lake and mountain views(Adirondack Mountains) and dense foliage all along. You can rent bikes at Local Motion Bike Rental near the harbor and plan to spend about half a day exploring the area , chilling by the beach and riding through some picturesque spots.
It’s one of the best things to do in Vermont and I definitely recommend it.
2. Stroll through the Church Street in Burlington
After spending a romantic sunset bike ride, we headed to the buzzing Church Street of Burlington. One of the most well-known places to go in Vermont is Burlington’s Church Street, a pedestrian-only thoroughfare that is bursting with restaurants, shops, and outdoor performers. Occasionally on weekends you can spot street musicians, showing off their talents as you shop or dine.
3. Visit the Shelburne Farms
Tie your boots and roll up your sleeves – We are going to a farm!! The Shelburne farms is an important stop in Vermont and unboutely my fave. A nonprofit education center for sustainability and 1,400 acres working farm, Shelburne Farms is a National Historic Landmark on the shores of Lake Champlain in Shelburne, Vermont.
Spend a day hiking the scenic trail up the mountains, through the forest and by the lake, making new friends with farm animals(cow, goat, sheep) and learning more about them, sampling some fresh farm-to-table products or wandering around the oh-so-beautiful barn and property and taking some photos – there is something to do for everybody here.
NOTE: Wear comfortable shoes as the hike to the lake is about a good 7 mile loop- but so picturesque, you’d not want to giveup!
Plan a trip to a working farm, for a magical and fun experience in Vermont.
4. Go apple picking at Shelburne Orchards
If you visit Vermont between the months of August through November – You cannot miss apple picking! Vermont has tons of Apple orchards and farms with over 150 varieties of apples and they offer pick-your-own apples sessions; You get a bag or a basket from the entrance and hand pick the apples (Honeycrisp, Cortland, McIntosh, and many more) you like from the trees – SOOO FUN. It’s a great activity if you are travelling with kids or family. (or even for a romantic fall date)
You can enjoy hay rides, romantic picnics and fresh homemade cider donuts, pies and other treats while you are out there.
We visited the Shelburne Orchards on our way to Burlington and spent a wonderful afternoon apple picking and tasting their fresh cider. Shelburne Orchards is a family-owned orchard that aims for eco-friendly and sustainable practices as much as possible. It is often touted as one of the best apple orchards in Vermont. You should definitely check it out if you are in Vermont!
5. Kayak at Lake Champlain
Another fun and adventurous way to explore the beautiful fall colors – is to kayak along Lake Champlain. Lake Champlain is the nation’s sixth largest lake, and easily accessible from the Adirondack Coast’s prevalent boat launches and marina. It is a popular paddling destination for canoes, SUPs, flat water, and sea kayaks.
Autumn foliage looks even more vibrant from the water. Rent a kayak or canoe and head to a nearby lake for a serene fall afternoon. We fell short of time to kayak at Lake Champlain, but definitely worth your time if you are into kayking or padding.
You can rent kayaks or pddleboards from here.
Things to do in Stowe
Nestled in the northern part of Vermont, Stowe has been a destination for leaf peeping since 1835! The beautiful hills come alive with colorful fall colors and you’ll feel like you stepped into the sound of music movie in Stowe.
1. Visit the Ben & Jerry Factory
Want to visit one of the yummiest Vermont attractions? A trip to the original Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory in Waterbury, Vermont is a must. The Waterbury location, houses the first factory built in 1985 and continues to manufacture approximately 350,000 pints per day. The entire place is so cute and creative, and as soon as you walk in, you’re swept away in that oh-so-amazing ice cream and cookie smell.
Take a tour, grab a free sample, or visit the Flavor Graveyard to pay homage to short-lived flavors of the past.
2. Visit the iconic Stowe Community Church
Did you know? The Stowe Community Church is one of the most photographed churches in the world. Ofcourse a white steepled New England style church against a sea of colorful Ash, Maple, and Oak trees – paints the ultimate fall picture.
Head down to the Tangerine & Olive parking lot to get your perfect fall photo in Stowe and enjoy some of the best views of the valley. You can thank me later!
3. Visit a Pumpkin Patch
It’s finally Fall!! Let the gourd times roll! Pumpkin picking is one of my favorite things to do in fall. Although we could not carry a pumpkin back home, we decided to checkout a pumpkin patch anyway. We found a spooky pumpkin barn right next to the Shaw’s Supermarket in Stowe and got some fun pictures.
4. Sip a Maple Latte at the Black Cap Coffee & Beer
They are a chain in new England area, but one of my favorite locations is in Stowe – they are right across the Stowe Community Church. Hit this spot to enjoy a delicious cup of Maple Latte(their fall specialty) with the best views of the Stowe valley.
5. Play with Alpacas at an Alpaca Farm
If you’re looking for something new to try, consider including alpacas into your weekend plans. Part of the camel family and similar in appearance to llamas, the alpacas are widely found in Vermont. After a day full of exploring Vermont, we visited an Alpaca farm and had a great time unwinding and playing with these friendly animals.
There are more than a dozen alpaca farms in the southern part of the state, and most of them welcome visitors to stop by, meet the animals and feel that much sought-after alpaca wool. But most of the farms are now taking visitors by appointment only due the pandemic. So I highly suggest emailing the farm before hand, to plan your visit better. Here are a few options:
- Silver Street Alpaca Farm
- Wildwood Acres Alpacas
- Mystic Meadow Alpacas
- Maple View Farm Alpacas
- Camel’s Hump Alpaca Farm
6. Visit a Christmas Tree Farm
We found this Christmas tree farm on our drive to Stowe near Morristown, VT and thought it was a great place to stop by for some photos- loved how they turned out.
Thank you for reading along. Hope this helps you plan your next fall trip to Vermont! If you have any questions, you can leave a comment, or slide into my DMs @preksharaj.
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