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Vermont fall foliage in 2020 blazes with yellow sugar maples along scenic byways


Much of the brilliant red, orange, and gold color is from native sugar maples, which are abundant in Vermont (the flip side of fall foliage is the sugaring season in late winter, when maple sap begins to flow). Plan ahead to see fall foliage in Vermont, because people from around the world flock here. Best option: reserve lodgings in a mountain resort or sweet inn for a romantic getaway and stay awhile.

Stowe and Northern Mountains VT Drive Tour

Getting Ready

Click here for useful information about when to visit, how to find color, and what to wear and pack.

More Resources:

Where to Drive:

Find directions and tips for great views and attractions for at the drive tours described below.

Click here to see special foliage travel & lodging deals!

Southern Region


Manchester to Bennington to Williamstown MA drive -- 50 miles + 24 miles into MA

This drive in the southwestern corner of Vermont is not a loop; you will need to double back to return to the start or step off the route where ever you choose. This drive also dips into northwestern Massachusetts to visit the delightful town of Williamstown. The Vermont towns of Manchester and Bennington are cherished for their classic New England beauty structures, and for their fine museums, dining and shopping. Take all or a part of the drive, which includes a very outdoorsy side trip to the pristine Somerset Reservoir. This drive has lots of digressions for dining and wining. Choose and enjoy!

Manchester-to-Bennington-to-Williamstown-drive

Points of Interest:

Side Trips:

  • The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA. Simply the best in art museums, in New England or anywhere. Gorgeous grounds and lots of public entertainments.
  • Somerset Reservoir and Somerset Reservoir Trail near Wilmington. This is a very secluded lake. There are no shops, or ranger stations or private residences around. People use this lake for kayaking and canoeing.

Dining:

  • Blue Benn Diner on North Street in Bennington. Love diners? We do, too. Old-school diner with easy access to blueberry pancakes with local maple syrup.
  • For an upscale and elegant meal after your day’s explorations – and the perfect tone, if you have been strolling through The Clark -- consider dining at Mezze Bistro + Bar in Williamstown.
  • Honora Winery & Vineyard on Route 112 in Jacksonville. This side trip 12 miles southeast of Searsbury takes you to an in-town tasting room for Honora Vineyard wines. Outdoor tasting near a pond, pines, heron sightings.
  • This is another digression, this time toward the town of West Dover, for a meal at the The West Dover Inn and 1846 Tavern & Restaurant. The name conveys the atmosphere: informal and down-to-Earth. Solid wines and hearty food.

Brattleboro to Whitingham through Mount Snow loop -- 100 miles

This loop drives starts and ends at the bustling, hippie-period-redux town of Brattleboro, with lots of good dining, fun shops, and a circus school, and travels on and around Route 9, also called the Molly Stark Byway. The drive passes through the Mount Snow ski area, which offers scenic chair life rides on the Bluebird Express daily during foliage season. You will pass through delightful towns like Newfane and Whitingham, and the views all along the way are guaranteed to be spectacular if the weather cooperates.

Brattleboro-to-Whitingham-drive-credit-Vermont-Department-of-Tourism-and-Marketing

Points of Interest:

  • Brattleboro Museum & Art Center in Brattleboro. Art is presented in an old train station, with the old ticket windows still intact, windows overlooking the tracks, and marble steps worn by generations of travelers.
  • Newfane Common. Get out of the car and take a stroll through this classic Vermont town green.
  • Scenic chairlift rides at Mount Snow -- Take a chair life ride to the summit of Mount Snow. Enjoy the beautiful surrounding views with highlights like Somerset Reservoir and Mount Monadnock. If a mealtime is near, grab lunch and a craft beer at The Bullwheel.
  • Adams Family Farm in Wilmington. This is a working farm that welcomes visitors. The petting farm and farm store are open year-round, daily except Mondays.
  • Molly Stark State Park in Wilmington. At this park hiking trails lead to the Mount Olga fire tower, for magnificent mountain views. Trail guide.

Dining and Shopping:

  • Chelsea Royal Diner in Brattleboro. Fill your personal fuel tank at the start or end of your drive at this vintage 1938 diner. The Royal Diner’s cuisine is high-end home style, with daily Blue Plate Specials, generous portions, and easy pricing. Take-out is available for every item.
  • Saxtons River Distillery in Brattleboro. Maple liqueur? We’re in Vermont, aren’t we? Just off I-91, Saxtons River Distillery invites you to see how handcrafted spirits are made and to take home some samples of these unique liquors.
  • Dot’s Restaurant in Wilmington is nothing less than “a national treasure,” according to no one less than Gourmet magazine. Patronized by local people from near and distant towns. Solid American food.
  • Readsboro Inn in Readsboro. Very good food. Good for the groaning farmers breakfast. Brace yourself for excellent pizza, sweet potato fries and the catfish –yes, catfish – special.
  • Town Hill Pottery in Whitingham, with the studios of Aysha Peltz and Todd Wahlstrom. Peltz’s pots are porcelain, evoking natural forms and architecture. Wahlstrom’s pots are dark stoneware clay or white clay and have richly patterned surfaces.
  • J’ville Craft Brewery in Jacksonville. Come in for a small-batch craft brew, a five-cheese grilled cheese sandwich, and genuine hospitality.

Click here to see special foliage travel & lodging deals!

Central Region


Lakes Bomoseen and St. Catherine Loop -- 55 miles

This drive is actually two intersecting loops, forming a figure eight, so you can shorten or lengthen the entire drive as you see fit. The loops travel around Lake Bomoseen, Birdseye Mountain, and Lake St. Catherine. A neat side trip takes you to Proctor, where you can learn about and marvel at the state’s historic marble quarrying industry. Also, tour a real castle!

Lake-Boroseem-and-St-Catherine

Points of Interest:

  • Bomoseen State Park in Castleton. Lovely lakeside park in the state’s slate-producing region. Notice quarry holes and slate buildings.
  • Lake St. Catherine State Park in Poultney. Once a children's summer camp and farmland, this popular park has tent and lean-to sites, grassy open areas, woods, and a lovely lake.

Side Trips:

  • Vermont Marble Museum and Gift Shop in Proctor. Learn the history of this classic stone, and how Vermont quarrymen and masons turned in into an industry and art form.
  • Wilson Castle in Proctor. Castle and estate are a blend of European architectural styles and home to five generations of the Wilson family. Public tours are offered.

Dining:

  • Birdseye Diner in Castleton is a 1940’s Silk City Dining Car manufactured in Patterson, NJ. Today, the Birdseye chow is a staple of the community. Highlights are jumpin’ pepper jack flash, eggs Benedict, buffalo wings, much more.
  • Montcalm Vineyards in Castleton. This vineyard produces estate grown wines. Call ahead before visiting: 802-265-4465.
  • Mendon Mountain Orchards in Rutland. This family-owned orchard welcomes you for pick-your-own apple harvesting … and there's the bakery too. Open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Vermont Truffle Company in Rutland. Chocolate truffles are made with natural, local ingredients. Beautiful, unique and delicious. Open daily except Sundays and Mondays.

Upper Connecticut River Valley Loop -- 115 miles

This loop is a large north-south oval in east-central Vermont, starting and ending in the beautiful town of Woodstock and passing through the Killington ski area. A small side trip takes you to the dramatic Quechee Gorge, also known as Vermont’s Little Grand Canyon, with fun souvenir shopping right nearby. You can shorten the drive easily by doing only pieces of the loop.

Upper-Connecticut-River-Valley-loop

Points of Interest:

  • Billings Farm and Museum, Route 12 and River Road, Woodstock. Picturesque working farm and museum re-creates the culture and folkways of Vermont farming before the machine age. Fun for kids.
  • Simon Pearce Glass, 109 Park Road, Windsor. This world-famous maker of glass artworks and functional glassware welcomes visitors for shopping and to view glassblowing. Call ahead for demonstration times.
  • Plymouth Cheese Company, 106 Messer Hill Road, Plymouth. Open daily for self-guided tours, historic museum and factory gift shop with informational cheese tastings and local VT made products.
  • Quechee Gorge and Quechee State Park, 764 Dewey Mills Road, Quechee. The focal point of this stop is Vermont’s deepest gorge, sometimes called the Grand Canyon of the East. Visitors can look down at the Ottauquechee River, 165 feet below, from Route 4.
  • Killington Ski Area in Killington. Ski areas don’t limit their activities to the snow seasons. Stop at Killington for great vistas, dining on the mountains and fall events like the Killington Brewfest and the Killington Oktoberfest. Check dates in advance.

Dining and Shopping:

  • Babes Bar on Main Street in Bethel, located in a former train depot in the center of town, is the place, oddly, to find a signature Chicago-style hot dog. Yes, in the center of Vermont. Also at Babe’s: pool, Mario Kart 64 tournaments, local spirits.
  • Harpoon Taps and Beer Garden in Windsor. Taste a full selection of Harpoon beers straight from the brewery and take a guided tour of the brewery Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
  • Windsor Station Restaurant and Barroom in Windsor. Located in a historic train station, this eatery craft beer, farm-to-table Vermont food. It’s part of the Vermont Fresh Network, promoting local foods.
  • Cabot Quechee Store in Quechee Gorge Village, Quechee. Browse, taste and buy fine Vermont cheeses in this store on the state’s Cheese Trail. Bonus: the store is in the Quechee Gorge Village, with lots of fun vacation shopping at Whisper Hill Body & Home, Deirdre Donnelly Jewelry Art, Vermont Spirits Distilling Co., Train and Toy Museum and many other interesting businesses.

West-Central Mountains & the Appalachian Gap Loop -- 100 miles

This north-south oval loop meanders through the Green Mountain National Forest and skims Lake Dunmore, passing through the towns of Middlebury, Ripton, Lincoln, Jerusalem, Irasville, Granville, Hancock, Goshen, Brandon, Leicester, Salisbury, and return to Middlebury.

West-Central-Mountains

Points of Interest:

  • Sheldon Museum, Middlebury (802-388-2117). This museum serves up the memory of Addison County history and culture through tours, exhibits, and programs that enrich the understanding of Vermont’s past.
  • Danforth Pewter’s Workshop and Store, Middlebury (800-222-3142). This pewter maker offer a a gallery of one-of-a-kind pieces and viewing windows into the workshop. Beautiful and very New England-y gifts.
  • Robert Frost Interpretive Trail, Ripton. This easy, one-mile trail commemorates Robert Frost’s work; several of his poems are mounted along the trail in the woods and fields.
  • Texas Falls, Hancock. East one-mile trail meanders through the forest along Texas Brook toward the Texas Falls picnic grounds.

Click here to see special foliage travel & lodging deals!

Northern Region


Northern Mountains and Lake Champlain Islands Loop -- 165 miles

The centerpiece of this beautiful drive is the long, north-south string of the Lake Champlain Islands, where almost every twist and turn of the roads towns reveals both countryside views and vistas across the lake and out toward distant mountains. A unique and impressive mix.

Northern-Mountains-and-Lake-Champlain-Islands-loop

Points of Interest:

  • St. Anne's Shrine, Isle La Motte (802-928-3362). This spiritual and historical attraction, on the shore of Lake Champlain, welcomes vacationers, tourists, and religious pilgrims. Many rustic grottos, dedicated to the saints, dot the grounds, providing areas for peace and prayer. A café is open Sundays in July and August for a bountiful breakfast.
  • Sand Bar Wildlife Refuge, Milton (802-893-2825)
  • Missisquoi Wildlife Refuge, Swanton (802-868-4781)
  • Carman Brook Farm Maple and Dairy, Swanton (888-846-2753). Five generations of one farming family have operated this farm for about 100 years. You need maple? They got maple.

Dining and Shopping:

  • Moog's Joint on Route 15 in Johnson is just a little bit east of the town of Jefferson, on this drive trail. The second restaurant opened by Tom Moog, the place opened in August 2019 to bring elevated pub food, microbrews, creative cocktails, and live music.
  • Blue Paddle Bistro on Route 2 in South Hero on the Lake Champlain Islands, is located in an older, clapboard house, where each dining room is small, quiet, and drenched with light. Décor is lakefront-style nautical and the food is fresh and delicious.
  • The Old Red Mill and Craft Shop on Route 15 in Jericho, about 30 minutes’ drive east of Burlington, is a sweet place offering things like unique bird houses, dolls and teddy bears, quilted items, pottery, wooden bowls and cutting boards, and an annul snowflake ornament.

Northeast Kingdom Loop -- 150 miles

This is Vermont’s remote northeastern corner, a paradise for people who love outdoor summer and winter sports. The major town is St. Johnsbury, with a wonderful art museum. Jay Peak is wonderful ski resort; it has a huge indoor water park that provides a full day of rough-and-tumble water play if you need a break from the car.

Northeast-Kingdom-Loop

Points of Interest:

  • Dog Mountain in St. Johnsbury, is 150 acres on a private mountaintop where people and dogs are welcome to come and place at all times of the year, especially and many seasonal celebrations there. The property has the charming Dog Chapel and the Stephen Huneck Gallery.
  • St. Johnsbury Athenaeum, 1171 Main Street, St. Johnsbury (802-748-8291)
  • Fairbanks Museum, 1302 Main Street, St. Johnsbury (802-748-2372)
  • Maple Grove Maple Museum, 1052 Portland Street, St. Johnsbury (802-748-5141)
  • Jay Peak Tramway, Jay Peak, 4850 VT Route 242, Jay (802-988 2611)
  • The southernmost point of the loop drive is Danville, but if you leave the loop drive and travel a little farther south, you will be rewarded with a drive on beautiful Mack Mountain Road, between Peacham and East Cabot. Map. Stop for lunch or coffee at Peacham Cafe in Peacham. It’s a community hub without pretensions but with solid, reliable food and conversation.

Dining:

  • Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford, just a bit south of St. Johnsbury, is a romantic Vermont country inn, perfect for a couple to stop on a foliage drive to enjoy a quiet dinner with a special cocktail. The warm dining room of chocolate and copper hues has a fireplace. Food is fresh and delicious. Reservations required. 802-748-5168
  • Riley's Fish Shack on Route 2 in St. Johnsbury, is a casual fish shack with indoor and outdoor seating. Open for lunch and dinner, Riley’s serves fried and broiled seafood, lobsters and lobster rolls, chicken, Angus beef burgers, beer and wine, and ice cream. Kids meals, vegetarian and gluten-free options are available. Eat-in or take-out meals. 802-751-1111
  • Essex House & Tavern is in the town of Island Pond, just a little outside the northeastern curve of this drive route. This is high-caliber, meaty tavern food that covers all the bases, including the influence of nearby French Canada, represented by the classic dish poutine. Beef steaks, salmon, chicken – you won’t drive away hungry. 802-723-9888
  • Saint J Brewery in St. Johnsbury is a brewery and brew pub with a small range of hearty food: hoagies (submarine sandwiches), soft pretzels, vegetarian or hot chicken chili. Beverages include three house brews, other Vermont-made beers, ciders, sodas, kombucha and coffees.
  • Everybuddy's Casual Dining in Lyndonville is a casual and family-welcoming place serving steaks, pizzas, subs, seafood, prime rib, burgers, french fries, onion rings, salads, appetizers and desserts. Fuel for the ride. 802-626-8685

Stowe and Northern Mountains Loop -- 60 miles

This drive starts and ends at Stowe and its world-famous ski mountain, where, in the fall, you can take a gondola sky ride and see the fall foliage from above as you warm up the seat for wintertime skiers coming up next. Also near Stowe are two waterfalls, where adventurous people may hike or take photos or have a picnic. The drive also passes one of the state's parks, with a beautiful mountain lake. Prepare for classic images of Vermont’s Green Mountains. Also, a quick, 6-mile side-trip down Route 100, directly south of Stowe like a tail on this drive loop, is Waterbury Center, a sweet place, partly because of the presence of Cold Hollow Cider Mill.

Stowe and Northern Mountains VT drive tour

Points of Interest:

  • Lake Elmore State Park, 856 VT Route 12, Elmore (802-888-2982)
  • Moss Glen Falls and Bingham Falls, Stowe
  • Gondola Skyride, Stowe Ski Resort, 5781 Mountain Road, Stowe (802-253-3000). The Gondola Skyride flies you in an enclosed box up the mountainside to the top of Mount Mansfield, where you can walk the hiking trails, tale photos, browse and buy at the Summit gift shop, and enjoy lunch at the Cliff House Restaurant. SkyRides operate through late October; make a reservation at the Skyride website.
  • Cold Hollow Cider Mill at 3600 Waterbury Stowe Road in Waterbury Center pulls in visitors from all over the country to indulge in apples, apple pastries, cider, and – especially – cider donuts. You can watch the apples – 7.5 million pounds of apples in a typical year -- being squeezed on the 1920s-era cider press, which reduces the entire piece of fruit to a mash and then to bottled nectar. Dine at the Apple Core Luncheonette and shop at the bakery.

* Our thanks to the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing.

Cold Hollow Cider VT