Vermont is such a special state. It’s stunningly beautiful, even when the leaves aren’t changing. It’s small enough that you can easily drive around the entire state on a road trip. And its well known for a whole handful of things. Here are our favorite things to do in Vermont and a 3 day road trip itinerary to see the best of Vermont in just a weekend.
What To Do in Vermont – 10 Must Do Activities
- Take a photo of a covered bridge. Bonus points if it’s red.
- Visit a quaint little town. The quintessential New England town has a certain look, and Vermont is full of them: red barns, a white church, houses dotting the hillside, the colorful fall leaves.
- Tour a maple sugar farm. Learn about sugaring and taste the sweet results.
- Eat all the maple things – maple syrup, maple candy, maple ice cream (also known as a creemee), maple cocktails, maple taffy (a favorite!), maple popcorn, maple cream, and maple lattes. You’ll also find maple added to hot sauce, salad dressing, BBQ sauce, chocolates, flavored nuts, and many other food items. And if you want the FULL maple experience, you’ll want to plan your trip around the Vermont Maple Festival held each April.
- Go leaf peeping in the fall.
- Stop at Ben & Jerry’s. Tour the factory, get a treat from the scoop shop, and visit the flavor graveyard. Our favorite photo spot: the cow-painted Airstream.
- Drive Route 100. Spend a day or two on the backroads of Vermont, stopping at waterfalls, small shops, and casual cafes.
- Visit the Trapp Family Lodge, founded by the von Trapp family of Sound of Music fame.
- Enjoy cheddar cheese, perhaps alongside a visit to Cabot Farmer’s Store or Shelburne Farms.
- Drive Smuggler’s Notch, a scenic road stretching from Stowe to Jeffersonville.
Where To Stay On Your Vermont Road Trip
This Vermont road trip itinerary starts in Stowe, goes down to Grafton, and returns through Montpelier and Waterbury. I’d recommend a night at the Green Mountain Inn or Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, then the Grafton Inn, and then finally Hollister Hill Farm Bed and Breakfast.
If you’d like to camp as part of your Vermont road trip, you’ll probably want to keep your RV parked near Stowe. Gold Brook Campground or Mountain View Campground are two close by options.
Where We Stayed:
Harvest Hosts has some amazing options here! We stayed at two maple sugar farms and had creemees in our own backyard! (Find out more about Harvest Hosts and how you can have amazing experiences while camping at unique places.)
Best Things To Do in Vermont with Kids
Before we get to the specific itinerary, I wanted to mention a couple of stops that our kids really enjoyed. If scenic drives, shopping, and covered bridges don’t appeal to your kids, here are some things to highlight during your trip to keep them engaged.
Martin Covered Bridge – This covered bridge has been turned into a little park, so there’s space for kids to run and stretch their legs. If your kids aren’t interested in the history of covered bridges, this is a great stop to get the whole family involved.
Maple Sugar Farms – Tasting maple syrup, choosing a candy from the 25 cent jar by the register, enjoying a maple creemee… it’s an all-around win! We also really enjoyed the kids’ educational video offered at Bragg Farm Sugar House. The farm also has goats, ponies, and a small playground, so it’s a must-do spot for families.
Ben & Jerry’s – Obviously kids are on board anytime there’s ice cream involved. In addition, the Flavor Graveyard is fun to explore and they have a playground too.
Cold Hollow Cider Mill – A cider tasting, lawn games, and cool old farm equipment are all fascinating to my boys.
Queechee Gorge – We had to skip this stop for time, but I know our boys would have loved climbing out on the rocks.
Kids Books About Vermont & Maple Sugar Farms
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Sugar on Snow by Nan Parson Rossiter
Taffy Time by Jennifer Lloyd
Sugarbush Spring by Marsha Wilson Chall
Winter Barn by Dorothy Ripley
Maple Syrup Season by Ann Purmell
How to Tap a Maple by Stephanie Mulligan
Almost Time by Gary D. Schmidt
Maple Syrup from the Sugarhouse by Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton
The Sweetest Season by Elissa Kerr
Grandpa Alan’s Sugar Shack by Alan Page
Sleep Tight Farm by Eugenie Doyle
Vermont Road Trip Tips
Don’t miss out on the specialty maple items. Nearly everywhere we went sold maple syrup and maple candy. Maple ice cream, taffy, and popcorn were the next easiest to find. But I found myself wishing that I’d gotten a jar of maple cream (and even that I’d bought a little more taffy), because some items are less common than others. Best rule of thumb: if you see something you’d like, buy it here unless it’s maple syrup or maple candy. Then make sure you have one good maple stop at the end of your trip to make sure you have everything you were hoping to take home.
If you’re traveling in the fall when the leaves are changing, pack your patience. There’s a reason Vermont is famous for this time of year and everyone wants to enjoy the fall foliage! Slow down a bit and savor the scenery in front of you. It’s ok if you don’t get to everything on your list. Your leaf peeping trip is still going to be amazing!
Know how tall your vehicle is. The lowest bridge clearance we saw on our route was 10 feet, but we didn’t get a chance to see all of the ones I’ve shared here. Some covered bridges are pedestrian only for preservation, but it’s a good idea to know just in case.
Pack for it to be both colder and hotter than you think. We were surprised at how much the temperature varied throughout the day and during the length of our trip. We arrived during a heat wave, and I was wishing for my sweatshirt when it was time to go home!
3 Day Vermont Itinerary
Here’s a 3 day itinerary for spending a long weekend in Vermont, starting in the beautiful town of Stowe. Over the course of 3 days, you’ll hit 3 waterfalls, 12 covered bridges, and countless amazing Vermont gift shops!
Day 1 – Stowe
About 1 hour of driving around Stowe
Moss Glen Falls
Start the day with a short hike at Moss Glen Falls. The parking area only holds about a dozen cars, so early in the day is always a good idea.
Stop at Black Cap Coffee for a maple latte and pastry and then wander Stowe Village in the late morning. Our top 2 stops would be Café on Main for lunch and a maple creemee and Laughing Moon Chocolates for maple flavored truffles (or just about any other chocolate treat you could dream up). You won’t want to miss the Stowe mural on the side of the building at Laughing Moon Chocolates.
Some other stops you might enjoy: Stowe Community Church, The Country Store on Main, Stowe Sweet’s ice cream shop, Shaw’s General Store, Stowe Mercantile, Bear Pond Books Store, Vermont Ski & Snowboarding Museum, and Once Upon a Time Toys.
You might also enjoy a walk or bike ride on the Stowe Recreation Path, which starts in a parking lot behind the church and follows the West Branch of Little River for a little over 5 miles. Fun fact, this pathway is open for use in the winter too, so strap on your snowshoes or cross country skis! Here’s a helpful map.
Stowe Village Overlook
When you’re ready to do a little exploring, hop in your car and stop at the Salon Salon parking lot for a beautiful overlook of Stowe Community Church. (Turn right and park in the lot down the hill to save parking space for salon customers.) This is a popular overlook for that iconic fall foliage shot.
In addition to the pedestrian covered bridge right in Stowe Village, Brookdale Bridge and Gold Brook Covered Bridge (also called Emily’s Bridge) are just a short drive away.
Dinner at Trapp Family Lodge
Visit Trapp Family Lodge for dinner and a walk around the grounds and enjoy the beautiful mountain views. Make reservations for their dining room, have drinks on the patio, or visit the Von Trapp Beirhall to experience ‘a little of Austria, a lot of Vermont.’ I especially enjoyed the framed illustrations from The Trapp Family Book by Hans Wilhelm along the hallway to the Lodge’s restaurant.
Hike Sunset Rock Trail
Sunset Rock Trail is a short but steep hike to an overlook of Main Street. If you continue past the overlook point, you’ll also find Glacial Kettle Hole, a whirlpool-eroded rock formation. Past that is the Upper Overlook view of Mount Mansfield.
Accommodations: Stay overnight at Trapp Family Lodge or in the center of Stowe at Green Mountain Inn.
Day 2 – Route 100
4.5 hours of driving from Stowe to Wilmington and then back up to Grafton – leave yourself lots of time for stops!
Today you’ll drive 150 miles from Stowe to Wilmington on Route 100. This should take about 3.5 hours without stops. I’ve listed some route highlights below if you’d like to plan out what interests you most. If you prefer to just hop in and drive, keep in mind that Killington, VT is about the halfway point of the drive, and you’ll need to save about an hour at the end of the day to drive up to Grafton.
The 3 foods Vermont is best known for are maple syrup, cheddar cheese, and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. We’re going to taste them all today. Whether you choose to stop at all the gift shops, do a string of hikes, soak in all the history, or make it a food tour, driving down Route 100 is sure to be a memorable day.
If you’d like a guided tour, consider downloading the GyPSy Guide to Route 100.
Fun Route 100 Stops from North to South:
Stowe Maple Products – Purchase maple gifts like caramels, maple cream, and brittle.
Vermont Artisan Coffee and Tea – Stop for a coffee or tea and take a tour of the roastery.
Cold Hollow Cider Mill – Take a peek at the cider making process and try a sample in the back of the shop. You’ll find lots of great gift options here with many different kinds of Vermont-made food items.
Lake Champlain Chocolates and Cabot Farmer’s Store – These shops are side by side and would make a yummy pit stop either savory or sweet.
Ben & Jerry’s – If your day isn’t too full of sugary treats already, stop off at Ben & Jerry’s for their factory tour, a cone from their scoop shop, and a walk around the infamous Flavor Graveyard. My favorite gravestone was Sugar Plum and my boys loved Fossil Fuel.
Hartshorn’s Organic Farm Stand & Maple Sugar House – Farm tours, cow train rides, and brick oven pizza make this a unique farm stand stop.
Canteen Creemee Company – Fried chicken, burgers, and over-the-top creemee creations. What a fun stop on your Route 100 road trip!
Mad River Taste Place – This gourmet grocery store is a great stop for Vermont cheese and other food gifts.
The Lareau Park – A popular swimming spot.
Warren Falls – Limited parking, but beautiful stepped waterfalls and a great swimming hole.
Moss Glen Falls – There are two waterfalls in Vermont with the same name, and to make things even more confusing they’re both located on Route 100. Moss Glen Falls in Stowe was mentioned above. This is Moss Glen Falls in Granville and it is stunning!
Original General Store – A great stop for gifts or for a yummy lunch.
Amherst Lake and Echo Lake – Enjoy looking out the window as you drive right alongside these two beautiful lakes.
Green Mountain Sugar House – Pick up maple sugar coated nuts or brittle or one of their many gift packages.
The Old Mill Museum in Weston – A beautiful scenic spot with a red mill along the water, especially with fall foliage.
The Vermont Country Store Weston – Vermont gifts, old fashioned apothecary section, and a selection of Christmas decor!
Covered Bridge in Jamaica – Turn off Route 100 onto Island Lane to see this bridge. The big open windows make it a great spot for photos or for river viewing.
Sticky Fingers Bakery – Cakes, freshly baked bread, and their signature cinnamon rolls.
From Wilmington, drive East, stopping at Vermont Distillers and Hogback Mountain Country Store and enjoy the overlook here. Visit The Robb Family Farm Sugar House to learn about sugaring and taste their maple syrup. Then you’ll want to see the Creamery Covered Bridge and the Dummerston Covered Bridge on your way to Grafton.
Accommodations: Stop for the night at the Grafton Inn. If you didn’t stop for dinner along the way, 1801 Tavern at The Grafton Inn is a perfect choice to round out the day.
Day 3 – Drive and Montpelier/Waterbury
3 hours of driving from Grafton to Waterbury
Three More Covered Bridges
Today we’ll drive north to Waterbury, stopping first to see Bartonsville Covered Bridge and Worrall Covered Bridge on our way to the highway. Then we’ll stop at The Vermont Country Store Rockingham. Your trunk is probably full of gourmet foods already, but if you missed the Vermont Country Store in Weston yesterday, you might enjoy browsing here. Either way, be sure to stop and see the Kissing Bridge and the old Grist Mill.
Several trail options are available here. Walk the trail to the dam or climb down into the gorge. And don’t miss the view of the gorge from the bridge! The visitor center is located in a separate parking lot.
If you want more than the snack bar for lunch, check out Pizza Chef of Queechee or get breakfast-all-day at The Skinny Pancake.
Taftsville Covered Bridge
Before returning to the highway, drive by Taftsville Covered Bridge. Note that this bridge has a 10 foot clearance (only if you can drive through the 10 foot clearance, and there isn’t really any space to stop and take a photo, so skip this one completely if your vehicle doesn’t fit through.
Maple Sugar Farms in Montpelier
If time allows, visit both Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks and Bragg Farm Sugar House. They each have a video you can watch about the sugaring process, a self guided tour of the sugarhouse, and a free maple syrup tasting. They also both sell maple creemees. We liked the presentation at Morse Farm the best, but Bragg Farm’s creemee was tastier, so it’s hard to choose between them. Both shops have a variety of other wonderful gift items in addition to the classic maple selection. We also highly recommend the maple ‘kisses’ (taffy).
Two More Covered Bridges
Before heading to the bed and breakfast, drive through the Covered Covered Bridge on your way to the Martin Covered Bridge. This stop was a favorite of ours, because it’s been turned into a little park with trails and space to picnic.
Accommodations: Stay overnight at Hollister Hill Farm Bed and Breakfast.
Extend the Trip
4 Day Vermont Itinerary
Add a day (or two) to your Vermont itinerary, by exploring Shelburne & Burlington. Spending a day at Shelburne Farms and wandering downtown Burlington would be at the top of my list.
If you want to widen your trip outside Northern Vermont, Manchester, Grafton, and Woodstock are all very scenic towns worth a visit.
Or if a dozen covered bridges isn’t enough for you, you could go all in and do an even bigger driving loop! You can find a map of Vermont’s many covered bridges here.
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