9 Unforgettable Ways to Experience Vermont in the Fall
Vermont is great to visit anytime, but fall is where its beauty shines the most. World-famous for its fall foliage, Vermont might be the world’s best destination to watch the leaves change. Many other activities complement the state’s colorful magic to give visitors a wide range of options. Whether you want to hike or go apple picking, the beautiful fall colors are a bonus.
So, are you ready to witness the vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow in this magical state? I’ve listed my 9 top choices for an unforgettable fall Vermont vacation. From scenic drives over some incredible covered bridges to craft breweries, your camera will be busy and taste buds fully satisfied while visiting Vermont in the fall.
9 Unforgettable Ways to Experience Vermont in the Fall
Road Trip Through the State | Wander the Long Trail | Hit Up a Fall Fair | Experience the Country Life on a Farm | Visit Cold Hollow Cider Mill | Sample Craft Beer | Chill by Lake Champlain | Spend Nights Inside a Cottage | Admire the Views of Quechee Gorge
1. Road Trip Through the State
Fall is peak foliage season, and a Vermont road trip is the best way to witness the state’s natural beauty. Vermont has many of the top leaf-peeping drives that you should consider adding to your New England road trip. The fall foliage drive I recommend most is Scenic Route 100 Byway starting from the state line with Clarksburg, Massachusetts. Running along the edge of the Green Mountains, the byway twists through the state with eye-popping foliage. The journey stretches for 216 miles through and is one of my favorite road trips.
An added benefit of Route 100 is all the secondary roads that lead to new discoveries. Many of these detours wander into Victorian towns, pass old-covered bridges, and guide you to inspiring mountains. And never pass up the chance to stop by a roadside farm stand or antique shop. It doesn’t get any more Vermont than that! If you don’t have time for the entire journey, Route 100 offers shorter but equally stellar scenic drives. The Green Mountain Byway from Waterbury to Stowe is one you can’t afford to pass up.
Vermont has several other byways that explore the eastern and western portions of the state. The Connecticut River Byway courses through Vermont and New Hampshire and connects travelers with historic villages, river towns, and rural farmlands. Combine the Shires of Vermont and Stone Valley Byways for a beautiful trip into the marble-producing region of western Vermont.
Whether you stick to the byways or detour onto backroads, road tripping through Vermont is an unforgettable experience. And fall reigns supreme as the best time to gas up the car and hit the road.
2. Wander the Long Trail
If you prefer a more intimate way to discover Vermont’s fall foliage, the Long Trail is an excellent option. Fall weather in Vermont is fantastic, with highs usually in the 60s (F) and lows around 40-50 degrees.
I always love a peaceful hike in nature, and Vermont’s Long Trail is one of America’s famous long-distance routes. It stretches for 270 miles (435km) and provides endless opportunities to view the beautiful foliage up close. The path hooks up with the Appalachian Trail part of the way, and there are several incredible day hikes.
If you don’t have time for the entire 270-mile trail to the Canadian border, I have several shorter recommendations for you. Mount Mansfield via Sunset Ridge Trail is a fabulous option to summit Vermont’s highest peak. The Baker Peak Trail has incredible vistas, and you’re able to climb a fire tower on the Gile Mountain Trail.
The Green Mountain Club has many other recommendations if hiking is high on your Vermont checklist.
3. Hit Up a Fall Fair
Vermont greets travelers from across the globe during fall, and it’s a festive time for fairs across the state. The Green Mountain State knows how to host a lively party, and its fall festivals bring out its endearing character. Whether you’re up for baked goods or handmade arts & crafts, you’ll have loads of fun at a Vermont fall fair.
Head to the Northeast Kingdom’s Autumn on the Green for a fun-filled celebration featuring artisans, antiques, and delicious food. The Dummerston Apple Pie Festival overloads your taste buds with apple pies, cider, homemade ice cream, handmade cheese, and fresh coffee. A joyous celebration takes place at the Burke Fall Foliage Festival to welcome the season. And if you’re wondering, there is indeed a rowdy Oktoberfest thrown in there. Head to Mount Snow for this German-themed extravaganza with filling cuisine and an endless supply of beer.
Other fall festivals include the Colors of the Kingdom Autumn Festival, 19th Century Apple & Cheese Harvest Festival, and Fallapalooza.
4. Experience the Country Life on a Farm
When you travel through Vermont, you can’t help but notice its pastoral farmlands and beautiful pastures. Sometimes the city life is too hectic, and the farm provides a detox from the fast pace world. That’s why I adore Vermont’s rural farms and the unique opportunity visitors have of enjoying life on the farm. Not only will you experience the simple life, but you’ll also taste some delicious crops they grow on-site.
One of my favorite farms is Champlain Orchards in the tiny town of Shoreham. The family-owned farm is hands down the best place in Vermont to get fresh fruit. Their apples steal the spotlight with over 100 varieties, but they also grow pears, peaches, plums, nectarines, cherries, and blackberries. A visit here will have you seeing fruit in your dreams, and its farmland is beyond peaceful.
If you’re on a cheese kick, head over to Shelburne to pay a visit to Shelburne Farms. You’re treated to a backdrop of gorgeous mountains, and you’ll see adorable farm animals on the property. They have 10 miles of walking trails with spectacular views of Mount Mansfield, the Green Mountains, and Lake Champlain. And don’t leave without tasting some of the tastiest cheese Vermont has to offer.
Playtime on the farm doesn’t stop there, and Vermont has many other rural farms to spend a few days. My other favorites are the Liberty Hill Farm, Meadowood Farm, and the maple syrup loving Sugarbush Farm.
5. Visit Cold Hollow Cider Mill
Whenever I’m in Vermont, I will never pass up the chance to buy sweet delights at Cold Hollow Cider Mill. Just two words will take me there in a flash……CIDER DONUTS. Talk about delicious; their old-fashioned donuts made from scratch daily are worth the trip over here by themselves. The smell draws you in, and once you take that first bite, it’s heaven in your mouth.
But those mouthwatering cider donuts aren’t the only thing they sell at Cold Hollow Cider Mill. Just in the bakery, you’ll find cider-jelly cookies, cheddar biscuits, fudge, homemade apple pie, maple granola, maple shortbread, pumpkin roll, and more. Don’t forget to grab a bottle of maple syrup, which is famous in Vermont.
Complete your visit by sampling Cold Hollow’s refreshing apple cider and buying one for your travels. They also offer many varieties of hard cider and the apples used to make their tasty products. Whatever your taste buds fancy, it doesn’t get more Vermont than Cold Hollow Cider Mill.
6. Sample Craft Beer
Did you know Vermont is the king of America for beer? If breweries per capita are your criteria, Vermont is the state that takes the prize. From citrusy IPAs to smooth ales, it’s a beer lover’s heaven. Several breweries have gained national recognition and continue to put Vermont on the map.
Situated in the Northeast Kingdom countryside, Hill Farmstead Brewery is an obvious first beer destination. The family working the land spans eight generations, and founder Shaun E. Hill perfected his craft at earlier Vermont breweries and worldwide travels. Hill Farmstead isn’t afraid to experiment with many beer styles and makes everything from saisons to bière de gardes. While their brew list feels like a beer encyclopedia, the New England IPAs are a stellar choice.
If IPAs are your favorite, then you’ll definitely want to visit Foam Brewers on the shores of Lake Champlain. Their IPA menu includes strong selections like the Zero Day, Smirk of the Dolphin, and Triple Leo. Foam Brewers isn’t all about IPAs and also serves stouts, sour ales, and hard cider.
Zero Gravity Craft Brewery, Lost Nation Brewing, and The Alchemist are other worthy breweries to include in your Vermont beer tour.
7. Chill by Lake Champlain
Lake Champlain sits on the Vermont-New York border along the Adirondack Coast. Although it’s a popular summer destination for Vermonters, fall is my personal favorite time to visit this beauty. The radiant colors of the changing leaves glisten on the lake, and it’s a spectacle to witness. Just check the foliage reports before you venture to the lake to ensure you’ll see the red, orange, and yellow leaves shining on this giant reflecting pool.
For the best fall foliage around Lake Champlain, my advice would be to visit around mid-October. If you look at past foliage reports, this is around the time that 100% of the trees have changed colors. That means you’re in for a grandiose show when you arrive during your Vermont fall getaway. The best ways to view the radiant images around Lake Champlain are by scenic drive, bikeways, and hiking trails.
While you’re here, don’t miss the chance to embark on a Lake Champlain cruise. The crisp weather feels amazing from the water and watching the sunset on the boat is pure magic. If you’re sailing with a group of friends, go with Whistling Man Schooner Company for your cruise. Their cruises depart from Burlington, and they’ll give your party the authentic experience of riding a sailboat.
8. Spend Nights Inside a Cottage
For the most authentic Vermont vacation, ditch the hotels and book your accommodations at rustic cottages. While you won’t be roughing it in the wilderness, Vermont’s cottages are an excellent way to connect with nature. And you don’t have to look far to locate an authentic place nestled in the state’s scenic beauty. Vermont’s state parks offer beautiful accommodations that let you escape the city without having to pitch a tent.
The comfy units sleep up to four people and have everything you need for an enjoyable stay. Just know that you need to pack your own linens, blankets, towels, and cookware. The cottages come with lights, electrical outlets, a fire ring, picnic table, and a front covered porch. And it’s an easy stroll to use the bathrooms and showers. It won’t be fancy like a resort, but you’ll have the peaceful sounds of nature around you.
Rates are affordable and many of Vermont’s 21 state parks include cozy cottages that make you feel at home. Button Bay State Park has glorious Lake Champlain views, and Brighton State Park is also near a waterfront. Little River State Park might be my favorite with its enchanting views of the Waterbury Reservoir and recreational activities.
9. Admire the Views of Quechee Gorge
At 165 feet deep, the Quechee Gorge is one of Vermont’s most impressive natural wonders. While I’d recommend visiting this beauty whenever you’re in Vermont, it’s a must during fall. It’s an unbelievable sight of majestic fall colors encircling the deep gorge. Aerial footage of Quechee Gorge reveals just how stunning “Vermont’s Little Grand Canyon” is when the leaves change. Don’t sweat that bird’s eye view since the bridge over the Ottaquechee River provides spectacular views.
My favorite way to spend a relaxing afternoon here is a picnic near the water and gazing at the fall foliage. There are hiking trails on either side of the gorge, and brave souls can kayak on the Ottaquechee River. From U.S. Route 4, you can take a breathtaking panorama of the Quechee Gorge in all its glory. While you’re here, drive a little farther on Route 4 to stumble into Woodstock. With its colonial architecture and covered bridges, it’s one of America’s prettiest towns.
What is your favorite thing to do in Vermont in the fall? Let me know in the comments below.
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