This post comes from Tara from Back Road Ramblers. Have you ever experienced an autumn getaway in Vermont? It’s every fall cliche you’ve ever imagined — only better. Vermont is the original inspiration for those warm, fuzzy, fall commercials and made-for-television movies. It’s the real deal. You don’t have to look hard to find beauty and color in Vermont, especially in October. Let me take you on a little tour of my home state in its most stunningly beautiful season.
Finding Beauty in Vermont’s Villages
Vermont is home to so many unique towns and villages that I hardly know where to begin. They are tucked in the mountains, perched on the shores of historic waterways, and strewn across the rolling hills like pumpkins in a field. Like the golden trees of Autumn, Vermont villages will be all decked out for October visitors. Here are just a few of our favorite Vermont towns to visit in the fall:
- Norwich – Norwich is home to King Arthur Flour, our favorite kitchen store, bakery, and eatery. It’s hoppin’ on the weekends, but so worth a visit. If you’ve got kids, be sure to head to the Montshire Museum of Science for a little hands-on fun.
- Waterbury – Two words – cider doughnuts! Cold Hollow Cider Mill is a must for cider and doughnuts throughout the autumn season, and if you don’t mind ice cream on a chilly day, you should also take a tour at the Ben & Jerry’s factory.
- Wilmington – Perhaps our favorite Vermont village, Wilmington is a tiny town in the mountains with a great deal of charm. Be sure to stroll through downtown, eat at Dot’s Restaurant, and hike along the beautiful Harriman Reservoir.
- Vergennes – Vergennes was Vermont’s first chartered city, and with a population of just 2,741 people, it’s also the smallest. The city has seen a renaissance over the past decade, and the historic downtown is now home to great restaurants and locally-owned shops.
Finding Beauty on the Farm
61% of Vermont’s population lives in a rural area, and the family farm is still a crucial part of Vermont’s story. Throughout the state, you’ll find eclectic, rural offerings — organic vegetable growers, sprawling dairy farms, apiaries, maple forests, and beautiful orchards. Fall is a busy season for farmers in Vermont, who strive for big harvests and fat animals to get them through the winter. Many farms are open to the public, hoping to entice visitors to sample and buy their goods to support them through the lean months. No matter what road in Vermont you choose to travel on, you are bound to come across gorgeous working farms. I’m not going to make specific recommendations here. I think it will be more fun if you take the road less traveled by and see where it leads you.
Finding Beauty in the Green Mountains
The Green Mountains run north/south through the middle of Vermont, sloping to gentle hills and lush farmlands on either side. Of course, they’re far from green in the autumn, which is when they put on their finery for a last dance before winter. Vermont’s tallest mountain is just 4,393 feet high, but what the Green Mountains lack in size they make up for in autumn splendor. The leaf-peeping season gets started early in the mountains, usually by the first of October, and it’s not uncommon to see a bit of snow highlighting the incredible foliage.Our favorite mountain excursions include a drive up Mt. Mansfield on the toll road at Stowe Mountain Resort, camping at Grout Pond in the Green Mountain National Forest, and hiking to the observation tower at Molly Stark State Park.
Finding Beauty and Color on Lake Champlain
Lake Champlain is Vermont’s crown jewel for sure. It’s smaller in size than each of the Great Lakes, but huge by New England standards. It stretches 120 miles down Vermont’s western border, from Canada all the way to Vergennes, and covers more than 490 square miles. Never in my life have I seen a more beautiful sunset than the amazing displays over the Adirondacks from the eastern shores of Lake Champlain. For a sunset show you’ll never forget, I recommend the following spots overlooking Lake Champlain:Button Bay State Park, Ferrisburg, Vermont – This spectacular state park offers visitors camping, hiking, and bird-watching right on Lake Champlain. Button Bay State Park is open until Columbus Day Weekend each October, and if it’s too cold to camp, you can always rent one of their snug cabins. Oakledge Park, Burlington, Vermont – Way back in my college days, this was the spot to watch the sunset. Located off of Pine Street in the south end of Burlington, Oakledge Park is free to enter in the evenings. Once you get down to the water, there are a few narrow paths that lead to private boulders and cliffs for sunset watching. Bring a mug of hot cocoa and take in the magic of Lake Champlain.Mt. Philo State Park, Charlotte, Vermont – Mt. Philo is under 1,000 feet high, and the trail to the top is just ¾ of a mile, providing a good half-hour workout. But even if hiking isn’t your thing, you can drive to the top with a picnic and your camera. Mt. Philo State Park is Vermont’s oldest — created way back in 1924. Whether you hike or drive to the top of the mountain, you’ll be rewarded with one of the prettiest views in all of Vermont!Vermont is my home, and I may be a tiny bit biased, but I’ve traveled all over America, and there’s nowhere I’d rather be in the fall. When that magical Autumn light hits the tops of the trees, and the promise of snow floats on the wind, I smile from deep within my soul, thankful for another October in a place full of beauty and magic. Tara is a freelance writer and travel blogger with a passion for outdoor adventures. She currently writes at Back Road Ramblers, where she shares travel tips, adventure destinations, and family vacation ideas for the wanderer in everyone. Her goal is to help families connect with the world and each other by stepping out their front door and embarking on journeys big and small. Be sure to check out her blog and say hi via Instagram & Facebook.
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