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The Ultimate Vermont Leaf Peeping Itinerary – Be My Travel Muse

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by Lonni Killion

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Introduction

Vermont, with its picturesque landscapes and vibrant fall colors, is a paradise for leaf peepers. Each year, as summer winds down and autumn casts its magical spell, the hills and valleys of this northeastern state transform into a breathtaking tapestry of reds, oranges, and golds. From charming small towns to stunning national forests, Vermont offers endless opportunities to immerse yourself in the beauty of fall.

 

In this ultimate Vermont leaf peeping itinerary, we will guide you through some of the most captivating destinations in the state. Whether you’re a nature lover, history enthusiast, or simply seeking an escape from the urban chaos, this itinerary has something for everyone.

 

Prepare to be enchanted as we explore Burlington, a vibrant town on the shores of Lake Champlain. From there, we’ll venture to Stowe and Smugglers’ Notch for breathtaking views and outdoor adventures. We’ll then make our way to the picturesque Mad River Valley and Waterbury, steeped in charm and surrounded by stunning foliage. Next, we’ll delve into the wonders of the Green Mountain National Forest, offering miles of scenic trails and hidden gems.

 

As we continue our journey, we’ll take a leisurely drive through southern Vermont, passing by quaint towns and picturesque landscapes. We’ll make a stop in Manchester and Northshire, known for its beautiful architecture and world-class shopping. Finally, we’ll conclude our trip with a visit to the stunning Lake Champlain and the charming town of Shelburne.

 

So, grab your camera, put on your hiking boots, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure through Vermont’s autumn wonderland. Let’s dive into this ultimate leaf peeping itinerary and discover the true magic of fall in Vermont.

 

Day 1: Exploring Burlington

Welcome to Burlington, the lively hub of Vermont’s vibrant cultural scene. Start your day by exploring the charming Church Street Marketplace, a pedestrian-only street filled with local boutiques, coffee shops, and delicious eateries. Take your time to wander the cobblestone streets, soak in the atmosphere, and perhaps indulge in some retail therapy.

 

Next, make your way to the breathtaking shores of Lake Champlain, where you can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the waterfront. Marvel at the stunning views of the lake and the Adirondack Mountains in the distance. If you’re feeling adventurous, consider renting a bike or a kayak to explore the area from a different perspective.

 

No visit to Burlington is complete without a trip to the renowned Shelburne Museum. Just a short drive from the city center, this unique museum showcases a vast collection of Americana, folk art, and Impressionist paintings. Wander through the beautifully restored buildings and gardens, and admire the diverse artworks and historical artifacts.

 

In the evening, immerse yourself in Burlington’s thriving food and craft beer scene. Indulge in a farm-to-table dining experience at one of the many local restaurants, savoring the flavors of fresh, locally sourced ingredients. After dinner, head to one of the city’s craft breweries, where you can sample a wide range of Vermont’s famous craft beers.

 

As the day draws to a close, find a cozy spot to relax and reflect on your first day of leaf peeping adventures in Burlington. Tomorrow, we’ll venture further into the heart of Vermont, discovering more hidden gems and breathtaking fall foliage. Get a good night’s rest, as there’s plenty more to explore in the days ahead.

 

Day 2: Stowe and Smugglers’ Notch

On day two of your leaf peeping adventure, we’ll venture into the stunning town of Stowe and explore the scenic wonders of Smugglers’ Notch. Begin your day with a hearty breakfast at one of Stowe’s charming cafes or diners, fueling up for a day of exploration.

 

Head to the Stowe Recreation Path, a picturesque trail that winds its way through enchanting forests, past rolling fields, and along the scenic West Branch River. Grab a bike or enjoy a leisurely walk, taking in the breathtaking fall colors that surround you.

 

Next, make your way to Smugglers’ Notch State Park, a hidden gem nestled in the heart of the Green Mountains. This iconic mountain pass offers dramatic views of towering cliffs, rugged terrain, and cascading waterfalls. Take the time to hike one of the park’s scenic trails, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the incredible natural beauty of the area.

 

If you’re feeling adventurous, consider taking a scenic drive along the historic Smugglers’ Notch Road. As you wind your way through narrow mountain passes, be prepared to be awestruck by the stunning foliage and breathtaking vistas.

 

In the afternoon, treat yourself to some well-deserved relaxation at one of Stowe’s luxurious spas. Pamper yourself with a massage or rejuvenating treatment, soaking in the tranquility of the surroundings.

 

As the day comes to an end, indulge in a delicious meal at one of Stowe’s renowned restaurants. Sample locally inspired dishes, featuring fresh ingredients sourced from nearby farms, and savor the flavors of Vermont.

 

With another day filled with memorable experiences and captivating fall foliage, it’s time to rest and recharge for the next leg of our journey. Tomorrow, we’ll continue our leaf peeping adventure, venturing deeper into Vermont’s stunning landscapes and uncovering more hidden gems along the way.

 

Day 3: Mad River Valley and Waterbury

Get ready to explore the picturesque Mad River Valley and the charming town of Waterbury on day three of your Vermont leaf peeping itinerary. Start your day by driving through the breathtaking fall foliage of the valley, with stunning mountain views and winding country roads.

 

Arrive in the vibrant town of Waitsfield, located in the heart of the Mad River Valley. This quaint New England town is the perfect place to grab a coffee and stroll along its charming streets. Don’t forget to stop by the Waitsfield Farmers’ Market, where you can sample fresh local produce and artisanal goods.

 

Continue your journey to the nearby town of Warren, nestled on the banks of the Mad River. This idyllic town is famous for its covered bridge, one of Vermont’s picturesque landmarks. Take a stroll across the bridge and capture the beauty of the surrounding fall foliage.

 

Next, make your way to the renowned Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory in Waterbury. Take a guided tour of the factory and learn about the ice cream-making process, while indulging in delicious samples of their innovative flavors. Don’t miss the Flavor Graveyard, where retired flavors are memorialized.

 

After satisfying your sweet tooth, head to the nearby Cold Hollow Cider Mill. Here, you can watch the cider-making process and sample their famous apple cider donuts. Be sure to browse the country store for local Vermont products, including maple syrup and crafts.

 

In the afternoon, explore the stunning Stowe Mountain Resort, where you can take a scenic gondola ride to soak in panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and fall foliage. If you’re feeling adventurous, consider embarking on a hiking trail that allows you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the area.

 

End your day in Waterbury by treating yourself to a delicious dinner at one of the town’s cozy restaurants. Enjoy farm-to-table cuisine and indulge in the flavors of Vermont’s local ingredients.

 

With another day of exploration and breathtaking fall foliage behind you, it’s time to rest and recharge for the next leg of your Vermont leaf peeping adventure. Tomorrow, we’ll continue our journey through the Green Mountain State, uncovering more hidden gems and capturing the magic of autumn.

 

Day 4: Green Mountain National Forest

On day four of your leaf peeping adventure in Vermont, we’ll delve into the natural wonders of the Green Mountain National Forest. Get ready to immerse yourself in the beauty of untouched wilderness and discover some of the most scenic trails and viewpoints in the state.

 

Start your day by driving to the heart of the national forest and venturing into the Green Mountains. With its dense forests, cascading waterfalls, and rolling hills, the Green Mountain National Forest offers a truly immersive experience in nature.

 

Begin your exploration at the Robert T. Stafford White Rocks National Recreation Area, known for its stunning hiking trails and panoramic views. Lace up your hiking boots and embark on a journey through the forest, surrounded by vibrant fall foliage. Reach the White Rocks cliffs, where you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking vistas of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

 

Continue your adventure by visiting one of the many picturesque lakes within the national forest. Lake Dunmore and Lake Bomoseen are popular destinations for boating, swimming, or simply enjoying a peaceful picnic surrounded by nature’s beauty.

 

For a unique experience, head to the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail, located near the town of Ripton. This trail beautifully showcases the natural landscapes that inspired the renowned poet, with several of his poems beautifully engraved along the path.

 

In the afternoon, consider taking a scenic drive along the famed Vermont Route 100, which winds its way through the Green Mountain National Forest. This iconic road offers stunning vistas, charming towns, and opportunities for leisurely stops to admire the vibrant fall foliage.

 

As the day comes to a close, find a serene spot to witness a breathtaking sunset over the mountains. Reflect on the beauty and tranquility of the Green Mountain National Forest, and be grateful for the opportunity to experience such awe-inspiring nature.

 

After a day filled with natural wonders and captivating fall foliage, it’s time to rest and rejuvenate. Tomorrow, we’ll continue our leaf peeping adventure in southern Vermont, exploring more charming towns and scenic drives. Get a good night’s sleep, as there’s more beauty to discover in the days ahead.

 

Day 5: Southern Vermont Scenic Drive

On day five of your Vermont leaf peeping journey, it’s time to embark on a scenic drive through the charming towns and picturesque landscapes of southern Vermont. Get ready to witness the vibrant hues of fall foliage as you meander through winding roads and soak in the beauty of this region.

 

Start your day by driving through the stunning Green Mountains, making your way south towards the town of Manchester. This quintessential New England town is known for its historic architecture, boutique shops, and world-class outlet stores. Take your time to explore the quaint streets, indulge in some retail therapy, and perhaps enjoy a leisurely brunch at a local cafe.

 

After exploring Manchester, hop back in your car and continue your scenic drive towards the iconic Route 7A, also known as the Shires of Vermont Byway. As you wind through rolling hills and charming villages, be prepared to be awestruck by the blazing colors of the surrounding foliage.

 

Make a stop in the town of Bennington, where you can visit the iconic Bennington Battle Monument, a towering monument commemorating the Battle of Bennington during the American Revolutionary War. Take an elevator ride to the top for panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, adorned with stunning fall colors.

 

Next, make your way to the historic town of Wilmington, nestled in the breathtaking Deerfield Valley. Known for its charming Main Street lined with colorful buildings, this town is a perfect spot for a stroll and a coffee break. Don’t forget to snap some photos of the vibrant fall foliage that surrounds you.

 

Continue your journey through the southern part of the state, passing by quaint villages and scenic countryside. Consider taking a detour to explore Mount Snow, a popular ski resort that transforms into a haven for hikers and nature enthusiasts during the fall season. Capture the stunning views from the summit and take a moment to breathe in the crisp autumn air.

 

As the day draws to a close, find a cozy spot to witness a magical sunset over the rolling hills and valleys of southern Vermont. Reflect on the beauty you’ve witnessed throughout the day and embrace the serenity of the moment.

 

With another day of exploration and captivating fall foliage behind you, it’s time to rest and recharge for the next stage of your leaf peeping adventure. Tomorrow, we’ll continue our journey through Vermont, uncovering more hidden gems and embracing the magic of autumn. Sleep well, for there’s more beauty to discover in the days ahead.

 

Day 6: Manchester and Northshire

Welcome to day six of your Vermont leaf peeping adventure! Today, we’ll explore the charming town of Manchester and the surrounding Northshire region, known for its scenic beauty and rich history.

 

Start your day in Manchester, a picturesque town nestled in the Green Mountains. Begin by visiting the stunning Hildene Estate, the former summer home of Robert Todd Lincoln, son of President Abraham Lincoln. Take a tour of the mansion, stroll through the beautiful gardens, and enjoy the panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

 

Next, discover the historic Equinox Preservation Trust, a vast network of trails that wind through pristine forests and offer breathtaking views. Lace up your hiking boots and embark on a nature walk, immersing yourself in the vibrant colors of fall.

 

After a morning of outdoor exploration, indulge in some retail therapy in Manchester’s designer outlets and local boutiques. Browse through the shops and galleries, where you can find unique crafts, artwork, and gourmet treats.

 

For lunch, savor the flavors of Vermont at one of the town’s renowned farm-to-table restaurants. Sample local delicacies that showcase the region’s finest ingredients, from artisanal cheeses to maple-infused dishes.

 

Afterward, drive through the picturesque countryside and explore the charming Northshire region. Make a stop in the idyllic town of Dorset, known for its stunning white-steepled church and historic buildings. Take a walk along the village green, admiring the quaint architecture and marveling at the vibrant fall foliage.

 

Continue your journey to the nearby town of Weston, home to the renowned Weston Playhouse Theatre and the Vermont Country Store. Enjoy a live performance at the playhouse or browse through the extensive collection of Vermont-made products at the country store.

 

In the evening, unwind with a relaxing dinner at one of the Northshire region’s cozy restaurants, where you can savor a delicious meal made with local, seasonal ingredients. Reflect on the beauty you’ve experienced throughout the day and embrace the peacefulness of the surrounding countryside.

 

With another day of exploration and captivating fall foliage behind you, it’s time to rest and rejuvenate for the final leg of your Vermont leaf peeping adventure. Tomorrow, we’ll continue our journey through the Green Mountain State, exploring more breathtaking landscapes and uncovering hidden gems. Get a good night’s sleep, as there’s more beauty to discover in the days ahead.

 

Day 7: Lake Champlain and Shelburne

Welcome to the final day of your Vermont leaf peeping itinerary! On day seven, we’ll conclude our journey with a visit to the stunning Lake Champlain and the charming town of Shelburne.

 

Start your day by heading to Lake Champlain, a majestic body of water that spans the border between Vermont and New York. This expansive lake offers breathtaking views and a multitude of outdoor activities. Take a relaxing cruise on the lake, admiring the surrounding fall foliage and the distant Adirondack Mountains.

 

After the cruise, make your way to Burlington’s Waterfront Park, where you can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the shoreline. Breathe in the fresh air and soak in the serenity of the lake, taking in the vibrant colors of the surrounding trees reflecting on the water’s surface.

 

Next, drive to the charming town of Shelburne, located just south of Burlington. Begin your visit at the iconic Shelburne Farms, a historic estate with breathtaking gardens, a working farm, and spectacular views of Lake Champlain. Explore the grounds, visit the farm animals, and learn about sustainable agriculture and land stewardship.

 

Continue your exploration at the Shelburne Museum, a unique institution that features a diverse collection of art, Americana, and historical artifacts. Stroll through the museum’s beautifully landscaped grounds and discover its numerous exhibits, including historic buildings, folk art, and a stunning collection of American Impressionist paintings.

 

For a picturesque experience, take a scenic drive along the Shelburne Bay Loop, a scenic road that hugs the shoreline of Lake Champlain. Revel in the beauty of the lake and the colorful fall foliage as you meander through the peaceful countryside.

 

In the evening, indulge in a delicious dinner at one of Shelburne’s cozy restaurants. Sample local flavors, perhaps including fresh seafood from the lake, and raise a glass to toast the unforgettable experience of leaf peeping in Vermont.

 

As the sun sets on your final day, reflect on the amazing sights, experiences, and memories you’ve collected throughout your Vermont leaf peeping adventure. From the vibrant streets of Burlington to the majestic landscapes of the Green Mountains, you’ve witnessed the true magic of fall in this beautiful state.

 

As you bid farewell to Vermont, carry the spirit of adventure and the beauty of the fall colors with you. Until next time, remember the enchantment of autumn in this special corner of the world.

 

Conclusion

As we come to the end of this ultimate Vermont leaf peeping adventure, it’s time to reflect on the incredible experiences and breathtaking landscapes that have unfolded before our eyes. From the vibrant streets of Burlington to the serene beauty of the Green Mountains, Vermont has truly captivated our hearts.

 

Throughout our journey, we’ve immersed ourselves in the magic of autumn, witnessing the transformation of the landscape as nature painted it with vibrant hues of red, orange, and gold. We explored charming towns like Stowe, Manchester, and Shelburne, where historic buildings and quaint streets perfectly complemented the natural beauty of the surrounding foliage.

 

The diverse landscapes of Vermont offered endless opportunities for exploration and adventure. We hiked through the dense forests of the Green Mountain National Forest, marveled at the dramatic views of Smugglers’ Notch, and cruised along the tranquil waters of Lake Champlain, all the while being surrounded by the splendor of fall foliage.

 

Our taste buds were delighted with the flavors of Vermont, whether it was indulging in farm-to-table cuisine, sampling local craft beers, or enjoying some famous Vermont maple syrup. Each bite and sip served as a reminder of the region’s commitment to sustainability and celebrating its local producers.

 

But perhaps the most significant takeaway from our journey is the undeniable serenity and peace that enveloped us throughout our time in Vermont. From the quiet trails in the national forests to the shorelines of Lake Champlain, the natural beauty and tranquility of the state allowed us to disconnect from the hectic pace of everyday life and connect with nature on a deeper level.

 

As we bid farewell to Vermont, we carry with us a lifetime of cherished memories and a renewed appreciation for the beauty of fall. Vermont has shown us that there is true magic in the changing seasons, and that the simplest pleasures, such as a leisurely drive through winding country roads or a hike in the forest, can knit us closer to the world around us.

 

So, until we meet again, let the spirit of adventure and the enchantment of autumn continue to guide you. Vermont’s colorful landscapes and warm hospitality will always be waiting to welcome you back, ready to embrace you with open arms and captivate your senses once more. Until next time, farewell, and keep chasing the wonders of the world.