There is really nothing quite like fall in New England. People everywhere trade in their iced coffees for hot ciders and the emerald landscape of summer transforms into an explosion of bright reds, oranges, and yellows right before our eyes. The fall season is best enjoyed in Vermont, boasting a skyline cut with mountains instead of buildings, and forests that cover most of the state (76%, to be exact). The warm colors of fall serve as a requiem to summer and a prelude to winter, but in our opinion, they are the main event. There are endless ways to enjoy fall in Vermont, but we’ve highlighted 8 that you can do right now:
1. Hike your way to the best panoramic views of Vermont
There are a multitude of hiking trails of varying difficulty levels less than an hour’s drive from Burlington – and there is no better way to peep some leaves than from a high elevation in the heart of the Green Mountains. For beginner hikers, or those who are looking for a more relaxed climb, Mount Philo in Charlotte or Libby’s Outlook in West Bolton are easy hikes with gorgeous views of Vermont’s foliage waiting for you at the finish line. For a more challenging hike, try Sterling’s Pond at Smugglers Notch, Pinnacle in Stowe, or Mount Hunger in Waterbury. If you’re a hardcore hiker, start early and head for the summits of either Mount Mansfield or Camel’s Hump, the first and third highest peaks in Vermont, respectively. You will earn your view, but trust us – it’s worth it.
2. Pick your own apples at Hackett’s Orchard
It’s hard to picture fall without apples – apple pie, apple cider, and apple cider doughnuts are crucial components to the fall formula. Hackett’s Orchard in the Champlain Islands has been producing some of the most delicious apples in the northeast since 1967. The soil and climate of their beautiful 50 acre farm in South Hero yields a superior quality of apple, and in the fall it’s a perfect place to pick your own apples, select your perfect pumpkin, and indulge in a few cider doughnuts and some hot apple cider. Take a wagon ride and get a guided tour of the orchard or go off on your own and navigate through countless rows of apple trees of multiple varieties. Grab one of their signature recipes on your way out and bring some apple goodness home to your kitchen!
3. Cruise to the top of Vermont in the Stowe Gondola SkyRide
Head to high ground the easy way and hop in the famous, and completely refurbished, comfy Stowe Gondola SkyRide. It’ll bring you to the top of Vermont’s highest peak, clocking in at an elevation of 4,393 feet, where you can enjoy lunch with a view at the Cliff House Restaurant, shop for mountaintop souvenirs at the Summit retail gift shop, and take advantage of access to numerous hiking trails atop Mount Mansfield. Get a birdseye view of that famous Vermont foliage anytime from now to October 15.
4. Drink Vermont beer the responsible way with a Brew Tour
A true Vermont experience is never without local craft beer, and Burlington Brew Tours or Best in VT Tours & Charter deliver a chauffeured beer experience to remember. Let them take the wheel so you can enjoy and compare multiple Vermont beers and decide which one you like best. Customize your experience and hand-pick your breweries, or let the guides do what they do best and develop your beer-drinking itinerary! If hops and bubbles aren’t your thing, Vermont also has many wineries and distilleries, and Best in VT Tours & Charters will accommodate a trip of your own design as well!
5. Learn about sustainable agriculture at Shelburne Farms
Easily the most gorgeous place to get an education, Shelburne Farms is a 1,400 acre working farm that teaches sustainability in a hands-on way. In addition to its educational programming (highlights include: a cheese-making demonstration, craft making classes, and photography instruction), Shelburne Farms offers a vast network of beautiful walking trails, guided tours of their beautiful campus and numerous historic buildings, and the opportunity to interact with the many animals at their Children’s Farmhouse! Enjoy a farm-grown lunch from their Farm Cart or a more formal meal at The Inn (don’t miss their Sunday brunch!). No matter what you decide to do, enjoy it with a breathtaking view of Vermont’s fall colors and its beautiful Lake Champlain.
6. Get adventurous at ArborTrek
Get up close and personal with the foliage and soar through the treetops of the Green Mountains with ArborTrek’s Zip Line Canopy Tour at Smugglers Notch in Stowe. You’ll ride up to 4,500 feet of zip lines, cross sky bridges high above the forest floor, and rappel from trees. See the wilds of Vermont from a completely unique perspective that is inaccessible to hikers and explorers. The zip lines are nestled in a scenic valley and follow a babbling mountain stream. Get a rare view of Vermont’s gorgeous fall colors while learning about the local ecology and natural history from two experienced canopy tour guides! If you’re looking to get a bit more physical, ArborTrek also offers treetop obstacle courses for the whole family!
7. Pedal through Vermont’s colorful landscape
Experience Vermont’s warm colors and diverse countryside by bike with guided tours by Backroads. They are experts at designing a perfectly crafted itinerary to give you an authentic, memorable Vermont experience. Climb rolling hills, meander alongside quiet farmland, pedal past wooded mountains and cruise next to acres of grazing cows and quaint towns. Don’t forget to look up for striking views of Mount Mansfield! Your itinerary will include stops along the way to mosey through some quintessential Vermont towns and treat yourselves to some delicious local treats. If you’re more of a self-guided traveler, check out Local Motion to rent some high-quality bikes and get expert advice on the best places to ride.
8. Enjoy a maple creemee at Palmer Lane Maple
Experience one of the best creemees in Vermont before it gets too cold! Palmer Lane Maple offers incredible, locally-sourced creemees (milk and cream from St. Albans Cooperative Creamery!) made with their own 100% pure maple syrup. Top it off with their homemade maple sprinkles, or go all out with their maple sundae! If you’re more of a sipper than a licker, ask for one their incredible maple milkshakes. If you’re sick of creemees (yeah, right) and want to change it up – they also make a maple lemonade slushie, a maple root beer float, and a maple coffee float! Take some of their maple magic home with you and choose from their wide variety of treats in their retail store. You won’t regret it!
Grab a warm sweater and get out here. Fall has finally arrived!