An A-to-Z Guide to the Ultimate Fall Getaway in Vermont
Yes, there are pretty leaves. Tons of them, actually. But October in the Green Mountain State is about a lot more than merely ogling foliage. It’s about staying the night at a historical inn made luxe; setting sail on Lake Champlain with a platter of the best local fromage; sipping a hard-to-find whiskey at an iconic glass-maker’s brand-new bar; and sneaking a smooch on the famous Kissing Bridge. Looking for reasons to head north this fall? This do-it-all guide has you covered from A to Z.
Edited by Brittany Jasnoff
Additional reporting by Madeline Bilis, Todd Plummer, Linda Laban, Jonathan Soroff
Three must-see spots for lovers of history, creaky farmhouses, and hidden treasures.
Barge Canal Market
Why go: Though some generations may be hesitant to admit it, collectibles from the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s are indeed vintage. Barge Canal Market is a big green warehouse filled with them, including plenty of mid-20th-century furniture and décor.
Coolest finds: Looking to score a Danish modern coffee table in teak? A funky statement lamp for the side table in your living room? You’re sure to find what you’re looking for here. Once you’re done browsing, consider staying for movie night, as the shop periodically plays classic films on a big screen hanging from its façade.
Vermont Antique Mall
Why go: Offering a whopping 17,000 square feet for browsing inside a barn filled with flatware, cookware, vintage signs, books, and tools, this antiques mall nestled in Quechee Gorge Village is one of the state’s finest.
Coolest finds: Lovingly nicknamed Picker’s Paradise, the basement is the spot to score one-of-a-kind furniture, rugs, and accents. The mall has an impressive selection of collectibles, too, such as baseball cards and comic books. And come ready to sift through loads of old records—there’s vinyl for every kind of music lover here.
East Barre Antique Mall
Why go: To get everything your home needs in one easy stop: Here, rows and rows of curated stalls from in-the-know dealers showcase dishes and china, well-made tables and chairs, and more.
Coolest finds: The walls are covered with prints, paintings, and other kinds of original artwork: See if you can score a centuries-old mirror or another distinctive piece. —Madeline Bilis
Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard
There’s a place in Vermont where your favorite old ice cream flavors go to die—and yes, you can visit it. The Ben & Jerry’s flavor graveyard sits on a hill behind the frozen-dessert maker’s Waterbury factory, where you can meander through headstones for the dearly departed: Holy Cannoli, Wavy Gravy, and Vermonty Python are among the many favorites marked with a memorial and a playful epitaph. And while the graveyard is a place of mourning, not every flavor is buried forever. In fact, Ben & Jerry’s die-hards can vote to resurrect a top choice—and every so often, one will reappear in the factory’s scoop shop. benjerry.com. —M.B.
Ready to gorge on the creamiest, most delectable dairy in the world? Just say “cheese.”
Grafton Village Cheese Company
No self-respecting cheesehead travels north without making a pilgrimage to Grafton Village Cheese Company. Visit the maker’s specialty cheese and wine shop to stock up on its excellent cave-aged cheddar and Shepsog varieties.
The shop for the oldest continuously operating cheese factory in America is known for its signature clothbound and waxed cheese wheels, which come sold in 2-, 5-, and 23-pound (yes, you read that right) packages. Made by hand each day, its semi-firm raw-milk variety is coveted for its creamy texture and slightly sweet taste.
Hundreds of sheep provide the milk for this internationally recognized farm’s two cheese styles: Verano, a summer version made when the sheep graze on herbs and grasses, and Invierno, mixed in the winter from sheep’s milk and a nearby farm’s cow’s milk. At the edge of the pasture is a cave where 20,000 pounds of cheese ages and ripens annually.
Parish Hill Creamery
Four cows—Helga, Abigail, Clothilde, and Sonia—are responsible for making the starter cultures that form the basis of Parish Hill’s cheeses. Combined with raw milk from cows at nearby Elm Lea Farm and Maine sea salt, those cultures create varieties such as Cornerstone, Hermit, and Reverie, which you can buy at the self-serve farm store. —M.B.
You can spot a Simon Pearce glass without even looking at its signature engraving on the bottom: crystal-clear, weighty, and just the right size for a generous pour. Set on the bank of a mountain waterfall, the flagship store in Quechee offers more than just glassware, including a gourmet restaurant with breathtaking views and a traditional glassblowing workshop in the basement. Need another reason to visit? Try the just-opened WhistlePig Whiskey Parlour on for size— there, you can sip a dram or flight of the award-winning rye whiskey, or pick up a hard-to-find small-batch bottle on your drive up Route 89 to points north. —Todd Plummer
Eat Your Way Through Mad River Valley
Hiker’s paradise or foodie’s paradise? Why can’t it be both? Whatever adventures you have planned while passing through this picturesque area—which includes the towns of Duxbury, Fayston, Moretown, Waitsfield, and Warren—be sure to leave plenty of time to chow down. Must-try bites include the “Big Easy” Cajun meatloaf sandwich at the Warren Store; smoked pork-belly tacos with roasted tomato salsa at the Mad Taco; and big bowls of steaming hot noodles at Stoke Ramen, among others—all of which offer the perfect fuel for days spent along the valley’s unending network of trails. —T.P.
The road less traveled is closer than you think. Robert Frost lived in many parts of New England, but for nine nature-filled years, he spent his days in a stone-and-timber Dutch Colonial in Shaftsbury. Now the home has been turned into a museum honoring the poet and his work. If you’d rather see the writer’s beloved woods for yourself, head to Ripton, where the 1.2-mile Robert Frost Interpretive Trail is dotted with his poems—read them as you go, and maybe feel inspired to write a few verses of your own. —M.B.
Does your backyard garden look more like a wild jungle than a sanctuary filled with your favorite fruits and vegetables? See how to do it right with a stroll through the Gourdwalk at the Woodstock Inn & Resort. Crafted by master gardener Benjamin Pauly, the verdant tunnel of living vines and gourds at the inn’s Kelly Way Gardens measures 135 feet long and 9 feet high this year. A stroll from one end to the other showcases 17 different species, including speckled swan gourds, Ozark nest egg gourds, and more. After exiting the arched trellis, wannabe green thumbs can admire the garden’s other bounties, including 200 veggie varieties, plus herbs, flowers, and fruits that are used in the inn’s farm-to-table dining program. —M.B.
Because if you let autumn pass without a stroll through the woods, was it even autumn?
Thundering Brook Falls
The kids want to see a waterfall; you want to maintain your sanity. This easy jaunt from the trailhead at River Road is the ideal compromise, with an out-and-back boardwalk and short spur trail that’s just 0.2 miles to Thundering Brook Falls. Spend some time watching water cascade down its rock faces, then follow the wheelchair-accessible trail back to your car.
This mountain doesn’t look like many others in the region—its distinctive double peaks resemble two humps, making it easy to identify from afar. To reach the 4,081-foot summit (the third-highest in the state), take the 5.5-mile loop called Burrows Trail, a moderate hike with gradual inclines, some rockier scrambles, and incredible views in every direction.
Bring a sturdy pair of hiking boots and an extra bottle of water: There are zero breaks on the aptly named Hellbrook Trail, a 1.5-mile journey featuring a series of unrelenting climbs up rocks and roots. Though it’s a true leg-burner, this route to Vermont’s loftiest peak has the biggest reward: panoramic vistas of the Green Mountains, Lake Champlain, and the Adirondacks. The popular Long Trail is best for the descent. —M.B.
Forget the Colonial-style lodging of yesteryear: Vermont’s new and recently renovated quarters are modern and hip—And none of them are owned by Wyndham.
Woodstock Inn & Resort
The Vibe: It’s the granddaddy of Vermont resorts, with a top-rated golf course and a sprawling spa. And thanks to a $16.5 million pre-COVID renovation, the guest rooms at this centuries-old property positively sparkle.
Best Room to Book: Request the light-filled Mary French Rockefeller “legacy suite,” named in honor of one of the hotel’s cofounders. The 650-square-foot retreat features a canopy-draped bed and an Italian-tiled bathroom with a soaking tub.
Don’t Miss: The Vermont artisan cheese tasting, a greatest-hits tour of the state’s dairies, at the inn’s Red Rooster restaurant.
Parker Hill Farm & Boutique Campground
The Vibe: It may not be an inn in the traditional sense, but Parker Hill’s decked-out tents are spacious, comfortable, and take the pain out of roughing it in the woods.
Best Room to Book: Named after Levi Harlow Sr., builder and owner of the farm’s original circa-1790 farmhouse, the Harlow tent comes with everything a glamper needs: WiFi, electricity, and a mini kitchen.
Don’t Miss: Star-gazing, barn-side movie nights, and meeting the
resident chickens and alpacas—this is a working farm, after all.
The Inn at Burklyn
The Vibe: Come for the history, stay for the luxury: Built as a neoclassical private residence in 1904 and lovingly restored into a 14-key inn in 2020, this haute take on a B & B brings a dose of sophistication to Vermont’s wild Northeast Kingdom.
Best Room to Book: Stretch out in a king-size bed with a sitting area in Estate Suite 303, or spend the evening soaking in the unique clawfoot tub, which overlooks sweeping views of the countryside.
Don’t Miss: Prime hiking and biking on the 84-acre grounds, which connect to the area’s popular Kingdom Trail network. —T.P.
Leave the theme parks for another trip; here, it’s all about getting your thrills by diving into whatever nature throws your way. In more-temperate weather, cool off with cliff-jumping at favorite spots such as Warren Falls and Dorset Quarry; winter, meanwhile, brings spectators to Brattleboro’s Harris Hill Ski Jump competition (February 19–20), which celebrates its 100th year in 2022. And if you’re really looking for a high-octane excursion, book a tandem dive out of one of Vermont Skydiving Adventures’ planes and see the fall foliage from a whole new POV. —Brittany Jasnoff
They’re called “covered bridges” now, but once upon a time they were more like mistletoe, often referred to as “kissing bridges” by lovebirds. That’s because of an old-time tradition in which a young couple would stop halfway through to steal a quiet kiss. Today, only one bridge in Vermont has the distinction of being named Kissing Bridge, and it’s right beside the Vermont Country Store in Rockingham. Once you’ve puckered up, be sure to take a spin through the quaint shop to pick up something sweet for your sweetie. —M.B.
Cast away your cares with a day spent by the water.
9:30 a.m. Roll out of your plush platform bed at Hotel Vermont, a trendy spot in Burlington, and lace up your sneakers tight for cycling along the Island Line Trail. After renting a bike from Local Motion, just a few minutes from the hotel, cruise for a little more than 12 miles along the shoreline, over bridges, and across the water on a bike ferry (which runs through October 11) to reach South Hero, in the middle of Lake Champlain.
12:30 p.m. Refuel with a grass-fed burger at the Hive Café, a food stand that opened this year in South Hero inside a whimsical, daisy-painted mobile home. Relax for a bit before embarking on the gentle, hourlong bike ride back to Burlington.
3 p.m. After all of that pedaling, you deserve a treat. Refresh at the hotel before swinging by Dedalus Wine Shop, Market & Wine Bar to pick up a bottle of vino and the fixings for a killer charcuterie plate. You’ll need them for your next adventure.
4:30 p.m. Arrive at the Whistling Man Schooner Company for a two-hour sunset sail (offered through October 11), where you’re invited to BYO food and bevvies. Savor slices of Jasper Hill Farm’s Whitney cheese as you drink in the orangey-gold views.
7 p.m. Hungry for more? The ultra-hip Honey Road on Church Street in Burlington churns out Eastern Mediterranean small plates made from local ingredients on its patio—past crowd-pleasers include the fried eggplant pita and the tahini ice cream sundae, which comes topped with sesame caramel; halva, a fudgy candy made from sesame paste; and cotton candy. —M.B.
Looking for a bottle of Vermont’s sweetest export? Make sure you know your grade.
The lightest grade of syrup is processed at the start of the season, when it’s a bit cooler. Like its coloring, its flavor is subtle: Experts agree it’s best served with pancakes or waffles, or atop rich dairy products such as yogurt.
Buy it at: Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks, Montpelier.
Pick up a bottle of amber syrup when you’re not sure how you’re going to use it yet—this classic variety is extra-versatile. Made in the middle of the season, it’s still great on pancakes, but can also be added to sauces, cocktails, and more.
Buy it at: Dakin Farm, Ferrisburgh.
The end of the sugaring season produces a more robust syrup: Try it in recipes that call for maple flavoring, or pair with ingredients such as bacon and chipotle seasoning for a sweet-and-spicy combo.
Buy it at: Hidden Springs Maple, Putney.
The kind used to make leaf-shaped maple candies, this version of Vermont’s liquid gold has a strong taste and a color similar to molasses, making it best for baking and cooking.
Buy it at: Maple Mountain Sugarhouse, Albany. —M.B.
Had your fill of Vermont’s craft-beer and cheese scenes? another funky (and surprisingly sippable) movement is taking root.
Ellison Estate Vineyard
Kendra and Rob Knapik’s effervescent pét-nats are a trip to Funkytown—in the best way. That’s because the vineyard uses a blend of organic, biodynamic, and regenerative farming techniques to create an expression of Lake Champlain Island’s terroir you can’t sip elsewhere.
You won’t find pinot noir or other delicate grapes at this Champlain Valley winery—they can’t handle the harsh winters. What you will find are a range of hybrid plantings that, when blended, produce wines inspired by Old World techniques with entirely New World profiles.
Fable Farm Fermentory
Fermenting both apples and grapes to make its trailblazing “cider as wine” vintage, this unique winemaker has developed a product entirely its own. You’ll also want to check out the exquisite barrel-aged apple cider vinegars. —T.P.
Much missed last year, these three al fresco shindigs prove the fun is still outside.
Billings Farm & Museum’s Harvest Celebration
Where and when: Woodstock, October 9–10
Why you should go: Wind back the clock for some olde-timey fun, including pumpkin bowling and barn dancing—plus favorite fall foods such as hot cider and apple cider doughnuts. Established in 1871, this working dairy farm and museum offers cooking demonstrations and crafts, including a fiber-art workshop in November, the rest of the year.
Brattleboro Literary Festival
Where and when: Brattleboro, October 14–17
Why you should go: Sixty writers, including Pulitzer Prize winners and emerging authors, show up for this 20-year-old lit fest to engage in conversations about (what else?) books—from nonfiction to fiction, and from inspiration to publication.
Putney Craft Tour
Where and when: Putney, November 26–28
Why you should go: Hobnob with blacksmiths, jewelers, weavers, woodworkers, winemakers, and more during the oldest continuous craft studio tour in the country, including cofounders Ken Pick (ceramics) and Robert Burch (handblown glass). —Linda Laban
Yes, we get it: This is among the most clichéd reasons to visit Vermont in the fall—but for just cause. One of the most heavily forested areas in the country, the state is practically bursting with maples, whose star-shaped leaves turn extra-vibrant come autumn thanks to an increase in anthocyanins, or pigments made when the stems begin to shut off from the branches. Vermont’s infamous cold nights up the ante on anthocyanin production, making for an eye-popping display of color, first up toward the Northeast Kingdom, then down toward Brattleboro. —M.B.
Want to stare down the deepest gorge in Vermont practically from the comfort of your own car—no long, strenuous hike, or even a drive into the backwoods, required? All you have to do to check out the steep, 165-foot crevice nicknamed “Vermont’s Little Grand Canyon” is pull off Route 4 in White River Junction and peer over the Quechee Gorge Bridge from above for an epic view. If you want to make an afternoon of it, follow a gentle, 1.5-mile trail from the nearby visitor’s center down to the Ottauquechee River, or just take a break with a pint of Vermont’s beloved Heady Topper at the Public House down the road. —M.B.
From upscale home cooking to upgraded Big Macs, this little state’s dining scene just keeps getting bigger and better.
It’s the coolest dinner party of the year, and you’re invited: Maria Rondeau and JuanMa Calderón, the duo behind Union Square fave Celeste, have brought their flair for the extraordinary to Vermont this year with an experimental restaurant inside their home. Every weekend, the couple invites two dozen diners to a communal outdoor table, where they offer either Peruvian classics with Vermont flair or pachamanca, a.k.a. meals cooked on hot stones underground.
Wildflower Restaurant and Bar
The new in-house dining option at Stowe’s Grey Fox Inn serves up American classics with Korean, Puerto Rican, and Dominican influences—don’t miss the grilled octopus bao and the roast chicken brined with Caribbean spices.
The Cluckin’ Café & Culinary Institute
Nicole and Scott Bower had so many people flocking to their Rollin’ Rooster food trailers that they decided to bring their sought-after fried chicken recipe to a Pittsford brick-and-mortar in 2020. Go here for a Belgian waffle topped with that famous fried chicken, a drizzle of hot honey, and chipotle aioli.
Wood-grilled Wagyu beef, local cheese, and secret sauce are the building blocks of an always-worthy Worthy Burger. Pair yours with Parmesan truffle fries and a pint from the huge selection of craft beers, or try one of the always-changing new menu items, like fried goat cheese wontons. —M.B.
They’re practical, eco-friendly, and ready for any kind of weather—in other words, the embodiment of Vermonters themselves. Maybe that’s why they’re so popular here, making up a whopping 11.3 percent of all car sales in the state, according to research by the website iSeeCars. So the next time you find yourself whizzing by yet another Impreza with a few Bernie stickers on I-89, honk and give the driver a little love—it’s what makes a Subaru a Subaru, after all. —B.J.
Take the Scenic Route
In a hurry? Don’t be—embrace the long and winding road.
Green Mountain Byway
Waterbury to Stowe
Looking for even more foliage? This classic route along the Green Mountain Byway weaves through—you guessed it—the vibrant Green Mountains, showing off forested hills, meadows, and waterfalls en route to its grand finale, Mount Mansfield. Along the way, stop at Cold Hollow Cider Mill for some old-fashioned cider doughnuts.
Mad River Byway
Granville to Middlesex
Traversing the 36-mile Mad River Byway—boasting rolling hills dotted with white church steeples and big red barns—is practically like driving through a postcard of Vermont. Pull off in Waitsfield to soak up all of that small-town charm—and maybe a Sip of Sunshine at Lawson’s Finest Liquids’ taproom.
Northeast Kingdom Byway
St. Johnsbury to Newport
If you’d prefer to see more moose than people, journey up to the 51-mile-long Northeast Kingdom Byway, which shows off some of the region’s most unspoiled flora and fauna. Start in St. Johnsbury, popping into the town’s book-filled athenaeum, and see if you can make it up to the Canadian border. Sparkling lakes, dense forests, and open pastures will keep you entertained on the drive north.
Molly Stark Byway
Bennington to Brattleboro
For a dose of history, art, and culture to go along with your leafy views, take a jaunt along southern Vermont’s Molly Stark Byway, named for the wife of a Colonial general who helped win the Battle of Bennington in 1777. Stop to roam historical Old Bennington, ducking into pottery shops, art galleries, and theaters, and conclude with a night at the Vermont Jazz Center. —M.B.
Massachusetts might have put the little red guy on the map back in the 1600s, when the first American apple orchard was planted on Beacon Hill, but Vermont’s brilliant fall sunshine and cool nights also translate into plenty of ways to pick a peck of something delicious. On the National Register of Historic Places, Scott Farm Orchard in Dummerston is a must-visit for its robust pick-your-own operation as well as heirloom varieties such as the long-lasting Black Gilliflower and pale-yellow Winter Banana, available in the market. Allenholm Farm up north in South Hero, meanwhile, grows the Vermont Gold, a thin-skinned beauty with a sweet-tart flavor that you can’t find in many other places. Not big on apples? Make room in the trunk for unusual pumpkin varieties (Red Warty Thing, anyone?) at Parker Family Farm in Williston, or take a tractor ride out to the field at nearby Isham Family Farm, which specializes in jumbo ones perfect for jack-’o-lanterns. —B.J.
The Vermont Way
The phrase’s meaning, admittedly, is a bit murky: Some have used it as a political rallying cry, a way to explain the state’s fiercely independent spirit and preference for community democracy. Others have adopted the term when talking about Vermont’s distinct agrarian talents (see the letters C and M). Whatever the case, the next time you’re ambling along back roads, marveling at how spending a weekend here feels like taking a step back in time, remember this: It’s the people who make all the difference. —B.J.
Cruise down any back road in Vermont and you’re bound to spot one: A slightly crooked window on an old farmhouse, placed curiously beneath the eaves of a roof. Over the years, these tilted portals have become known as “witch windows.” Legend has it that they were installed that way so witches couldn’t fly through them on their broomsticks. As for the real explanation? Historians can only guess. One hypothesis relates to Yankee thrift—as these older homes got new additions, frugal homeowners would reuse the windows from knocked-down walls. When tilted to fit between the new and old rooflines, they let in extra sunlight—and maybe even a little bit of magic. —M.B.
There’s a saying in Vermont: “Real skiers ski uphill.” While the state is famous for its Alpine skiing in the colder months, fewer people realize that it’s also paradise for the cross-country set. At Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, the first Nordic ski center in North America, the hills are alive with 2,500 acres of terrain. Mountaintop Inn & Resort in Chittenden, meanwhile, boasts more than 40 kilometers of groomed trails, while Bolton Valley has upward of 100. So get ahead and get that gear packed—ready or not, the flakes are almost here. —Jonathan Soroff
It’s a key ingredient in the state’s many craft beers—and these three cans are the cream of the crop.
No craft-beer snob leaves Vermont without attempting to snag some (notoriously hard-to-find) Heady Topper, a drinkable double IPA with notes of grapefruit, smoke, earth, and pine.
Lost Nation Brewing
Sea salt and a hint of coriander give this wheat beer a briny, refreshing, and somewhat tart flavor profile.
Hill Farmstead Brewery
Named after the grandfather of this cult-fave brewery’s founder, Edward is an unfiltered American pale ale made from wholly organic malted barley and plenty of hops. —T.P.
Two sky bridges, 4,500 feet of ziplines, and three of the most thrilling hours of your life: That’s what you can expect when you soar through the sky at Smugglers’ Notch Resort, where a company called ArborTrek Canopy Adventures organizes tours that definitely aren’t for the faint of heart. Adrenaline junkies follow the path of a gurgling mountain brook that cuts through the resort’s village while soaring over the forest floor, crossing suspension bridges, and rappelling from trees. If you can hear them over the sound of your own heartbeat, two tour guides on the trip will point out local plant species and other natural history. —M.B.