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Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the feel of the cool, crisp air. The autumn foliage against a blue sky brings warmth to my heart and a smile. A trip to Vermont in the fall has always been on my bucket list.
Vermont proudly displays gorgeous fall colors each year. If you have never taken a leaf-peeping drive through the Green Mountain State, do yourself a favor and start planning your adventure.
Nature’s second spring paints the Green Mountains in brilliant gold, orange and scarlet tones. Your troubles will fade away while you soak in the gorgeous views throughout the state. We will outline eight fun things to do in Vermont in the fall.
Go to Woodstock
Woodstock is a picture-perfect town straight out of a New England storybook. The lawns are perfectly manicured. Storefronts are decorated with flower boxes. Little boutique shops and cafes are friendly and inviting.
There is plenty of green space in the town square. Fall colors pop all around you. You can see residents with contented looks walking their dogs and sipping coffee. I could happily live here.
Cafes in Woodstock
There are a few nice cafes in Woodstock. Mon Vert Cafe wins the blue ribbon.
This quaint cafe is located in the heart of town. There are quite a few shops and a nice little park nearby. Seeing mums and pumpkins along the storefronts will put you in a festive fall mood.
Mon Vert is not a secret, as this place is bustling with customers. At first appearance, it is a coffee shop with baked goods and an odd assortment of furniture. You could even say the inside is eclectic. They have a small section for folks to sit outside as well.
Mon Vert prides itself on being an organic cafe where ingredients are sourced locally. They serve tasty country food and strong coffee. Breakfast and lunch items are offered. Beverages include espresso drinks, organic teas, craft beers, and wines.
Julie and I shared a couple of their baked goods and a breakfast plate. All the food was fresh and delicious! Sipping a delightful maple coffee as we sat outside enjoying our food and the fall scenery set the tone for a great day.
At 165 feet deep, Quechee Gorge is the deepest gorge in Vermont. The gorge sits in Quechee State Park, a short 7.5-mile drive east of Woodstock on Route 4.
“Vermont’s Little Grand Canyon” was formed by a melting glacier thousands of years ago. You can drive across the Quechee Gorge Bridge for a breathtaking view. If you prefer to walk across, sidewalks are on each side of the bridge.
Activities in the park include hiking, camping, biking, swimming, and fishing. In addition to overlooks and hiking trails, you can find small waterfalls and swimming holes.
The gorge is beautiful on its own. When the valley is set ablaze with fall foliage, it is stunning. If you do not have time or interest in hiking or camping, an appreciative view above Quechee Gorge is still well worth your time.
Cold Hollow Cider Mill
Stop at Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury Center if you like apples. Admittedly, it is touristy. However, they carry anything, and everything made with apples. The gift shop has baked goods, apple products, maple products, tee shirts, souvenirs, and more.
The two main attractions here are cider donuts and apple cider. Both are outstanding!
Cold Hollow Cider Mill offers several varieties of tasty hard cider. You can sample the products in their tasting room. Or, you can order cider by the glass in their restaurant.
We ended up having lunch here. It was a pleasant surprise. We did not expect Cold Hollow Cider Mill to have such high-quality food in their restaurant. We were blown away!
Julie and I split a ham and Swiss sandwich and a hard cider flight. The sweet potato bread and maple mustard burst with flavor and made an ordinary sandwich come to life on our taste buds. Fresh lettuce and tomato completed this masterpiece. All the flavors blended perfectly.
Maybe, just maybe, the cider flight made everything taste better. Either way, we had a great time!
To give you an idea of the unique hard cider offerings, here are the four we picked for our flight:
- City Slacker – raspberry and lemon.
- United State – blueberry.
- Clair Buoyant – pineapple, basil, and pepper.
- Grateful Sled – mulled cider that invokes feelings of the holiday season.
Julie’s favorite was the City Slacker. She did not care for the Clair Buoyant at all. I liked all four but enjoyed the holiday mulled cider the most.
As you can see, the flavors and names are creative. Other options are also available.
Visit Ben & Jerry’s
Do you love ice cream? Waterbury is home to Ben & Jerry’s. The Vermont-based company is known for creative flavors with unique names.
Ben & Jerry’s outdoor facilities include:
- Scoop Shop
- Outside Gift Kiosk
- Flavor Graveyard
The Flavor Graveyard has a headstone for each ice cream flavor that has been retired. Viewing the monuments is an odd but fun experience. We were surprised to see so many retired flavors. Outside the graveyard, you will find several brightly colored Adirondack chairs overlooking the spectacular valley below.
Ben & Jerry’s offers a Factory Experience Tour and Indoor Gift Shop. You will need tickets for these experiences inside the facility.
Purchase your tickets in advance. You can check availability and book your tour on the official Ben & Jerry’s site.
Note that Ben & Jerry’s is closed on Sunday and Monday.
You can learn from our mistakes. We arrived on a day when the ice cream factory was closed. We enjoyed the graveyard and relaxing view of the valley, but we left with empty bellies and sad faces.
Verify factory hours before your trip. If the tour is essential to you, book it in advance.
Nestled in the southwest corner of Vermont, Wilmington is a charming little town with beautiful scenery, fun shops, and bustling restaurants. If you are looking for a delicious brunch, stop at Dot’s. Julie and I had brunch at several places during our trip to Vermont. It was unquestionably our favorite.
I ordered the “famous berry berry pancakes.” I was skeptical when the order arrived with no berries on top. Using my fork, I quickly carved off a few bite-sized pieces.
Instantly, I was relieved to see the cakes were loaded with blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. After one bite, I was hooked. These cakes were bursting with fruit flavor.
Julie ordered the sausage gravy and biscuits with eggs and home fries. The portions were plentiful. Everything was well cooked. The sausage gravy leaves a pleasant, light lingering heat on the tongue. It is quite nice.
For dessert, we split a piece of caramel and brown sugar cheesecake. It took a bit of elbow grease to cut through the crust. Again, I was skeptical. We were rewarded for our efforts with a very delicious dessert quite unlike anything we had ever tasted before.
The caramel and brown sugar complemented each other very well. The crust was thick and compact but delicious. With food this good, we must go back!
The restaurant seemed to be a hotspot for locals. Many folks sat on barstools and ate at the front counter. The place felt like an old-fashioned mom-and-pop diner.
There were pictures on the walls of The Three Stooges and The Little Rascals. We felt like Shaggy and Daphne from the Scooby gang as we found what appeared to be a trap door under our table. Unfortunately, we did not have time to explore this secret passage.
What is a maple creemee? I had never heard of such a thing.
My curiosity was piqued. I simply had to try one.
The only problem was I could not find one. Some of the sugar farms and ice cream shops do not serve them. Others stop offering maple creemees after a specific date. Some only have them at certain times of the day.
My quest for a maple creemee was frustrating. Like a child who wants something and can’t have it, I was getting close to the dreaded temper tantrum.
On our last day in Vermont, we stopped at the Green Mountain Sugar House in the town of Ludlow. It was morning, and a tour bus was parked outside.
As we entered the store, we were greeted by the sweet smell of maple and a long line of tourists waiting to purchase their goodies. This place has loads of pure maple syrup, maple products, and souvenirs. Plus, the customer service is outstanding.
We browsed the store and waited patiently. When the last customer exited, we politely asked the two friendly ladies about maple creemees. Due to the onslaught of shoppers, they did not get a chance to set up the machine.
They advised us that the machine would be up and running in ten minutes if we could wait. Yes, please!
To say I was excited is an understatement. We went out back of the sugar house and lounged in Adirondack chairs overlooking a beautiful pond surrounded by trees adorned with golden leaves. I may have found my heaven.
Ten minutes later, we had a maple creemee in hand to enjoy along with our heavenly view. OMG! It was so good!
So, What Is a Maple Creemee?
Think of the best vanilla soft-serve ice cream you have ever had, and then add a touch of pure maple syrup. The velvety smooth texture and subtle maple flavor combine for a delicious treat.
I had imagined savoring the sweet and tart flavors of a cider donut. Indeed, I dreamed about sipping a delicious maple latte while sitting outside a cafe in a quaint Vermont town. Both of these experiences were wonderful, by the way.
What I did not anticipate was the maple creemee. It was sheer bliss. We need to book another trip to Vermont.
Northern Vermont houses the beautiful town of Stowe. There are several things in Stowe that you do not want to miss.
The first one would be hard to miss since it is the tallest mountain in Vermont. Mount Mansfield, known for its trails and ski slopes, sits in the Mount Mansfield State Forest and peaks at 4,393 feet above sea level.
The forest encompasses four state parks:
- Little River State Park
- Smugglers’ Notch State Park
- Underhill State Park
- Waterbury Center State Park
Stowe Community Church
When you drive into Stowe, you cannot help but notice the iconic white-spired church. It is one of the most photographed spots in the state. Against a horizon painted with autumn foliage, it is gorgeous.
This tallest church in Vermont has a steeple that measures over 170 feet high. Bring your camera and your smile. You can get closer to the church by walking down Main Street through the heart of town.
Stowe Recreation Path
Near the Stowe Community Church, you can access the scenic 5.3-mile Stowe Recreation Path. It is a scenic paved path for bicycles and pedestrians. The course is free to enjoy and is easy to access from the historic village.
Julie and I loved the rec path. It is such a peaceful area with plenty of beautiful trees and plants. When you are done shopping and exploring the town, this is a great way to return to nature.
Moss Glen Falls
A quick 5-minute drive from the historic village, you can see the tallest waterfall in Vermont. The hike to Moss Glen Falls is easy and only takes about ten minutes.
Trailhead location: 369-615 Moss Glen Falls Road, Stowe, VT 05672.
Directions: Take Route 100 North about 3 miles and bear right onto Randolph Road. Your first road on the right will be Moss Glen Falls Road. You will see a small parking area on your left, about a half-mile. Follow the trail signs from the parking area.
Trapp Family Lodge
Are you a fan of The Sound of Music? The Trapp Family Lodge is owned and operated by the von Trapp family.
It is a luxurious 96-room alpine lodge that sits on 2,500 acres with spectacular mountain views. You can see the distinct Austrian-inspired architecture. The Trapp Family Lodge boasts world-class dining and endless activities.
Even if you do not stay at the mountain resort, you can take a tour and explore the trails. A day pass is needed if you do not stay there. You can find more information at the Trapp Family Lodge site.
Giles W. Dewey Memorial Bridge
Vermont has more than 100 covered bridges throughout the state. Some are for cars only, while others accommodate cars and pedestrians.
Stowe has a covered bridge explicitly designed for pedestrians. Crossing the narrow Giles W. Dewey Memorial Bridge is a fun way to enter the historic downtown area. It is also a great photo opportunity.
Gold Brook Covered Bridge
Legend says the single-lane 50-foot covered bridge has a resident ghost. A heartbroken woman named Emily took her life after her lover failed to meet her there as promised.
People have heard stories of ghostly sightings and strange occurrences through the years. Check it out and decide for yourself if the Gold Brook Covered Bridge is haunted.
The bridge is affectionately dubbed Emily’s Bridge. You may also hear people call it Stowe Hollow Bridge.
Where to find it: The bridge is less than 5 minutes from Stowe Community Church. Drive southeast on School Street from downtown. You will then continue straight onto Stowe Hollow Road. Then proceed right onto Covered Bridge Road. There is a small parking lot at the end of Covered Bridge Road. You can then cross the haunted bridge if you dare.
You can find lots of scenic beauty and recreational opportunities in Burlington. The city is located in the northwestern part of the state, along the eastern shore of Lake Champlain.
Church Street Marketplace
A thriving shopping scene offers stores, boutiques, salons, spas, and museums in a district surrounded by historic buildings. The Church Street Marketplace spans four blocks between Main and Pearl Streets.
After dusk, the area becomes a vibrant nightlife setting with breweries and eateries. You can find everything from a burger joint to fine dining. Yes, there are places to satisfy your sweet cravings too.
Burlington Bike Path
The Burlington Greenway is a nearly 8-mile paved path from Oakledge Park to the Winooski River. It is primarily designed for bicycles but has aggregate shoulders for walkers and runners.
The bike path runs through many parks, connects several residential neighborhoods, and skirts along some vital commercial districts. There are many beautiful things along the way, including Lake Champlain and parts of the Green Mountains. It is a great way to experience the diverse scenery of this part of Vermont.
Why You Should Visit Vermont in the Fall
Beyond the beautiful leaves, there are many reasons you should visit Vermont in the fall.
The Grass is Greener
The grass is greener in Vermont. Her nickname is the Green Mountain State for a reason. The kelly green hues are so bold and abundant that they practically slap you if you dare ignore them.
Nice by Nature
Some people seem to be naughty by nature. Vermonters are pleasant by nature.
Whenever we visit a place known for its natural beauty, people there are friendly. They seem to be at peace. Nature’s bounty has made them grateful. Vermonters, and New Hampshirites for that matter, embody this spirit.
Time Moves Slower Here
The locals move at a leisurely pace with sly, satisfied smiles. It’s as if they are members of a secret club who have solved the mysteries of life.
Vermonters have a particular name for outsiders. They call us flatlanders.
Vermonters will welcome us flatlanders to the club if we leave our worries behind and appreciate the serene beauty of this generous gift from God.
Most of us are so oblivious that we cannot solve this riddle. It is too simple.
Vermont State of Mind (Friendly Drivers)
New Yorkers, please do not take offense to the following comments. I am pretty fond of your state.
I had to laugh when we crossed the state line back into New York. You could instantly feel the tension of the hustle and bustle lifestyle.
New York drivers will bend you to their will. You feel forced to drive fast or risk getting run off the road.
In Vermont, drivers stop and happily motion for pedestrians to cross the road. Folks seem to be out for a leisurely drive to soak in the view.
It is a very welcome change, to be sure. I guess it helps that the entire state population is around 650,000.
Scenic Drives (No Wrong Roads)
There are no terrible roads if you are fortunate enough to hit Vermont near peak leafing season. Everyone seems to have their favorite scenic route. Vermont’s Route 100 easily lives up to its reputation.
We found that any road we took yielded rolling mountains painted with orange and gold trees. Every mountainside has a babbling brook.
All of this was easily visible right from the comfort of your car. There are plenty of places to stop to take videos or pictures.
There is no need to fret about what road to take. Just get to Vermont and enjoy the show.
Monotony Is Not Bad
No matter where we drove, we had similar views of farmlands, mountains, streams, and vibrant fall colors. You would think that this may grow old after a while. I must say that it did not.
Even though the scenery is similar, it is so breathtakingly beautiful that my eyes still tear up to this day when I think about it. I could soak up this view every day and never grow tired of it.
Barns and White-spired Churches
Classic barns and white-spired churches are familiar sights as you travel throughout Vermont. These iconic buildings provide great photo opportunities against the backdrop of autumn leaves.
Vermont Covered Bridges (Go Back in Time)
Covered bridges still exist here. Vermont has the highest number per square mile in the United States. Be sure to drive or walk across some of these fantastic overpasses.
You will be transported back in time when things were simpler. Plus, these rustic structures make spectacular photo opportunities amongst the fall foliage.
You can find covered bridges throughout the state. Here are some towns with multiple covered bridges:
Quaint towns illustrated in books and portrayed in movies do exist. And they are lovely! Vermont has loads of them. Locals will gladly welcome you to visit their utopia. Do yourself a favor and accept the open invitation.
New England Gold
Gold is plentiful for everyone. Well, gold leaves, that is. You may not discover gold bars in New England, but you will find the hills ablaze with gold and orange.
Vermont Cows (101 Cow-matians)
It is common to see black-and-white Holsteins grazing in the green pastures between the rolling mountains of Vermont. The state has other cow breeds, such as Jersey and the rare Randall Lineback.
Although you may not be excited to see cows, we have them to thank for Vermont’s delicious cheddar cheese.
Know Before You Go
Do your research before hitting the road. Our world still has not returned to normal since the emergence of COVID-19.
Some places have different operating hours. Hotels, restaurants, and stores may struggle with staffing.
Maple creemees are only offered at certain times. Ben & Jerry’s is closed on Sunday and Monday. If a particular place is a trip’s centerpiece, look at the operating hours when making your plans.
Moose Are a Myth
I am not convinced that moose are real. Like the majestic unicorn, I believe moose are mythical creatures.
I hope to one day be proven wrong. Julie and I woke at 3:30 one morning and were out the door by 4:00 to drive through most of northern Vermont and New Hampshire.
We took all the recommended routes that supposedly have higher odds of moose sightings. To our disappointment, our efforts came up empty.
We will try again in the future. Seeing moose in the wild is a dream that Julie and I are determined to realize.
I do not recommend planning your entire trip around a moose sighting. You may end up disappointed.
Update: Julie and I can confirm that moose are indeed real. We had to go to Alaska to find them, but our dream of seeing moose in the wild came true at Denali National Park and Preserve.
There Is No justice
No matter how good the camera or your photography skills, pictures cannot do justice to the real thing. Don’t get me wrong. Your pictures and videos will look amazing. However, they will pale in comparison to the real thing.
Photographs and videos cannot capture the heightened state of your five senses or the depth of your emotions. They also fail to capture the full scope of the vast landscape decorated in fall colors.
Look at it this way. As good as pictures are, the real thing is even better. Visit Vermont in the fall in person. You can thank me later.
There Is No Best Scenic Drive
Please do not let the fear of picking the wrong route prevent you from seeing this beautiful state. Take a drive anywhere in Vermont near peak foliage, and you will be surrounded by a canvas exploding with color.
There is no best scenic drive, just as there is no wrong route. Just drive, and you will find happiness.
About the author
We are Scott and Julie at Miles with McConkey. After nearly 30 years, we took a leap of faith out of the corporate world to enjoy a life of travel and adventure. We hope to inspire you to find ways to travel more and enjoy life now.