Located in the heart of New England, the state of Vermont is a testament to the enduring charm of rural America, where pristine landscapes meet historic towns. Known as the Green Mountain State, Vermont is celebrated for its rolling hills, dense forests, and the iconic Green Mountains that dominate its landscape.
Beyond its picturesque vistas, Vermont attracts tourists with diverse attractions and activities that offer rich experiences throughout the year. To help you plan the best holiday itinerary, we’ve explored Vermont’s unique blend of history, culture, and outdoor adventure.
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Historic and Cultural Attractions
Vermont is known for its rich historical and cultural heritage. One of the standout attractions in this category is the Shelburne Museum. The museum offers visitors a captivating journey through time with its unique collection of art and Americana.
The heart of the Shelburne Museum lies in its extensive art collection, featuring everything from classic American paintings to decorative and folk art. Visitors can admire masterpieces by renowned American artists that highlight the country’s artistic evolution.
Beyond its impressive art collection, the Shelburne Museum is celebrated for its historic buildings and meticulously maintained gardens. The museum spans a 45-acre campus home to more than 30 historic structures, including historic houses, barns, and workshops relocated from various parts of New England.
The gardens at the Shelburne Museum are equally captivating. The carefully landscaped spaces complement the historic buildings and enhance the overall experience. Visitors can stroll through lush gardens and vibrant flowers while they explore the beautifully designed landscapes.
Montpelier, the State Capital
Montpelier, the charming and picturesque state capital of Vermont, is a hub of political activity and a great destination for historic and cultural attractions. At its heart lies the Vermont State House, a symbol of the state’s rich history and serves as a majestic example of Greek Revival architecture.
At the Vermont State House, visitors can go on fascinating guided tours of the building’s interiors, which are adorned with impressive marble columns, intricate woodwork, and artwork. The tours provide insights into Vermont’s political history, the workings of its state government, and the building’s historical significance.
Events and festivals
Montpelier hosts cultural events and festivals that celebrate the state’s vibrant heritage. The Montpelier Arts Walk, for instance, showcases the city’s thriving arts scene, with local galleries and studios opening their doors to the public.
The Vermont History Expo is another notable event. The expo features exhibitions, reenactments, and hands-on activities that explore the state’s history. Another highlight is the Green Mountain Film Festival, which brings independent and international films to the city, attracting movie lovers from around the world.
Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home
Hildene is a historic and cultural treasure located in the heart of Vermont. It offers a unique peek into the life and legacy of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.
This remarkable estate was the summer residence of Robert Todd Lincoln, the eldest son of Abraham Lincoln. Hildene is a testament to his family’s enduring impact on American society.
Hildene’s historical significance is further amplified by its exquisite architecture and well-preserved interiors. The Georgian Revival-style mansion provides an authentic glimpse into the luxurious lifestyle of the Lincoln family during the early 20th century.
The mansion features original furnishings, family artefacts, and captivating exhibits that detail the history of the Lincolns and their contributions to the nation. This historical gem allows visitors to walk in the footsteps of the Lincoln family and gain a deeper understanding of their legacy.
Tours and Gardens
One of the highlights of visiting Hildene is the opportunity to take guided tours of the estate and explore its beautiful gardens. Knowledgeable guides lead groups through the mansion, providing engaging stories about the family’s history, the architecture of the house, and its impressive collection of artefacts.
Hildene’s gardens are a testament to the Lincoln family’s love for horticulture and nature. The estate boasts stunning formal gardens, walking trails, and breathtaking vistas of the surrounding Vermont landscape.
Natural Wonders of Vermont
Vermont’s Long Trail
The Vermont Long Trail is one of the region’s most iconic natural wonders and outdoor destinations. This long-distance hiking trail extends for approximately 272 miles from the Massachusetts border to the Canadian border, following the spine of the Green Mountains.
The primary appeal of the Vermont Long Trail is the opportunity for long-distance hiking experiences. Hikers can explore lush forests, rugged alpine zones, and serene meadows. Along the way, visitors will encounter panoramic vistas, sparkling streams, and abundant wildlife, creating an unforgettable hiking experience.
In addition to hiking, the Vermont Long Trail provides ample camping and backpacking opportunities for those seeking a more immersive outdoor experience. The trail is dotted with well-maintained shelters and campsites, allowing hikers to rest amidst the wilderness.
Camping along the Long Trail allows visitors to escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life and reconnect with nature. Whether you prefer sleeping under the stars or sheltering in one of the rustic huts, you’ll be surrounded by the soothing sounds of the forest and the crisp mountain air.
Kayaking and Canoeing
Vermont’s natural wonders extend beyond its stunning landscapes to its pristine waterways, making it a great destination for kayaking and canoeing enthusiasts. The state’s scenic waterways cater to paddlers of all skill levels, offering a unique perspective on Vermont’s beauty.
Vermont is home to numerous rivers and lakes, such as the Connecticut River and Lake Willoughby, which offer diverse kayaking and canoeing experiences. These waterways wind through lush forests and serene landscapes, immersing paddlers in the state’s natural beauty.
Kayaking and canoeing in Vermont also offer opportunities for wildlife and nature encounters. As visitors glide through the water, they can spot various native bird species, including eagles, ospreys, and herons.
The state’s waterways are also home to an array of aquatic life, and keen observers may catch glimpses of fish, turtles, and beavers. Exploring Vermont’s waterways by kayak or canoe provides a front-row seat to the natural world, offering a unique and peaceful way to connect with the state’s wildlife.
Vermont’s Green Mountains are an enchanting natural wonder that draws adventurers year-round. These majestic mountains, part of the larger Appalachian Mountain range, are a cherished destination for locals and visitors.
Among the most popular attractions within the Green Mountains are the numerous hiking trails and scenic viewpoints that provide breathtaking vistas of Vermont’s pristine landscapes.
Lush forests, cascading waterfalls, and serene lakes are just a few of the wonders tourists can encounter. Popular hiking destinations like Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak, offer exhilarating treks and panoramic views. Smugglers’ Notch, a dramatic mountain pass, is another iconic spot known for its unique rock formations and challenging hikes.
The Green Mountains transform into a snowy wonderland during winter, making them a paradise for winter sports enthusiasts. Vermont boasts numerous ski resorts offering downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and other winter activities.
In addition to skiing, the Green Mountains offer a variety of other winter activities, including snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and ice skating. Whether you’re seeking adrenaline-pumping adventures or tranquil moments surrounded by snow-covered forests, the Green Mountains deliver an enchanting winter experience.
Lake Champlain, one of the most popular natural wonders in Vermont, is a vast body of water that stretches approximately 120 miles between Vermont and New York. This magnificent lake offers many recreational opportunities, making it a popular destination for locals and tourists.
Boating and water sports are a way of life on Lake Champlain, with enthusiasts taking full advantage of the crystal-clear waters. Whether you prefer sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding, or boating, the lake provides the perfect setting for aquatic adventures.
The lake’s calm waters and gentle breezes are ideal for novices and experienced water enthusiasts. It’s a place where tourists can soak up the sun, take in the stunning vistas of the Adirondack and Green Mountains to the east, and enjoy being out on the water.
Lake Champlain is also known for the numerous historic sites lining its shores. One such site is Fort Ticonderoga, located on the New York side of the lake. This well-preserved 18th-century fort played a significant role in the American Revolutionary War and is a testament to the region’s rich history.
On the Vermont side of Lake Champlain, the Basin Harbor area is home to a cluster of historic sites, including the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. This museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the maritime history of the lake, showcasing shipwrecks, artefacts, and interactive exhibits.
Quaint Vermont Towns and Villages
Stowe, located in northern Vermont, is a small New England town renowned for its captivating charm and stunning natural beauty. With its picturesque streets lined by historic buildings, Stowe exudes the classic appeal of a New England village.
Its white-steepled church, charming shops, and locally-owned eateries accentuate the town’s charming ambience. Tourists strolling down Main Street will find boutique stores, art galleries, and cosy cafes that exude a welcoming atmosphere.
The surrounding mountains, notably Mount Mansfield, provide a breathtaking backdrop, making Stowe a year-round destination for outdoor enthusiasts and those seeking a romantic retreat.
Stowe Mountain Resort
Stowe is famous for being home to the renowned Stowe Mountain Resort, a world-class destination for skiing and outdoor recreation. Built at the base of Mount Mansfield, this resort offers many activities, making it a hub for visitors seeking adventure.
In the winter, the resort becomes a winter wonderland, attracting skiers and snowboarders from far and wide. With well-groomed slopes and a range of difficulty levels, it caters to everyone from beginners to expert powder chasers.
The charm of Stowe Mountain Resort extends beyond winter, as it transforms into a playground for hiking, mountain biking, and golf during the warmer months. The gondola rides and zip-lining adventures offer breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape year-round.
Woodstock, Vermont, is a timeless and picturesque village known for its rich history and captivating charm. One of the defining features of Woodstock is its historic architecture, which includes beautifully preserved Federal and Greek Revival-style buildings.
The village centre offers a glimpse into the architectural heritage of Vermont with its white-clapboard homes and well-preserved facades. Meandering through Woodstock’s streets is like stepping back in time as visitors discover elegant homes, quaint inns, and classic New England storefronts.
In addition to its historic architecture, Woodstock is celebrated for its iconic covered bridges. These charming and functional structures are scattered throughout the region. They serve as picturesque landmarks and practical river crossings.
The Middle Covered Bridge, Taftsville Covered Bridge, and Lincoln Covered Bridge are among the most beloved and photogenic in the area. These bridges add to Woodstock’s quaint character, making it a perfect destination for those who appreciate classic Americana.
Billings Farm & Museum
A visit to Woodstock wouldn’t be complete without exploring the Billings Farm & Museum. This living history museum offers visitors a hands-on experience of Vermont’s agricultural heritage.
Located on the historic Billings Farm, the museum showcases traditional farming practices, heritage-breed farm animals, and interactive exhibits that allow guests to immerse themselves in the rural history of Vermont.
Burlington, Vermont, offers a unique blend of urban vibrancy and small-town charm, making it a fascinating city by the shores of Lake Champlain. Located along the waterfront, Burlington boasts a stunning natural backdrop with views of the Adirondack Mountains across the lake.
The city’s appeal lies in its ability to offer a bustling urban experience while maintaining a strong connection to its natural surroundings. Strolling along the picturesque shores of Lake Champlain, visitors can take in the beauty of the waterfront and enjoy recreational activities.
Burlington is bursting with artistic and cultural attractions. The city is home to the University of Vermont, which contributes to a vibrant cultural landscape with galleries, theatres, and events.
The Flynn Center for the Performing Arts hosts various performances, from classical concerts to contemporary theatre productions. Additionally, the city hosts numerous music festivals and cultural events throughout the year, further enhancing its reputation as a cultural hub.
One of the most popular attractions in Burlington is the Church Street Marketplace, a pedestrian-only area that serves as the city’s cultural and commercial heart. Lined with historic buildings, boutique shops, and vibrant restaurants and cafes, it is the perfect destination.
Street performers and local artisans add to the lively ambience, creating a dynamic atmosphere that draws locals and tourists alike. The marketplace’s charming outdoor cafes are ideal for people-watching and enjoying locally brewed craft beers or artisanal coffees.
Vermont’s autumn foliage is renowned worldwide for its breathtaking beauty, and experiencing the vibrant colours of autumn is one of the state’s most cherished seasonal attractions.
As the days grow shorter and temperatures begin to drop, the lush green landscapes of Vermont transform into a stunning tapestry of reds, oranges, and yellows. The spectacular autumn colours that blanket the state’s forests and hillsides draw visitors from near and far to witness this natural wonder.
One of the best ways to soak in the fall foliage in Vermont is by embarking on scenic road trips. The state has many winding roads that take visitors through picturesque valleys and along the slopes of the Green Mountains. Routes like the Vermont Route 100, the Appalachian Gap, and the Mount Equinox Skyline Drive offer panoramic views of the colourful landscape.
Hiking is an excellent option for those who prefer a more active way to experience Vermont’s fall beauty. The state is dotted with hiking trails that lead to stunning vistas. Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak, offers awe-inspiring views of the surrounding foliage, and the Camel’s Hump Trail provides a challenging yet rewarding ascent.
Maple Syrup Farms
Vermont’s Maple Syrup Farms offer a sweet and quintessential experience that’s deeply rooted in the state’s culture and traditions. One of the most charming aspects of these farms is the opportunity to witness maple sugaring demonstrations.
During the late winter and early spring months, the daytime temperatures rise above freezing and nighttime temperatures drop below freezing. This causes sap to flow from sugar maple trees.
Visitors to Vermont’s maple syrup farms can witness this fascinating process firsthand with maple sugaring demonstrations. These involve tapping maple trees, collecting sap, and boiling it into pure maple syrup. The demonstrations provide insights into the craftsmanship required to produce this beloved Vermont delicacy.
After witnessing the maple sugaring process, visitors can explore farm gift shops and markets filled with an array of maple-related goodies, including bottles of pure maple syrup, maple candies, maple cream, and maple-infused gourmet products.
Maple syrup isn’t just a breakfast condiment in Vermont; it’s a versatile ingredient that inspires a wide range of culinary delights. Visitors can sample maple-flavoured ice cream, baked goods, and savoury dishes.
Unique Experiences in Vermont
Cheese Tastings and Cheese Trails
Vermont is famous for its artisanal cheese production. Indulging in cheese tastings and exploring cheese trails is a unique and delicious experience in the state. Vermont boasts a vibrant community of cheese producers, from small family-owned dairies to larger creameries, each crafting their own distinct and high-quality cheeses.
Visitors can embark on trails that wind through picturesque landscapes, taking them to various cheese producers. The Vermont Cheese Trail, for example, guides tourists to different creameries, offering the chance to sample a wide range of cheeses, from creamy goat cheeseses to aged cheddars and pungent blues.
Furthermore, Vermont hosts cheese festivals and tours celebrating the state’s dairy culture. The Vermont Cheese Festival is a popular event that gathers cheese lovers, producers, and chefs to showcase the best of Vermont’s cheese.
Visitors can savour cheese-themed dishes, attend workshops, and sample a diverse selection of artisanal cheeses. Additionally, several tour companies offer guided cheese tours to multiple creameries, allowing participants to learn about the cheese-making process and taste various kinds of cheese while enjoying Vermont’s countryside.
Vermont Teddy Bear Company
The Vermont Teddy Bear Company offers visitors a heartwarming and unique experience. Located in the picturesque town of Shelburne, this iconic company has been creating handmade, high-quality teddy bears for over three decades.
One of the most exciting aspects of a visit to the Vermont Teddy Bear Company is the opportunity to take factory tours. During these tours, visitors can witness the intricate process of teddy bear creation, from cutting and sewing to stuffing and stitching.
Knowledgeable guides provide insights into the craftsmanship behind each bear, emphasising the attention to detail that goes into making these cuddly companions.
A visit to the Vermont Teddy Bear Company also features customising your very own teddy bear. The company offers a unique “Bear Shop” experience where you can select from a wide array of outfits, accessories, and even personalised messages to make a bear that’s uniquely yours.
After touring the factory and creating your own bear, the company’s retail store provides an opportunity to shop for unique souvenirs and gifts. From traditional teddy bears dressed in Vermont-themed outfits to limited-edition collector’s bears, the store offers a wide selection that captures the essence of Vermont.
Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour
The Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour is a delightful and iconic experience that draws ice cream enthusiasts to Waterbury, Vermont. Known worldwide for its quirky flavours and commitment to socially responsible business practices, Ben & Jerry’s has become a beloved brand.
The factory tour provides a unique opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at the ice cream-making process and learn about the company’s history and values. Guided tours go through the production facilities, providing insights into the magic of turning fresh ingredients into delicious ice cream.
One of the highlights of the Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour is the opportunity to indulge in ice cream samples. Visitors can try a variety of flavours, including classics like Chunky Monkey and Phish Food, as well as limited-edition creations exclusive to the factory.
The sampling experience allows you to taste the quality and creativity that have made Ben & Jerry’s a household name. Whether you’re a devoted Ben & Jerry’s fan or looking for a sweet adventure, the factory tour offers a memorable experience that appeals to all ages.
Vermont Craft Beer and Food Scene
Vermont’s craft beer and food scene is a thriving realm that celebrates the state’s commitment to quality, sustainability, and local flavours. One of the highlights for beer enthusiasts is the opportunity to go on brewery tours and tastings.
Vermont is home to many large and small craft breweries, each offering its own distinct brews. From hoppy IPAs to rich stouts and sour ales, the state’s breweries produce an array of beer styles to satisfy every palate.
Many breweries welcome visitors for guided tours, where you can learn about the brewing process from grain to glass and witness the craftsmanship that goes into each batch. Tasting rooms provide the perfect setting to sample a flight of beers, often accompanied by friendly staff eager to share their knowledge and passion for brewing.
In addition to its craft beer scene, Vermont boasts a vibrant farm-to-table dining culture that emphasises using locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. Many restaurants and eateries throughout the state take pride in showcasing Vermont’s bountiful agricultural heritage.
Farm-to-table dining experiences offer fresh and flavorful dishes, often featuring ingredients sourced from nearby farms, dairies, and artisanal producers. Farm-fresh salads, cheese boards featuring Vermont’s renowned dairy products, and meals prepared with organic vegetables celebrate the rich connection between food and the land.
Vermont’s craft beer and food scene often merge, with many breweries and brewpubs offering farm-to-table cuisine on their menus. These establishments take pride in crafting dishes that pair seamlessly with their locally brewed beers, providing a complete sensory experience for visitors that celebrates Vermont’s agricultural diversity.
Vermont is a Historic and Scenic Destination
Vermont, the Green Mountain State, is a destination that encapsulates New England charm and natural beauty. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast seeking adventure or a cultural connoisseur exploring its rich history and heritage, Vermont offers attractions and activities to cater to every interest.
Its unwavering dedication to preserving its natural beauty and nurturing its unique cultural identity sets Vermont apart. In Vermont, you’ll discover a sense of place, a connection to the land, and a welcoming spirit that invites you to explore its picturesque landscapes, embrace its traditions, and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Whether you’re enjoying maple ice cream, hiking the Long Trail, or enjoying the vibrant foliage of autumn, Vermont is a place that leaves an unforgettable mark on the heart of every visitor.
If you’re interested in visiting the New England region of the United States, check out our blog on Rhode Island, USA: Fun & Adventure in the Ocean State.