Guide: The Best Things to Do in Vermont in Fall

There’s no doubt that Vermont is a beautiful state year-round, however, there are some really fun things to do in Vermont in the fall. Forests cover 70% of Vermont, giving it the highest concentration of maple trees in the country and making a Vermont fall extremely special.

There are a lot of ways to experience Vermont in the Fall, but below I’ll outline some of the best towns, places to go, and experiences you can have on a trip to Vermont!

Table of Contents

enjoying vermont in the fall
smiling in vermont during fall

When is Peak Fall in Vermont?

Between mid-September and mid-October are the most colorful times to visit Vermont in Fall, with foliage starting to change colors as early as the start of September in northern areas and higher elevations.

Over the next two or three weeks, color moves into downtowns and valleys and from north to south, with color hanging on the trees as late as the end of October in some areas. I visited in mid-October and some areas were fully colorful while others were barren already.

To experience Vermont’s fall foliage at its peak, plan on visiting towards the beginning of October and building in plenty of time to travel around the state to take in the foliage as it shifts. Peak foliage can vary depending on weather conditions.

Cutest Towns to Experience Vermont in the Fall

There are many different cute towns in Vermont that you can experience fall in. But, below are some of my favorites that I’ve visited over the years!

downtown Woodstock

Woodstock

Woodstock, Vermont, was chartered in 1761, 15 years before the United States of America signed the Declaration of Independence. The homes and buildings have a lot of historic charm.

It’s been a popular spot for artists through the centuries and is known for its historic buildings and quiet town charm. Woodstock is also close to several different things to do making it a great spot to stay. It often makes it on the list of most romantic places in Vermont as well!

We spent a half day here and I wish we had spent more. I really enjoyed all the shops, food, and nearby activities like Quechee Gorge, Sugar Bush Farm, and Billings Farm and Museum.

Stay at the historic Woodstock Inn and Resort $$$ (pictured above). Established by Laurance and Mary Rockefeller, today’s Inn features fine craftsmanship accented with elegant, artisanal amenities that reflect our authentic Vermont style and service.

vermont state capitol in Montpelier
downtown montpelier
fall leaves in Montpelier

Montpelier

Montpelier is the capital city of Vermont. The 1859 Vermont State House is a gold-domed Greek Revival building with decorative and fine art collections. While larger than some of the other towns on this list, it still has a pretty small and historic downtown area.

You can visit the capital and Vermont History Museum right downtown. Nearby, sprawling, wooded Hubbard Park has meadows, a birch grove and a stone observation tower. The Lost Nation Theater stages modern and classic plays and musicals. You’ll have plenty to do while here!

Stay at The Inn at Montpelier $$ 19-room boutique hotel located steps from beautiful downtown Montpelier. Explore all Vermont has to offer from a superbly convenient location.

Wilmington

Tucked into the southern terminus of the Green Mountains of Vermont, Wilmington is a tiny village of just over 2,000 people. It was also hit hard by hurricane Irene but has bounced back!

Even though Wilmington is a tiny Vermont town, there really is a lot going on – restaurants, live music, amazing outdoor recreation, and some really cool shops. It’s also located on Lake Wilmington offering even more fun activities for your trip!

Day trips around southern Vermont are easy from Wilmington — it’s just 30 minutes from Bennington to the west and Brattleboro to the east, both regional hubs for art and culture in their own right.

Stay at The Vermont House $$ The Vermont House is an 1850s Colonial Inn located in the center of Wilmington, Vermont: the heart of the Deerfield Valley.

walking on bridge in stowe vermont
stowe vermont mural

Stowe

Stowe is a town in northern Vermont. It’s overlooked by Mount Mansfield, known for its trails and ski slopes. If you’re looking for lots of great hikes and scenic drives (listed out below), Stowe is a great spot to visit! Make sure you pack all your hiking gear.

As Go Stowe likes to say, “Only in Stowe, Vermont can you find breathtaking scenic views, abundant outdoor recreation, and small-town charm—all packaged together.”

In addition to scenic drives, you’ll find the famous Cold Hollow Cider and Ben and Jerry’s nearby with unique eats perfect for a fall trip.

Stay at Green Mountain Inn $$ The Green Mountain Inn has welcomed guests since 1833. Situated in the heart of Stowe, the Inn provides an ideal location to enjoy countless recreational activities year-round.

Lake Champlain

Photo by Anna Pittas

Burlington

Burlington is a city in northwestern Vermont, on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, south of the Canadian border. Downtown, shops and restaurants line the pedestrianized Church Street Marketplace. North of downtown, the Ethan Allen Homestead Museum is a former home of the Revolutionary War hero. The vast Shelburne Museum, south of the city, houses American folk and decorative art in a collection of historic buildings.

The lakefront side of Burlington gives this town a different feel than others on this list. There are great hikes and unique views of the foliage on and around the lake. Burlington also has several great farmers markets worth checking out too.

Stay at Hilton Burlington Lake Champlain $$ This hotel has downtown rooms one block from Waterfront Park, where you can board a cruise and explore the idyllic waters of Lake Champlain. It’s surrounded by restaurants, with Church Street Marketplace a five-minute walk away. They also have rental bikes perfect for exploring the Burlington Bike Path.

Middlebury

Located in the western part of the state, the college town of Middlebury, VT, serves as the commercial and business center for its region while maintaining small-town charm.

For outdoor enthusiasts, there’s hiking, biking, golf, kayaking, fly fishing, bird watching, and alpine and cross-country skiing. The Middlebury College Bowl and several nearby Nordic and snowshoe centers offer great winter fun. The Green Mountain National Forest offers challenging terrain and access to Vermont’s Long Trail. The area is also known for excellent bicycling in the rolling farmlands and foothills of the Green Mountains. Come to Addison County and get a taste of all that Vermont has to offer.

Stay at the Swift House Inn $$$ The Main House of Swift House Inn was the home to Jessica Swift, one of Vermont’s most prominent philanthropists. This historic 20-room former governor’s mansion is Middlebury’s only classic full-service Vermont Country Inn and offers the essence of New England warmth.

Experiences for Fall in Vermont

Sugar Bush Farms near Woodstock
Sugar Bush Farms near woodstock

Things to Do Near Woodstock

Sugar Bush Farms

If you want to learn about the maple syrup making process (and sample some cheese + syrup!) then a stop at Sugar Bush Farms just outside Woodstock is perfect for you.

This rural farm has been producing cheese varieties & maple syrups for three generations and offers walks to view the tree-tapping process. We also found the views from this farm to be beautiful of the rolling country side and fall leaves.

Billings Farm and Museum

Billings Farm & Museum is just a scenic stroll from the village center of Woodstock, Vermont, and is regarded as one of the finest outdoor history museums in the country. Combining a fully-operating Jersey dairy farm with educational exhibits and interactive programs and events, Billings Farm & Museum is perfect for those that want to learn about history and the dairy-making process.

Quechee Gorge

The park’s location along US Route 4, and its proximity to many upper-valley attractions make it a popular tourist destination. Hundreds of thousands of visitors stop each year to take in the breathtaking views of the Quechee Gorge. Other visitors seeking an overnight stay enjoy easy access to the park’s spacious campsites.

The focal point of the park is Vermont’s deepest gorge, formed by glacial activity approximately 13,000 years ago. Visitors can look down at the Ottauquechee River, flowing 165 feet below viewing points along Route 4.

apple cider slushie from Cold Hollow Cider
outside Cold Hollow Cider

Things to Do Near Stowe & Waterbury

Cold Hollow Cider

Cold Hollow Cider is a working cider mill known for it’s awesome cider and apple cider donuts. They offer a self-guided tour of our working cider mill offers an engaging rural experience that is unrushed and free of charge. You’ll learn how apples, bees, maple trees, and Vermont all get along well together. Plus, everything they have is really, really tasty.

I recommend getting an apple cider slushie and the apple cider donuts. They do not disappoint! You can watch the fresh donuts and cider being made daily too.

Ben & Jerry's factory near Stowe

Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream

The original and working Ben and Jerry’s factory is a fun spot to visit! It is open Tuesday through Saturday and offers outside window service and tours. This fills up fast, so book ahead on their website if you want a tour. More details are here.

In addition, we welcome you to visit our Flavor Graveyard, playground area and enjoy the views of the lovely Worcester Mountain range. They did not have any special flavors we couldn’t find at home, but it was fun to see the place where it all happens!

top of Mt. Mansfield
standing on Mt. Mansfield

Gondola Up Mt. Mansfield (or Drive the Auto Toll Road)

Get on top of Vermont’s greatest views the easy way – in the famous Stowe Gondola SkyRide. From the top of Mt. Mansfield – Vermont’s highest mountain – you can access our Cliff House restaurant, visit the Summit Retail Gift Shop and enjoy a sweet treat at The Waffle. This is only open from April to mid-October and costs $40 a person. The views at the top are awesome.

You’ll want to book ahead for this activity as well as it tends to sell out. It’s also weather permitting. Check the calendar for tickets here.

You can also drive to the top of Mt. Mansfield via the Auto Toll Road. This is a beautiful drive to the top. Be prepared for multiple stops due to traffic and limits in the number of cars that are able to park at each parking lot. this also costs $40 a car, so cheaper than the gondola, but still expensive.

You will still need to hike once you get to the top for either option. It’s worth the 15-20 minute hike for the beautiful sweeping views!

Plan on spending about 3 hours here.

Smugglers Notch State Park
outside farm near stowe vermont Smugglers Notch State Park

Smugglers Notch State Park Scenic Drive

Smugglers‘ Notch has been considered a State Scenic Road since 1978 under the Vermont Scenic Roads Law. It features breathtaking forests and amazing rock outcroppings.

Native Americans traced the path over this high pass, but its name dates from use during the War of 1812 as a supply line to the British army in Canada, which happened to be fighting the U.S. Army at the time. In 1807, President Thomas Jefferson had imposed an embargo against trade from Canada, a hardship for Northern Vermonters for whom Montreal was a prime market. The first carriage road through the pass wasn’t opened until 1894, and the present Route 108 dates from 1910. It was improved in 1922 in time for Prohibition, during which Smugglers’ Notch took on new meaning, this time with contraband flowing south from Canada.

You’ll want to stop at the cave and hike around for a bit between the rocks and take your time along the drive to make several stops on this beautiful drive.

Other Things to Do

wyckoff family maple syrup tasting room

Farmers Markets and Farm Stands

Fall has many different beautiful farms all over the state. They are known for farm to table cuisine and delicious special foods like cheese and maple syrup. Make a stop at one of the many farmers markets across the state. Chances are no matter where you are staying there’s one nearby. Here’s a full list of all the farmer’s markets to help you plan!

hiking near stowe vermont

Go for a Hike

Since over 70% of Vermont is forest and there are multiple mountain ranges, it’s a hiking paradise year-round, but especially in the fall! Everything from easy strolls to day long mountain top hikes can be found in Vermont. You’ll want to enjoy all that Vermont has to offer.

Here are some of the top-rated hikes in Vermont.

Antiquing and Vintage Shopping

Vermont’s quaint small towns and historic charm lend it to great antique shops and vintage clothing shopping. During our trip, we found antique shops and vintage clothing in every town we stopped in! You’ll find unique pieces so leave some space in your suitcase to bring some home!

As you plan your trip to Vermont in the fall, you’ll find plenty of amazing things to do and experiences that will help you fall in love with this beautiful state!

Find the best things to do in Vermont in Fall. Explore classic towns, find amazing drives and the best local food.
Find the best things to do in Vermont in Fall. Explore classic towns, find amazing drives and the best local food.

 

Find the best things to do in Vermont in Fall. Explore classic towns, find amazing drives and the best local food.
Find the best things to do in Vermont in Fall. Explore classic towns, find amazing drives and the best local food.
 
Meghan

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