Editors' Picks: 20 of the Best Things to Do in Vermont!
When you think of Vermont, the first things that usually spring to mind are gorgeous fall foliage, maple syrup and winter sports. But there is plenty more you can do in the Green Mountain State.
Upwards of 75 percent of the state is forested, making for outstanding outdoor activities at any time of the year. You can also sample from many craft breweries and cheese makers, search for a mythical creature in Lake Champlain or find surprising historical attractions (like Abe Lincoln’s stovepipe hat).
Need more ideas? Here’s our list of 20 fun, unique things to do in Vermont.
1. Get Your Maple On
Vermont is the leading producer of maple syrup in the country, so show your allegiance to the sweet stuff by visiting one of the state's many sugar houses. In the springtime, you can observe how the sap makes it from the tree to your plate of pancakes.
This lovely five-mile path along the West Branch River is flat and level, making it a favorite for cyclists, rollerbladers, runners - or those who just want a quiet stroll through some of Vermont's most gorgeous country.
The Trapp Family Lodge near Stowe was founded by those Trapps, the ones featured in The Sound of Music. After fleeing the Nazis, Maria and company settled in Vermont, opening this European-style lodge on almost 2,500 acres of land. Start practicing your version of The Lonely Goatherd.
In the mid-19th century, Frederick Billings was sounding the alarm about clear-cutting forests to make way for farmland - and made it a practice to plant trees on denuded land. Billings Farm near Woodstock is a great example of a sustainable dairy farm, and a way to step back into Vermont's rural past - one that paved the way for future trends.
Pet lovers will appreciate this tribute to man's best friend. Situated on 150 acres (called "Dog Mountain') in St. Johnsbury, the Dog Chapel features pooch-related themes in the stained-glass windows, pews and more. There are loving letters posted to the Remembrance Wall by pet parents - and a gallery that sells wonderful gifts by late artist Stephen Huneck who initiated the Chapel as homage to his own dogs.
6. Ice Cream
Ben & Jerry's is one of Vermont's most beloved brands…and you can get a taste at a tour of their Waterbury factory. It's fun, educational - and did we mention, there's ice cream involved? Yeah. There is.
7. Cool Off at the Falls of Lana
How romantic does the name of this waterfall sound? These Salisbury falls are a breathtaking cascade that drop about 160 feet - and there are several lovely ways to climb up to the best views. Seriously, these falls are so gorgeous, as in Hollywood-movie gorgeous.
The Bennington Monument soars 306 feet in the air to honor a key Revolutionary War skirmish that was fought on August 16, 1777. An elevator ride takes you to the top, where you get amazing views of Vermont, Massachusetts and New York.
The deepest gorge in the state, formed about 13,000 years ago, can be best viewed from walkways 165 feet above the Ottauquechee River. There's a nearby campground, and the Vermont Institute of Natural Sciences is also close by. They rehabilitate injured raptors and return them to the wild.
10. Go Hunting for "Champy"
Like Loch Ness, there's supposedly a giant serpent that lives in the waters of Lake Champlain. The lake's watershed extends more than 8,000 square miles, most of it around Vermont. Many boat tours will let you take in the scenery of this breathtaking waterway - and you may catch a glimpse of Champy while you're out and about.
Vermont has over a hundred of these charming, photo-worthy structures, with roofs that either protected the beams from rotting or made animals more confident in crossing (at least, those are two theories for the design). This map shows you where to find 'em.
12. Visit a Brewery
Vermont is home to some of the best craft breweries in America. In fact, it's home to the most per capita breweries in the country. You can explore bigger names like Magic Hat and Fiddlehead, but there are other smaller manufacturers you'll want to discover. The Vermont Brewery Challenge Passport helps you make a boozy plan.
Robert Frost ("The Road Not Taken") was one of our country's great poets, and a favorite son of Vermont. His grave is located in the cemetery of the historic Old First Church in Bennington.
14. Say Cheese
Vermont is famous for its cheese, and the Cabot Creamery lets you indulge in a big way. There are tours that give you the lowdown on the whole cheese she-bang…and of course, free samples.
Illinois is the state most associated with Abe Lincoln, but the historic estate of Hildene in Manchester gives you another look at our 16th president. His son Robert built it, and there are many historic artifacts including one of Abe's top hats and a mirror that was supposedly used the night he went to Ford's Theater.
Vermont is home to some world-class skiing. Killington, aka "The Beast," is one of the favored spots, with six peaks and elevation just a shade under 4,500 feet. Besides skiing, people flock here for snowmobiling, snowshoe tours and other winter activities.
17. Dog Sledding
It's not just for Alaska, anymore. Vermont offers a fun way to experience this furry winter activity, as a team of Siberian Huskies takes you on a unique tour of the area in a specially-designed sled. And the pups enjoy it, too!
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it'll have you stepping back to the Victorian age. Besides a planetarium and expected museum artifacts like stuffed birds and Civil War items, the museum includes crazier stuff like portraits of American presidents…made out of bugs. (St. Johnsbury)
You cut a hole in the ice. You drop a line. You wait. Ice fishing is part skill, part excuse to sit on a frozen lake with your buddies and a case of beer. Lake Champlain is the hot (cool?) spot in Vermont, due to the enormous variety of fish who are willing to play in the cold winter months.
20. Horse-Drawn Sleigh Rides
Snuggle under a blanket and listen to the jingling of sleigh bells as a team of horses takes you through a winter wonderland. Many inns in Vermont offer this amenity, but there are private companies who do, as well.