Of all the places to see fall foliage, there’s no place quite like New England. And if we had to pick a state, then we’d pick the Green Mountain State of Vermont. And Vermont is anything but that when its charming villages and undulating hills are ablaze with fall foliage. The best places in Vermont to see fall foliage feature dazzling displays of golds, oranges, and fiery reds. From reflective lakes to staggering mountain peaks and bucolic hills, there’s no dearth of picture-perfect places to see the fall season in all its glory. So, it’s no surprise that the state’s fall foliage beckons people from across the world, and rightfully so. More than 75% of Vermont is covered in forest, and the state also has the country’s highest concentration of native maple trees.
So, when and where should you go in Vermont to see the changing seasons and also celebrate the many fall festivals across the state? We’ve happily done the legwork for you and perused and explored adorable towns and secluded forests to tell you all about where to go for your fall trip to the Green Mountain State.
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Best city. The bustling city of Burlington is one of Vermont’s best places to visit. It sits on the eastern banks of Lake Champlain and combines small-town charm with outdoor adventures and urban culture. To top it all, it’s surrounded by some of the best foliage in New England. Whether you’re biking along the shores of Lake Champlain or strolling along the pedestrian-only Church Street, the views are jaw-droppingly colorful. In fact, you could indulge in a local boat tour and see the fall colors everywhere. So, even if it’s just for a day, Burlington is the best city to stay in Vermont in the fall, blending country and urban charm.
When evening falls, you could take this superb Guided Craft Brewery Tour that introduces you to Vermont’s excellent craft beer scene. Not only do you get to taste beer samples at the innovative breweries, but you also get to enjoy a delicious pretzel or pizza snack.
- Burlington has a suburban feel, which allows enjoying without sacrificing comfort.
- The public transportation is excellent.
- There are many places to enjoy the fall foliage both within and just outside the city limits.
- If you’re looking for an undisturbed country holiday, then this place might not be ideal.
Where to Stay: The Essex Resort & Spa is one of the best hotels in all of Burlington. Kick back with some R&R at the spa at the Essex, which uses CBD for enhanced destressing and relaxation. Besides the spa, the vintage-heritage rooms are top-notch, with culinary-focused artwork that showcases the state’s bounty. What’s more, the resort has two restaurants, one which is a fine dining weekend restaurant and the other serving American classics like chicken wings and burgers.
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Quechee State Park
Best state park. The 165-foot-deep Quechee Gorge sits inside Quechee State Park, famed as Vermont’s “Little Grand Canyon.” And this epic glacier-carved chasm, Vermont’s deepest, does live up to the hype, making it one of the top spots for fall foliage immersion in the state. It rises above the clear waters of the Ottauquechee River and is flanked by maple trees on both sides. During autumn, the riverside shines in gold, orange, and red hues high above the gushing waters of the river. That’s why the park is very popular for its biking and hiking trails, camping and picnicking areas, and the presence of the Quechee Gorge waterfall and dam overlook. There’s even a campground inside the state park for overnight stays.
- It’s one of the best non-town destinations to enjoy Vermont’s fall foliage.
- It’s perfect for outdoorspeople.
- There are hotel options close by for those who don’t want to camp.
- If you aren’t into hiking and rough walking, then exploring the gorge might be difficult.
Where to Stay: The picturesque Jackson House Inn in Woodstock, surrounded by landscaped gardens, is one of the most romantic stays in the region. Located less than 30 minutes from the state park and gorge, this inn, with its romantic rooms, hot tubs, and mesmerizing mountain views, is the perfect luxurious hiking hideaway.
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One of the best places in Vermont for fall colors is the former dairy town of Stowe. It sits in the shadow of Vermont’s highest peak, Mount Mansfield, and is one of the prettiest towns we’ve ever seen. It might be a ski capital, but just before that, it’s ablaze with the colors of the fall. The old-world town center is one of the most charming downtowns you might have ever seen. And it’s here from where you’ll find innumerable hikes in every direction, but we’d recommend starting with the Stowe Recreation Path. And no matter which trail you hit, you’ll be treated with a gorgeous swath of golden hues everywhere. Also, whatever you do, come hungry and enjoy what is currently one of the most buzzing foodie enclaves in the state.
- Stowe is a haven for foodies.
- It boasts tons of outdoor activity options for intrepid adventurers.
- It offers a slice of small-town life along with access to the gorgeous countryside.
- Since Stowe is known for its skiing, some people might be disappointed with the lack of crowds during the fall.
Where to Stay: There’s no place better to stay in Stowe than at the Austrian-inspired Trapp Family Lodge. The place is very popular for its connection to the story of the Von Trapp family, the inspiration for the Sound of Music.
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The historic and bucolic Manchester, which sits in the Battenkill River Valley at the foot of Mount Equinox, is just a three-hour car ride from Boston. It’s famously the historic home of Abraham Lincoln’s son, Hildene, and boasts miles of walking trails with incredible views of the Green Mountains. The Manchester Riverwalk along the Battenkill River is particularly gorgeous, complete with stunning fall foliage views of the Taconic and Green Mountains. You’ll also love the Vermont Arts Center nestled on top of a hill, complete with woodland hiking and a sculpture garden. The prettiest of them all is the Manchester Village Historic District, which has gorgeous tree-lined sidewalks and a quiet main street that radiates with golden yellow and burnt orange leaves in the fall.
- Manchester is very well-connected to larger towns in not just Vermont.
- It offers tons of outdoor opportunities.
- Those who love historic destinations will love this town.
- It might be a tad too touristy for those who’re looking for a laid-back holiday.
Where to Stay: The charming, historic, and postcard-perfect Dorset Inn is one of Vermont’s most picturesque places to stay. This 1796-built inn boasts rooms with four-poster beds, jetted tubs, and fireplaces, a restaurant serving delicious farm-to-table cuisine, and a bar/tavern that serves local brews and craft cocktails.
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Smuggler’s Notch Pass
Also known locally as “the Notch,” Smuggler’s Notch Pass is absolutely stunning and should be on every fall lover’s list. The scenic and winding pass road, which is Route 108, basically connects the village of Stowe on the eastern side of Mount Mansfield to the town of Jeffersonville on the western slopes. What’s more, it’s quite narrow and windy and is flanked and surrounded by Vermont’s famous maple trees. In the fall, they turn vibrant shades of gold, orange, auburn, and red. If you want to indulge in some hiking and stretch your legs, the Sterling Pond Trail takes you to the top of the Notch. It’s a great way to soak in the fall foliage and boasts some of the greatest views of Sterling Pond at the top.
- This pass is officially considered a “State Scenic Road” under the Vermont Scenic Roads Law.
- The history of the route is a great draw for culture lovers.
- It’s easy to access.
- Since Smuggler’s Notch is very popular during peak season, it could get very crowded.
Where to Stay: Topnotch Resort, which sits right on Route 108 outside Stowe, is one of the most romantic hotels in the region. The spa here is amazing, and you can even enjoy outdoor meals with sweeping views of the mountains. We love that they have a roster of fall outdoor activities, including horseback riding and apple picking in the orchards!
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If you’re a college student in the university town of Middlebury, you don’t have to travel to see fall foliage at all! This scenic Vermont town is all about soaking in the fall moments, thanks to the 16 mi (25.8 km) long TAM (Trail Around Middlebury). It’s the perfect walking route to soak up the autumnal atmosphere of this vibrant college town. You could also visit Otter Creek’s cascading waterfalls in the heart of downtown, which is also home to restaurants and shops in classic brick buildings. You could visit an apple orchard, pick pumpkins, visit the Middlebury Farmers Market, and even walk the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail. If you want to indulge in out-of-town activities, the nearby Snake Mountain hike offers unobstructed, golden views of the flat farmland. In fact, the summit still has the remnants of the Grand View Hotel, which burnt down in 1925.
- It’s a great place for culture aficionados.
- There’s a lot for history and literature lovers to see and explore as well.
- It’s the perfect all-around destination.
- Since it’s a university town, it might be slightly more crowded as compared to others.
Where to Stay: Sitting in the heart of the quaint downtown is the Middlebury Inn. Its location allows you to fully immerse yourself in the life and culture of this quintessential New England town. Aside from comfortable historic rooms, the hotel also has an onsite restaurant as well as a full-service spa and wellness center.
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Best village. Step back in time in Grafton, a small yet absolutely pretty village in the rolling hills of southern Vermont. The lovely town has tons of historic buildings dating back to the town’s heyday era in the early-to-mid-1800s. In fact, Grafton once bustled with gristmills, wool mills, and factories producing cheese, butter churns, sleighs, and cheese. Even today, Grafton has some of the most delicious dairy products ever, but the lovely foliage will capture your heart. The Nature Museum and Grafton Trails & Outdoor Center are great places to start exploring the town, as they’re all about stunning views and acres of natural beauty. In fact, the best fall foliage views are probably at Village Park, a wooded trail system where you can amble up close to the trees. Grafton is particularly charming during the fall season when its many towering oaks spread a golden canopy of leaves over town.
- It’s one of the best small villages in southern Vermont.
- Grafton combines natural beauty, history, and culture to make an irresistible combination.
- The town is known for its products, such as maple and cheese.
- It might be a little too removed from all the action for some.
Where to Stay: There’s only one place you should stay in the town, the historic Grafton Inn, which is a member of the Select Registry. It has an incredible sense of place and is one of the country’s oldest operating inns.
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Mad River Valley
Lying in the central region of Vermont is the jaw-dropping Mad River Valley, which is traversed by the Mad River. The region is all about hilly farmlands and iconic barns, making it the perfect setting to see the fall foliage. It’s famously home to the dynamic town of Waitsfield, which is home to two historic covered bridges, namely Pine Brook and Big Eddy. They sit along the path of the easygoing Mad River and are surrounded by gorgeous autumnal colors. In fact, the Big, a.k.a. the Great Eddy, is also the second-oldest covered bridge in Vermont. If you’re here for more than a day, don’t miss visiting the artisanal market of Mad River Taste Place.
- The Mad River region is a great all-around region to visit during the fall.
- It’s perfect for those who love the outdoors.
- It’s also great for history enthusiasts.
- The region isn’t exactly suburban.
Where to Stay: Sitting in the heart of Waitsfield, the Featherbed Inn is an excellent place to stay to explore the Mad River region. This gorgeous B&B is one of the very few B&Bs we’ve seen to feature a swimming pond! It also has fire pits, an outdoor hot tub, free Wi-Fi, three-course breakfasts, and is dog-friendly too.
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Are you in the Quechee State Park region for a longer time? You should also check out the neighboring town of Woodstock, which looks equally pretty in the fall. Constantly called the “quintessential New England Village,” this town is the king of covered bridges in Vermont. And when it’s surrounded by fall colors, it’s as pretty as a picture. The central square in town is home to a host of lovingly restored Georgian, Federal-style, and Greek Revival homes that look straight out of a painting when they’re swathed in fall leaves. What’s more, the quaint town bustles with restaurants and shops and is the epitome of classic American charm. Hide through the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park’s woodlands for the best fall scenery.
- When combined with the neighboring Quechee State Park, Woodstock is the perfect fall season getaway in Vermont.
- It’s a heady mix of urban and country charm.
- The town is known for its delectable cuisine.
- People might need a longer time to holiday here, given that Quechee State Park is right next door.
Where to Stay: Stay at grand dame Woodstock Inn & Resort, which is more than 125 years old. A roaring fire in the lobby is just what you need on a chilly fall evening after exploring the town. Not only does it have amazing digs, but also it has a full-service spa, a library, two restaurants, and concierge service.
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The Northeast Kingdom
Most diverse region. The Northeast Kingdom – it feels like some magical place, doesn’t it? Fall colors in this remote three-county northeastern corner of the state pop in early, so just follow the ‘NEK’ bumper stickers north. This remote region of family skiing resorts and hilly farm towns is one of the most diverse regions in all of Vermont. For instance, the town of Burke, home to the annual fall foliage festival, is all about quiet ponds and uncrowded country lanes. Montgomery is famous for its covered bridges, while Jay Peak is a popular ski resort that’s an excellent fall escape too. What’s more, there are tons of outdoor activities to enjoy here while soaking in the fall foliage views, including hiking, mountain biking, picnicking, and more.
- This is one of the most pristine regions of Vermont.
- It’s a good mix of towns and country.
- It has the scope of a wide variety of outdoor activities.
- It’s very remote.
Where to Stay: Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford is another Select Registry hotel – and a homey yet upscale one at that. This B&B seems to garner only great word-of-mouth buzz, and it’s no surprise. Surrounded by 15 acres of walking trails and gardens, this B&B also has a gazebo and a spring-fed pond. Most of the elegant rooms have two-person whirlpool tubs, fireplaces, and splendid views of the White Mountains and the Connecticut River.
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While it’s part of the Northeast Kingdom, we cannot complete this list without mentioning Peacham. This town is characterized by the Congregational Church’s piercing white spire, framed by rolling undulating hills bursting in fall colors. It’s a vision so perfect that even Hollywood has been lured by its charms. Big-picture productions might have come and gone, but this wee town remains rural and quiet, with some of the most wonderful fall foliage you’ll have ever seen. The nearby Barnet and Peacham Pond offer riotously colorful autumn vistas, while the traditional red barns and the iconic churches evoke old-style comfort. Did you know that Peacham celebrates Fall Foliage Day every year towards the end of September? The activities range from leaf-peeping and book sales to lunches and observing the night skies!
- The village has a laidback charm and is very quiet, perfect for a fall holiday.
- It offers some of the most spectacular outdoors in the Northeast Kingdom.
- It might be a little too rural for some.
Where to Stay: Staying in Peacham might be a little difficult, so Saint Johnsbury, which is 25 minutes away, offers a good alternative. It’s home to the Fairbanks Inn, which is a basic but lovely hotel perfect for staying while exploring the region. It has comfy rooms with fridges and microwaves, an outdoor heated pool, and even barbeque facilities and free Wi-Fi.
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The best destinations to soak in Vermont’s fall sceneries are spread out all over the state. If you’re having a hard time deciding where to go, here’s a whittled-down list.
- Best city: Burlington
- Best state park: Quechee State Park
- Best village: Grafton
- Most diverse region: The Northeast Kingdom
What is the best time to see fall foliage in Vermont?
The fall foliage season in Vermont usually is between early September to mid-October.
How long do the leaves stay colorful in Vermont?
Usually, the fullest colorful leaves can be seen in late September in the northern part and through mid-October in the southern region.