Last Updated on September 13, 2022 by Paroma
Visiting Vermont in Fall? Then, you’re in for a treat because Vermont is one of the leading places in USA to see Fall colors! From finding the best fall foliage drives to exploring the magical small towns such as Stowe, from a delicious tour of Ben and Jerry’s to visiting a Cider Mill and slurping on a maple creemee, here is how to spend three beautiful Fall days in Vermont. Trust me, this Vermont itinerary is one that you’ll want to save!
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VISITING VERMONT IN FALL
Vermont, the tiny west coast state in USA is famous worldwide for its dazzling array of fall colors which are a visual treat. Every year, thousands of people flock to witness the bejeweled colors that only Vermont in Fall can offer.
We made the trip in late September in 2015 to see nature’s riot of colors and this post is a recap of what we did in the Green mountain state. Consider it a first timer’s handy guide to Vermont fall foliage drives as well as best places to stay for Vermont Fall foliage watching and includes fall foliage tracker link which you should keep an eye on to plan your visit around peak foliage in New England.
Finally, as usual this guide also comes with is vegetarian and vegan friendly. So without further ado let’s get started on this sneak peak on what to do in Vermont in Fall.
TIPS FOR FOLIAGE WATCHING IN VERMONT
Where is the best fall foliage in Vermont?
There are many small towns in Vermont where you can see bejeweled Fall colors that the state is famous for. Some of these places which we covered during our trip are:
- Lake Champlain Byway
- St Albans
What’s the best month for fall foliage?
This depends on weather conditions that vary annually, but mid September-mid October is a good bet for visiting Vermont in Fall to see foliage color change. The Vermont tourism website has a pretty good Vermont fall foliage tracker map/forecaster based on earlier years’ data, which, although, warned to be not an accurate marker for the current year, still gives you a general idea as to when to visit for foliage peeping.
It’s also a very good idea to request their free Vermont guide well in advance to get a state map and information on byways (more on that later) and you can also sign up to get emails on Vermont fall foliage on a weekly basis, should you want to minimize your chances of a disappointing show. Here is another excellent resource on foliage tracker providing photo updates on Vermont fall foliage.
WHERE TO STAY IN VERMONT
During our visit to Vermont, we stayed in two places. These were as follows:
a) We spent our first night at Burlington, Vermont’s “most bustling” city by Lake Champlain, one of the best cities in America and home to University of Vermont. We stayed near the airport at Smart Suites (South Burlington), which is a pretty decent, basic accommodation for a stop over and provides free morning breakfast, wifi and a small kitchen (fridge, microwave, stove top) if you wish to warm up/cook food.
However, if you are looking for cute vacation rentals, then check out this guide to the 20+ Best Airbnbs in New England. We had dinner at Revolution Cafe in downtown Burlington, an awesome place if you are in the mood for a meatless dinner.
b) Our second stay was way better and unique and one that I highly recommend and that is the High Hill Inn in East Montpelier, one of Vermont’s favorite and most coveted B&Bs which is out of the world charming and a must stay place if you are planning a trip to see Vermont in fall.
High Hill Inn is literally located at the top of a small hill, surrounded by greenery as far as the eye can see and mountains beyond. The owners, Anne-Marie and Joe, are the kindest, nicest, warmest people one can ever meet and made us feel so much at home!
Their hospitality and amazing lip smacking breakfast aside (which we had the next two mornings; they are also very accommodating of any dietary restrictions that you may have), what was most endearing to us was their love for animals and nature.
They have a 100 acre property with a dog, cats (Swepea’ and Two Toes), horses (stallion and mares), goats and chicken. Swepea’ took a shining to Sriram as I snapped a gazillion photos of her being petted by him.
They have several guest rooms and a loft above, separated from others(where we stayed) and get filled up pretty quickly due to their five star reviews. This is one of the best places to stay in Vermont and I highly recommend that you book a few months in advance should you plan to visit New England in the fall season.
HOW TO SPEND THREE DAYS IN VERMONT IN FALL: DAY 1
Drive the Lake Champlain Byway
Day 1 of our three days in Vermont started with breakfast at Magnolia Bistro, another charming cafe in Burlington which has grub to satisfy carnivores, vegetarians and vegans. This was followed by a swift checkout as we started our drive by heading north in the hope of catching some fall colors.
The beauty and idyllic village life that has made this tranquil, green state a staple of all postcards can only be experienced via driving along the byways and not the highways (although they too are very pristine with no ugly billboards maring the view). The state byways are an excellent way of seeing some really beautiful mountain villages in Vermont.
These byways are simply roads parallel to the highways and meander leisurely through small towns and villages to give you a taste of real Vermont. You can get more information on these famous Vermont byways here and the map is included in your free Vermont guide, if you request one from the tourism website mentioned before.
We drove along the Lake Champlain byway, skirting the border of the lake that ferries Vermonters to New York, all the way up to the city of St. Albans. We stopped on our way at a small gift store in one of the Lake Champlain islands where we were greeted by Shamus, an adorable pooch who was the official greeter for his mom’s shop. The store carried art and handicrafts made in Vermont and was a delightful place to do some shopping.
Out of the shop and into the cornfields, such is the changing scenery of Vermont (cheeky grin inserted)! An impromptu photo-shoot amidst the tall corn husks and then we were on our way to St. Albans in search of Vermont fall colors. Lunch was at an Italian joint at St. Albans and then we made our way to Fairfax falls, which to my utter dismay was fenced and locked, thus preventing a closer look and toe-dipping.
Stop by Lake Lamoille
We then drove further east via Morrisville to Lake Lamoille, a beautiful tranquil lake a la oasis in the countryside. Lake Lamoille is a must visit and should be included in your itinerary ASAP for its shimmering blue water and lush greenery around which will go wild with fall colors providing breathtaking views of the mirroring water later in fall.
Explore downtown Montpellier
We ended the evening of our first day on a spectacular note by strolling in downtown Montpelier and savoring some date-nibs and dandelion latte (coffee like concoction minus the caffeine, can be made vegan using almond or coconut milk) followed by a sumptuous dinner at Hen of the Woods in Waterbury, one of Vermont’s finest restaurants and a pioneer in the farm-to-table/locavorian food movement the state is famous for.
In one of our many firsts (the first of them being seeing hens pecking at apples near the apple tree at the inn), we had a menu completely devoted to Vermont cheese. We sampled the softest goat cheese with immense trepidation since we are anything but cheese connoisseurs and were super happy with our choice.
If you’re looking for nourishing, calming experience for dinner then you should check out Tulsi Tea room in downtown Montpelier, where we dined on our second night. The tea room serves vegan thalis (Indian full meals with several courses) , Dosas (south Indian pancakes) and other curry bowls. The food was simple, yet hearty and just what we needed for our tired bodies.
WHAT TO DO IN VERMONT IN FALL: DAY 2
Get a tour of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream factory tour
Vermont is famous for its wide variety of cheese, maple syrup and apple cider, while being home to famous chocolatiers such as Lake Champlain chocolates and Handcrafted American Pewter, Danforth Pewter.
But the most famous export of Vermont, one that put the state on the world map, is perhaps its iconic Ben and Jerry’s ice cream which true to its Vermont roots, is a business with a heart (think love, peace, justice, ice cream served all in one).
So, during our Vermont in Fall trip, a stop at the Ben and Jerry’s near Waterbury was a must and we took the painless, fun 25 min tour (includes a brief movie about the company, an aerial view of their production facility and tour guides explanation of how ice-cream is made and finally a taste testing on an unreleased flavor: ours was orange cream).
Check out famous local businesses: Cold Hollow Cider Mills, Lake Champlain Chocolates and Danforth Pewter
Ice-cream gave way to cider as we stopped along the famous Cold Hollow Cider Mills and sampled their cold cider, marveled at all kinds of apples, edible items made from maple syrup (candy of all kind) and left with some maple drops.
Lake Champlain chocolates apparently serves the best hot chocolate in town and so how could I resist testing the claim? Needless to say, the hot cocoa tinged with spice hit the right spot! We gave into the old world charm of pewter and got some gifts (delicate chains with tiny animal pendants and drop earrings) from Danforth Pewter.
Take a photo at the Von Trapp Lodge
Post shopping, we drove up to the Von Trapp Lodge and marveled at the beautiful surroundings and the wooden lodge itself.
The lodge is a fully functional hotel so you need to make reservations to stay. We rested in the lobby for a little while where all the photos of the Von Trapp Family (who inspired the iconic musical “The Sound of Music”) were proudly displayed and left after snapping a few photos of nearby fall foliage. In this portion of our Vermont Fall foliage drive, we did catch a few leaves changing color, as you can see from the photos below.
Get a yummy lunch at Piecasso
Up next was lunch and we got some grub at the fantastic pizzeria Piecasso (pun on their favorite artist and food) which is also part of Vermont’s Farm-food network,i.e. they source everything locally and support local farmers. We had a fantastic vegetarian pizza there and I washed it down with some local cider. We could not resist walking down a beautiful trail starting right outside the parking lot of the restaurant and walked around for some time to burn off those pizza calories!
Stop by Danville and St. Johnsbury
We kept on driving after lunch towards Danville and St. Johnsbury where we hoped to be greeted by some more Vermont fall foliage. We stopped by a beautiful lake in West Danville and then grabbed a bite to eat at one of the cafes nested in the US Postal Office building at St. Johnsbury. In all these places, we were greeted with green leaves changing color but the blazing reds and yellows and orange hues still eluded us (early fall, damn you!).
WHAT TO DO IN VERMONT IN FALL: DAY 3
VISIT THE STATE CAPITOL BUILDING IN MONTPELLIER
We saved the best for the last aka exploring the Capitol building and stopping by Rutland on our third day in Vermont.
Our kind hosts at the High Hill Inn informed us that the State House dome was made of real gold (we did get a glimpse of it the previous day when we were in town) and that made me instantly want to go and click a million photos of it!
We chose to photograph the state house in the early morning light with the mist still hanging in the air. The dull glow of the dome in the thin fog, the feel of the wet grass beneath the feet and the amber like glow of the crisp leaves strewn all over with lush greenery all around made the serene morning extra beautiful. Honestly, that is the perfect time to click some photos of the majestic building and its surroundings (i.e. garden and lawn) since it gets crowded very quickly with tourists flocking to the front get a view.
Also, S found out about the Norman Rockwell Museum in Rutland, a town an hour and a half south of Montpelier, which again had to be visited since we both are such big fans of the legendary American artist. Finally, we decided to pay homage to Vermont’s love for all things maple and stop by the famous Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks, one of the most famous maple producers of the state and a host farm (i.e they allow visitor interaction).
Stop by Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks
Post photo session, we had one more round of yummy breakfast at the inn, packed our bags and said our goodbyes to humans, kitties, hens and goats and drove off to Morse Farm.
Morse Farm is a fun little place with tons of maple syrup loaded products and the world famous maple creemee, Vermont speak for soft serve infused with maple syrup. Fun fact: this awesome creemee is listed in the top 75 quintessential American eats.
Visit Woodstock, Vermont’s most famous town
After gobbling down the creemee, which was a slice of instant melt heaven, and touring the gift shop, we were off to our next destination, i.e. Vermont’s poster child of an idyllic village, Woodstock. True to the recommendation, Woodstock indeed turned out to be a charming little hamlet with some cute boutiques and cafes to nosh. We had sandwiches and local cider at Mon Vert cafe, which had a beautiful patio to sit and enjoy lunch.
Stop by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Rutland
The last stop during our visit to Vermont in Fall was the most anticipated Norman Rockwell museum in Rutland. The museum is in a small building literally in the middle of nowhere and showcases the artists work (about 3000 of them) from 1920s all the way to 1978, when he passed away. The joy of watching rows and rows of his art on several magazine covers, the most notable being the Saturday Evening Post and the beauty, skill and painstaking detail of each of his creations left us completely in awe.
My personal favorite (see below) was a little boy snuggled with his dog in a warm blanket, an advertisement piece. I have been to several museums all over the world, but there was indeed something special about this tiny abode filled with curated art work (original and prints) that will always find a special place in my heart.
Much like Mr. Rockwell’s body of work, which was considered more of a commercial artist’s work and a picture rather than a painting for the elitists to be showcased in museums, nevertheless caught the fancy of millions who loved his art as it captured Americana in a way no one else could, this museum too symbolizes that rugged simplistic attitude embodied in his work minus the ornateness that you see at other places. Highly recommended for the art lover to squeeze this in your Vermont itinerary!
Check out downtown Burlington
We ended our three days in Vermont trip by flying out from Burlington.
We checked in for the night at Smart Suites again and then left for dinner to downtown Burlington, i.e. to the market square, a bustling and fun place to hang out. The square has the city hall located on one end and lots of good eateries. We had a great dinner over poutine (The french-Canadian influence is all over in Vermont due to its code proximity to Montreal) and vegan crepe at the Skinny pancake, a very popular joint amongst the college-goers.
Next morning it was a quick breakfast at Penny Cluse Cafe in Burlington (one of the few places that open at 7AM) and then we were off to the airport to fly back home! Overall, we had a great stay with great food, scenery, very friendly people who opened their hearts and homes to us, lots of furry friends and abundant greenery that made us drought stricken Californians realize how brown and dried up our state has turned into!
I hope you enjoyed this guide to spending three days in Vermont in Fall and are already planning to spend a few years to see some jaw dropping fall colors and roll in those crunchy leaves. Thanks so much for stopping by and safe travels!
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