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The Ultimate Vermont Road Trip: 11 Incredible Days!

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Vermont is a hidden gem of New England. While most people know it as a great fall destination or a wonderful stop on a New England road trip, the state rarely gets the attention that it deserves. Luckily, you’ll be able to experience more of the beauty of the Green Mountain State on this epic 11-day Vermont road trip.

While on this road trip, you’ll stop in state parks, small towns, and even a national forest! You can kayak on Lake Champlain, admire the fall colors in Stowe, visit the Ben & Jerry’s Factory in Waterbury, and try delicious maple syrup in Manchester.

In this post, I have come up with an amazing 11-day Vermont road trip itinerary. This plan will ensure that you see so much of the beauty that Vermont has to offer. That said, feel free to rework this itinerary to fit your preferences and style of travel.

This post contains affiliate links to the products that I use and trust. This means that I might receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase using any of my links below. See full disclosure here.

When Should I Go on a Vermont Road Trip?


Most people think that the only appropriate time to go on a Vermont road trip is in the fall when the lovely leaves are changing colors. And while I have to say that fall is definitely the best time for a Vermont road trip, it’s not the only time.

Summer is also an ideal time to go on a Vermont road trip. At that time of year, the state is filled with warm weather and lush greenery. Between the Fourth of July and Labor Day, Vermont actually becomes quite a popular place to visit.

After all, who wouldn’t want to swim in the crystal clear waters of Lake Champlain and hike through the beautiful natural landscapes of the many state parks?

Fall is one of the best times to do a Vermont road trip.

Winter and spring in Vermont both have their ups and downs. While winter boasts picture-perfect snowcapped landscapes for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, the freezing conditions can make driving difficult.

And although there are blooming flowers in the spring, locals refer to that time of year as “mud season,” because of all of the thawing snow mixing with the dirt.

Simply put, summer and fall are the two most amazing times for a Vermont road trip.

Basic Vermont Road Trip Packing List


What you should pack for your Vermont road trip greatly depends on the time of year that you’re doing to visit.

For example, if you’re visiting in the winter, you’ll want to load up on puffy jackets, warm sweaters, and fuzzy socks. And if you’re visiting in the summer, you’ll want to bring a swimsuit for a dip in Lake Champlain.

But regardless of when you visit, there are a few essentials that you’ll want to bring on your Vermont road trip.

Hiking Boots

Much of Vermont’s beauty comes from nature, and you’ll want to bring a solid pair of hiking boots to see as much of it as possible. When you visit destinations like Mt. Philo State Park and Smugglers Notch State Park, you’ll definitely be thankful that you decided to pack this functional pair of footwear.

Casual Clothing

There aren’t many spots where you’ll need to get dressed up while you’re in Vermont. Casual clothes, like jeans, flannels, and sweaters, are perfectly appropriate for the vast majority of places in the state.

Jacket

The type of jacket you need to bring depends on when you plan to visit Vermont, but you’ll always want to bring a jacket of some sort. In the summer, a light rain jacket should do the job. But in the winter, you’ll want to bring the puffiest down jacket that you have!

RELATED: 12 Not so Obvious Items You Shouldn’t Travel Without

How to Start Your Vermont Road Trip


When starting your epic Vermont road trip, I recommend flying into Burlington International Airport (BTV). This airport is the largest airport in Vermont, making it the best place to start your adventure. Plus, you can easily rent a car here to start your road trip.

If you plan on doing this Vermont road trip during peak fall foliage season (October) and you plan on renting a car, make sure you reserve it well in advance. There may be a shortage because it’s such a popular time to visit the area. 

To start your Vermont road trip, you can fly there or road trip there.

Or, if you’re looking for an even longer road trip, you can drive to Vermont from where you live. Don’t forget to check out my road trip packing list and make sure you have these 20 items before heading out on your adventure!

RELATED: Road Trip Packing List: 20 Things You Shouldn’t Travel Without

Where to Stay on Your Vermont Road Trip


Personally, one of the most time-consuming aspects of planning a road trip is deciding where I’m going to stay the night. I personally love Hotels.com. Their customer service is impeccable and they list some pretty great hotels, cabins, and more.

My favorite thing about them is that after you stay ten nights, you get a free night. I wrote a post highlighting the Hotels.com loyalty program (which is free to join) that you can read here

As you can see, these nights will add up on your Vermont road trip especially if you plan on extending your adventures in the area. 

Click here to book all of your Vermont road trip accommodations 

The Ultimate Vermont Road Trip


Whew — now that we have all the small details worked out, let’s plan your itinerary! As mentioned above, feel free to add more stops to your Vermont road trip. These are some of my favorite stops and I know you’ll enjoy them too.

To make your life easier, I included a short list of things to do in some of these destinations and a few of the best restaurants. So, all you need to do is basically pack your bags and hit the road!

Days 1-2: Burlington

We’re going to start this amazing Vermont road trip in the adorable town of Burlington. It’s touted as one of the most livable small cities in the USA. Even though it has a small-town vibe, it’s bustling with so many fun things to do!

During your two days in Burlington, you’ll easily be able to stay entertained. The most popular thing to do in Burlington is to enjoy Lake Champlain. Depending on the season, you can swim, boat, kayak, fish, or ice fish.

Burlington is a great place to stop on your Vermont road trip.

You can even visit one of the many Lake Champlain islands, including Grand Isle, North Hero Island, and Isle La Motte! There’s so much to do that you should definitely dedicate one full day to Lake Champlain.

As for your second day in Burlington, you have quite a few options. You can visit the Shelburne Museum, pick apples at Shelburne Orchards, bike along the Burlington Bike Path, or stop into one of the many wonderful breweries in town.

Things to Do in Burlington

Where to Eat in Burlington

  • Hen of the Wood
  • Deep City
  • Zabby & Elf’s Stone Soup
  • Maya’s Kitchen and Bar
  • Bistro de Margot
  • For more restaurants, click here.

Day 3: Mt. Philo State Park

Your second stop on your Vermont road trip is Mt. Philo State Park. As the name implies, the highlight of this state park is the 968-foot Mt. Philo.

Don't forget to stop at Mt. Philo on your Vermont road trip.

While there, you can enjoy everything nature has to offer. You can keep an eye out for deer and moose, delight in a lovely picnic while enjoying the views of the striking mountain, and even hike all the way to the top of Mt. Philo! 

Since Mt. Philo State Park is only 30 minutes outside of Burlington, you can continue to make Burlington your home base for the third day of your Vermont road trip. Or, if you like, you can camp overnight at Mt. Philo State Park.

Day 4: Button Bay State Park

Button Bay State Park is a lovely spot situated south of Burlington but still along the banks of Lake Champlain. With its gorgeous scenery, it’s the perfect place for day four of your Vermont road trip.

While in Button Bay State Park, you can enjoy just about any nature-based activity that you can dream of. You can hike, boat, fish, picnic, and look for wildlife. This state park even has its own swimming pool, complete with a small slide. You’ll easily be able to spend your entire day there!

Button Bay State Park is a must stop on any Vermont road trip.

Since Button Bay State Park is only 45 minutes outside of Burlington, you can continue to make Burlington your home base for the fourth day of your Vermont road trip. Or, if you like, you can camp overnight at Button Bay State Park.

Days 5-6: Stowe

On your drive from Button Bay State Park to Stowe, you’ll drive on the famous Route 100. This road is known as the most breathtaking place to see fall foliage in all of Vermont, so take your time on this scenic drive. 

When you reach the adorable town of Stowe, you may never want to leave. Stowe boasts that irresistible small-town vibe filled with cute shops, beautiful nature, and friendly people.

While in Stowe, you can take the gondola up to the top of Mount Mansfield (Vermont’s highest mountain), stop by the Stowe Foliage Art Festival, ski and snowboard at Stowe Mountain Resort, and even take to the skies during the Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival. 

An iconic stop on your Vermont road trip is Stowe.

And while the town of Stowe is absolutely charming, you’ll want to dedicate at least one of your two days in Stowe to Smugglers Notch State Park. This beautiful state park is located just ten minutes outside of town!

While there, you can hike the Long Trail, test your ice climbing skills, or take a dip in the chilly waters of Bingham Falls.

Things to Do in Stowe

Where to Eat in Stowe

  • Harrison’s Restaurant
  • Plate
  • Butler’s Pantry
  • Piecasso
  • Stowe Sandwich Company
  • For more restaurants, click here

Days 7-8: Montpelier

This Vermont road trip allows you to see the amazing Route 100, not once, but twice. On your drive from Stowe to Montpelier, you’ll be able to experience this breathtaking route again!

With a population of just 8,000 people, Montpelier, Vermont holds the special title of being the smallest capital city in the U.S. But despite that fact, this little city is packed with things to do.

A charming stop on a Vermont road trip is Montpelier.

The main things to do in Montpelier can be grouped into two categories: nature and food. If you’d prefer the nature side of things, you can trek up Camel’s Hump Mountain, visit the Rock of Ages granite quarry, and do a little leaf-peeping in autumn. 

But if you prefer the food side of things, you can get a warm mug of apple cider at the Cold Hollow Cider Mill, grab a drink at one of the many local breweries, try a scoop or two of ice cream at the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory, and dive into Montpelier’s farm-to-table dining scene. 

Things to Do in Montpelier

Where to Eat in Montpelier

  • Sarducci’s
  • Three Penny Taproom
  • Kismet
  • J Morgan’s Steakhouse
  • Langdon Street Tavern
  • For more restaurants, click here.

Day 9: Green Mountain National Forest

Day 9 of this Vermont road trip itinerary takes you to Green Mountain National Forest, one of the most stunning national forests in the U.S. – and that’s saying something, considering that there are 154 national forests in the country!

If you're looking for places to stop on a Vermont road trip, stop at Green Mountain National Forest.

There are so many ways to spend your day at Green Mountain National Forest. You can hike a few of the gorgeous trails, such as Thundering Brook Falls Trail, Moss Glenn Falls, Trail, Texas Falls Trail, and even part of the Appalachian Trail. You can go for a swim at Warren Falls, Buttermilk Falls, and Hapgood Pond. In the winter, you can even ski, snowboard, and snowmobile.

And while you’re out on your adventures at Green Mountain National Forest, don’t forget to keep an eye out for some awesome wildlife, including moose, beavers, black bears, and white-tailed deer.

Days 10-11: Manchester

You made it! For your final stop on your Vermont road trip, you can explore the city of Manchester, Vermont (not to be confused with the nearby town of Manchester, New Hampshire).

There are loads of things to do in Manchester, so you can simply pick the ones that best suit your interests. You can drive to the top of the nearly 4,000-foot Mount Equinox.

If you’re into historic architecture, you can admire Hildene, which was once the home of Abraham Lincoln’s son.

End your Vermont road trip in Manchester.

If you’re a nature lover, you can hike to Lye Brook Falls, paddle down Batten Kill River, or picnic at Emerald Lake. Or you can take the road less traveled by paying a visit to the Robert Frost Stone House Museum.

But one of the best reasons to visit Manchester is for the maple syrup! Maple syrup is one of the most famous exports of Vermont, so you’ll definitely want to learn more about this sweet treat during your time in the state. There are many noteworthy maple syrup farms relatively close to Manchester, including Merck Forest & Farmland Center, Mitch’s Maples, and Green Mountain Sugar House.

While at these farms, you can learn about the maple syrup-making process, savor a few sweet treats, and even purchase some maple syrup to take home with you. If you’re extra lucky and you happen to be visiting in March or April, you’ll get to experience Vermont maple season! This is when the farms will be busy harvesting the sap and boiling it down into pure maple syrup.

Things to Do in Manchester

  • Southern Vermont Arts Center
  • The American Museum of Fly Fishing
  • Manchester Depot
  • Ye Old Tavern

Where to Eat in Manchester

  • The Silver Fork
  • Depot Street Burgers
  • Ponce Bistro
  • Sam’s Wood Fired Pizza Co.
  • Zoey’s Deli
  • For more restaurants, click here.

Where to End Your Vermont Road Trip


As they say, all good things must come to an end. I hope you had an amazing time on your Vermont road trip and that you’re returning home with some beautiful memories!

When you’re ready to head home, you can venture to one of Manchester’s nearby airports. The closest airport is the Rutland Southern Vermont Regional Airport (RUT), which is 30 minutes away. But this airport is only relevant if your destination is Boston because it only offers flights to Boston.

A Vermont road trip is definitely bucket list worthy.

The closest major airport to Manchester is actually Albany International Airport (ALB) in New York. It takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes to reach this airport by car. This airport has flights to many main U.S. hubs, so you’ll easily be able to make your way back home.

There’s also the option to drive back to Burlington International Airport (BTV). While it takes two hours and 20 minutes to drive from Manchester to Burlington, there are a couple of perks to this option.

First, you’ll be able to buy a round trip airline ticket, which is sometimes cheaper than two one-way tickets. Second, you’ll be able to avoid the fee that usually comes with having different drop-off and pick-up locations for rental cars.

Vermont Road Trip Recap


Days 1-2: Burlington

Day 3: Mt. Philo State Park

Day 4: Button Bay State Park

Days 5-6: Stowe

Days 7-8: Montpelier

Day 9: Green Mountain National Forest

Days 10-11: Manchester

Do you have any suggestions to add to this guide to the ultimate Vermont road trip? Let me know in the comments below!


Are you looking for more USA road trip inspiration? You’ll love these posts too!

New England Road Trip Itinerary: 10 Days Exploring the Northeastern US

The Perfect 10-Day Southwest USA Road Trip Itinerary

The Ultimate Florida Road Trip: 14 Epic Days!

Road Trip Packing List: 20 Items You Shouldn’t Travel Without


 

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