Most famous for its green mountains, thick forests, extensive hiking trails, and wood-covered bridges, Vermont is a state in the New England region of the United States. Located within the upper corner of the US, it’s the only New England state that is not bordered by the Atlantic Ocean.
Called “The Green Mountain State”, Vermont’s natural beauty makes it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, particularly hikers, skiers, and snowboarders. People are charmed by the small towns and mountain resorts where the communities warmly welcome visitors. Most of the state’s land has been left forested and behind Wyoming, Vermont is the second least-populated state in the US.
Aside from the forested landscapes, the state is well-known for its wineries, breweries, and unique foods including maple syrup, ice cream, cheddar cheese, Heirloom apples, and doughnuts. Visitors touring throughout the state can taste and drink some of Vermont’s most popular food and drinks.
Livin’ La Vida Vermont
Visit Vermont’s Top Towns and Cities
History “The Green Mountain State”
During pre-Columbian history, Vermont was covered by shallow seas during the Cambrian and Devonian periods. Not much is known about this period of history in the state, but fossils found in the area around the prehistoric Lake Vermont and Champlain Sea include mollusks and beluga whales.
During the Archaic Period (7000-1000 BC), the state was inhabited by Native Americans. They established trade networks, created ceramics, and hunted using bows and arrows. Most of the native tribes were quite small and divided between the Algonquian and Iroquois.
European exploration of the region would first occur in 1609, when the French explorer, Samuel de Champlain claimed the land. By 1647, he would put the name “Verd Mont”, which means “Green Mountain”, on one of his maps.
The first European settlement in the area was built by France in 1666 on the Isle la Motte and it was called Fort Sainte Anne. Additional settlements in Vermont included claims by the Dutch during the 1690s and the British in the 1720s.
During the Revolutionary War, Vermont became the first state to ban slavery in 1777. Self-governing and a sovereign entity, it would become the 14th state on March 4th, 1791, which made it the next state to enter the Union after the original Thirteen Colonies. During the American Civil War, Vermont strongly supported the Union and provided more than 32,000 soldiers to the Union Army.
Throughout the end of the 19th century and during the 20th century, the local economy saw its fair share of positives and negatives. Relying mostly on railroads, natural resources, and sugar maples, the state was able to build a successful economy.
Capital City of Montpelier
With a population of 8,074 as of 2020, Montpelier is the state capital of Vermont, as well as the least populous state capital in the US. Situated in the north-central region, the city landscape includes hills, granite ledges, and the Winooski River. A perfectly picturesque destination, Montpelier delights visitors with its museums, architecture, and attractions.
A few of the attractions in Montpelier include touring the Bragg Farm Sugar House or Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks. Tourists should also consider visiting the State House, The Pavillion, Lost Nation Theater, Vermont Historical Society Museum, Vermont College of Fine Arts, the North Branch Vineyards, Rabble-Rouser Chocolate & Craft Company, and the Coburn Covered Bridge.
For outdoor-oriented adventures, visitors should check out Camel’s Hump Mountain, Hubbard Park, and the North Branch Nature Center. The summit of Camel’s Hump Mountain is a long trek but has a rewarding view of the valley for those that complete the walk.
Hubbard Park includes 7 miles of trails that can be hiked during the summer or skied in winter. The North Branch Nature Center hosts seasonal festivals, classes, outings, presentations, and other events.
Culinary tourism is also popular in Montpelier where the local restaurants serve many of the state’s most famous dishes. Although maple syrup is dominant in the city, visitors can head to the capital to taste great food. Some of the favorite restaurants include The Skinny Pancake, Kismet, J Morgan’s Steakhouse, and the Capitol Grounds Cafe.
Burlington, Most Populous City in Vermont
Home to 44,743 people as of 2020, Burlington is the most populous city in Vermont. A lively college town, many of the locals are young adults who attend either the University of Vermont (UVM) or Champlain College. Neighborhoods in the area include Downtown, The Hill Section, The Intervale, New North End, Old North End, South End, and the University District.
Major attractions include the bike path, waterfront, and Church Street Marketplace. Stretching along the waterfront for 8 miles, the bike path goes through many outdoor recreation areas including the Waterfront Park, Oakledge Park, Ethan Allen Park, and Urban Reserve. Sections of the waterfront are a multi-use area for walkers and runners as well as shoppers and diners.
The Church Street Marketplace is a pedestrian mall that features more than 100 stores and restaurants. There are also special events and festivals. Award-winning for its design and architecture, the four blocks of the marketplace are most famous for their year-round Farmers Market.
Stowe, Largest City in Vermont by Land Area
Covering a total area of 72.76 square miles, Stowe is the largest city in Vermont by land area. However, home to only 5,223 as of 2020, the land is open and uncrowded. Most people head to Stowe to enjoy the great outdoors. Fall and winter are particularly popular times for tourists.
The Stowe Recreation Path runs from the Village to the TopNotch lodge and stretches for 5.3 miles. Easy to navigate, the path is a great way to explore the town and see its dense forests. For even more hiking and biking paths, there is also the Cady Hill Forest, which has more than 11 miles of trails.
For skiers and snowboarders, the Stowe Mountain Resort is renowned for its slopes and has been nicknamed, “The Ski Capital of the East”. With 117 runs on both Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak, visitors can take one of the 13 lifts to find a trail that suits their skill level.
At the base of the mountain, the main resort has multiple lodges for visitors to stay overnight. This includes the Trapp Family Lodge. Stowe is among the best ski towns in Vermont to live and play.
Woodstock, “America’s Prettiest Town”
Supporting a population of just 3,005 as of 2020, Woodstock sits close to the Green Mountains in the rolling hills. The self-appointed “America’s Prettiest Town”, this quite community is known for the Billings Farm & Museum. Once owned by Laurance and Mary French Rockefeller, the working farm is still in operation as a dairy.
Featuring a resorted farmhouse that dates back all the way to 1890, visitors can experience Vermont farming and take tours of the dairy and livestock barns. Other demonstrations include maple sugar, ice harvesting, and cow milking.
Vermont Ski Resorts
Beyond Stowe Mountain, there are a few other ski resorts in Vermont. Some of the resorts are open year-round for recreation (though skiing, of course, is limited to the snowy seasons) while others may have features that are seasonal with the focus mainly on the winter months.
For expert skiers and snowboarders, Killington is the best place to go. Of the 155 slopes, 60 trails and 16 glades are rated for those with more experience. However, for beginners and intermediates, there are still plenty of trials to choose from. Freestylers will also enjoy the 6 terrain parks, which include a 500-foot-long superpipe.
For casual, family, and serious sports, the Okemo Mountain Resort has won plenty of awards for its quality of snow, design, programs, parks, and dining. Situated in south-central Vermont, the resort is spread out over 669 acres and features 122 trails. When you’re not on the slopes, you can enjoy the mountain village, which includes luxury accommodations, services, shops, and restaurants.
Stratton Mountain favors beginner trails, although there are still plenty of expert options too. With plenty of gentle slopes, this ski resort is heavily favored by families with children. Beyond the slopes, featured winter activities are tubing, sleigh rides, dogsled tours, and ice skating.
Vermont’s wilderness is stunning. Summiting at 4,395 feet, Mount Mansfield is legendary for its scenic drive and Smugglers Notch. The road up the mountain passes Spruce Peak and the resort before ending a little bit further from the main ski area. Impassable during winter, when there is no snow, visitors can take a hike through the glacial field to Smugglers Notch, which has a series of caves to explore.
On the Ottauquechee River, the Quechee Gorge is a marvelous natural landmark. Formed 13,000 years ago, the gorge has plenty of jagged rocks, a green river, and thick forests to add to its beauty. The best viewpoint to see the gorge is from Route 4 at the arched iron bridge. Tourists can also hike a trail that goes from the rim to the bottom of the gorge.
Named after Samuel de Champlain, Lake Champlain is a large body of water that features 587 miles of shoreline, which is shared between Vermont, New York, and Canada. Excellent for canoeing and kayaking, the lake is an important habitat for birds and fish.
The lake is also famous for “Champ” sightings, which is a legendary creature that is similar to the Loch Ness Monster. Although folklore, many sightseers travel to the lake to see if they can spot the mythic creature.
The Lincoln Family Home, Hildene
In Manchester, The Lincoln Family Home is a historic attraction that is famous for being the home of Robert Lincoln (former President Lincoln’s only son that lived to adulthood). Featuring Georgian Revival architecture, the main mansion has been turned into a museum. Visitors can also explore Hildene’s immaculate gardens and the nearby town of Manchester.
Bennington Battle Monument
Towering 306 feet over the landscape, the Bennington Battle Monument’s obelisk can be seen for miles around. Commemorating a battle from 1777 that made America’s victory during the revolution possible, the monument has become an important tourist attraction. Visitors can take 412 steps or an elevator to the top of the obelisk or visit the nearby Bennington Museum.
Beyond housing information about the battle, the museum also features a large collection of fine art, American folk art, glassware, Victorian quilts, as well as artifacts from the colonial period and the Civil War.
When traveling through Vermont, chances are that you will pass through a covered bridge. An icon in the state, there are currently more than 100 covered bridges left in the state. The oldest bridges date back to the 1820s with newer ones constructed in the 1890s. One of the oldest known bridges is the Great Eddy Bridge, which was completed in 1833.
Visitors may also want to check out the Dummerston Covered Bridge, Paper Mill Village Bridge, Gold Brook Covered Bridge, Pulp Mill Covered Bridge, Chiselville Covered Bridge, and the Silk Road Covered Bridge.
Ben and Jerry’s Factory Tour
Vermont is famed for many foods, but one that has skyrocketed to fame is Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. Beginning in 1978, the ice cream was homemade with Ben and Jerry creating hundreds of unique flavors. Visitors who want to learn more about the history of their ice cream and see how production is today should take a Ben and Jerry’s Factory Tour.
The factory is located in Waterbury and it offers 30-minute guided tours to guests. During the tour, visitors will learn about the process of how the ice cream is made, see the manufacturing floor, and be able to taste samples. There is also a gift shop so that you can take home fresh scoops and company merchandise.
Although Vermont is one of the smaller states in the US, the list of attractions and activities is nearly endless. Suitable for any traveler of any age, this state is a captivating destination all year-round. For those that want to escape into the Northeast region of the US, Vermont is a great choice for solo adventures, family vacations, and honeymoons.
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