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10 Stops to Make on a Vermont Road Trip
Soak in brilliant fall colors, hit the trails and explore little-known towns on an unforgettable drive.
Don't skip checking out these must-see attractions across the Green Mountain State.
Vermont Teddy Bear Factory
Kids and adults will both love stopping in Shelburne to explore the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory. The 30-minute tour with a Bear Ambassador costs just $4 for adults (kids ages 12 and under can tag along for free), but be ready for loads of bear puns. The behind-the-scenes tour shows visitors how the teddy bears are made, dressed and even repaired at the on-site teddy bear hospital. There are bears dressed up for every profession and special occasion, including current events-inspired teddy bears, like Team USA bears wearing Olympic medals.
From biking to hiking to exploring the coastal wine trail by way of a self-guided driving tour, there's a lot to experience in the Lake Champlain region. On the lake itself, there are plenty of opportunities to get out on a stand-up paddleboard, a sailboat or a canoe. Popular pastimes include island hopping, taking the ferry to Burton Island and kayaking to North Hero Island. Enjoy a 90-minute cruise with Spirit of Ethan Allen Lake Champlain Cruises to admire the stunning fall foliage or an evening sunset.
Ben & Jerry's Factory
Of course, no Vermont road trip is complete without stopping in the Ben & Jerry's Factory in Waterbury, especially for first-time visitors. Take a free 30-minute tour of the factory to learn how the ice cream is made before scooping up a full-size sample at the end of the tour. Before you leave, snap a selfie with the "Cowmobile" parked out front. In winter, add on a 45-minute snowshoe tour to work up an appetite, before finishing up with a sample or visiting the Scoop Shop for a scoop or two of a variety of crowd-pleasing flavors.
Cold Hollow Cider Mill
For apple cider donuts, Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury Center is the place to go, with warm donuts that Gourmet magazine once rated as among the best in the country. You'll also want to sample the apple cider and the array of mustards set out upfront with oyster crackers. For lunch, walk across the driveway to the Apple Core Luncheonette. Order "Vermont to the Core," a grilled panini topped with local bacon, cheddar, cider jelly and apple slices for a mouthwatering dish.
Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa
When you're ready to hang up your hat, check into the Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa. Here, you can enjoy hiking, biking and swimming in the warmer months and skiing and snowshoeing in winter. If you're traveling with younger ones in tow, check out the Stoweflake Discovery Programs, which include llama walks and farm tours. The casual Charlie B's Pub & Restaurant is a great pick for on-site dining. And if you're looking for lively atmosphere, walk down the street to Piecasso Pizzeria & Lounge for pizza and pasta. What's more, Stoweflake is a short drive to Stowe Golf Park, where you can enjoy mini golf and bowling.
Stowe Pinnacle Trail Summit
For incredible 360-degree views, take a break from exploring scenic roads to hike the 2.8-mile Stowe Pinnacle Trail. It's a relatively short, but steep, hike up to the summit, but you'll be awed by the views of the Green Mountains, especially when fall foliage is at its peak. Take a picnic and sit on the rocks to revel in the sweeping vistas. If you're eager to get to the top, you can take off about a mile from the hike by parking at the Pinnacle Meadows parking lot further up the trail.
Bragg Farm Sugarhouse and Gift Shop
When driving through Vermont, you can't skip visiting a sugarhouse, even if it's the off-season (sugaring season usually lasts for about six weeks sometime between February and April). At Bragg Farm Sugarhouse in East Montpelier, you can taste maple syrups, take an educational tour and hike along the maple walking trail. There's also an on-site ice cream parlor where you can get a milkshake or a maple creme (a soft-serve cone). After satisfying your sweet tooth, check out the adjacent petting farm filled with ponies, goats and rabbits.
Vermont State House
The smallest state capital in the country may have one of the most beautiful state capitol buildings. The gold-domed Vermont State House in Montpelier offers guided tours from July to October, but you can also explore the legislative chambers and visitor galleries on your own. Wander the streets of this quaint, historic town, including the Vermont History Museum, which is next door to the Vermont State House. But, whatever you do, don't go looking for fast food. Montpelier is the only state capital without a McDonald's outpost. Instead, make your way to a trendy coffee shop or artisanal bakery when you need a break to refuel.
No matter the season, there's plenty to do at Killington Resort. When the weather is warm, you can enjoy for all kinds of outdoor activities at the Adventure Center, including an alpine coaster, zip lines, scenic lift rides and a ropes course. Plus, there are plenty of trails for hiking and mountain biking. In winter, there's skiing and snowboarding, of course, but there's also fat biking, snow tubing, sleigh rides and snowmobile tours. When you're ready to unwind and soothe aching muscles, indulge in a warm maple sugar scrub at the Killington Grand Spa – the perfect way to end a day spent outdoors or on the road.
Downtown Rutland ArtWalk
In Rutland, loads of oversized murals decorate buildings all across this small town, primarily along Merchants Row. Murals range from a beautiful garden of flowers to a colorful depiction of the town and prominent buildings, including Christ the King Church. There's even a giant mural of Batman. Before you go, print out thumbnail images and locations of each mural from the Downtown Rutland website so you know where to find the exact mural site, and map out your itinerary accordingly.
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