Vermont may be a small state, coming in 43rd out of 50 by size, but its comparatively long history means it’s had time to develop some outstanding destinations for visitors. Here are some of the best places to visit in Vermont.
The 21 Best Places to Visit in Vermont in 2023
Whether you’re visiting for the trees, the skis, or the cheese, Vermont has a lot to enjoy. You can drive from the top of the state to the bottom in about five hours, so unlike in larger states, it’s possible to visit several of the top attractions in one day and still have time to spare.
For a more leisurely trip, though, focus on the northern and middle areas of the state. These have a denser concentration of the top attractions, making the better visits overall.
Burlington is a bustling city in the northern part of Vermont, acting as a college town for three local schools and the acclaimed University of Vermont.
Burlington has an active arts scene, a long shopping corridor in the Church Street Marketplace, and four-season entertainment for fun at any time of year. Burlington is generally walkable and has plenty of nightlife events.
If you prefer getting a little further from the city, it also has access to walking and biking paths, rental boats, and quick access to farming areas.
Burlington alone can fill days of activity, but consider dropping by in the summer for the best weather. Make sure to check out the local restaurants, too, which often feature delightfully creative food.
Montpelier is the capital of Vermont and host to the largest urban historic district in the state. Some states have their capitals in larger cities, but Vermont keeps things local and lets this city act as one of the best small arts towns in the country.
Just a few blocks away from the outstandingly well-preserved statehouse, you’ll find countless independent shops offering food, records, books, and fine clothing. Montpelier is close to North Branch River Park, which has biking and cross-country skiing, as well as the forested Hubbard Park.
Set in the southern corner of the state, Bennington is a slice of everything Vermont has to offer. It also hosts the tallest man-made structure in the entire state with the Bennington Battle Monument, commemorating a significant victory for American forces during the Revolutionary War.
The monument is large enough to demand attention, exactly as planned by its creators. Other options and entertainments in Bennington include several covered bridges, art galleries, sidewalk cafes, live theaters, and the Robert Frost Stone House Museum.
You can feel the history as you walk through Bennington, and it’s worth a full morning or afternoon of exploration on your way through the state.
Set in Okemo Valley, Ludlow is a four-season resort town with near-instant access to skiing and other entertainment. Consider staying at The Pettigrew Inn if you’re in the area.
The Pettigrew Inn is a relatively small but luxurious hotel, offering top-quality accommodations with easy access by foot to various shops and restaurants in the area.
The Okemo Mountain Resort is a clear winner for entertainment around Ludlow, with over a hundred ski trails split almost evenly between difficulty levels. Even when there’s not enough snow, Okemo offers swimming, miniature golf, ziplines, and other family-friendly adventures and activities.
Set in the south of Vermont and easy to access on the same day as Bennington, Brattleboro is a gorgeous arts town with plenty of theater, galleries, and hiking trails to help you enjoy your trip.
Stop by the Latchis Theatre for a show, or take a class in bookmaking at the First Proof Press printing workshop. If you need somewhere to stay, consider the Forty Putney Road Bed and Breakfast.
This comfortably private waterfront location is set within easy walking range of downtown and has a two-course breakfast involving fresh, local ingredients. The drinks aren’t bad, either, as an in-house pub has local craft beers and wine.
Like most of Vermont, Brattleboro can change in the winter.
Other areas may like December more, but Brattleboro does particularly well in February with its Winter Carnival. This decades-old festival is an excellent option for family trips, offering everything from a petting farm and hayrides to skating races and fishing derbies.
6. Quechee State Park
Set near Hartford, Quechee State Park is an upper-valley destination offering breathtaking views. Today, the park’s highlight is the Quechee Gorge, a glacier-formed path running 165 feet below viewing points.
The park has camping areas, picnic opportunities, and various nature programs. It’s also pet-friendly, which is more than some other parks can say. Quechee State Park works for both day trips and overnight stays throughout the area.
More unusually, the park supports some night hikes, which offer an entirely different experience than you can find at most other places. If you don’t mind staying up a little later than usual, consider working one of those into your trip plan.
No, not the iconic 1969 music festival. Woodstock, Vermont is a historic small town with award-winning lodging, farm visits, and an excellent selection of museums.
The area also hosts the first National Park in the state, a museum of science with over 140 exhibits, and access to the boyhood home of President Calvin Coolidge. Woodstock’s food choices are excellent, too, with various small artisan restaurants serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner for guests.
Woodstock’s restaurants take pride in their food, and most acquire their ingredients straight from local farmers who know what the stores are looking for. The result is great food for visitors of any inclination.
8. Lake Champlain
Bordering Vermont, New York, and a small part of the border with Canada, Lake Champlain is easily the largest body of water in the state. At more than a hundred miles long, this lake supports countless species of wildlife and has plenty of space for people to spread out and relax.
71 islands in the lake offer unique opportunities for exploration, while the site is one of the best places for Bass fishing in the entire northeast. If you don’t mind heading deeper into the water, Lake Champlain also hosts an ancient fossil reef estimated to be more than 450 million years old.
Set close to the middle of the state, Stowe is a recreation-focused town next to Mount Mansfield’s outstanding ski slopes. It’s a particularly good visit in Spring, but Summer is also good if you enjoy hiking or scenic drives.
Activities in Stowe include performing arts, canoeing, hot air balloon rides, lantern tours, and visiting local breweries. If you’re looking for food, the Alpine Hall at the Spruce Peak ski resort offers delightful seasonal menus. For a more unusual trip, the Round Hearth Cafe & Marketplace pulls double-duty.
While it’s happy to sell breakfast and lunch food, you can buy almost anything else you see, up to and including your table. As an antique shop, there’s plenty of unique furniture to look at while enjoying your food. Just make sure you can fit it in your car!
10. Maple Syrup Tours
Maple syrup is a major part of Vermont’s culture, so there aren’t just one or two places to go if you want to find them. Rather, there’s a huge number of farms, many of which offer tours and other trips.
You can buy syrup any time of year, but the best visits are in spring when things are moving around. For context, Vermont alone produces more than half of the country’s entire maple syrup supply.
Producers can also give you recipes and advice about maple syrup, from how to evaluate the color of syrup by sight to ways of integrating maple into different meals. If you have a sweet tooth, these farms are worth the stop.
11. Ben and Jerry’s Factory Tour
The Ben and Jerry’s ice cream factory in Waterbury is always worth a stop if you love cold treats. The factory tour takes about thirty minutes when available, with a movie alternative when the factory itself isn’t active.
Unsurprisingly, you can get a huge variety of flavors within their store, a detail kids are sure to appreciate. For the true fan of ice cream, you can also stop by the Flavor Graveyard to learn more about options that are no longer available.
As a bonus, the factory is easily accessible along Route 100 and a short way off Interstate 89, making it an ideal place to pause for lunch during a longer trip through the state.
12. Shelburne Museum
Set on forty-five acres of land and currently hosting thirty-nine structures, the Shelburne Museum is a truly enormous collection of art and antiques.
The museum holds over 150,000 items, covering more than four centuries of design. Exhibits include everything from toys and dolls to paintings, folk art, firearms, horse-drawn vehicles, and more.
This is a substantially larger collection than most of the museums in the United States, and with so much square footage to display things, the Shelburne Museum can keep a much larger percentage of its collection available to view, often around 80,000 works.
The Shelburne Museum is closer to a small town than a regular museum, so plan on an all-day trip if you want to see as much of it as possible.
Hildine is the family home of the Lincoln family, built by the only child of President Abraham Lincoln who survived to maturity. Today, the estate covers 412 acres and has fourteen notably historic buildings.
The estate offers gorgeous views of two sets of mountains and the Battenkill River in the valley below.
A full tour of Hildene takes between three and six hours for most visitors, and the overall facility includes sets of trails, farms, greenhouses, and activity centers that actively work with surrounding schools to promote the Lincoln family’s values.
14. Killington Ski Resort
Skiing is big in Vermont, and few places are as big as Killington. With a total slope length of 117.5 kilometers, Killington is more than twenty kilometers longer than the next-biggest resort over in Stratton.
Its beginner area, by itself, is larger than some other resorts in their entirety. With 22 ski lifts, it’s easy to get up to any slope you want.
As if that wasn’t enough, the resort has summer activities including gondola rides, a bike park, an adventure center, and a full golf course. Winter is the prime time to visit, though, so plan for a full weekend if you want to get the most from this mountain.
15. Rock of Ages Quarry
If you’re looking for something a little more unusual, stop by the Rock of Ages Quarry in the aptly-named Graniteville just southeast of Montpelier. The highlight of the area is the Smith Quarry, the largest functioning deep-hole granite quarry in the world.
An on-site factory offers tours where artists carve statues and other products on-site. The water at the bottom of the quarry is a brilliant turquoise color, looking almost painted onto the ground below.
For a little more active fun, you can try out the granite bowling lane. Although scrapped as a concept because regular bowling balls will shatter against the durable rock surface, rubber balls provide safe family fun.
16. Vermont Teddy Bear Factory
Vermont is a major supplier of handcrafted teddy bears, thanks in no small part to the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory in Shelburne. On average, the factory produces more than 400 teddy bears a day, which is an impressive volume given the amount of personal attention and detail that goes into each one of them.
Unsurprisingly, this factory has a build-your-own station perfect for creating a customized bear. This destination is best if you go with small children who love teddy bears, but even adults who enjoy them are sure to have a great time visiting the factory floor.
17. Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium
The Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium is a 30,000-object collection focusing on culture, art, and technology. A dedicated Naturalist’s Corner hosts experts who can answer a huge variety of questions about forests and fields, while interactive exhibits provide a hands-on way to learn.
More notably, this museum also has the only public planetarium in the state.
The Lyman Spitzer Jr. Planetarium hosts several shows each day on different subjects, each guided by an expert. As a unique experience within the state, the Planetarium is easily worth a visit if you’re passing through the area.
18. Vermont Antique Mall
If you like shopping for unique items, few places in Vermont are better than the Vermont Antique Mall. Covering about 17,000 square feet over three floors inside a barn in the Quechee Gorge Village area, this mall is open daily and has a huge, constantly changing variety of antique treasures.
On a normal day, the Vermont Antique Mall has over a hundred vendors offering food, wine, local goods, toys, home products, and cultural collectibles like comic books.
Even if you don’t particularly care for antiques, the sheer variety of items on display here may lead to some unexpectedly delightful finds.
19. Pump House Indoor Waterpark
Set inside Jay Peak Resort, just south of the Canadian border, Pump House Indoor Waterpark is the only indoor waterpark in the entire state.
Activities in the park include a flowrider (half snowboarding, half surfing), a fast river with plenty of rapids to keep things exciting, numerous chutes and slides, and a kids’ play area.Swimming pools and water parks aren’t common in Vermont, where the cold winter weather can damage outdoor facilities.
This whole park is indoor, though, so it can operate year-round aside from regular maintenance periods. It’s also a refreshing break from the outside, and if you visit in winter, the larger resort has plenty more fun.
20. Wilson Castle
Billing itself as the only real castle in the state, Wilson Castle is an enormous structure sitting on a 115-acre estate. The area is open from roughly late May to the middle of October each year, opening and closing different rooms based on what’s most interesting at the time.
The whole castle has 32 rooms total, with an eclectic collection of rugs, scrolls, and antiques from around the world. There are also some rumors of ghostly activity, and the castle happily hosts professional groups who want to tour the castle and see if they can find anything.
Wilson Castle stands out from its surroundings and offers a rare mix of several different architectural styles, mostly with European influence. The interior is lavish and functionally unique for the area, offering a tour that’s hard to match.
21. Texas Falls
Despite the name, Texas Falls isn’t in the Lone Star State. Rather, this recreation area is close to Rochester in Vermont and follows a gentle 1.2-mile trail into the forest.
Glacier activity carved through the area, resulting in a beautiful and smooth stepped waterfall hidden just out of sight. Despite its beauty, it isn’t well-known outside the state, but it’s active year-round.
Expect the hike to take about an hour total, though it can go longer if you decide to linger around the falls themselves. This is an easy trip for people of all ages, and while it may not be worth spending a whole day on, it’s a great stop in the middle of a trip.
Things to Consider
Vermont is a gorgeous state, but there are a few things to consider.
First, if you want to take your time and enjoy the state, consider taking the train instead of driving. Amtrak doesn’t stop at every destination, but you can access many of the better sights with minimal fuss. The Vermonter is a particularly good train, stopping at quite a few of the places on this list.
Second, think about when you want to visit. Winters are beautiful, but they can be aggressively cold and snowy, and you may not even be able to travel if you’re not prepared. You can get around this by taking public transportation. Spring through Fall are better seasons if you’d rather drive through the state.
Cell coverage can be irregular, too, especially in backcountry areas. The state maintains a record of drive tests showing where you can expect to get coverage. Consider an alternative device, like a satellite phone, if you expect to go too far from the highways.
Finally, there’s the cheese. Vermont is a huge producer of cheddar and some artisan cheeses, and you can expect a lot of local flavors if you visit the better restaurants.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions people have about the best places to visit in Vermont:
What is the prettiest place in Vermont?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but Lake Champlain (and specifically the views from Waterfront Park in Burlington) is a great place to start looking.
What is the number one tourist attraction in Vermont?
The biggest tourist attraction is likely Ben & Jerry’s factory. This facility is popular with both children and adults, and its accessible central location in the state makes it an easy stop on most trips by car.
What is the best area of Vermont?
The best area of Vermont is the northern half of the state, and especially the northern third. This region has more of Vermont’s best destinations, including ski resorts and gorgeous, art-loving small towns.
What is Vermont best known for?
Vermont is particularly well-known for gorgeous green mountains, skiing, wooden covered bridges, and natural beauty. It’s also quite popular for its maple syrup and cheese, both of which are major state exports.
Is Vermont a nice state to visit?
Vermont is a scenic state, with outstanding views across its territory. It broadly welcomes tourism, with small and large towns alike having plenty of things to see and do.
So, What’s the Best Place to Visit in Vermont?
Vermont is a beautiful state with plenty of things to see and do. The whole area is compact enough that you can see almost everything in a short time, but if you want the best experience, consider taking the Vermonter train through the state and spending a day at each stop.