Vermont Travel Guide
Famous for its country inns, covered bridges, and recreational opportunities such as hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing, Vermont has a reputation for being a state with a “mind of its own.” Visit Montpelier, the state’s capital, which has the oldest and best-kept statehouse in the union. See Lake Champlain from the shore or on a schooner cruise, or visit one of the area’s numerous historic sites. In Burlington, check out the summer jazz music festival.
Burlington is also the home of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory, where tours are available for the curious. A trip to the Green Mountains area of Vermont is an absolute must. Manchester is a bastion of outdoor activities and also boasts the American Museum of Fly Fishing, featuring a host of information dedicated to this outdoor pastime. It is the Green Mountains that hold the ski resorts for which Vermont is so well known. Spend some time at Killington/Pico, Stowe, Rutland, or one of the several other resorts.
Vermont’s capital, Montpelier, is located in East Vermont. Said to be the smallest state capital in the United States, with a population of approximately 7000, a significant portion of residents is employed by the government. The Historic State House is billed as one of the oldest (over 140 years old) and best-preserved state capital buildings in America.
Free tours of this historic site, in East Vermont, are available through the summer months. While in Vermont’s east, take a trip to Barre, a short drive from Montpelier, and visit the Barre Opera House (built in 1886). Take a drive to the town of Woodstock, voted the prettiest small town in America. Woodstock is home to the well-known Woodstock Resort and Suicide Six Ski Hill. Still in Woodstock, be sure to visit the Marsh Billings Rockefeller National Historic Park.
The Green Mountains, a signature symbol for the state of Vermont itself, is a premier, four-season travel destination. Hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, and viewing the maple leaves – resplendent in their changing fall colors, are but a few of the favored activities. Of course, there is also the downhill skiing for which Vermont is so famous. Killington/Pico, Stowe, Sugarbush, and Stratton are some of the top ski resorts in the area. Take in the apres-ski life and stay in an authentic country inn (for which Vermont is so well known), in the smaller communities surrounding these resorts such as Killington, Village of Stowe, Warren, Waitsfield, and Manchester Center.
The Lake Champlain area of Vermont encompasses Burlington, South Burlington, and the other towns that lie on or near the shores of the sixth-largest lake in the world, Lake Champlain. With a population of approximately 54,000 people, Burlington is the largest city in Vermont. While in Burlington, visit the Robert Hull Fleming Museum, housed at the University of Vermont, or take in the famous summer Discover Jazz Festival. Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory, well known for its flavorful ice cream, is also located in Burlington.
Visitors are welcome to tour the plant. If something more adventurous takes your fancy, spend the day sailing the waters of Lake Champlain aboard an authentic schooner. A short drive outside of Burlington is the Shelburne Museum, sometimes referred to as Vermont’s Attic. Take a tour of the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory which claims to be the largest single supplier of Teddy Bears in North America. Vergennes is home to the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, which houses the most extensive collection of shipwrecks in America.
Barre, located five miles southeast of Vermont’s capital of Montpelier, is considered the granite center of the World. The visitor’s center at the Rock of Ages, the world’s largest granite quarry, offers narrated or self-guided tours of the quarry and manufacturing plant. The town’s Robert Burns memorial is considered one of the finest granite sculptures in the world and nearby Hope Cemetery provides tours of the many granite memorials that have been crafted and placed at the site.
The century-old Barre Opera House hosts between 70 and 100 events yearly, showcasing local theater and art groups, as well as some well-known musicians and dancers. Maple sugar farming is a thriving industry in Vermont, and the area surrounding Barre provides visitors with many opportunities to observe the operations firsthand.
Bennington, tucked in the southeast corner of Vermont, is famous for the Bennington Monument. A 306-foot, hilltop obelisk, the monument commemorates a colonist victory during the American Revolution, An elevator within the monument carries visitors to an observation deck where New York State, Vermont, and Massachusetts can be seen.
Five historical covered bridges can be explored within Bennington County and Bennington Museum contains the largest collection of works by noted folk artist Anna Mary Robertson Moses, better known as Grandma Moses. Bennington Center for the Arts is the hub for local historical and cultural art. Visitors can also visit poet Robert Frost’s gravesite at Old First Church. Hiking trails are plentiful and winter recreation activities abound.
Burlington is the largest city in Vermont, but it is still considered small according to “big city” standards. The city itself is home to approximately 40,000 residents, while the greater area includes a population of 132,000. The University of Vermont’s campus is located in Burlington. The presence of the university allows the city to maintain a youthful atmosphere with cultural and social events at the core. Burlington boasts views of Lake Champlain, as well as the Green and Adirondack Mountains—these areas all offer a host of recreational activities year-round. Several ski resorts are also within a short drive from Burlington’s city center.
Ethan Allen Homestead Museum
Visit the homestead of famed American freedom fighter, Ethan Allan. This significant historical site has been converted into a museum to celebrate and educate visitors. Address: 1 Ethan Allen Homestead, Suite 2, VT | 05401 Telephone: 1 802 865-4556
Located at the waterfront, this park features a swimming beach. Its shoreline is largely rocky but that makes for scenic vistas as well. The park is home to a playground, tennis courts, ball, and sports fields, walking trails, picnic shelters, and restrooms. One special feature of the park is a treehouse, which rests with a white oak tree, 15 feet from the ground. Address: End of Flynn Avenue | Burlington, VT
North Beach is open from the end of May until Labor Day and offers a grassy picnic area with tables, grills, and a park. Restrooms, showers, and snack bars are also open in season. Swimming in the water is permitted and a lifeguard is on duty. The water is tested for quality at the beach weekly during the summer to ensure it is safe for swimming. Address: Institute Road off of North Avenue | Burlington, VT
In 1971, South Burlington was incorporated, making it the newest city in Vermont. The name South Burlington is something of a misnomer, as the town sits as far east as it does south of Burlington. Ben and Jerry’s ice cream factory can be found in South Burlington, and tours are offered to see how this famous treat is made. Golfers will appreciate the Vermont National Country Club, a semi-private course designed by pro-golfer Jack Nicklaus. There are many activities that can be enjoyed from South Burlington, making it a good base from which to explore the wonders of Vermont.
Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Headquarters
Home of the famous Ben & Jerry’s ice cream with tours of the plant available. Address: 30 Community Drive | South Burlington, VT | 05403-6828
Situated at the convergence of the Brewster and Lamoille rivers, 30 mi (50 km) northeast of Burlington, Jeffersonville is one of several quaint villages in Lamoille County.Â Named in honor of the country’s third president, Thomas Jefferson, the town is best known as the gateway to Smugglers’ Notch, a spectacular pass at the base of Mt. Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak. Route 108, which runs through the Notch between Jeffersonville and Stowe, is one of two officially designated scenic highways in the state and is particularly popular during Vermont’s famous autumnal foliage.Â Smugglers— Notch also refers to the area—s ski resort, a family-oriented snow-lovers delight that is located just 5 mi (8 km) south of Jeffersonville.
In town, the carefully renovated Smugglers Notch Inn, built in 1790, embodies Vermont’s history while two of the state’s iconic covered bridges, the Grist Mill Bridge and the Cambridge Junction Covered Bridge, are located a short walk or drive from the village. For many, however, Jeffersonville’s best features are its outdoor opportunities, which in winter means various snow sports activities while biking, in-line skating, climbing, paddling, and hiking take over in other seasons. Or, for those wanting just a leisurely stroll, the Cambridge Greenway Recreation Path runs along the Lamoille River through Jeffersonville.
Grist Mill Covered Bridge
Located just south of Jeffersonville, this historic and scenic covered bridge spans the Brewster River and is also sometimes referred to as the Scott, Bryant, or Canyon Bridge.
Said to be one of the premier ski resorts in New England, Killington boasts seven mountains of downhill skiing with well over 30 lifts, plus over 50 kilometers of cross-country trails. This isn’t the sort of resort where a skier has to be a pro, however. The resort here can accommodate any skill level. While skiing is definitely the main attraction, Killington also has other recreational offerings. Gifford Woods State Park features a hiking trail that leads to the famous Appalachian Trail, plus a number of smaller day hikes. After a long day in the great outdoors, Killington has a wide variety of restaurants for noshing and relaxing.
The area surrounding Manchester, including nearby Manchester Center and Manchester Depot, offers guests a nucleus of accommodations, shopping, restaurants, and other traveler amenities. Manchester is known among anglers as the home of the Orvis flagship store, a company with a long tradition in fly fishing. Visitors to the store can view the rod assembly line or try a cast on one of the nearby trout ponds. The American Museum of Fly Fishing is also found in Manchester, adding to the area’s reputation for stellar casting. The outdoors are further represented at area ski hills and golf courses, allowing for a wide variety of outdoor activities. Bargains can be found at the local outlet malls and antique stores.
American Museum of Fly Fishing
The American Museum of Fly Fishing features a number of exhibits that highlight the rich history of fly fishing. Among the displays is the evolution of the fly-fishing reel, tied flies, as well as paintings and sculptures. Also showcased here are the fly-fishing tackles of a number of famed Americans, including Ernest Hemingway, Herbert Hoover, and Andrew Carnegie. Address: Route 7A | Manchester, VT | 05254
Surrounded by thousands of acres of Green Mountain National Forest, Middlebury is a year-round outdoor paradise for hunting, fishing, hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, golfing, and playing tennis. Middlebury College Snow Bowl is the third oldest ski hill in Vermont and features two double chairlifts, a triple chair, and 110 acres of trails. The Museum of Art and the Ralph Myhre Golf Club are also part of the accredited Middlebury College and provide educational and recreational opportunities for students, residents, and tourists. The exhibits and archives available for viewing and research at the Vermont Folklife Center and the Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History preserve the folk art, traditions, and everyday life in the Middlebury region.
One of the most unique state capitals in all of the United States, Montpelier does not possess a large, intimidating skyline. The predominant building here is the Vermont State House. The gold dome that tops the capitol is visible from the outskirts of the city. Just behind the capitol is Hubbard Park, a stunning area full of red oak, white pine, and old hemlock growth. Many of Montpelier’s unique shops lie on Main Street, and a stroll down State Street allows a good look at the city’s many government buildings.
Due to the fact that it was built on the marble trade, Rutland has the unique distinction of being known as the Marble City. This name does not seem out of place as many of the buildings here incorporate marble into their facades. A walk along some of the city streets will give a good look at early American architecture, much of which is designed in an elaborate, Queen Anne style. American art icon Norman Rockwell has a museum bearing his name here, and numerous pieces of his work can be viewed. Lovers of the outdoors and skiing will enjoy Rutland’s location—only a short drive from the Killington Ski Resort.
Set in Vermont’s Green Mountains, the town of Stowe is best known for the popular ski resort that bears its name. Stowe Mountain Resort features more than just a ski hill, as a golf course, tennis courts and a mountain gondola manage to make it a desirable vacation spot even when no snow is on the ground. The state’s highest peak is also located a stone’s throw from Stowe. Mount Mansfield stands just over 4,000 feet, and from the summit’s hiking trails, views of the Adirondack and White Mountains are provided. Also in the town is the Vermont Ski Museum, which celebrates the state’s skiing history and houses the Hall of Fame.
Stowe Hollow Bridge
Known locally as Emily’s Bridge, this landmark-covered bridge was built in 1844 and is located a few miles south of the village of Stowe. Several tales exist as to how the historic bridge got its nickname but all involve the untimely death of a young woman who reputedly still haunts its rafters today. Address: Stowe Hollow Road | Stowe, VT
Situated along the Mad River, halfway between Middlebury and Stowe, is Waitsfield. This scenic town is an excellent place for a recreational getaway, with opportunities for skiing at the Mad River Glen Ski Resort and the Sugarbush Resort. Waitsfield is also a great spot for other outdoor activities, such as hiking, fishing, hunting, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and guided canoe tours. Waitsfield has much to offer for those who prefer the indoors as well. A number of unique stores and restaurants are located here.
Located in the heart of the Mad River Valley, Warren is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, no matter what the season. Canoe and kayak trips, fishing, hiking, and skiing are just some of the more popular activities that visitors and locals enjoy. The two local downhill ski areas are Mad River Glen and the Sugarbush Resort, each offering varied terrain ranging from beginner to expert. Warren may well be one of Vermont’s best-kept secrets, offering old-time charm with the excitement of discovery in a New England wilderness.
Covered Bridge in Warren
For those interested in the history and construction of covered bridges in New England, be sure to visit the bridge in Warren, built circa 1880.