Welcome to the Green Mountain State, where autumn’s embrace transforms Vermont into a breathtaking tapestry of colors and experiences. As the leaves begin their annual transition, the landscape becomes a canvas of crimson, amber, and gold, painting a vivid picture of the fall’s arrival.
In the heart of this picturesque season, Vermont’s charming small towns and natural wonders take center stage, offering visitors an array of places to explore and cherish. With so much to see, we’ve put together this guide so you can make the most of your Vermont fall vacation.
Whether you’re seeking vibrant foliage, cozy escapes, or outdoor adventures, we’ve got you covered! Keep reading for the 14 best things to do in Vermont this fall, as well as other helpful tips and recommendations to make your autumn getaway unforgettable.
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When do the leaves change in Vermont?
The timing of the leaves changing in Vermont is a subject that both nature enthusiasts and travelers eagerly await. Vermont’s peak foliage season typically occurs between late September and mid-October. Therefore, this period is the most vibrant time to witness the stunning transformation of the state’s landscape.
Typically, this metamorphosis begins as early as September in the state’s northern regions and higher-altitude areas. Over the following two to three weeks, the foliage gradually spreads from north to south. In some areas, the leaves can even hold their brilliant hues until the end of October in Vermont.
However, it’s important to note that the precise timing of when the foliage reaches its peak color can vary because of weather conditions, like precipitation and temperature. After all, warm and sunny days followed by cooler evenings are the perfect recipe for brighter colors.
Therefore, we recommend staying updated with the fall foliage report, which is released weekly. When possible, we also suggest being prepared to adapt your plans based on the weather.
The best time to visit Vermont in the fall
When planning your foliage vacation in Vermont, timing is key to witnessing nature’s masterpiece at its most vibrant. For those seeking peak fall foliage, we recommend setting your travel dates during the first two weeks of October.
Vermont in October has been particularly ideal the past few years, with the breathtaking colors typically reaching their zenith around October 8th. However, remember that the state’s diverse geography offers varying optimal times to enjoy this natural spectacle.
Early October is the better choice in the northern mountainous regions, such as the Northeast Kingdom, Stowe, and Waterbury. Meanwhile, leaf peepers looking to explore areas in Southern Vermont, like Bennington or Grafton, or around Burlington, may want to opt for the second week of October.
Things to do in Vermont in the fall
Experience the adorable village of Stowe.
If you’re wondering what to do in Vermont in the fall, Stowe is our top choice. Situated along Route 100, this historic district, a National Register of Historic Places member since 1978, is a must-visit destination.
Dedicate at least half a day to exploring the delightful Main Street, where you’ll encounter an array of unique residences, boutique shops, and dining establishments. Don’t miss Lake Champlain Chocolates, where you can indulge in homemade truffles and snap a photo at the “Welcome to Stowe” mural!
Other shops we love here include Black Cap Coffee & Beer (get a maple latte), The Country Store on Main, and Stowe Mercantile. While in Stowe, we also recommend strolling along the scenic Stowe Recreation Path, taking the Gondola Skyride to the top of Mount Mansfield, and driving through Smugglers Notch.
Plus, you’ll want to take an iconic photo of Stowe Community Church surrounded by all the fall foliage. If you have extra time, check out some of the local breweries. Our favorites are The Alchemist and Idletyme Brewing Company.
Fall foliage road trip through Smugglers Notch State Park.
Set off on a journey through Smugglers Notch State Park, famous for featuring one of Vermont’s most scenic routes: the historic Smugglers’ Notch Pass. This beautiful route winds its way through the majestic Green Mountains along Route 108, connecting Stowe to Jeffersonville.
Despite its name’s intriguing history tied to smuggling during the War of 1812, today, it’s a prime destination for leaf-peeping enthusiasts. The drive is relatively short but dotted with numerous pull-offs that invite you to immerse yourself in the splendid foliage views.
If you’re in the mood for a leisurely walk, consider checking out some of the park’s well-liked hiking paths, including Sterling Pond Trail (moderate) and Bingham Falls Trail (easy). Keep in mind that Smugglers Notch State Park is closed during the winter season, typically beginning from mid to late October.
So, plan your visit accordingly, and make Route 108 through Smugglers Notch an essential stop on your Vermont fall adventure. Just remember that arriving early in the morning is advisable during peak fall foliage to beat the crowds and savor the tranquility of this enchanting drive.
Check out the view from the top of Mount Mansfield.
Experience the awe-inspiring vistas of Mount Mansfield during an unforgettable autumn in Vermont. Standing at 4,393 feet, it’s Vermont’s highest peak and a must-visit attraction in Stowe, particularly during the fall season when the foliage is at its height.
Whether you reach the summit via the Gondola Skyride, the Auto Toll Road, or a challenging hike, the foliage views are simply spectacular. If hiking is your preference, you can embark on trails like the Long Trail (South) from Smugglers’ Notch or the Sunset Ridge Trail or the Laura Cowles Trail from Underhill State Park.
For a more leisurely approach, Stowe Mountain Resort’s Auto Toll Road offers a picturesque 4.5-mile drive to the summit ridge, providing gorgeous vistas of Vermont’s landscape at 3,850 feet. It’s a fantastic way to witness the fall foliage without strenuous hiking!
Or, to effortlessly soak in the breathtaking foliage Vermont is famous for, hop on the Stowe Mountain Resort’s Gondola Skyride. While it may be a bit pricey, it’s well worth the investment, especially for first-time visitors to Stowe.
Operating from mid-June to mid-October, this gondola ride is a top attraction in town. Therefore, it’s recommended to make online ticket reservations in advance! Keep in mind that it can get a bit windy and chilly at the summit, so bringing a jacket is wise.
Try the famous apple cider donuts at Cold Hollow Cider Mill.
Try the famous apple cider donuts at Cold Hollow Cider Mill to satisfy your cravings for quintessential Vermont fall flavors. Located in picturesque Waterbury, this charming, family-owned cider mill is a haven for autumn enthusiasts.
The star of the show, their homemade apple cider donuts, are a steal at just $0.75 each. Trust us; you’ll want more than one, so go ahead and order half a dozen! As you indulge in these delectable treats, take some time to explore the market and gift shop.
Here, you’ll discover a delightful array of Vermont goodies, including maple syrup, jams, cheeses, and more. If you’re still feeling peckish after your donut indulgence, drop by the Luncheonette Restaurant, which serves delicious homemade breakfast and lunch daily from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Additionally, don’t forget to sample Cold Hollow’s own hard cider offerings! Visit the Tasting Room right there, available from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and opt for a flight of your choice.
Visit the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory in Waterbury.
Explore the delightful world of ice cream at the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory in Waterbury, a must-visit destination in Vermont in fall. This iconic factory offers guided tours that provide fascinating insights into the company’s history and the art of ice cream production.
Witness the magic behind your favorite flavors, from mixing to packaging. Following the tour, indulge your taste buds at the Scoop Shop, where you can savor scoops of your choice. For a fun group treat, consider sharing the mini-Vermonster sundae!
The Factory and Scoop Shop welcome visitors daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Additionally, don’t forget to visit the Flavor Graveyard nearby, where discontinued Ben and Jerry’s flavors find their humorous resting place.
Exploring Burlington in Vermont during the fall is a delightful adventure. This picturesque city, located approximately 45 minutes from Stowe or 30 minutes from Waterbury, should definitely be included on your leaf-peeping journey through Vermont.
Although it’s the largest city in the state, it maintains a small-town charm while still providing a wide range of activities to do! Thanks to its location on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, Burlington boasts breathtaking views of the lake and the surrounding fall foliage.
A highlight of your visit should include a leisurely ride along the Burlington Bike Path (Burlington Greenway). This eight-mile paved trail is perfect for both bikers and walkers, winding along the lake and connecting you to parks and the downtown area. Bike rentals are readily available from local shops!
Additionally, don’t miss the bustling Church Street Marketplace, a pedestrian-only shopping and dining district with over 100 restaurants and stores. Burlington combines cultural vibrancy and natural beauty, making it a perfect destination for experiencing Vermont in autumn.
Spend a day in Woodstock.
Experience the quintessential charm of a New England village by spending a day in Woodstock, Vermont. Located just a one-hour and 20-minute drive from Stowe, Woodstock consistently earns its title as one of the most picturesque small towns in the United States.
In Woodstock, you’ll find a delightful blend of attractions, including the historic Woodstock village. One of the best things to do here in the fall is just to explore! Meander through the quaint streets, where you can see beautiful homes decorated with pumpkins and other fall decor.
While in town, don’t miss the chance to browse through all of the unique shops. For example, you can find the longest-running independent bookstore in Vermont and a general store that’s been around since 1886.
Of course, you’ll also want to explore the village’s renowned covered bridges, such as Middle Covered Bridge. In fact, Vermont boasts over 100 covered bridges, a higher density than any other state in the United States when measured per square mile!
Try locally-made maple syrup and cheese at Sugarbush Farm.
Discovering Sugarbush Farm during your fall Vermont vacation is a delightful, family-friendly activity. Situated just a brief five-mile drive from Woodstock, this quaint countryside farm manufactures an assortment of cheese types and maple syrups.
Best of all, there’s no admission fee, making it a cost-effective outing for all. While exploring the farm, you can also indulge in some local treasures, including the farm’s own Vermont maple syrup, lovingly crafted on-site, and a diverse selection of 15 varieties of waxed cheeses.
Immerse yourself in the syrup-making process, starting with tree tapping, and savor complimentary samples of both syrup and cheese. Before concluding your visit, take a leisurely stroll along the brief nature trail located behind the parking area!
Snap a photo at the picturesque Sleepy Hollow Farm.
For those seeking the quintessential fall foliage in Vermont photos, Sleepy Hollow Farm is an absolute must-visit. This picturesque farm has gained widespread fame on Instagram, earning its reputation as one of the most photographed fall locations in the state.
Luckily, it’s just a short eight-minute drive from Woodstock Village along Cloudland Road in Pomfret. To make the most of your visit, we recommend arriving early in the morning for fewer crowds, especially on weekends.
It’s essential to remember that Sleepy Hollow Farm is private property, complete with security gates and cameras. So, please respect the owners’ privacy by only taking photos only in front of the gate and not trespassing.
Unfortunately, this year, the village of Pomfret has requested to close off the main road near Sleepy Hollow Farm from September 23 to October 15. This petition is due to residents’ frustration with the frequent influx of tourists seeking to capture images of the stunning autumn scenery.
Stop by the Vermont Country Store.
Don’t forget to make a pit stop at The Vermont Country Store during your Vermont fall vacation. Established in 1946, this store in Weston, Vermont, is a treasure trove of nostalgia, offering an array of heritage products and hard-to-find items.
It’s a true step back in time, managed by the Orton family, who have been in Vermont for eight generations. The Vermont Country Store features authentic Vermont maple syrup, a charming bakery, a cheese shop, and many intriguing souvenirs.
It may be a bit of a tourist trap, but we love spending an hour or so browsing and snapping photos. If you don’t know what to get, we suggest a creemee, apple cider donuts, or fudge! Note that you can also find a second location in Rockingham.
Enjoy the fall foliage in Montpelier.
As you visit Vermont in the fall, you’ll find Montpelier to be bursting with character and history. In fact, the city was given a French name due to the widespread admiration for France resulting from the Franco-American alliance during the Revolutionary War.
Just remember that Vermonters pronounce it “mont-peel-ee-er”! The Vermont capital is home to a vibrant restaurant scene and many boutique shops, including independent bookstores you’ll want to check out.
Wander through the city’s tree-lined streets and relish the vibrant fall colors all around. Whether you embark on hikes in Hubbard Park or check out the view from St. Augustine’s Cemetery, Montpelier in the fall will surely captivate your heart.
Don’t miss the Taste of Montpelier Food Festival in early October, a showcase of local culinary delights involving 17 food trucks! Or, if you’re visiting later in October, grab tickets for the Enchanted Forest Celebration. During this event, participants follow a jack-o-lantern-lit trail featuring art, music, song, and a captivating performance.
Sample a maple creemee.
Indulging in a maple creemee is a must-do on your fall road trip through Vermont. This delightful soft-serve ice cream, beloved by both locals and visitors, distinguishes itself with its higher butterfat content, resulting in a creamier, denser, and more flavorful treat.
Served slightly warmer than regular ice cream, maple creemees have that irresistible soft texture. While there are numerous spots to savor these sweet delights, Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks in Montpelier, VT, is renowned for offering the best.
This family-owned maple syrup farm spoils visitors with four sizes of maple, chocolate, and twist-flavored creemees. Moreover, you can choose from various toppings like rainbow sprinkles, chocolate sprinkles, and the unique maple dust–granulated maple sugar.
Don’t forget to explore their gift shop for authentic Vermont-made products, including pure maple syrup and Cabot cheese. Be sure to check their seasonal operating hours for a delightful creemee break during your road trip!
Go on a hike to see fall foliage.
Immerse yourself in the kaleidoscope of autumn hues by going hiking during your Vermont vacations in the fall. Vermont, known as the Green Mountain State, lives up to its reputation with an array of captivating hiking trails for leaf-peeping enthusiasts.
No matter your level of hiking experience, there’s a fall foliage hike for everyone to savor the season’s vibrant colors. The top five most popular hikes in Vermont in the fall include:
- Mount Mansfield: As the highest mountain in Vermont, Mount Mansfield is a must for seasoned hikers. The challenging 7.7-mile Mount Mansfield Loop provides panoramic views of the Green Mountain range, making it incredibly stunning in the fall.
- Camels Hump Trail: Camels Hump, one of Vermont’s highest peaks, is a local favorite. This 6-mile roundtrip hike offers 360-degree views of colorful leaves, creating a truly mesmerizing experience.
- Mount Pisgah Trail North: Located near Lake Willoughby, this 4.8-mile hike is a fantastic day trip. Though rated moderate, it boasts dramatic views of the lake and surrounding vistas, making it well worth the effort.
- Stowe Pinnacle Trail: This 3.7-mile hike may be challenging, but the breathtaking vistas encompassing Camel’s Hump, Mount Mansfield, and beyond are incredibly rewarding.
- Lye Brook Falls Trail: For a more moderate experience, explore the 4.4-mile Lye Brook Falls Trail in the Green Mountain National Forest. The trail leads to one of Vermont’s largest waterfalls, promising a memorable autumn adventure.
Go apple picking.
A Vermont road trip in the fall promises breathtaking landscapes and cozy autumnal activities. In particular, apple picking stands out as an authentic and delightful way to embrace the spirit of the season.
Vermont, nestled in the heart of New England, is home to some of the finest apple orchards in the region. So, whether you’re planning a family outing or a romantic escape, these orchards promise a memorable apple-picking experience:
- Hackett’s Orchard (South Hero): Situated in South Hero, Hackett’s Orchard is a beloved destination known for its 47 apple varieties. It features traditional farm activities and delightful treats like cider donuts and cider slushies.
- Burtt’s Apple Orchard (Cabot): Tucked away in Cabot’s Northeast Kingdom, Burtt’s Apple Orchard offers a picturesque setting for classic Vermont apple picking. With over 40 apple varieties, including Honeycrisp and McIntosh, it’s a must-visit. Don’t forget to savor their homemade cider donuts.
- Scott Farm Orchard (Dummerston): Scott Farm Orchard boasts an impressive array of over 125 apple varieties, including heirloom apples. Beyond apple picking, you can immerse yourself in their rich history by staying in one of their historic Vermont homes and indulging in their exquisite fresh-pressed cider.
- Mad Tom Orchard (East Dorset): Nestled in the Vermont hills, Mad Tom Orchard provides an old-fashioned, family-run apple-picking experience. Their low-set apple trees are ideal for kids, and you can relish hot cider donuts and fresh cider at affordable prices.
- Shelburne Orchards (Shelburne): If you’re near Burlington, Shelburne Orchards beckons with 60 acres of apple-picking beauty. Enjoy hayrides, ginger apple cider, sugar-dipped cider donuts, and even an apple brandy tasting room for adults.
Where to stay in Vermont in the fall
This classic lodge boasts Austrian charm and a range of outdoor activities, including hiking and cross-country skiing, ideal for a fall escape. With stunning foliage, on-site dining (including a Bierhall!), and a rich history, it’s a captivating choice for an unforgettable Vermont fall getaway.
This luxurious alpine retreat is surrounded by stunning fall foliage. With its cozy mountain ambiance, upscale amenities, and convenient access to outdoor adventures like hiking and leaf-peeping, this lodge provides the perfect blend of comfort and nature for an exceptional fall getaway in Vermont.
Situated in Stowe village, this Inn is known for its historic charm and diverse accommodations, making it an excellent choice for fall in Vermont. Families will appreciate the year-round heated outdoor pool, fitness center, game room, and fire pits, making it a comfortable and memorable autumn stay amidst vibrant foliage.
Located on The Green, this Inn offers a historic and luxurious retreat with ties to the illustrious Rockefeller family. Its impeccable charm and elegant amenities make it a top choice for fall accommodations in Vermont, providing a splendid setting to immerse yourself in the beauty of the season.
Located near Woodstock Village, this inn offers 45 rooms and suites with scenic river and garden views. With an indoor pool, sauna, gym, game rooms, and the 506 Bistro & Bar, it’s a fantastic choice for a comfortable and entertaining fall stay in Vermont.
This inn is set on an 11-acre estate in historic Old Bennington, VT, and offers a charming bed and breakfast experience with 11 uniquely appointed rooms blending modern amenities with old-world charm. It’s an ideal choice for fall accommodations in Vermont, providing a warm atmosphere, proximity to attractions, and a cozy cocktail lounge.
This hotel is nestled within the picturesque Manchester Village, offering a four-star retreat perfectly positioned for experiencing Vermont’s diverse seasonal activities. Expect refined rooms, farm-to-fork dining, and mountain vistas, all with a boutique twist! Therefore, it’s suitable for couples, families, and wedding parties seeking classic Vermont charm.
Tips for visiting Vermont in the fall
Book accommodations in advance.
Vermont is a trendy fall foliage destination–not just for people in New England but from all over the U.S. So, securing your lodging well in advance, whether it’s hotels or vacation rentals, is crucial!
Check the Vermont Foliage Map.
Keep an eye on the Vermont foliage map, which provides real-time updates on the changing colors across the state. This tool can help you plan your trip for the peak of fall foliage!
Arrive via Burlington International Airport.
If you plan to fly, consider arriving at Burlington International Airport (BTV) in northern Vermont. In our opinion, it provides the most convenient access to prime leaf-peeping areas.
Avoid peak weekends.
Vermont’s foliage season attracts leaf peepers from nearby states like Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. To avoid crowds, plan your visit during the weekdays or aim for dates slightly before or after the busiest weekends.
Make reservations for restaurants in advance.
Vermont’s most sought-after restaurants can fill up quickly during the fall season! Make reservations in advance to ensure you can savor local cuisine without delays.
Explore beyond the usual spots.
Popular destinations like Stowe and Woodstock offer stunning foliage views and are well worth the visit. However, don’t hesitate to explore less-crowded areas like the Northeast Kingdom for a more serene experience.
Pack layered clothing.
Fall weather in Vermont can be unpredictable. Pack layered clothing to stay comfortable as temperatures fluctuate throughout the day! We also recommend packing a raincoat.
Bring your hiking boots.
Vermont boasts numerous scenic hiking trails that lead you through the heart of fall foliage. With this in mind, be sure to pack appropriate footwear to enjoy the breathtaking views!
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