My husband and I just returned home from an exciting Vermont fall foliage road trip that left us both speechless.
We’ve experienced fall in New England before (mostly focusing on New Hampshire last time around) but nothing prepared us for the incredible fall color in Vermont.
Think vibrant shades of reds, oranges and golds – and how can I forget to mention the cult-following maple syrup?
In addition to the spectacular fall color in Vermont, you’ll also be privy to charming small towns, quaint cafes and a plethora of great food options.
But look at me already getting ahead of myself, let’s cover the best things to do when visiting Vermont in the fall.
Best time to visit Vermont for fall color
Peak fall color in Vermont is weather dependent and varies from year to year. A general rule of thumb is to visit between late-September to early-October for the best fall color in Vermont.
Since most folks (us included) plan trips months in advance, it’s hard to know exactly when to visit for fall color, as such — I personally suggest planning your trip for the first week of October.
At worst, you might show up too early, but too early is better than too late because you’ll still see fall color, even if it’s peppered between green leaves.
But if you show up too late, you’ll find the trees barren. Leaves become more delicate when they change color, and all it takes is an unexpected rainstorm or a terribly windy day to blow them off the trees.
Experiencing Fall Foliage in Vermont (Helpful Tips)
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Leave No Trace
- If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, make sure to read these guidelines before your trip: Leave No Trace. We all love our public lands, so please read this before visiting.
You + Sunscreen = Best Friends (Forever)
- I swear by this sunscreen, I discovered it in France and now buy it in bulk. You’ll never catch me without it!
Be prepared for the rain
- We woke up to an absolute downpour on our first day and snow on our last. We felt smart for packing both rain jackets and warm layers, but still had to buy hats and gloves two days in – yikes!
Crowds, crowds, crowds
- Since experiencing fall in the Green Mountains is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most folks, this area draws millions of international visitors annually. It’s safe to say crowds are all but guaranteed.
Wear hiking boots with good traction
- The best way to experience fall in Vermont is by trail. So make sure you pack a good pair of hiking boots because the leaves get slippery when wet. If helpful, these are my hiking boots, and I’d sleep in them if I could.
10 Best Things to Do in Vermont in the Fall
#10. Visit the Vermont Country Store
I’m not typically one for stocking up on knick-knacks and swinging by country stores, but the Vermont Country Store is a rare exception.
You simply can’t plan for a proper Vermont fall road trip without adding this destination to your itinerary.
The Vermont Country store is downright massive! It has so many interesting items on display — from real Vermont maple syrup to a delightful bakery, cheese shop, quality clothing section, children’s section and a an abundance of interesting souvenirs.
This is easily the best spot to buy souvenirs in Vermont, so make sure to stock up while you’re here.
Also, don’t leave without trying the creemee (a soft-serve maple syrup ice cream) before heading out. We devoured the thing in seconds!
#9. Take a hike!
Notice how I didn’t mention any particular spot? There’s a reason for that — it doesn’t matter which forest or state park you choose to hike, the fall color in Vermont will find you anywhere you go.
As you can imagine, there’s no better way to experience the breathtaking fall color in Vermont than by foot. We popped off at every state park we passed along the way and made time for quick 30 minute hikes.
It was a great way to stretch our legs and people watch between hour-long driving stretches. Also, nothing beats seeing families with small (shrieking) children playing in the leaves.
#8. Swing by the Cold Hollow Cider Mill for fall treats
Visiting Cold Hollow Cider Mill was an unexpected highlight of our fall Vermont road trip.
We had no idea how popular of an activity this was until we pulled into the parking lot and questioned if the long lines were worth the wait.
Fast forward 20-minutes and we found ourselves with half a dozen apple donuts, a creemee and hot cup of cider in hand.
All the fall treats were exceptional (well worth the wait) and my husband claims the apple donuts are the best he’s had to date. Also, the hot apple cider was the best we had during our entire trip.
I’m happy to report that visiting the Cold Hollow Cider Mill is a worthwhile stop during your road trip to see fall foliage in Vermont.
#7. Stop at all the farmers markets
I wasn’t aware that Vermont was so keen on farmers markets until this trip. We swung by four during the weekend alone!
We had a great time exploring the goodies local merchants were making, from delicious pastries to interesting knick-knacks.
As such, I highly suggest pulling over whenever you see a sign for a farmers market.
Vermont is all about shopping local and letting merchants shine, nowhere is this more evident than at the robust weekend farmers markets peppered throughout the state, especially during fall in Vermont.
#6. Explore Burlington
Of all the charming towns we visited while chasing fall foliage in Vermont, none impressed us more than Burlington.
Burlington is the largest city in Vermont and easily the liveliest! We especially enjoyed our stroll through Church Street, which is a pedestrian-street lined with restaurants and shops.
The easy-going vibe and happy chatter was the perfect complement to the vibrant fall colors of Vermont.
Note: Burlington was quite busy during our visit, it seems most people swing by while visiting Vermont in the fall. Most of the restaurants had 2+ hour wait times and some were reservation-only. Learn from our mistake and make reservations a few days before swinging by!
#5. Visit the original Ben & Jerry’s
Who amongst us didn’t nurse a broken (high school) heart with a satisfying pint of Ben & Jerry’s?
Well, I’ve got news for you! You can visit the place where it all started. Ben & Jerry’s was founded in Vermont and visitors are welcome to get a cone directly from the factory in Burlington, Vermont!
Come hungry though because you’ll find an endless array of flavors at the place where it all started.
Make sure to swing by the Flavor Graveyard to pay your respects to the flavors that were put to rest. You might even come across one of your old favorites!
#4. Explore Montpelier
Montpelier is named after the French city in recognition of France’s assistance during the Revolutionary War. So it’s only fitting that the city serves as the capital for Vermont.
The city is small and charming, with tree lined trees that come alive with fall color during autumn in Vermont. There’s a ton of great restaurants and shops to check out, I especially enjoyed Bear Pond Books.
#3. Stroll through Woodstock
Woodstock is arguably one of the most famous towns in Vermont during autumn, and for good reason. The color is breathtaking and there’s always something fun to do.
Stroll the neighborhood streets to get your fill of fall foliage in Vermont. You’ll see homes adorned with American flags and leaves of every shade. There’s a handful of great cafes and interesting stores to explore.
#2. Explore Stowe
Swinging by Stowe was highly recommended during our Vermont autumn road trip and I’m happy to report that it’s just as charming as you can imagine.
The town comes alive with fall color as cheery folks fill the streets.
Small in size, Stowe can be explored in an afternoon. Walk the quaint main street and pop into every shop along the way before settling down at a cafe for an hour or two and people watching.
P.S. There’s a nearby gondola that provides a unique vantage point of the breathtaking fall color in Vermont. Highly recommend!
#1. Drive Smuggler’s Notch
Driving through Smuggler’s Notch is, by far, the best thing to do during autumn in Vermont. Seriously, if you only have time for one thing during your fall visit to Vermont, this is it.
Curved roads engulf cars in fall color and take them into the very heart of autumn. We enjoyed our time at Smuggler’s Notch so much that we returned two times during our Vermont fall road trip!
There’s no wrong way to experience this either, simply drive the winding roads and gawk at the fall color on either side.
Note that the notch gets busy during peak fall foliage in Vermont, so you’ll want to arrive early in the morning to avoid crowds.
Fall in Vermont (Post Summary)
In sum, these are the best things to do in Vermont during fall:
- Visit the Vermont Country Store
- Swing by the Cold Hollow Cider Mill
- Take a hike in a forest
- Stop by all the farmers markets
- Visit the original Ben & Jerry’s
- Explore Burlington
- Visit Montpelier
- Explore Woodstock
- Explore Stowe
- Drive Smuggler’s Notch
Map of the best fall color in Vermont