The 10 Must-See Destinations in Vermont Right Now

Beautiful autumn colors along a boardwalk trail in the countryside of Vermont, USA

The 10 Must-See Destinations in Vermont Right Now

Most Vermont travel blogs send people to Stowe, Burlington, and a handful of other towns or cities that don’t capture what this Vermonter feels are the true must-see destinations in Vermont. Stowe and Burlington have their charm, but they’re known tourist traps. I’m going to point out the must-see destinations in Vermont that I’d recommend to visitors.

Vermont welcomes over 13 million tourists to the state every year. People come here looking for the fresh air, lack of traffic jams, and farm-to-table foods. Vermont restaurants often focus on the meats and vegetables grown locally, and even our cheeses from Vermont’s cows, sheep, and goats are included on many menus. I haven’t even gotten to local beer and wine that are on tap or served by the glass or by the bottle.  When it comes to Vermont attractions, breweries like Hill Farmstead and the Alchemist are popular, but I believe so many more are even better.

Because dairy farms form another large part of our economy, tourists think of places like Ben & Jerry’s, which you won’t find on my list. If you want Vermont ice cream, you’ll find a better option below.  (Also read the “Best Place to Get a Shake in Every State” to learn more about one of the best places for Vermont ice cream, and it’s definitely not Ben & Jerry’s, they’re another tourist trap.)

Bluffside Farm Recreation Trail

Lake Memphremagog - Newport, Vermont
Source: NEKVT / Shutterstock.com

Newport is another area I feel deserves more attention than it gets. Lake Memphremagog is gorgeous and an ADA-accessible boardwalk and recreation trail borders the shores. It travels a mile from Downtown Newport to Bluffside Farm.

  • Location: Scott Farm Road, Newport
  • My Tip: As the recreational trail travels through wetlands, lakeshore, and bluffs, bring a camera. Wildlife is abundant if you’re paying attention.


Sanderson Covered Bridge built in 1838 in Brandon, VT
Source: Dominic Labbe / Shutterstock.com

Brandon is one of my favorite destinations in Vermont and the village I’d put on my list of the best Vermont destinations. It has a small main street area lined with shops, restaurants, and what I feel is one of the best breweries in the state. A visit to Red Clover Ale Co. is often how I start my visit, and then I’ll work my way to one of the restaurants or food trucks and sit in Kennedy Park, overlooking the waterfall. Plenty of B&Bs and inns are around for local lodging.

  • Location: Route 7, Brandon
  • My Tip: Foley Brothers Brewing is also in Brandon, and they sell Carpenters Coffee, which is a fantastic local coffee.

Burton Island State Park

Winter scene of Burton Island in Vermont
Source: Ann Hull / Shutterstock.com

You need to take a small ferry or your boat to reach Burton Island. Many years ago, a small causeway made it possible for tenant farmers to farm on the 247-acre island, but that causeway is barely visible today.  When the state purchased the island, plans for a new causeway were scrapped to make the island a traffic-free retreat.  Access the ferry from St. Albans Bay’s Kill Kare State Park. Kill Kare has more open water than nearby St. Albans Bay, so I find the water is cleaner and doesn’t get as smelly as the bay gets in the middle of summer.

  • Location: Hathaway Point Road, St. Albans Bay
  • My Tip: Wear light-colored clothing as ticks are a problem in Vermont, particularly deer ticks that carry Lyme disease. Light-colored clothing makes it easy to spot any that get onto your legs and remove them before they attach.

Isle La Motte

Source: National Archives at College Park - Still Pictures, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A drive through the islands in Grand Isle County is breathtaking in the areas where the road hugs Lake Champlain. In apple-picking season, I always head to the islands. I recommend a road trip to Isle La Motte and making the drive around the island. The island is Vermont’s oldest settlement and has two main attractions: St. Anne’s Shrine and the ancient coral reefs, aka the Chazy Reefs. The reef area is part of an old marble quarry where black marble was harvested for buildings like Radio City Music Hall and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

  • Location: Route 129, Isle La Motte
  • My Tip: St. Anne’s Shrine is adjacent to a small sandy beach that’s perfect for families. Arrive early to ensure you can find parking. After crossing the bridge out of Isle La Motte, stop at Alburg Golf Links. Kraemer & Kin, a local brewery, runs a seasonal restaurant at the golf course. Ask for outdoor seating on the huge deck for views overlooking the golf course and the lake.

Little River State Park

Colorful aerial view of Waterbury Reservoir near in Waterbury Vermont during the fall.
Source: John Couture / Shutterstock.com

The Little River State Park is in Waterbury, which puts it near Stowe, but it’s not a Vermont attraction that tourists think to visit. Trails lead to the remnants of an old pioneer village that once housed 50 or so families, but the hardships they faced drove younger family members to move away. 

  • Location: Little River Road, Waterbury
  • My Tip: Rent a cabin and spend a long weekend so that you can check out the different trails. Waterbury is close by and has plenty of restaurants offering takeout or table service.

Lord’s Prayer Rock

Hidden falls in Bristol Vermont in the winter
Source: Trista Edenfield / Shutterstock.com

My mom loved bringing us to Bristol when we were kids. The river provided ample opportunities to wade around and have a picnic. Trails over the chasm on Baldwin Creek gave us stunning views of the waterfall below. Prayer Rock, aka Bristol Rock, is also close to Memorial Park, so we’d get to see both during our trips. Dr. Joseph Greene had the Lord’s Prayer hand-carved into a massive boulder in 1891 giving Bristol its famous rock.

  • Location: Route 116, Bristol
  • My Tip: Downtown Bristol’s small main street is quaint and lined with shops and restaurants, so it’s a nice way to end your visit to Bristol.

Moosalamoo National Recreation Area

Beautiful autumn colors along a boardwalk trail in the countryside of Vermont, USA
Source: JeniFoto / Shutterstock.com

When you’re in Brandon, it’s about six miles to Moosalamoo. This 15,857-acre natural area offers plenty of hiking trails, including the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail. Frost is Vermont’s famous poet known well for the poem “The Road Not Taken.”

  • Location: Forest Road, Goshen
  • My Tip: Stop at an area deli and get picnic items, but make sure you bring out anything you take in. It’s annoying when locals find trash left behind by guests using the recreation area.

Palmer Lane Maple

Salted caramel ice cream
Source: Bartosz Luczak / Shutterstock.com

Is maple ice cream on your list of things to do in Vermont? Do yourself a favor and stop by this small shop located in one of Jericho’s older homes. In my opinion, their maple creemees are one of the best in the state, and dogs are welcome to their own cool treat. Buy maple syrup if you want to bring some real maple home.

  • Location: Route 15, Jericho
  • My Tip: While you’re there, Snowflake Chocolates is a couple of houses down and worth visiting for free samples and decadent handcrafted chocolates.

Shelburne Farms

Source: Marcbela (Marc N. Belanger), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

I love the Shelburne Museum, but it didn’t always used to be that way. Too many field trips in my youth were spent there, while Shelburne Farms was ignored by my school district. It’s the place my kids love. There are hiking trails with stunning views of Lake Champlain. The Children’s Farm is filled with working farm animals that children can see up close and engage with in activities like milking a cow, feeding the pigs, grooming a horse, and my kids have even helped collect eggs from the chickens.

  • Location: Harbor Road, Shelburne
  • My Tip: Don’t miss the Farm Store, if it’s open. The farmstead cheddar made on the farm is a must-buy.

Underhill State Park

Vermont barn with Mount Mansfield in background in Underhill, Vermont.
Source: Stan Eames / Shutterstock.com

From Palmer Lane Maple, head to Underhill State Park to hike popular trails like Sunset Ridge or Cantilever Rock. As a teen, this was a favorite hangout as Browns River parallels the parking lot. There’s a decent smaller swimming hole in the river if you can take the icy water temperatures. 

  • Location: Mountain Road, Underhill
  • My Tip: Parking is limited so arrive early.

Take time to explore the rest of New England when you visit Vermont. While I will politely disagree with Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard as being one of “The Most Underrated Attractions in Every State,” I do agree that Deer Island is a charming small community worth visiting in Maine. I’d add Bailey Island to that list. I also agree that the Ice Castles are gorgeous, though the extremely warm 2023/2024 winter has dampered that experience.

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