Vermont is one of the most scenic states in the country. It is a mix of small New England communities, expansive natural areas and modern amenities. Visiting Vermont requires some planning and is best suited for travelers who want to explore more than one region of the state. It is normally a good idea to plan to rent a car or to drive to the state since there is almost no other form of transportation between most cities and areas. Visitors should understand several points when planning a trip to Vermont.
There is a good amount of lodging in Vermont especially near larger cities like Rutland and Burlington or along busy highways like scenic Route 100. Travelers will want to reserve lodging in advance. Although there are many hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts, the availability of rooms is unpredictable because of local events, college schedules and the large number of tourists that come during every season. Additionally, there are large areas in the center part of the state that do not have convenient lodging options available.
The Green Mountain State is known for skiing. There are resorts and mountain retreats in nearly every part of the state. Skiers will want to reserve rooms far in advance. Many people drive into Vermont and take up space in the resorts quickly throughout the season. It is also important to note that dining and shopping around the major ski areas like Ascutney, Mount Mansfield and Jay Peak tends to be very crowded and expensive during the season. One way to reduce costs is to purchase inclusive passes, tickets or packages that provide discounts in the area.
Visitors to Vermont who want to shop will find many antique stores located in barns and other buildings often on the side of the road between larger cities. There are only a few organized shopping areas unique to the state. The first is the large collection of high-end outlet stores located in Manchester. Another is the Essex Shops and Cinema in Essex Junction that offer fine dining, relaxing spa treatments and other options.
Green Mountain National Forest
A very popular destination for tourists is the Green Mountain National Forest in the center of the state. This forest has several paths for vehicles that will take travelers up to spectacular scenic areas filled with mountaintop lakes and views of the surrounding terrain. The forest also provides many different hiking trails including a significant stretch of the Long Trail. The forest has many rules and regulations regarding pets, food and even parking. It is best to understand these rules before embarking into the area.
The Queen City is the largest populated area in the state. Burlington is located in the northwest part of Vermont on Lake Champlain. Burlington has a very active downtown around the Church Street pedestrian mall. It has boutique shopping, fine dining and historical landmarks. Parking and lodging are easy to find just south of the downtown area although the whole region is much more urban and developed that the rest of the state. The capital of Montpelier is a 45-minute drive from Burlington offering a look at the state house, the Lamoille River and some historic architecture.
The Northeast Kingdom
The areas to the north and northeast of Burlington are known as the Northeast Kingdom. This is a very expansive and sparsely populated portion of the state. Traveling in the Northeast Kingdom requires planning since it is easy to get lost on the roads when exploring and there are few gas stations in the area. The main lure of the Northeast Kingdom is the untouched natural forests and mountains. Some areas have become very popular such as the roads around the town of Eden that are known as Moose Alley because of the frequent moose sightings.
Southern Vermont is a collection of very small and scenic towns such as Newfane and Jamaica. The two largest cities are Bennington in the southwest and Brattleboro in the southeast. Traveling through the southern part of the state is very relaxing and a good choice for sightseers. There are not many organized activities in the area short of stopping on a covered bridge and taking pictures. Both Bennington and Brattleboro tend to be very busy at all times because of the traffic passing through from Massachusetts to the south. It is still worth a visit to the see the Bennington War Memorial and the Connecticut River behind Brattleboro.