Fall in Vermont: Best Places for a Foliage Road Trip
When it comes to Fall, there’s no place quite like Vermont. The striking leaves, the cool, crisp air, the maple syrup, apple picking, pumpkins, corn mazes, covered bridges… it’s all here! This guide with show you the 10 best places for Fall in Vermont. I'll also share a road trip guide to seeing the best towns!
The Green Mountain State is beautiful in every season, but Vermont in the fall is like a fairy-tale come to life. This guide to Fall in Vermont covers not only where to go, but when to see the changing leaves, and where to stay along the way.
Going to Vermont is an easy choice because you're guaranteed a beautiful view of leaves, festivals, and delicious food. So let's take the scenic route to discover the best places for foliage in this quintessential New England state. The Green Mountains, running the length of the state from Canada to Connecticut, are full of scenic drives for a kaleidoscope mix of reds and oranges and yellows.
Whether you've only got a few days, or a full week, I've mapped out the best opportunities for leaf peeping and the cutest towns you have to stop in! If you're looking for a full itinerary in New England, check out my guide!
When is the best time to see the leaves in Vermont?
Peak foliage season truly changes from year to year. But the best time is typically the end of September through mid-October for most of New England.
This “leaf forecaster” map is helpful for planning your trip and picking your dates. But know it can change from year to year!
I suggest having a car to drive around. This will ensure you're able to quickly get up and go, and stop at places where you find beauty! There are some really beautiful drives, and truthfully, this is the best way to see the leaves.
Fun fact: Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire combined have a smaller population than Dallas Fort Worth (where I'm from!). So while New England might seem overwhelming, distances can be quite short! This guide will ensure you see the best of the best in Vermont.
Though the color and vibrancy differ each year based on weather, you can typically always find beauty in Vermont in the Fall.
Which Airport To Fly in to Vermont?
Connecticut, Albany, NY and Boston, MA are all a short drive from Vermont. There's also an airport in Burlington, Vermont.
Boston is the airport we typically use to fly in to Vermont since it's non-stop and has the best prices. New England is fairly small, so a couple hours drive will take you easily from one state to another.
What Is The Best Time To Go?
It's best in late September through mid October for most of New England (depending on weather). I suggest having a car so you can stop and go as you please! With so many small towns and great stops along the way, a car is key to seeing everything in Vermont.
What To Pack?
Layering is key! Bring clothes for changing weather, a warm coat, gloves and hat (depending on the temperature), sunscreen in September-October when it's still light out but chilly! I also suggest hiking boots since there are so many wonderful hikes. I like these boots, see my full guide on what to pack for hiking here.
Best Vermont Towns to Visit in the Fall
Tour Vermont’s beautiful fall foliage and get a glimpse of the best things to do in the state! Here are 10 places to visit in Vermont in Fall. These must-see places are glorious all year round, but come Autumn when the leaves are striking shades of red, oranges, and yellows you will truly be mesmerized.
Here's a map of all the places mentioned so you can find them along your route!
Located in southwestern Vermont, Manchester is an ideal place for leaf peeping. The leaves fall like a blanket across the surprisingly bright green grass waving goodbye to the season.
Nearby is Lincoln's Hildene home where you can tour the mansion and gardens, as well as see Lincoln's last letter to his wife and his signature stovepipe hat.
Manchester is also home to one of Vermont’s most popular apple orchards – Manchester Orchard.
Other things I recommend in Manchester are:
- The original Orvis store
- American Museum of Fly Fishing
- Northshire Bookstore
Make time to stop on your route at the Dutton Farm Stand – it's lovely and perfect for pumpkins!
A great place to stay is the gorgeous Equinox resort.
Nestled in the northern part of Vermont, Stowe has been a destination for leaf peeping since 1835! The hills ARE alive and you'll feel like you stepped into the sound of music in Stowe.
Start your day at Cold Hollow Cider for fresh apple cider donuts (highly recommend!) and a great tour of the production facility. Nearby is also Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream! This is technically in Waterbury, but the towns are super close.
Then, head to Smuggler's Notch for a beautiful drive and epic views along the way. I love how the road juxtaposes with the bright leaves. It's a photographer's paradise.
After Smuggler's Notch, head to Mount Mansfield – the highest peak in Vermont and home of Camel's Hump. You'll enjoy stunning views from this mountain as well!
And don't forget about Stowe Mountain Resort for some more hiking, skiing (in winter!).
Walk around the adorable town, grab a coffee, and head up to Tangerine & Olive gift shop to get a view below of the town and the pristine church. It feels like a Folger's coffee commercial! Lastly, check out Percy's Corn Maze– great for any age!
Cap off your visit to Stowe at The Trapp Family Lodge! After the Von Trapp family (from The Sound of Music) fled Austria during World War II, they sought out a place with rolling hills and pretty towns that reminded them of their homeland. Though it was not hands-down perfect match, Vermont is one of those places and I agree!
Woodstock is loved for its New England village charm anchored by the town's central square, The Green, and a collection of homes that have been lovingly restored. The Woodstock Inn is absolutely stunning and worth it to walk around- whether you're staying there or not!
Of course, no visit to Vermont is complete without visiting the Insta-famous Sleepy Hollow Farm (or Elm Grove).
Check out the working dairy farm: Billings – for milk and ice cream! The Taftsville Covered Bridge, the oldest in Vermont at over 220 years old, and one of the oldest covered bridges in the state is worth the stop.
If Woodstock Inn is sold out or too pricey, you can also stay at the gorgeous 506 On the River Inn. We camped in our RV and drove on to Calvin Coolidge Forest.
If you want to feel like Gilmore Girls come to life, head to the small town of Weston, Vermont. Weston is also home to the Weston Playhouse, one of Vermont's most popular dinner theaters!
The town has many beautiful trails that lead you right into the Green Mountain National Forest, perfect for hiking or camping.
Weston feels like stepping back in time with a slower pace and time to enjoy a steaming cup of coffee and enjoy the views. Make sure to step in the Vermont Country Store while you're there. It has a classic country feel with handmade quilts, old fashioned candy, and other goodies that delight all ages.
This picture perfect town lies in the Mad River Valley which sits between the Green Mountain Range and the Northfield mountains.
The town of Waitsfield is the perfect place to grab a cup of coffee before you start your leaf peeping venture!
Waistfield is a quintessential Vermont town and should definitely be on your list for your Vermont road trip.
I recommend the Waitsfield Creamery for ice cream and baked goods. It's a must-stop on your way through town!
This is a unique stop in Vermont because it's not just known for it's changing leaves but for it's “Dog Mountain.” In 1995, artist Stephen Huneck and his wife bought 150 acres. Huneck fell down a flight of stairs and was left in a coma. When he awoke he spoke of a vision of making woodcuts and carvings of his dog Sally.
After a near-death experience, he built Dog Chapel to honor Sally and dogs everywhere. Here, you can explore his works and admire the lovely trees.
This is the capital of Vermont and the least populous capital city in the USA. But they certainly didn't skimp on their state house, it has a lovely gold-domed roof. There are plenty of places to eat and sip, but my favorites were not in town, rather nearby.
First up is the picturesque Burtt’s Apple Orchard. Right on the hillside, visitors can pick apples and drink apple cider. The setting sun was fantastic!
But my favorite spot here is Bragg Maple Farm. Did you know Vermont is the world's largest producer of maple syrup?! Try a maple creamy and indulge in maple candies. If you're RVing you can stay here over night.
One of the 10 best places to visit in Vermont for fall foliage is Burlington, affectionately known as the Queen City (not just Cincinnati, Ohio!). This is the biggest city in Vermont and has a lot of great things to do.
I recommend the University Museum, which is open year round and offers free admission! There are interactive exhibits inside the museum that share about Vermont wildlife, archeology, local history and more.
But the best part of Burlington is Lake Champlain. From Burlington take a ferry to be on and around this beautiful body of water! I recommend renting bikes from Tom's Bikes in town for a day exploring different parts of the waterfront, beach-side parks with areas for fishing or just taking in views.
Burlington has plenty of dining options, one of the best is the North End Café. They have a warm and cozy feel with delicious dishes to satisfy any appetite.
Explore Church Street Marketplace and join the 1.5 million visitors that come here annually to shop, eat, and play
Middlebury has stately brick and stone buildings along the gently sloping town green, cascading waterfalls of Otter Creek, and loads of shopping opportunities for autumn foliage.
There's a beautiful downtown and historic college so it's buzzing with shops and things to do.
Middlebury is also famous as an arts community with opportunities for theater, concerts, art galleries and more.
If you're looking for an adorable town in the south of Vermont, Bennington is one of the best. It's part of “The Shires” of Vermont Byway so it's easy to access on a drive. There are many small shops and it's a beautiful spot for the fall.
The Bennington Battle Monument is on top of Mount Anthony, and you can take an elevator up for panoramic views of 3 different states. It was built in 1879 as a memorial to Revolutionary War soldiers who died during the American Revolution.
Best Things to Do in Vermont in Fall
The best part about road tripping Vermont in the Fall is that you can't go wrong! Get lost, take a back street, and just explore this beautiful state.
My favorite activities are apple picking, corn mazes, hiking and pumpkin patches. Luckily, there's no shortage of this in Vermont!
Apple picking, maple houses, hiking, pumpkin patch , scarecrow carving, pumpkin patch, festivals
Your Vermont bucket list should include:
- Apple Picking – I like going to Burtt's Apple Orchard near Montpelier
- Stopping at a maple house – I love the Bragg Maple House near Montpelier
- Getting lost in a Corn Maze – I love Percy Field near Stowe
- Going to a Pumpkin Patch – The Dutton Farm Stand is incredible! Near Manchester
- Eat HOT and fresh apple cider donuts – There's no better place than Cold Hollow Cider near Stowe
With only 157 miles in length, this is one of the few states where you can easily drive around the whole thing in a short time. Vermont features an abundance of mountain views and winding roads that are perfect for a picture. And, festivals! There are plenty of wonderful fall festivals in Vermont. Check out the options here!
Perfect Vermont Road Trip Itinerary
Your route for your road trip in Vermont will depend on your timing. If you are earlier in the season for leaves, middle September, I recommend that you start north and head south. If you're coming in early October, you might want to start south and head north.
If you're here to check out the leaves, make sure to check out this great resource to see how the foliage progresses in Vermont. This is a good baseline to plan your trip.
I also like to keep my eye out on the foliage forecaster for Vermont to check on leave conditions.
Vermont's 10 scenic byways are some of the best ways to enjoy the foliage. From winding roads through charming downtowns, to views along mountain ranges, find your next excursion along a byway route in Vermont. Since Vermont is small, most of these routes can be completed in a few days.
Here's what I recommend for the best scenic routes in Vermont:
- Route 100 – Meandering from Wilmington, Dover, Plymoth, Waterbury, and Stowe, this is one of the best routes for leaf peepers. You'll find the Mad River Scenic Byway part of this route.
- Green Mountain Byway – From Waterbury and Stowe you'll venture through the Green Mountains for stunning views. This is also part of Route 100!
- Route 7 – This route follows along the western side of the state and dips into Massachusetts and Connecticut (which I recommend doing if you have more time!) Stop in Bennington, Manchester, Middlebury, and Burlington.
- Route 30 – There's a lot to see in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont! Head from St Johnsbury south to Montpelier. The Northeast Kingdom recently ranked as the best Geotourism destination in the United States, and among the top 10 in the world. You'll head nearly to Canada, then make your way down to St. Johnsbury.
My favorite route is my own! There's so much to see, so picking and choosing a mixture of both is my favorite. You can break this up however you like and you certainly don't have to start in St. Johnsbury! You can also start south and head north.
Want to see even more in New England?! Check out my guide to all of New England and plan your perfect trip!
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