Vermont is the definition of charming. Small towns lined with 18th century homes and rolling hill farms dotted with cows that make America’s favorite ice cream, Vermont is a place that gets overlooked unless it’s leaf peeping time.
But Vermont is the perfect sized state to take the all American road trip. With manageable sized towns and enough history and interesting stops along the way, you’ll love exploring the Green Mountain State.
So, come with me and lets see that makes this New England gem interesting and beautiful.
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This tiny town doesn’t possess the usual profile that most of the capital cities in the U.S. have, but for a small state, it’s exactly what it’s people need and it represents its state well. Montpelier is a great place to start your tour and one of the best places to visit in Vermont.
The Winooski River dictates the town’s layout and you are never too far from this body of water that just adds to the town’s allure. Take a tour of the gold-domed State House and learn the town’s history. When you are finished you can take the trail behind the State House to Hubbard Park and enjoy the views below – it’s a great way to get acquainted with this sweet, little big town.
In a state known for craft beer there’s never a brewery too far away. Take advantage by enjoying a beer tasting at Bear Naked Growler or Three Penny Taproom and taste what many say are the best craft beers on the planet.
You can also stroll Main Street in downtown to get a flavor of what Montpelier is all about. Stop at the Skinny Pancake for breakfast and sample Vermont’s famous maple syrup.
This beautiful attraction in Vermont has been the life blood of the early Americans, a source of power for making Red Sox uniforms, and an attraction for thousands to enjoy each year.
Quechee Gorge is a great stop to add to your itinerary if you are on your way to another amazing place to go in Vermont. Formed by glacial activity over 13,000 years ago, visitors can cross the Ottaquechee River and peer 168 feet down at the gorge and the beautiful waterfall that rushes to the bottom of the gorge.
If you are equipped, grab one of the 45 camping spots at the park and stay for the weekend. You can also explore the 2.7 mile trail that sinks into the gorge and gets you up close and personal.
Tucked between the Green Mountains of Vermont and the high peaks of New York’s Adirondack Mountains, Lake Champlain has some of the best vacation spots in Vermont.
But Lake Champlain hasn’t always been a lake. Encroaching ice from the last ice age carved an inlet so deep that the gorge filled with sea water allowing ocean animals such as Beluga Whales and Atlantic Cod Seals to live in the inlet. As the ice retreated, the earth rebounded, cutting off the ocean water supply. Over thousands of years, the Champlain Sea became freshwater, which then became Lake Champlain. Today, fossils of ocean animals still are found in the depths of the lake.
All of this geological activity left one great place to visit. Burlington, Vermont, is the most populous city on the lake and people flock from everywhere in the warmer months to enjoy the beautiful lake and all its activities.
You can also ride your bike across the Lake Champlain Bridge from Vermont to New York and see how gorgeous the view is from this vantage point. My family and I took our bikes across on a sunny summer June day and it was so much fun. My son definitely got a kick out of saying he road his bike from Vermont to New York!
Burlington is one of the most picturesque New England towns that there is. Situated right on Lake Champlain, it has all the activities of a great vacation destination.
Start at the Church Street Marketplace and shop the dozens of shops that make this little New England town something you’ll want to keep coming back to. Variety shops, book stores, whimsical gift shops and sweet treat eateries line the street and add a lovely ambiance to this already charming town.
Bring a bike and enjoy the Burlington Bike Path, an eight mile long bikers dream that runs parallel to Lake Champlain, so a gorgeous view is not ever far. You can also stop along the Burlington’s Farmer’s Market that has been feeding Burlington and it’s visitors since 1980.
Burlington is a quaint little lake town with all the character and charm that you are looking for in a New England destination.
Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream
Ben and Jerry’s is a staple in the Vermont consciousness. You can’t think of Vermont without yearning for one of the famous frozen confections with the wacky names.
Stop by their Waterbury, Vermont factory and taste the iconic ice cream that put the little state of Vermont on the map. Choose from flavors such Chunky Monkey, Half Baked or the Americone Dream. But, don’t leave the factory without trying the world famous Cherry Garcia. I promise it won’t turn you into a deadhead.
Take a tour of the factory and learn about the history of how Ben and Jerry’s became America’s favorite ice cream. If you’re lucky you’ll stumble into the ice cream lab when they are offering tastings of their newest, unreleased concoctions. Of course, no factory tour is complete without buying something from the gift shop.
Before you leave, don’t forget to visit the flavor graveyard outside in the picnic area. These are retired flavors from years past. Get a selfie and you’ll have your own piece of memorabilia from one of the coolest places to visit in Vermont.
Arlington Covered Bridge
Vermont is known for its ice cream, its leaves in the Fall and…. its covered bridges!
In fact, there are more than 100 covered bridges in Vermont, more per square mile than any other state.
Arlington Covered Bridge is one of the more famous covered bridges in the state not only due to its beauty, but the fact that Norman Rockwell himself lived right next door. The view that he saw from his window for ten years was that of the white steepled church and the green covered bridge.
Now his house is The Inn on Covered Bridge Green, and Vermont vacationers can enjoy his former home and that quintessential view that inspires countless visitors to visit Vermont.
Vermonters take their beer very seriously, so if you’re in Vermont, you must stop by one of the 60 breweries that are in this tiny state to sample some of the best handcrafted IPA’s out there.
The Alchemist is one of those breweries that not only has great beer but also put their community and the environment first. They strive to only use the water that is needed to make their products, they recycle the waste water and they use clean energy such as solar in their brewing processes.
If you’re interested in beer at all, then The Alchemist is definitely one of the top places you must visit in Vermont. They offer a fantastic brewery tour, and although the beer is a little strong, (try the Heddy Topper), I thought it was a great IPA and even bought some to go.
We enjoyed the beer garden and the jazz band that gave the place the perfect ambiance. Make sure you get a picture of their beautifully painted tanks. Beer and art, it doesn’t get much better!
If you’re already in Stowe, Vermont getting a belly full of beer at The Alchemist, why not take a stroll around and see why it’s another one of the great places to see in Vermont?
In my humble opinion, Stowe is the most charming town in Vermont. This says a lot because the entire state oozes charm. But, Stowe has that extra special something with its shop lined streets, surrounding mountains and perfect white steepled church.
Summer is an amazing time to visit Stowe, with the waterfall hikes and sunset lake cruises, but visiting in winter time truly has my heart!
Stowe Mountain Resort is the place to be for stunning snow laden winter views and some fantastic, powder downhill skiing. Add on horse drawn sleigh rides (with hot chocolate and caroling), as well as superb ice skating, and you’ll see why I think Stowe is such a perfect Vermont winter destination.
Seeing Lake Willoughby for the first time will have you second-guessing whether or not you’ve transported yourself to Norway, thanks to the lake’s uncanny resemblance to a Norwegian fjord.
But, nope, you really are still in Vermont, and the beauty of that lake is no illusion! During the last ice age, glaciers carved 300 feet deep into the gorge, creating the perfect spot for a beautiful lake.
The scenery here is stunning and there is so much to do. If you can stand the freezing waters, you can swim, boat and even rock dive off of the steep cliffs at Mount Pisgah and Mount Hor. Or (if you’re game), you can even indulge yourself at the nude beach at Southwest Cove and really get in touch with nature!
Fall is the best time to visit this picturesque setting. The colors are unlike anything you’ve ever seen, and the reflection on the lake makes for some incredible photography opportunities.
But even if you can’t make it for Fall, anytime of year is beautiful at Lake Willoughby, and it’s truly one of the best lake vacations you can take in Vermont.
The summerhouse of Abraham Lincoln’s eldest son is the treasure of Vermont and has been for the last 120 years. Widely considered as one of Vermont’s best places to visit, you will undoubtedly enjoy walking the grounds and touring this important estate of American history.
Some of the highlights we enjoyed at Hildene were not what you would expect. Although the home was gorgeous and deserves all the accolades in its own right, the grounds were what excited and interested us.
The Dene Farm was a fantastic experience and my little one was so excited to hold a baby Nubian Goat as we learned about the processes it takes to produce the cheese made at the farm.
The gardens at the estate are also beyond beautiful. You definitely need a couple of hours to enjoy walking around, looking at the roses and peonies that have been so lovingly cultivated over the centuries. If you’re lucky, you may even see a wedding proceeding in the garden.
After you tour the home and see the original Lincoln family furnishings and their grand style, get outside and hike! Yes, there is hiking at Hildene. In fact, there are twelve miles of hiking trails around the estate through lush green forest and beautiful mountain scenery.
No doubt, Hildene is one of those places you just have to see when in the beautiful state of Vermont.
The Shelburne Museum is a popular attraction and one of the most unique places to visit in Vermont. This museum is located on a sprawling 45 acre campus and includes 39 buildings and 22 gardens.
With unique features such as the Ticonderoga, a 220 foot steamboat, a gigantic Shaker design round barn, and a carousel, there is so much to do that you will need every hour of your two day museum pass.
In the summer, you can stay late and enjoy Ben and Jerry’s Concert on the Green, featuring acts from pop and jazz to R&B. After all, this museum is not just about artifacts and art, but about music as well.
So, if you are in Vermont, the Shelburne Museum is a worthwhile destination to add to your itinerary.
Did we miss any of your favorite places in Vermont?
Let us know in the comments if there are anymore places in Vermont you’d like to see on our list!