25 Reasons Summers in Vermont Beat Every Other State

Written by Samantha Stanich
Updated: July 13, 2023
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Vermont may lack an ocean coast, but that doesn’t mean summer vacationers don’t get their money’s worth! The Green Mountain State has perfect weather come summertime. It offers tourists freshwater beaches, family-friendly resorts, outdoor adventures, golf courses, breweries, and top-rated farm-to-table restaurants, with food made from the state’s beautiful resources.

It is the sixth smallest state in the United States, and the only landlocked state in New England. As one of the safest and most tranquil states, mountains and lakes make up a large portion of its terrain, offering the perfect combination for summer. Check out these 25 reasons Vermont is your next summer vacation location!

Lakes in Vermont

If you love the water and natural scenery, a lake vacation in Vermont is for you! There are plenty of lakes in the mountainous state, but here are five we think are worth visiting!

1. Lake Champlain

View of Lake Champlain and Adirondacks from Mt. Phillo in Charlotte, Vt

You can play on the beach or bask in the sunshine at Lake Champlain.

©Monika Salvan/Shutterstock.com

As the largest lake in the state, Lake Champlain, makes up half of Vermont’s western border as it extends north into Canada and west into New York. The lake is 14 miles wide and 130 miles long with an area of 490 square miles. Its shoreline is home to quaint towns, historic sites, and worth-wild parks. There are also around 80 islands on the lake to explore. With so many things to do and see, you can easily spend a week of summer vacation at Lake Champlain. The campgrounds, sandy beaches, and wildlife refuges give enough options that everyone can enjoy a day at the lake.

Activities you can do at the lake include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Ornamental Farm at Shelbourne Farms
  • Learn about American history at the North Star Underground Railroad Museum
  • Book your accommodation on Knight Island
  • Get some exercise on Burlington Bike Path
  • Enjoy the walking trails at Waterfront Park
  • Take a ferry from Burlington to Port Kent
  • Shop at Church Street Marketplace
  • Camping at Champlain Adult Campground or with the family at Grand Isle State Park
  • Fishing at the South Bay Pier or the Champlain Bridge
  • Boating is a dream on the pristine waters and you can choose if you want to paddle, sail, or motor
  • Kayaking or canoeing is simple with multiple public beach accesses

Lake Champlain also gives summer vacationers the “cruise” of a lifetime! You can leisurely ride the Spirit of Ethan Allen for a scenic trip around the lake. You can brunch or lunch while you soak in the views or even book a sunset cocktail or dinner cruise.

2. Lake Willoughby

Lake Willoughby Vermont

This lake is the deepest lake in Vermont, with depths exceeding 300 feet.

©iStock.com/Tracy Lavallee

Surrounded by majestic and spectacular scenery, Lake Willoughby is a perfect summer getaway. Also, since it sits 357 meters above sea level and is over 300 feet deep in some places, it stays exceptionally clear and freezes later in the year as opposed to other lakes in the state. Willoughby Lake Beach and State Park is a great family destination. Plenty of waterfronts make lakeside fun a blast! There are playgrounds for kids, kayak and canoe rentals, fire pits for marshmallows, and sandy beaches to swim from and sit in lounge chairs to relax and soak up the sun.

A fun adult fact: Do want something a little more risque? This is the lake for you then! There is a nude beach on the southern shoreline.

3. Lake Elmore

Elmore State Park

The Town of Lake Elmore is nicknamed

The Beauty Spot of Vermont

©kan_khampanya/Shutterstock.com

This northern lake sits in the central north half of Vermont. The stunning waters lay among Elmore Mountain and create spectacular scenery. Lake Elmore’s waters host a variety of recreational activities like swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. There is also a state park on the north end where visitors can camp, picnic, and even visit a snack bar. The tranquil views can be seen among the multiple hiking trails. Hikers can even hike to the top of Elmore Mountain’s 795-meter summit to see panoramic views of the lake.

4. Lake Memphremagog

Lake Memphremagog Vermont

The majority of the lake is actually in Quebec, Canada.

©iStock.com/NorthHatley

This beautiful freshwater lake is shared between Vermont and Quebec, with the majority of it in Canada. However, three-quarters of the pristine waters are for the Green Mountain State to enjoy, and five of the lakes islands are also located in the state. A beachside pavilion sits on Prouty Beach along with 75 campsites as well as access to offer swimming, fishing shuffleboard, and hiking. If you aren’t the camping type, a selection of bed and breakfasts dot Lake Memphremagog’s shoreline.

5. Silver Lake

Rustic wooden table and chairs by Silver Lake in Barnard Vermont during the fall season

The lake is popular all year round due to its phenomenal fishing.

©Steve Heap/Shutterstock.com

A great summer destination is Silver Lake due to the variety of recreational activities at Silver Lake State Park. The park sits on the lake’s northern shoreline. Visitors take advantage of its sandy beach, picnic area, and camping grounds. You can also go swimming, canoeing, kayaking, boating, and fishing on the lake as well. If none of those interest you, there are even more options! Land-based activities like hiking, horseshoes, and volleyball as well as a playground for the kids and a concession stand are all offered at the lake.

Other lakes to try in the summer include:

  • Lake Bomoseen
  • Emerald Lake
  • Lake Whitingham
  • Green River Reservoir
  • Waterbury Reservoir
  • Lake Shaftsbury

Hiking in Vermont

The state of Vermont is mountainous, and in the summer it offers some of the best hiking views in the country. The weather is fairly warm with average temperatures between 77-82 degrees Fahrenheit (25-28 degrees Celsius). July is the hottest and wettest month, so you may want to plan your hikes in June or August. Here are a few hikes that are must-see during the summer:

6. Mount Tom: Woodstock, Vermont

Looking down over the south end of Woodstock Vermont during the peak of fall foliage season

The image above is courtesy of Eric Urquhart from Shutterstock.

©Eric Urquhart/Shutterstock.com

The Faulkner Trail on Mount Tom is well-marked, and the wooded trail ends with breathtaking views of Woodstock Village at the summit. This hike is for all hikers, from beginners to experts, and is around 2.7 miles round trip. The summit ends at 1,250 feet with the last 100 yards being the most challenging due to rocky and uneven footing. The trails are winding with switchbacks most of the way to the top. But when you reach the summit there is a serene overlook area with benches to admire all your hard work.

If you are up for the challenge, the trail connects to the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park at the top. This leads to a man-made 14-acre pond that is rumored to be bottomless. Also, the hike to the North Peak of Mount Tom is another challenge. The summit gives you views of King Farm, Killington, Mount Ascutney, Kendron, Valley, the Woodstock Inn, Windsor Court House, the covered bridge, Mount Peg, and Billings Farm. So you can say that it was worth the hike of 1,359 feet!

7. Mount Mansfield

Mount Mansfield

This mount’s summit ridge features some of the only surviving alpine tundra in the state.

©Montana Isabella/Shutterstock.com

Mount Mansfield is the highest point in Vermont, with an elevation of 4,393 feet (1,339 meters). There are countless hiking trails to choose from when hitting mountainous ridges. If you are interested in the history of the area, Stowe’s Smugglers Notch State Park sits on the eastern side. There is an access point to the Long Trail where visitors can hike the white blazes above the tree line. It is a 1.2-mile hike with a 550-foot elevation gain. A strenuous hike along the Long Trail hikes up the northern side and can take around three hours round-trip to complete the two-plus mile hike.

Here are some other great hikes include:

  • Mount Ascutney
  • Robert Frost Interpretive Trail
  • Killington Peak
  • Shaw Mountain Natural Area
  • Mount Elmore
  • Mount Olga
  • Mount Philo
  • Mount Independence

Farmer’s Markets and Berry Picking in Vermont

Colorful organic vegetables at a local farmers market.

©Jason Person/Shutterstock.com

The state’s favorable summer weather makes farmer’s markets in its small towns a blast! It doesn’t get overly hot, so walking around a market is enjoyable. There are dozens of weekly markets where you can see the state’s fresh-harvested resources on display, and even try them for yourself. Here are a few to check out this summer!

9. Waitsfield Farmers Market

Described as the “happy tent village replete with ancient grains, Taiwanese noodles, Gizmo’s pickles, leather belts, and a bounty of cheeses,” this market is in the heart of Mad River Valley. And it is so much more than fruit and vegetable stands. There is live music, sample baked goods, and handcrafted souvenirs for sale. You can support Vermont artisans and growers all while enjoying a perfect summer day! The Vermonters sell everything from liquor to food:

Local produce

  • plant starts
  • fruit trees
  • bushes
  • maple
  • honey
  • flowers
  • seedlings
  • eggs
  • meats
  • cheeses
  • fish
  • crafts
  • art
  • clothes
  • bread
  • baked goods
  • liquors
  • prepared foods

The market started in 1993 and is a carefully curated group of local Vermont businesses. It provides high-quality products, and you can visit the green every Saturday, May to October, rain or shine!

10. Picking Strawberries at a Vermont Farm

four red strawberries and a green (unripe strawberry) on a strawberry plant iwith much greenery.

Berry picking in the summer is a fun family activity and a great way to any Vermont farm.

©iStock.com/romiri

If you would rather pick your own Vermont specialty, then berry picking in June is the summer activity for you! You can pick strawberries, sour cherries, raspberries, and blueberries to pair perfectly with some whipped cream from a local Vermont dairy. Here are some farms to try to PYO (pick your own) berries:

  • Champlain Orchards
  • Last Resort Farm
  • Lewis Creek Farm
  • Mereck Forest and Farmland Center
  • Chandler Pond Farm
  • Adam’s Berry Farm
  • Sweet Roots Farm
  • Isham Family Farm
  • Berry Creek Farm
  • Hartshorn Farm
  • Knoll Fram
  • Boyd Family Farm
  • Cedar Circle Farm
  • Knobby Hill Farm
  • River Berry Farm
  • Full Belly Farm
  • Paul Mazza’s Fruit and Vegetables

Fishing in Vermont

Young man flyfishing at sunrise

Vermont is a fly fisherman’s paradise. In fact, Orvis was founded in Manchester, Vermont.

©GROGL/Shutterstock.com

11. Fly Fishing

Vermont is the fly-fishing capital of New England, in fact, the 50-year-old American Museum of Fly Fishing sits in Manchester. It is home to the world’s largest collection of fly fishing-related artifacts. And even if you don’t know anything about the sport, the museum is relatable! It holds rods that belonged to all different types of legends like Ernest Hemingway and even Babe Ruth. If want to learn how to fly fish, Vermont has you covered! Orvis, the fly-fishing expert, operates a fly-fishing school in Manchester as well. You can choose how many days you want instructional opportunities, and the classes are geared toward men, women, or even parents and children.

If you already know how to cast a fly, make sure you go to Battenkill or Mettawee Rivers. These are prime places to catch wild trout. You can also go on a guided fishing trip in Burlington. The northern town offers trips on some of the state’s richest fish rivers and streams.

Festivals and Events in Vermont

Vermont’s breathtaking views and spectacular resources lend themselves to fun and whimsical festivals all of sorts. There are festivals for almost every interest in the Green Mountain State. Here are a few that may peak yours to see if there are any up your alley!

12. Annual Fly Fishing Festival

Usually held in August, the annual festival is approaching its 16th year. Hosted by the American Museum Of Fly Fishing, it takes place in Manchester, Vermont, the birthplace of Orvis, and essentially fly fishing. There are vendors, painters, appraisers, industry artisans and professionals, and other angling-related nonprofits. Visitors see fly-tying and casting demonstrations and can even cast vintage rods. You can learn the craft of fly tying and mingle with other like-minded individuals who love the outdoors.

13. Vermont Maple Festival

The state is known for its maple syrup and has celebrated it for the past 57 years. The April festival is in St. Albans and is a food and arts celebration for three days. Every exhibit, demonstration, parade, show, entertainment, and craft is dedicated to maple syrup. The festival celebrates the first harvest of the year, and there is even a crowning of a Maple King and Queen.

14. Quechee Hot Air Balloon, Craft, and Music Festival

Hot Air Balloon RIde at Quechee Vermont

The festival is the longest-running hot air balloon festival in New England.

©Wallace Weeks/Shutterstock.com

The Quechee Hot Air Balloon, Craft, & Music Festival has filled the skies above Quechess and the Upper Valley of Vermont with colorful hot air balloons for the past 43 years. This summer festival is held in June and features over 15 different hot air balloons. There are scheduled flights and tethered rides, so everyone gets to see the green views of Vermont. The festival has continuous music and entertainment for all ages, and over 50 craft artisans and commercial vendors show their products. There is fun festival food and local Vermont delicacies as well as a beer and wine garden for adults.

Other fun festivals include:

  • Burlington Jazz Festival
  • Rockfire
  • Foodaroo 8
  • Independence Day in Warren
  • Independence Day in Burlington
  • Vermont Blueberry Festival
  • Festival of Fools
  • Vermont State Fair
  • Champlin Valley Fair
  • Green Mountain Bluegrass and Roots Festival

Natural Wonders in Vermont

The Green Mountain State is stunning, but there are some jaw-dropping natural wonders that are a must-see when visiting. Vermont is home to beautiful waterfalls, caves, quarries, and other breathtaking wonders of nature. Here are a few to put on your travel bucket list!

15. Quechee Gorge

Quechee State Park

This natural wonder is known as the Grand Canyon of Vermont.

©Kevin Kipper/Shutterstock.com

The impressive landscape around Quechee Gorge is a prime hiking spot to explore nature. The gorge is 165 deep and is the deepest gorge in the state. You can also visit one of Vermont’s oldest, premier, family-owned and operated gift shops, Quechee Gorge Gifts and Sportswear. Here you can find almost any souvenir you had in mind to remember your trip to Vermont’s Grand Canyon. If you are looking for adventure at the gorge, the Ottauquechee River flows through the bottom of it. The river is a popular whitewater kayak run.

16. Moss Glen Falls

Moss Glen Falls Vermont

Granville’s Moss Glen Falls is one of 10 beautiful waterfalls in Vermont.

©iStock.com/Elizabeth M. Ruggiero

Out of all of the state’s waterfalls, Moss Glen Falls is the tallest and one of the most dramatic. In order to visit the horsetail waterfall, visitors must hike the Moss Glen Falls trail. It is a 0.4-mile trail that leads to the picturesque views of the waterfall and the lush greenery and wildflowers that surround the rushing waters. Being the tallest waterfall in Vermont, the falls stands at around 20-25 feet. There is also a wide cascade at the bottom that’s approximately 30 feet wide.

Other natural wonders include:

  • Camel’s Hump
  • Barre Gray Quarry
  • Smugglers’ Notch
  • The White River
  • The Burlington Burled Forest 
  • Raven Ridge
  • Bald Hill Pond

Culinary Delights in Vermont

A trip to Vermont means a delicious adventure! The state spoils visitors with the abundance and richness of its agriculture and natural resources. Known for its sharp cheddar and sweet maple flavors, companies such as Ben & Jerry’s share the state’s open-mindedness and progressive attitude toward sustainability. Here are some of the distinctly Vermont foods you should try to taste if you find yourself in the Green Mountain State.

17. Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

Burlington, Vermont, USA at Church Street Marketplace.

©Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

The factory in Waterbury, Vermont, is the only Ben & Jerry’s factory open to the public. It was built in 1985, and due to the company’s creative flavors and social consciousness, it continues to produce 350,000 pints of ice cream a day. You can get a sneak peek at the ice cream mogul’s humble beginnings and taste your favorites like Chunky Monkey and Phish Food. The quaint Scoop shop, retail area, and tour route are pretty much the same as they were during the first guided tours in 1986. Visitors can enjoy the state’s mountain views, indulge in their favorite flavor, try a new addition, or even pay their respects to the famous flavors that are memorialized in the Flavor Graveyard.

18. Lake Champlain Chocolates

The large lake is much more than stunning views and great fishing. It is also home to a sweet treat that supports its conservation. Lake Champlain Chocolates is a certified B Corporation and a multi-generation family-owned business. This means it gives back to the freshwater lake that it calls home. Visitors can observe the chocolate-making process with a free factory tour. Then they can buy their favorites to snack on as they continue to spend their day on the pristine waters of the gorgeous lake.

19. Cheese (Cheddar Cheese)

If you are a cheese lover, then Vermont is the place for you! You can plan your summer vacation and visit the Vermont Cheese Trail. It is a 280-mile loop that runs from Plymouth Notch to the Canadian border. You can easily drive the trail, and if you are a dairy connoisseur or just a cheese lover, there is something for everyone! The Vermont Cheese Trail features over 50 farms and factories throughout the state, and most have visiting hours.

And though cheddar cheese isn’t the only cheese produced, sharp white cheddar is the state’s choice dairy product. You can witness cheesemaking, and even visit America’s oldest cheese factory, Crowley Cheese in Mount Holly.

20. Maple Syrup

Maple syrup farm in Vermont

Though Vermont is the sixth smallest state by area, it is the number one maple-producing state.

©Stuart Monk/Shutterstock.com

Just like its northern neighbor, Canada, Vermont is a maple syrup expert. The same maple trees that tourists come to watch their leaves turn in the fall are the same ones that produce the sweet goodness in the spring. Vermont has everything maple syrup flavored, from ice cream to bourbon and liqueurs. If you come across anything edible with a maple syrup flavor in Vermont, there is only one rule: try it!

Other culinary delights include:

  • Cider Donuts
  • HeirloDm Apples
  • Gravy Fries
  • Maple Baked Beans
  • Maple Creemee

Family-Friendly Activities in Vermont

21. Vermont Teddy Bear Factor

Another wonderful company started in Burlington! For the past 40 years, Vermont Teddy Bears have been children’s best friends and beloved family heirlooms. Every bear is handcrafted and guaranteed for a lifetime. Like a lot of other Vermont companies, the teddy bear makers are also socially conscious. They believe in their inherent corporate responsibility to give back and do so by their 100% recycled stuffing in their bears, their Little Hero Program® that provides first responders with Bears to give to children in crisis situations, as well as the company’s own garden where anyone can come and grow whatever they would like each summer.

Visiting the factory is a wonderful family activity where adults and children can see the wonder of making a teddy bear. And even create their very own! Tours include seeing the 20 parts of creating every bear and learning the history of the unique company. And of course, there is the gift shop where you can make your bear special with any clothes and accessories you desire!

Cultural Activities in Vermont

Vacationing in Vermont can feel like a step back in time. The state is a political epicenter, and cultural icons have left their mark as they once called it home. Here are a few cultural landmarks to visit if you find yourself in Vermont during the summer.

22. Shelburne Farms

Shelburne Farms, Vermont

The heirs to William Henry Vanderbilt’s railroad fortune built this grand estate.

©Ilir Hasa/Shutterstock.com

The farm is a nonprofit education center for sustainability and 1,400 acres of it is a working farm on the shores of Lake Champlain. Shelburn Farms is a National Historic Landmark, and was created by the purchase of 33 farms, and the entirety is around 4,000 acres. Eliza Osgood Webb, the youngest daughter of William H. Vanderbilt, created the estate with her inheritance. Today the land and its workers are deeply committed to sustainable agriculture, healthy local food systems, and education. The farm is thriving with dairy, cheesemaking, sugar making, and organic gardens. Its historic buildings are renewed and repurposed including the Shelburn Farms Inn. If you stop by for a visit, Shelburn offers walking trails, an inn, restaurant, tours, and courses on sustainability.

23. Naulakha

Author of The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling, created Naulakha, meaning “a jewel beyond price, in Hindi. The Vermont shingle-style home overlooks the Connecticut River Valley, and it is where the famous author wrote The Jungle Book. Today the home is a vacation rental mainteed by a historical organization. It retains its period d

Author of The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling, created Naulakha, meaning “a jewel beyond price, in Hindi. The Vermont shingle-style home overlooks the Connecticut River Valley, and it is where the famous author wrote The Jungle Book. Today, the home is a vacation rental maintained by a historical organization. It retains its period décor, and still resembles the design of a ship’s prow. Kipling placed his study at the front of the prow. If you have a family of eight and want to stay in a historic masterpiece, you could spend your Vermont summer at a jewel of a home.

Other culture landmarks include:

  • Robert Frost Farm
  • Stellafane Observatory
  • Vermont State House
  • Calving Coolidge Homestead District
  • George Perkins Marsh Boyhood Home
  • Mount Independence
  • American Precision Mueseum
  • Hildene: The Lincoln Family Home
  • Old First Congregational Church of Bennington

Scenic Drives and Road Trips

The destination is the journey in Vermont. The state’s 10 designated byways range in length from 14 miles to over 400 miles. You can plan a day trip down a scenic road or plan your entire summer vacation around a single byway. The byways offer easy access to hiking trails, swimming holes, lakes, waterfalls, and valley views. They take travelers through historic towns and help them make memories at every stop. Here are a couple of the byways you should check out this summer!

24. Connecticut River Byway

Creamery covered bridge built in 1879 in Brattleboro Vermont. Beautiful historic red covered bridge with a flowing stream of water below it.

The byway includes covered bridges. This creamery-covered bridge was built in 1879 in Brattleboro.

©Liquid Productions, LLC/Shutterstock.com

This scenic route can take two to three days, so it is the perfect drive for the start of a scenic summer vacation. The Connecticut River Byway will take you from Brattleboro to St. Johnsbury, 410 miles along the Connecticut River from one end of Vermont to the other. It is Vermont’s only designated National Byway. The byway is a three-state, 500-mile byway that spans the west and east shores of the Connecticut River. It starts in Massachusetts and travels north through both Vermont and New Hampshire all the way up to the Canadian border.

The Connecticut River Byway takes you on a meandering journey through historic river towns and cities. The drive is one of the most scenic drives in Vermont as you see rushing waters and fertile farmland out your window as you pass through each quaint town.

25. Crossroads of Vermont Byway

The 41-mile road trip travels east to west through the middle of Vermont. You can make it a weekend trip to traverse through the Green Mountains, or if you have more to see, it can even be a day trip. The adventure starts in Rutland, a premier destination for art lovers. You drive east through the mountain towns of Mendon, Killington, and Bridgewater before stopping in either Woodstock or Quechee.

Other scenic byways include:

  • Mad River Byway
  • Green Mountain Byway
  • Lake Champlain Byway
  • Northeast Kingdom Byway
  • Molly Stark Byway
  • Scenic Route 100 Byway
  • The Shires of Vermont Byway
  • Stone Valley Byway

Conclusion

A welcome sign at the Vermont state line.

Summer in Vermont is incredible. There are so many great ways to enjoy the gorgeous scenery.

©Katherine Welles/Shutterstock.com

Vermont is the perfect state to visit in the summer. It brings family and friends together, offering a sense of wonder that comes with slowing down amidst the beautiful views. There is an activity for everyone in the Green Mountain State! Whether it is a scenic drive or a strenuous trail hike, Vermont isn’t short on summer fun.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com


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