Farmer's markets, localvore restaurants, arts and crafts, rural charm, pristine nature and a wealth of history – whatever you’re seeking, Vermont has it. 

Tucked between six-million-acre Adirondack Park, New Hampshire and the Atlantic Coast, the Green Mountain State is friendly, welcoming and teeming with opportunities to explore in all seasons. Whether you splash around on the shores of one the state's more than 800 lakes, pick ripe apples from the tree or sample maple syrup as it comes out of the boiler, the smallest state capital in the US is ready for adventure. 

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Everything feels accessible in Vermont, and it’s easy to put together an itinerary that incorporates so many different kinds of outdoor activities in one day. Whether you're visiting for Open Studio Weekend, when Vermont’s artists welcome visitors to the spaces where they create, or you want to follow the state’s beer or spirits trail, here’s our list of the best places to visit in Vermont. 

 People walking Church Street in Burlington
Get your shop on at Church Street in Burlington © Education Images / UIG via Getty Images

Church Street Marketplace, Burlington

In the heart of Burlington, Vermont’s biggest city, is Church Street, a pedestrian mall lined with charming boutiques, superb restaurants, and of course the mandatory Ben & Jerry's. In summer, musicians and street performers delight visitors, while food cart vendors have got delicious local snacks. Shop ‘til you drop and use Church Street as a launchpad for exploring the Queen City. Don't pass up a visit to the calming Lake Champlain shore, only a few blocks away. 

Montpelier

With 7500 residents, Montpelier is the US's smallest state capital by population. This city's focal point is the monumental 1859 Vermont State House, the state's gold-domed Greek Revival capitol. Take some time to visit the landmark's excellent art collection which has decorative and fine art exhibits, some from its permanent collection, and some traveling. Next door at the Vermont History Museum, exhibits recount the state's early history, highlighting Ethan Allen's 18th-century adventures. Meander through downtown Montpelier for bakeries, restaurants, shops and more before heading to Hubbard Park's observation tower for some of the best views of the capital.  

Vermont’s 7 best hiking trails

Old wooden barn surrounded by colorful trees, farm in autumn landscape
Woodstock's vivid New England countryside attracts city-dwellers year-round © Tibu / Getty Images

Woodstock

Surrounded by rolling hills and stately horse farms, Woodstock is steeped in history. In 1786, it was a center of commerce, home to both industry and art, and one of Vermont’s largest and wealthiest towns. Relics from that golden era still remain as the town's Woodstock Inn & Resort attracts city-dwellers to the country for a high-end weekend getaway.  

Visit the circa 1880 pink sandstone Norman Williams Public Library, or Billings Farm & Museum, a functioning dairy farm with an 1890 farmhouse and exhibits that depict farm life like it used to be. 

Nearby, a web of trails in Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park (the state’s first national park) invites walkers and nature lovers to explore. Take a dip or drop a line in the Ottauquechee River. It flows through the center of town and under the area's three historic covered bridges.

 

Tunbridge

Most of the year, the three Villages that comprise Tunbridge, Vermont are pretty quiet. A few visitors wander to admire their five covered bridges, But in mid-September, Tunbridge comes alive. Vermont has many agricultural fairs, but the Tunbridge World’s Fair, which has taken place in Tunbridge continuously since 1867, is the most famous.

Held in mid-September, the fair features farming and agricultural demonstrations and contests, both modern and historical, as well as arm wrestling, ox pulls and displays of the biggest and best produce and pies Vermonters can grow or make. Rides, contra dancing and a fantastic beer garden round out the offerings. But it’s the pig race that steals the show. 

Community Church, Stowe, Vermont
Stowe's most iconic landmark, Community Church, along Scenic Route 100 © Don Landwehrle / Shutterstock

Stowe

Just off of Mount Mansfield (Vermont's highest peak), Stowe is a classic New England town packed with local commerce and surrounded by natural beauty and landmarked by the historic white spires of Community Church. 

For the best of the area's nature trails, hop on a mountain bike for a tour of Cady Hill before rewarding yourself with a fresh-from-the-farm lunch at the Sunday farmer's market. Stay on the bike to glide along Stowe’s riverside rec path and route to one of the town’s many swimming holes. Stowe is famous for its superb skiing, both alpine and Nordic. Even if it’s not ski season, Vermont’s Ski History Museum brings skiing alive through its collections of gear and artifacts from ski seasons past. 

Drive the Mt. Mansfield Toll Road or hike the Long Trail to the summit of Mt. Mansfield for sweeping views of New England. Catch the Vermont Symphony Orchestra for a concert at Trapp Family Lodge; the stunning sunset and superb music will make it unforgettable. 

Vermont’s best road trips 

Lake Willoughby, Northeast Kingdom

Five miles long and up to 320ft deep, Lake Willoughby is a glacially-formed lake that’s a National Natural Landmark. Carved deep into Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, the lake lies between Mt. Pisgah and Mt. Hor, which together form the fjord-like Willoughby Gap. 

In the late 1800s, steamboats paraded visitors around the lake. Now, public beaches at the north and south ends provide summer fun for swimmers and paddlers. Fishermen cast a line here for lake and rainbow trout, landlocked Atlantic salmon and native round whitefish. 

At least 100 bird species populate this waterway: thrushes, warblers, hummingbirds, jays, finches, loons, herons, gulls and the rare peregrine falcon, which nests in the cliffs of Mt. Pisgah and Mt. Hor. 

Scenic autumn landscape at Smuggler's Notch State Park
Smuggler's Notch is one of Vermont's best seasonal drives © John Greim / LightRocket via Getty Images

Smuggler’s Notch

During the War of 1812, the twisty, windy, cliff-lined, boulder-strewn mountain horse path between Underhill and Stowe was the mainline for supplies going to and coming from Canada. It played a similar role for booze during prohibition. And it was also part of the Underground Railroad. Now, a narrow, snaking road replaces the historic path through Mt. Mansfield State Forest. 

Drive it and explore the boulder field at the top where smugglers hid, and where now you’ll see rock climbers and boulderers ascending. Though the Notch is closed in winter, it’s just as busy with skiers, snowshoers, sledders and ice climbers. 

A sailboat in autumn on Lake Champlain
Lake Champlain is excellent for sailing during the warmer months © Larry Gerbrandt / Getty Images

Lake Champlain

The sixth-largest lake in the United States, Lake Champlain, forms the western border of Vermont. At times, it's been a Revolutionary War battleground, a supplier of ships in the War of 1812, a "line” in the Underground Railroad and home to the mythical monster Vermonters affectionately call “champ.” 

At 125 miles long and nearly 15 miles wide, the freshwater lake is sprinkled with motorboats, paddle boats and sailboats in the summer. Put in at any of the boat launches, marinas or beaches, and you could follow the lake north to Quebec via the Richlieu and St. Lawrence Rivers, or south to the Hudson River and Manhattan. 

Take a ferry to New York, including the historic Ticonderoga cable ferry (currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, check their website for updates) or splash around on one of the lake’s many public beaches.

Explore the Champlain Islands, north of Burlington, and sample from the region’s best wineries, or pick apples in the Lake Shore’s fertile groves. Beneath its sometimes glassy, sometimes turbulent surface lies 300 historic shipwrecks. Dive them or learn about them at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. Lake Champlain is also one of the top bass fishing lakes in North America. 

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