Nestled in the Northeast, Vermont has endless opportunities for fun and adventure in all four seasons. Sure, sometimes summer is hot and humid, and winters can be arctic, but Vermont’s natural beauty, active mountain lifestyle, locavore cuisine, and rich arts and music culture mean there’s always something on offer.
Here’s our guide to the best times to visit Vermont. And, as we say in Vermont: if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it’s sure to change.
Best time for leaf peeping
Vermont is most famous for its fall foliage and the rainbow of colors formed by hardwood forests before the maples, oak, birch and other trees drop their leaves for winter.
Leaf peeping is well complemented by apple picking, and the apple cider, pie and cider donuts that are part of the experience.
Fall is also a great time for harvest festivals, seasonal dining and for a micro-spirits or micro-brewery tour. Many breweries make limited-availability seasonal ales.
Ski area gondolas shuttle visitors to mountain summits to take in the autumn views. It’s a good time to go camping, once kids are back in school and the summer crowds have subsided. Most Vermont state parks welcome visitors through Columbus Day.
Best time for snow sports
Vermont is the premier destination for downhill skiers in the Northeast, with 26 alpine ski resorts spanning from its northern to its southern border. Test your mettle on Stowe’s Front Four or ski until your legs are sore at Vermont’s Jay Peak, then splash away in the waterpark until dinner.
Nordic (cross-country) skiing is just as popular here, whether you want a gorgeously groomed skating circuit, or you prefer to explore the woods on backcountry Nordic skis.
The Catamount Trail, a unique long-distance Nordic Trail that winds from Massachusetts to Canada, draws winter lovers to the snow-covered Green Mountains. As do sleigh rides, skating, sledding, pickup hockey games, and ice fishing -- all popular pastimes.
Stowe Winter Carnival brings together sport, food, and snow and ice sculptures in one of Vermont’s quaintest towns.
Best time for a sweet tooth
Spring in Vermont is when the maple sap runs – and when sugar houses are boiling sap into maple syrup. Many open their doors for visitors to sample their goods straight from the boiler, or to try a taste of sugar on snow and pancakes drizzled with syrup – and more.
It’s also when spring colors explode with wildflowers carpeting the woods, and blossoming trees turning Vermont’s towns and cities into a botanical rainbow.
Migrating snow geese and other birds draw nature lovers out of the woods. Plus there’s often great late-season spring skiing. On several spring weekends, Killington famously offers both skiing and mountain biking at the same time.
Best time for festivals and water activities
Vermont can be hot and humid in summer. Thankfully, the 157-mile-long state has more than 800 lakes and ponds, and many rivers and streams. If you need to cool off, dip into Lake Champlain, or check out Vermont’s waterfalls and unique swimming holes, like Bolton’s naturally carved Potholes and Ludlow’s Buttermilk Falls, to cool off.
You can always hike a section of the Long Trail, which runs the length of the state. The trail has entry points along its entire length for those who want to hike for a couple of hours instead of a couple of weeks.
If you want to get out on the water, consider paddling a section of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. It follows the Missisquoi River before emptying into Lake Champlain.
Cyclists might consider a gravel race or ride like Rooted Vermont, or you can ride – or run – to the top of Vermont during the annual Race to the Top of Vermont. If all this athleticism isn’t for you, perhaps try your hand at casting with a fly-fishing lesson at Orvis’s Manchester-based school instead.
Summer is festival season in Vermont. From Jazz Fest in June to Art Hop in September, plus beer fests, craft fairs, agricultural fairs and farmers markets in between. No matter when you visit during this season in Vermont, you’ll wish you had more time.
Live music abounds in Vermont, whether you catch the Vermont Symphony Orchestra at Trapp Family Lodge, or Grace Potter at the Shelburne Museum. Summer is also an amazing time for dinner on a working farm, or dining (while people watching) on Church Street.
In late January, Stowe’s Winter Carnival hosts sports events, an Ice Carving Competition, as well as fat biking and the infamous Snowgolf and Snowvolleyball tournaments.
The Vermont Maple Festival is a celebration of Vermont’s first agricultural crop of the year: maple syrup. The three-day event is held annually in St. Albans Vermont.
Burlington’s Discover Jazz Festival fills the streets and venues of Vermont’s Queen City with music by local, national, and international artists. There are sit-down ticketed shows at Burlington’s Flynn theater, plus free music is performed on Church Street and throughout Burlington’s parks.
Also in June, Vermont Quilt Festival is New England’s oldest and largest quilt festival, showcasing work by quilters from across New England.
During Open Studio Weekend, Vermont artists across the state open their studios to visitors, whether those studios are downtown, or at the end of a dirt road.
Bennington’s Southern Vermont Garlic and Herb Festival coincides with sidewalk sales. It features live bands, drink specials from local restaurants, and the opportunity to see and sample cloves from specialty garlic growers – plus there are craft vendors and themed food trucks.
At Burlington’s South End Art Hop, artists open their studios, and showcase their creations during an indoor/outdoor festival that packs the streets with fans, demonstrations, exhibits, food trucks and more.
Another September highlight, Tunbridge World’s Fair is one of Vermont’s most beloved agricultural fairs. Bear witness to pumpkins the size of small cars and muscled oxen pulling heavy loads, sample award-winning dilly pickles and apple pies, cheer at the arm-wrestling and pig racing competitions and steel yourself for thrilling rides and more gentle ones.
Over 30 performers attend the New World Festival each year, which showcases the unique musical styles of Celtic and French-Canadian music – and dance – to downtown Randolph, Vermont. The festival was founded nearly three decades ago in recognition of the shared cultural heritage of the northern New England, Quebec and Canada’s Maritime Provinces, brought over by migrants from Ireland, Scotland and France.
In the fall, Woodstock Apples and Crafts Fair and Food Truck Festival host over 100 crafters and specialty food producers who display and sell their wares.
Winter brings St. Johnsbury Winter Farmers Market to Vermont. Held in December you'll find local vendors selling fresh produce, crafts and plants and plenty more.
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