From the best time for peak color to the perfect foliage towns and road trips, our Vermont fall foliage guide will help you plan a great Green Mountain State escape.
By Yankee Magazine
Sep 09 2021
The Vergennes-to-Montpelier road trip includes a stop at the top of Appalachian Gap.Photo Credit : Corey Hendrickson
Planning a trip to Vermont this year for some fall color and fun? Our Vermont fall foliage guide is here to help. Learn the best time to see the leaves change color, discover our favorite foliage towns and stunning scenic routes, and read up on a trio of fantastic fall attractions.
While every year is different, Vermont reliably sees its best fall color, moving from north to south, starting in mid-to-late September and extending through mid-October.
Some of our favorite regions in Vermont for enjoying fall color are the Northeast Kingdom during early peak (late September to early October) and Smuggler’s Notch during middle peak (end of September to mid-October). That said, you’ll find fantastic pockets of color in every corner of the state throughout the season.
Learn more about finding peak color in New England in the 2018 Yankee feature “Peak Perfection.”
In August, this village hosts the annual Southern Vermont Art & Craft Festival, which draws artisans from around the region. Nearby Equinox Mountain, the second-highest peak in southern Vermont, offers unbroken views stretching miles to the surrounding ranges — a painter’s palette of gold and crimson by the first week of October. Don’t miss Northshire Bookstore, a wonderful independent bookshop/café.
The 16-mile TAM (Trail Around Middlebury) provides an ideal walking route for soaking up the atmosphere of this vibrant college town. Here the fall foliage harmonizes with Otter Creek’s roaring falls in downtown Middlebury, which also has eclectic shopping and restaurants housed in classic brick buildings.
Iconic barns and hilly farmlands carpet this narrow valley between Green Mountain ranges and traversed by the Mad River. The town has two covered bridges, including the Great Eddy (aka Big Eddy), the state’s second-oldest covered bridge still in use. Saturday mornings bring residents out for fresh produce, crafts, and music at the Waitsfield Farmers’ Market on the Green.
Dairy farms and art galleries share equal space in Woodstock, both a sophisticated crossroads and Vermont’s quintessential small town. Billings Farm & Museum features wagon rides, Jersey cows, and food-themed events year-round. Add in the addictive shopping scene on Main Street, and you’ve got all the ingredients for fall. Don’t miss the photo op in front of Middle Covered Bridge.
This village is particularly charming during fall, when towering oaks spread a golden canopy of leaves over town. Many of the buildings on Grafton’s main street are owned by the Windham Foundation, a private organization that has painstakingly restored its properties into a classic vision of small-town life. Don’t miss the Grafton Inn, filled with history and antiques and an award-winning restaurant.
The curving climb through Smugglers’ Notch and alongside the cliffs of Mount Mansfield is one of the best scenic drives in all of New England — even more so when you consider that it leads to the pretty village of Jeffersonville. Here you’ll find views of Smugglers’ Notch Resort and a cute downtown area filled with galleries and antique shops catering to foliage seekers.
Way up north, not all that far from the Quebec border, Montgomery is a covered-bridge lover’s paradise, with no fewer than seven within a few miles of the village. This majestic yet remote location keeps most leaf peepers far away. Don’t miss The INN on Trout River, a real-deal country lodging place filled with antiques and a homey vibe. Stop in for a touring map of the bridges.
It’s hardly off the beaten track, but then again, there are ample reasons why the bus tours head to Stowe come fall: its old-world town center, its inviting mix of shops and restaurants, and its walking and hiking trails heading off in all directions.
Discover more great Vermont fall foliage towns with our in-depth guide to the prettiest fall foliage villages in Vermont.
Yankee has called this fall road trip “a roller-coaster ride through the heart of Vermont.” Starting in the state’s oldest city and finishing up in the state capital (the smallest one in the country), it offers plenty of opportunities to stop, shop, eat, hike, and admire the view.
Stretching 200 miles from Massachusetts to Lake Memphremagog at the Canadian border, Vermont’s Route 100 has been called the best foliage drive in the state — and even the most scenic foliage drive in all of New England. It’s a long stretch, so you may not be able to tackle it all in one day if you want to make a lot of stops (and you should). Highlights include the famous Vermont Country Store in Weston, ice cream samples at the Ben & Jerry’s factory tour in Waterbury, and just about everything in the mountain resort town of Stowe.
Learn more about our favorite fall routes in the 2014 Yankee feature “Slow Drives Through Fall Color” and get more New England foliage trip ideas in our list of 14 Favorite Fall Drives in New England.
It’s the ultimate game of fall one-upmanship. Held at Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa in Stowe, the Pumpkin Chuckin’ Festival challenges kids and adults to build a better trebuchet: a modern version of the medieval catapult. Spectators watch pumpkins soar … and smash. But for competitors, this is a serious intellectual exercise. Last year’s champ launched a pumpkin 700 feet. Low-cost entry and admission fees support the Lamoille Family Center. And a chili cookoff gives Stowe-area restaurants a chance to compete for glory, too.
The website recommends bringing water, snacks, and lunch … and for good reason. This Danville behemoth covers 24 acres and takes approximately two hours to complete. It also has been dubbed the largest corn maze in New England. After helping thousands of people “get lost” over the years, the maze builders say that healthy adults and those with young children tend to enjoy the maze most. Conversely, they claim that 90 percent of teenagers give up on the maze in less than 20 minutes. Are you up for the challenge?
This is perhaps the quintessential general store. Owned by Lyman Orton and his sons — seventh- and eighth-generation Vermonters and fourth- and fifth-generation storekeepers — this shop will take you back in time with its rustic red facade and eclectic merchandise. They call themselves “the purveyors of the practical and hard-to-find” and for good reason. As you wander the aisles, you’ll uncover products that you had forgotten — or never even knew — existed.
Looking for more fall fun? Discover our picks for the best five pumpkin festivals in New England, the best corn mazes in New England, and the best five Vermont country stores.
What Vermont fall foliage picks would you add to the list? Let us know!
This post was first published in 2019 and has been updated.