Moon Vermont


By Jen Rose Smith

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From snowy resorts and fall foliage to maple syrup and artisanal cheese, get to know the Green Mountain State with Moon Vermont. Inside you’ll find:
  • Strategic, flexible itineraries like a week touring the food scene, the great outdoors, and the best of the state, with ideas for families, foodies, outdoor adventurers, and more
  • Must-see highlights and unique experiences: Wander through historic Montpelier, quirky Brattleboro, or charming Woodstock. Take a horse-drawn sleigh ride through fresh, fluffy snow, visit the woods that inspired Robert Frost, or stock up on flannels at an old-fashioned country store. Cruise the highway to see the stunning changing leaves, go cross-country skiing, hike a segment of the Long Trail, or cool off in a swimming hole. Dine at innovative restaurants serving forest-foraged cuisine and sample small-batch artisanal cheese, a flight of craft brews, and maple syrup
  • Scenic drives in Vermont for viewing fall foliage, the best romantic getaways, and the top ski areas in the state
  • Honest recommendations from Vermont local Jen Rose Smith on when to go, where to eat, and where to stay, from budget campgrounds to historic bed-and-breakfasts
  • Full-color photos and detailed maps throughout
  • Accurate, up-to-date information on the landscape, wildlife, and history
  • Handy tips for international visitors, seniors, travelers with disabilities, and more
With Moon Vermont’s practical tips and local know-how, you can find your adventure.

Expanding your trip? Try Moon Maine, Vermont & New Hampshire. Hitting the road? Check out Moon New England Road Trip.


autumn in Weston

snowshoeing in Stowe


Planning Your Trip

The Best of Vermont


Vermont Tasting Tour



Into the Green Mountains

Skiing at Its Peak

Shelburne Farms.

The poet Robert Frost came to Vermont to farm and grow apples and could have been describing the state’s independent spirit when he wrote about choosing “the road less travelled by.” In densely populated New England, Vermont is blissfully rural, the landscape dotted with sugar shacks and ski slopes. The pace of life can recall another era. Locals spend summer days lingering in swimming holes and keep wintertime bright with sleigh rides, fresh-pressed cider, and skating on frozen ponds.

But while the tiny town greens and whitewashed steeples may seem lost in time, the Green Mountain State is very much alive, with fascinating cultural vibrancy. Vermont has more cheese makers and brewers per capita than any other state, and its farms, festivals, and innovative restaurants have proved an appealing refuge for many visitors looking to unwind, unplug, and get a taste of the simple life—even if it’s just for the afternoon.

And if “slow” doesn’t appeal, recent investments in the outdoor industry have multiplied the ways to go fast—not surprising in the state that sends the highest percentage of athletes to the Winter Olympics. From Stratton Mountain to Jay Peak, Green Mountain ski areas get lots of snow, and skiing remains a backbone of Vermont’s recreation culture.

skiing Jay Peak

cows in the Northeast Kingdom

a tributary of Lake Champlain

This intriguing balance between innovation and tradition defines life in Vermont. In the Northeast Kingdom, generations-old dairy families partner with young cheese makers. Maple syrup producers collect sap on horse-drawn sleds, gathering it into state-of-the-art sugarhouses powered by the sun. And in a territory that played a key role in the American Revolution, Vermonters have explored what freedom means today by electing a legislature that was the first to legalize gay marriage and require labeling of genetically modified foods.

Visitors to Vermont have a unique opportunity to pick and choose. They can opt for historical sights along old farm roads glowing with fall foliage or head straight for Vermont’s artsy cutting edge in cities like Burlington, craft cocktail in hand. For adventurers, the Green Mountains hold a lifetime of afternoons spent summiting rocky peaks and skiing perfect lines. Or as Robert Frost might have done, travelers to Vermont can simply find a quiet place to sit still and watch the seasons transform the landscape.

a distant view of Mt. Hor in the Northeast Kingdom

craft cocktails in Burlington.

Moosalamoo Recreation Area

Planning Your Trip

Where to Go
Southern Green Mountains

The southernmost part of Vermont is a jumble of forested slopes and valleys that shelter postcard-ready villages. Country stores are stocked with maple syrup from family-run sugarshacks, and back roads are dotted with farmstands overflowing with summertime produce. With easy access from Boston and New York, the Southern Green Mountains have been New England’s getaway since the Civil War. Vacation like a Lincoln in upscale Manchester, wander orchards and art galleries in funky Brattleboro, and drive the Revolution-era Molly Stark Trail, a scenic byway that shines in foliage season.

Along Route 4

U.S. Highway 4 slices across the middle of the state, separating the two halves of the Green Mountain National Forest. This corridor offers a cross section of Vermont’s colonial and industrial eras, with a detour into 21st-century mountain life. Visit Rutland, once a national center for marble production, or Woodstock, a quintessential New England village. In between them lies the ski resort of Killington, otherwise known as the “Beast of the East.”

Killington Resort, located along Route 4

Burlington and the Champlain Valley

This rich swath of agricultural land is dotted with farms and dairies rimmed by the Green Mountains to the east and the sinuous coastline of Lake Champlain to the west. Its “Queen City” is Burlington, a dynamic college town and culinary hot spot that’s home to many academics and artisans.

Northern Green Mountains

As you travel northward, the mountains get bigger and woollier, culminating with Mount Mansfield, an imposing peak that towers above the alpine village of Stowe. In this part of the state, you’ll find easy access to outdoor adventures—especially in the compact Mad River Valley, whose romantic inns gaze out at mountains and ski slopes on all sides. This region is also the home of Vermont’s diminutive state capital, Montpelier, and the ice cream factory that made Ben & Jerry’s a household name; after you get your fill of ice cream, explore craft brews in downtown Waterbury.

Northeast Kingdom

This wild and rural country is a glimpse of old Vermont, and is home to attractions that are as eclectic and memorable as the fiercely independent locals. The extraordinary Kingdom Trails Network offers the best mountain biking in the state—perhaps in New England—with views that rival the swooping singletrack. Explore the flavors of the Kingdom at the Northeast Kingdom Tasting Center in Newport, or catch a political puppet show at Barton’s Bread & Puppet Theater.

When to Go

In Vermont, there’s something to love about every season, but it’s important to come prepared.

Vermont is paradise in winter, when mountain resorts come alive under piles of fluffy snow. This is the time to explore the Green Mountains on everything from skis to sleds and horse-drawn sleighs. Temperatures are consistently in the mid-20s, but can be much colder with wind chill, so pack plenty of warm layers. If there’s any downside to visiting during winter, it’s that major ski resorts attract crowds—on big holiday weekends, it may be worth seeking out a quieter local hill.

When all that snow begins to melt, spring—otherwise known as “mud season”—is on the way. April and early May bring sleety drizzle which make outdoor adventures and back road driving a challenge. There’s one sweet reason to come to Vermont this time of year: maple syrup. This is when the forests come out of their deep freeze, and sugar houses boil sap day and night until the trees dry up.

Summer is many locals’ favorite season. Sunny weather turns mountainsides lush and green, and the hills are traced with endless hiking and biking trails. Temperatures tend to hover in the mid-70s, with a few hot weeks in July or August that offer perfect conditions for lolling around in a shady river. The countryside yields an abundance of farm-fresh produce and artisanal cheeses. Visitors tend to be dispersed across the state, so it rarely seems crowded.

Autumn is spectacular. The fall foliage is most dramatic in late September through October and leaf peepers arrive in droves. Prices rise along with the crowds, but it’s easy to avoid the tourist rush by finding your own back road to explore. Temperatures can be unpredictable this time of year—some days might reach the low 60s, while others may creep toward freezing—so pack accordingly.

autumn view from Molly Stark’s Balcony

The Best of Vermont

Vermont’s mountains and valleys are webbed with endless back roads—many of them dirt—and the best way to explore the state is to hop in the car and hit the road. This weeklong road trip is an easygoing circle around the state that includes some of Vermont’s most beloved attractions. The pace leaves some time for exploring the places between the destinations, where many visitors find that they have their most memorable experiences.

Day 1

Start in Brattleboro. Spend the day exploring Brattleboro’s galleries and shops on quirky Main Street, or head to the stunning and historical orchards at Scott Farm on a property that includes Rudyard Kipling’s former home. Try to plan your visit to correspond to the first Friday night of the month to experience Brattleboro’s Gallery Walk and soak in the creative spirit of the city.

downtown Brattleboro

Day 2

From Brattleboro head north along winding Route 30, stopping for a stroll around Newfane’s village green before taking the turn north onto Route 35 to Grafton (45 min.). Here take a tour of the Grafton Village Cheese Company and the town’s small Nature Museum before a meal and stay at the historical Grafton Inn.

Day 3

Head west on Routes 121 and 11, then north on Route 100 to Weston (30 min.) to take in the kitschy charm of the Vermont Country Store. After lunch, continue north along scenic Route 100 to Plymouth (35 min.) where the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site is nestled in a splendid valley (with excellent cheese). Push on north along 100A and east on Route 4 to spend the night at the super romantic Woodstock Inn & Resort in Woodstock (25 min.).

Day 4

Commune with the cows at Woodstock’s Billings Farm & Museum, or eyeball the raptors at the nearby Vermont Institute of Natural Science in Quechee. From Woodstock, take in the scenic drive north along Route 12, east on Route 107, and then north along Route 100, ending up in the Mad River Valley town of Warren (90 min.). Ski slopes or swimming holes await, depending on the season. Spend the afternoon exploring The Warren Store and the picturesque village center, or take advantage of the many recreational opportunities with a hike up Camel’s Hump or to Molly Stark’s Balcony, a bike ride through town, or a slow inner tube drift down the Mad River. Spend the night in Waitsfield, the cultural heart of the valley.

Day 5

Head north along Route 100 to Waterbury (30 min.), home to the beloved Heady Topper beer, and the Ben & Jerry’s Factory. Drive west along I-89 to the lakeside college town of Burlington (45 min.), Vermont’s “Queen City.” Spend the morning strolling among the shops on Church Street before heading to the Waterfront Park, where you can take a spin on the bike path, go paddling on the lake, or visit the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain. Tonight take in some music at one of downtown’s many venues.

Ben & Jerry’s delivery truck

Day 6

Meander south down Route 7 to Middlebury (1 hr.), where you can get a morning tour of Middlebury College’s pristine gray granite campus. Make a side trip along Route 125 to commune with Vermont’s favorite adopted son via a hike along the meditative Robert Frost Interpretive Trail.

Backtrack to Route 7 and continue south to the covered bridge capital of Proctor (35 min.), near the incongruous and ornate Wilson Castle. Stop for lunch in nearby Rutland (15 min.) and then drive to sophisticated Manchester (50 min.) to wander streets lined with vacation homes built in the 19th century by New England’s elite families. Lincoln lovers can spot his stovepipe hat at Hildene, whose formal gardens are a dramatic contrast to the mountain scenery. Spend the night in Manchester at the Equinox Resort or the Wilburton Inn, full of historical charm and grandeur.

Day 7

Spend the morning driving up the Mount Equinox Skyline Drive for a beautiful view of the Green Mountains. Then head south down Route 7 to Bennington (40 min.), where you can check out the Bennington Battle Monument and the distinctive folk art of Grandma Moses at the Bennington Museum before spending the night in this quiet historical town.

Vermont Tasting Tour

Vermont’s cuisine has gone local, from forest-foraged ingredients to small-batch cheese and beer. Eat and drink your way through the Green Mountain State on this weeklong tour, with a few favorite stops along the way.

Day 1: Burlington

Kick off your trip in the Queen City.

EAT: Head to Church Street for a meal—al fresco or fireside, depending on the season. American Flatbread is a cozy brewpub and pizza joint, and it’s hard to beat a burger and pint in the outdoor beer garden at The Farmhouse Tap & Grill.

DRINK: Pay a visit to one (or more) of Burlington’s breweries, which are among the best in the state.

EXPERIENCE: Go straight to the source with a Farm Tour. If it’s a Saturday, visit the Burlington Farmers’ Market, the biggest in the state. Afterward work up an appetite with a stroll through the waterfront park.

Day 2: Middlebury

It’s a leisurely drive south on Route 7 to Middlebury (1 hr.), so you’ve got plenty of time to make stops along the way. Spend the night at one of Middlebury’s quiet inns.

EAT: Stop for lunch in compact Vergennes. House-baked bread makes for memorable sandwiches at Vergennes Laundry, a French bakery with some of Vermont’s best coffee. For dinner in Middlebury, enjoy classic American cuisine at Fire and Ice.

DRINK: Pick a few stops to visit on the Middlebury Tasting Trail.

EXPERIENCE: You’ll find some great stops on the way from Burlington to Middlebury. In late summer and fall, pick apples at the lakeside Shelburne Orchards, or explore the breathtaking Shelburne Farms; the rolling property is perfect for long walks, and they make cheddar and maple syrup on site. For some non-food related fun, soak in some culture at the Rokeby Museum and the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes.

Day 3: Mad River Valley

Head up and over the Green Mountains on the winding, scenic Route 125 east to the Mad River Valley (1 hr.). Spend the night in Warren, or just up the valley in Waitsfield.

EAT: Have dinner at the splurge-worthy Common Man in Warren or the country-punk Mad Taco in Waitsfield.

DRINK: Stop by the Waitsfield tasting room of Mad River Distillers, or schedule a guided tour of their Warren distillery.

EXPERIENCE: Warren’s Blueberry Lake is the perfect place to unwind, with a family-friendly swimming area and plenty of space to paddle a canoe. It also has one of Vermont’s best trove of blueberry bushes. In July and August, make like a bear and fill your belly with the wild fruit.

Day 4: Waterbury and Stowe

Continue north to Waterbury, then Stowe, on Route 100 (41 min.). Spend the night in Stowe.

EAT: Especially if you’re traveling with kids, you’ll want to hit Waterbury’s iconic Ben & Jerry’s Factory. If you can still walk after all that ice cream, snag a fresh cider donut at the Cold Hollow Cider Mill, or just go for broke at the James Beard Award-winning Hen of the Wood restaurant in Waterbury, or The Bench in Stowe.

DRINK: On the way to Stowe, don’t bypass Waterbury’s “Beermuda Triangle,” which consists of three lauded breweries: The Reservoir, Prohibition Pig, and the Waterbury Craft Beer Cellar. Once you’ve settled in at Stowe, pick up a few growlers of cider to take home from Stowe Cider.

EXPERIENCE: Near Waterbury, you’ll pass an unbeatable pair of tasting rooms: Cabot Annex, a cute cheddar house, and Smugglers’ Notch Distillery. Both make excellent stops.

Days 5 and 6: Northeast Kingdom

The landscape will grow wilder as you head north on Route 100 then east on Route 15 to St. Johnsbury (1 hr.), the perfect base for exploring the Northeast Kingdom.

EAT: Many of the Kingdom’s most memorable dining experiences are at romantic country inns. Waterford’s Rabbit Hill Inn has long been a foodie destination, and the refined Austrian fare at the Derby Line Village Inn will ward off the winter chill.

DRINK: Sip gin and vodka made with regional honey at Caledonia Spirits distillery in Hardwick, or make a beer pilgrimage to the renowned Hill Farmstead Brewery in Greensboro.

EXPERIENCE: On your way to St. Johnsbury, take a side trip to the Cabot Creamery, where you can sample the state’s most famous cheddar. Then visit the sheep—and the shepherds—at Bonnieview Farm in Craftsbury. On your second day in the Kingdom, head to Newport’s Northeast Kingdom Tasting Center, where you can try the best of the region in tasting menus of cheeses, meats, ice cider, and beer.


On Sale
May 21, 2019
Page Count
288 pages
Moon Travel

Jen Rose Smith

About the Author

Jen Rose Smith came to Vermont for the mountains and lake, then stayed for everything else. She spends her time exploring the state on bicycles and backcountry skis with her husband, Daniel, searching out the sweetest picnic spots, swimming holes, and snack bars.

Jen is a freelance writer whose work on travel, food, and drink has appeared in Best of Burlington, Local Banquet of Vermont, Vermont Magazine, Traveler’s Tales: Best Women’s Travel Writing, Culinate, and Overnight Buses. Since settling in Vermont, she’s continued to travel extensively, hunting iguanas in Mexico, cooking in Italy, and riding her bicycle across Newfoundland’s wilderness. Her adventures in Vermont while researching and writing this book have been just as compelling, and there’s no other place she’d rather live.

Learn more about this author