The long, narrow state of Vermont is bordered on the east by New Hampshire and the Connecticut River and on the west by New York. Between is the grandeur of the Green Mountains towering over fertile green valleys, home to small hamlets and villages that encourage a slower, more meditative way of life.
The four distinct Vermont seasons, each a unique adventure, will entice you to return to this lovely state again and again.
Here are nine of the state’s most charming towns to prioritize on a visit.
Shelburne, a suburb of the city of Burlington, is located on the shores of Lake Champlain. Renowned for its outdoor activities, Lake Champlain is a water lover’s paradise. With 587 miles of shoreline, the lake is a mecca for anyone wishing to enjoy gorgeous scenery and lakeside fun.
A stop at Shelburne Orchards will have you yearning for a simpler life. They are open seasonally in September and October for apple picking; stop in for their apple cider donuts and a hay ride. Don’t miss the apple brandy tasting and the family history behind their Dead Bird Brandy.
If discovering new wines and vineyards is up your alley, make time for the Shelburne Vineyard. Grab a seat with a vineyard view, order a flight, and let the afternoon glide into evening. The vineyard also offers private tastings -- reservations are required a minimum of two weeks in advance. However, Ken Albert, founding and managing partner of Shelburne Vineyard noted, "we will do our best to accommodate last minute requests."
If you’re traveling with the grandkids in tow, head to the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, which sells a multitude of bears, including giant 6-foot-tall bears, personalized new baby bears, and special occasion bears. They even have a wildlife collection including a flamingo, kitten, and unicorn. Take a tour of the factory, where you will discover how they take yards of soft, fuzzy cloth and create their huggable characters.
Pro Tip: You might want to stay in Shelburne for a day or more. The lodging directory assembled by the town is a handy guide for accommodation selection.
Discovering Waterbury is easy with the self-guided Waterbury Historical Tour. Requiring a combination of walking and driving (or biking), the tour provides an interesting, in-depth history of the town, its past residents, and its architecture.
Country stores across the town offer local goods and produce. Cold Hollow Cider Mill sells mouthwatering Vermont Cheddar, maple syrup, and cider donuts.
The hiking trails at Camel’s Hump State Park run the gamut. To view Camel’s Hump, try the very easy 0.8-mile Camel’s Hump View Trail. It is short and on a clear day provides a beautiful panoramic view of the hump. The 18.7-mile Camel’s Hump portion of the Long Trail is best suited for avid hikers.
Waterbury is also home to a thriving craft brew scene. If you are searching for a place to relax and unwind, Discover Waterbury offers a thorough list of brewery options.
Stowe is synonymous with skiing and the Stowe Mountain Resort, which offers everything you’d want from a resort area: year-round outdoor adventure, amazing local food, and spectacular panoramic views. The inspiring beauty of the mountain draws adventure lovers seeking the New England ski experience. The resort is located at the base of Mount Mansfield, the highest mountain in Vermont at 4,393 feet above sea level. The summit boasts the best views in the state.
The Trapp Family Lodge is a one-of-a-kind overnight accommodation in Stowe. The resort is steeped in old-world European tradition and offers spectacular Vermont views. This is a bucket-list stay for every Sound of Music fan.
This small town is the Vermont state capital. The Vermont State House is open to the public and is a beautiful example of Greek revival architecture. Visitor hours vary, so be sure to check the website before visiting. The State House Lawn is a well-utilized green space that hosts celebrations and events and is the perfect spot to relax and enjoy a lovely Vermont day.
The Vermont History Museum offers a glimpse into the history of Vermont’s people and places. Check out the exhibit highlighting the Long Trail, which runs 272 miles through Vermont, beginning at the Massachusetts border and continuing to the Canadian border. Another interesting exhibit, Freedom and Unity, covers the state’s history from the Abenaki people to the present day.
Hubbard Park is Montpelier’s treasured green space. It is the perfect place for a picnic lunch, and picnic tables dot the park for your convenience. Enjoy a climb up the tower for an unobstructed view of the beautiful city of Montpelier.
The New England Culinary Institute (NECI) was born in Montpelier. The students and staff of the institute currently run two establishments in town. At La Brioche Bakery & Cafe, you can partake of artisan breads, pastries, and other delights. NECI on Main offers local farm-to-table cuisine. The students begin their culinary journey in these restaurants, where they receive hands-on kitchen training. It is exciting to see the collaboration of educators and students presented beautifully on your plate.
Woodstock is a classic quaint Vermont town with beautifully preserved historic buildings surrounding a center green. Enjoy an afternoon stroll around this charming village.
The Woodstock Inn & Resort provides the essence of New England casual luxury. The inn pampers overnight guests with opulently appointed rooms, world-class spa treatments, and sumptuous dining. Even if you’re not a guest, dining at the inn should be on your Vermont to-do list.
Quechee is home to Quechee State Park, which offers camping sites, hiking and cross-country skiing opportunities, and the beautiful Quechee Gorge. To hike Quechee Gorge, you’ll start out on well-groomed, handicap-accessible paths, but to finish the hike, you’ll have to navigate hillier, root-riddled paths. The reward is a splendid view of the gorge carved from glacial activity and the Ottauquechee River.
Quechee is also the home of Simon Pearce, known for his exquisite hand-blown glass. Located right on the river, his gallery is a beautiful spot for lunch and shopping.
Weston is a quiet town with a beautiful center green where residents and guests alike can enjoy the perfectly manicured lawn, shining white gazebo, shade trees, and colorful flowers.
The original Vermont Country Store calls Weston home. Their catalogs are jam-packed with country goods, and the store has all that and more. Part museum visit and part shopping adventure, a trip to The Vermont Country Store can easily turn into an afternoon of rediscovering childhood memories and shopping for items you can’t live without.
After your shopping expedition, cross the parking lot and have lunch at Mildred’s Dairy Bar. Don’t leave without trying the Maple Creemee. The delightful soft-serve maple ice cream is pure Vermont. Afterward, walk the half block to the center green, the perfect place to munch on your sandwich and kettle chips.
Chester’s downtown historic district is lined with beautifully maintained homes, quaint shops, and classic inns. Park your car and walk around this lovely small town, or simply sit on a bench and enjoy the inviting charm and grace of Chester and her residents.
Just off of Main Street is the Stone Village, a row of 10 unique granite homes. Designed and built by Scottish settlers, they stand today as a reminder of Chester’s heritage.
MacLaomainn’s Scottish Pub is an ode to the cuisine of Scotland and New England. You will find an eclectic menu with starters like a haggis tasting plate and crab cakes. Entrees include mince and tatties, bangers and mash, and fish pie. Burgers and pizza are an option for the less adventurous.
Chester’s Inn Victoria celebrates everything Victorian. The moment you step into the front parlor, the antiques will transport you to bygone days of luxury. Innkeeper Penny Cote’s passion for tea is reflected in her teapot collection, extensive tea options, and weekend high tea events. Whether you stay the night or just visit for afternoon tea, you will be treated like royalty.
Manchester is home to Hildene, Robert Lincoln’s family home, a Georgian revival mansion with formal gardens and a farm. The estate houses a 1903 Pullman car; Robert was the president of the Pullman Company, and the Many Voices exhibit describes the difficult life of a Pullman porter.
The American Museum of Fly Fishing is perfectly at home in Manchester. Vermont, a state rich in fresh mountain waters, is an angler’s dream. The museum houses a collection of more than 40,000 items related to fly fishing.
Stop at Mother Myrick’s Confectionery for a special sweet treat to fuel your afternoon.