Luckily, Vermont’s stunning views are always free. Visit in the fall to make the most of them and take advantage of all the Green Mountain state has to offer through hikes, outdoor sculpture parks or perhaps a little bird-watching.

Here’s our guide to the best things to do for free in Vermont.  

Leaf peeping 

In autumn, Vermont’s hardwoods turn from deep green to a rainbow of reds, oranges, yellows and browns, transforming the Green Mountains into a nature-painted rainbow. Drive windy Rt. 108 through Smuggler’s Notch, pedal along Rt. 100 or hike any hill or peak for stunning views and to witness nature’s artistry. Find peak color using one of the state’s foliage finders.

Music in the park

Vermont’s many parks, breweries, libraries and town halls offer free concerts from classical music to folk, jazz and pop. Summer is chock-full of free performances, and these continue into the fall. Catch the United States Air Force Winds at the Plymouth Congregational Church, Folk Duo Hungrytown at Middlebury’s Ilsley Public Library or Great Time at Foam Brewers in October.

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Woman hiking on a rocky ridgeline in Stowe, Vermont
A hiker takes a grassy trail on Mount Mansfield in Stowe, Vermont © Corey Hendrickson/Getty Images

Take a hike or a ride

There’s always something to admire on a hike in Vermont. Walk, run, bike or wander on rec paths in Stowe, Burlington, the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail or the Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail. Some are paved, some are dirt, and all wind through Vermont’s stunning pastoral landscape. 

If you’re feeling ambitious, tackle the Long Trail, Vermont’s end-to-end thru-hike, a 272-mile wilderness wonder that follows the ridgeline of the Green Mountains

The oldest continuous footpath in the United States also has 166 miles of side trails that give day hikers and weekend campers access along the length of the trail, while 70 backcountry campsites and shelters, almost all of which are free, provide lodging.

Best hikes in Vermont 

Immerse yourself in outdoor sculpture 

There are nearly 30 spots to explore outdoor sculpture throughout Vermont. At Woodstock Sculpture Fest, visitors can walk, wander or glide on Nordic skis through outdoor art in all seasons and all for free.

Fence of the cemetery, Old Bennington
Old Bennington Cemetery offers wonderful autumnal views  © The Image Bank Unreleased / Getty Images

Explore Vermont’s historic graveyards

Whether you’re looking for spooky Halloween hangouts or a window into Vermont’s storied past, visiting Vermont’s historic graveyards is a great way to spend an afternoon. Most Vermont villages have aged graveyards with headstones so weathered they can barely be read. 

Bring paper and crayons to make a rubbing and try to decipher the sometimes haunting, sometimes playful inscriptions. Find inspiration and an overview at Vermont Old Cemetery Association’s website.

Top things to do in Vermont

Find a farmers’ market

Find fresh produce, handmade crafts, home-cooked food, free music and performances, and more at Vermont farmers’ markets. Find one near you through the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont. Browsers and buyers are welcomed. 

Many markets have music and samples of delicious treats from maple popcorn and freshly baked bread to artisan jams, jellies, cheese and spirits.

The Church Street Marketplace in Burlington is always hopping, but the pedestrian mall is particularly lively in fall with end-of-season sales, street performers, outdoor art and food trucks galore.

People resting on a bench after a hike in Vermont
Taking a break to enjoy the views at Kent Pond, Vermont © Getty Images/iStockphoto

Go birdwatching 

Vermont is a great place to see wildlife. Get up early or head out at dusk to see clouds of snow geese and Canada geese fill the sky as they flock south from the Artic for winter. In Addison County, Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area is a regular stop on the birds’ 5000-mile journey. 

Hit it right, and not only might you marvel at a sky throbbing with beating wings, but you might also witness cornfields and wetlands alive with birds on the hunt before another day of flight. 

The snow geese are spectacular, but Dead Creek is always a birder’s paradise. Mallard ducks, wood ducks, ring-necked ducks and hooded mergansers are all regulars here. 

In southern Vermont, walk the perimeter trail around Grout Pond to hear the plaintive call of loons. If hawks, owls and eagles are of interest, walk the paved road up Mt. Philo in Charlotte to the summit viewpoint, which looks out over the Champlain Valley and New York’s Adirondacks, turn your eyes and binoculars skyward to search for raptors surfing thermals.

Vermont’s best road trips

Sign on for a scavenger hunt

Get inspired to explore. The American Institute of Architects’ Vermont Chapter runs an architectural scavenger hunt and posts clue sheets for participating Vermont cities, including Middlebury, St. Albans, Burlington and Brattleboro. 

Even if you can’t complete the search before the hunt’s close date, use the clue sheets as a guide to architectural awesomeness throughout the state.

Lovers of cheese won’t want to miss Vermont Cheese Council’s The Hunt. Designed to encourage exploration and make you hungry at the same time, participants on this cheese hunt select one or more regions to explore while completing tasks like biking in the Champlain Valley, preparing an outdoor picnic on the shores of Lake Champlain, climbing to the summit of Killington or visiting a cheesemaker based at Calvin Coolidge’s historic summer white house in Plymouth.

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