Hiking trails, farmer's markets, and strolling Church Street with an ice cream in hand are just a few of the best outdoor activities in Vermont. Vermont is a place that just begs you to go outside!
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Vermont's landscapes are like something from a storybook. The picturesque green hills, charming small towns dotted with church steeples, and abundance of open space make for an excellent location to enjoy the outdoors. I'm in love with the Green Mountain State - we got engaged AND married here in Vermont!
A visit to Vermont is the perfect chance to enjoy time outside in nature. With the Green Mountains, farmers' markets, funky downtowns, bike paths, and a focus on embracing the seasons, Vermont has some of the best outdoor activities in New England. A visit here is not to be missed, especially in the summer or early fall!
Here are some of the best outdoor activities in Vermont - including our personal favorites!
Looking for the best gluten-free food in Vermont? Here's my celiac travel guide to Burlington!
The Best of Vermont: Hikes, Food, & Fun
- The Best of Vermont: Hikes, Food, & Fun
- About Vermont: The Green Mountain State
- Outdoor Fun In Vermont
- Hike Mount Philo
- Kayak the Lamoille River
- Stroll Church Street in Burlington
- Go For A Bike Ride
- Leaf Peep in the Fall
- Pick Your Own: Apples & Strawberries
- Hike Mount Mansfield: Vermont's Highest Point
- Sample Local Products: Maple Syrup
- Swim, Ice Fish, or Boat In Lake Champlain
- Hike Camel's Hump
- Get Some Ice Cream
- Final Thoughts About Vermont
About Vermont: The Green Mountain State
Vermont is in the northwest corner of New England, bordering Canada, New York, Maine, and New Hampshire. It's an excellent spot for a weekend getaway; only a 3+ hour drive from the Boston area. Vermont is small and very rural - most places are very far apart. The most populous cities include Burlington, home to the University of Vermont, and Montpelier, the state's capital. Vermont is famous for its maple syrup, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and of course, Senator Bernie Sanders.
The best times to visit Vermont are summer, fall, or winter. The best outdoor activities in Vermont are offered during these seasons and there will be the most opportunities for seasonal fun. Spring is the only time of year when things are a bit, well, muddy.
In spring, the snow melts, but the cold can linger into May. By early June, you'll have warmer weather, less chance of snow, and more chance of green mountains & wildflowers!
Outdoor Fun In Vermont
Hike Mount Philo
Mount Philo is an awesome short hike and one of the easiest outdoor activities in Vermont. It's perfect for solo travelers, couples, or families and offers incredible views of Lake Champlain for little effort. It is one of my favorite hikes!
If you prefer, you can also drive to the top in your car. This hike is only 2 miles round trip, with a little over 500 feet of elevation gain. There are picnic tables at the top, as well as bathrooms, and great views. It's a great spot for a picnic, barbecue, or for us, a marriage proposal!
Kayak the Lamoille River
Who doesn't enjoy a relaxing kayak trip down the river in the summertime? You can bring your own, or just rent them from Vermont Canoe & Kayak. There's even a part along the river with a rope swing! It’s still on my bucket list of something I want to do one day. Pictured above are my brother and sister-in-law during a kayaking outing on the Fourth of July weekend in 2015!
Along the Lamoille River, you can also spot lots of wildflowers growing on the side of the road. There are tons of varieties to pick and make your own DIY bouquet. Another one of the benefits of going outside in Vermont is the presence of gardens, farms, flowers, and trees!
Stroll Church Street in Burlington
Church Street in downtown Burlington is an excellent way to spend an afternoon. There are tons of shopping, restaurants, bars, and plenty of space for walking - the entire street is paved with brick to allow pedestrians free range.
Many people bring their dogs for walks on Church Street, plus there are often street performers, musicians, and the farmer’s market just around the corner. Our favorite stops are Ben & Jerry's, for some ice cream, Saratoga Olive Oil, which offers cool flavors of olive oil & soaps to buy, and for an excellent hot bar or sandwich plus numerous natural foods, check out City Market.
Go For A Bike Ride
During the summer, if it's not too hot, an enjoyable outdoor activity is to rent bicycles. For a few hours, you can take a long afternoon ride with family or friends. Some great path options include the Burlington Bike Path around Lake Champlain or the Stowe Bike Path. Bike rides are perfect for the summer months as well!
For a more in-depth bike ride, look into the Long Trail which goes across the entire state of Vermont!
Leaf Peep in the Fall
One of the great things about living in New England is when fall arrives and the leaves change color. Vermont has excellent opportunities for leaf-peeping! Smuggler's Notch and Stowe offer beautiful views, but really anywhere you drive in the state during the fall season is going to show you spectacular changing leaves.
Be mindful that Vermont's leaf-peeping season will be a little earlier than New Hampshire or Massachusetts, especially in the cities and towns farther north. Usually, by September, temperatures have begun to drop in the evenings and the leaves have begun to change.
Pick Your Own: Apples & Strawberries
Vermont is a farm lover's dream! Its lush green fields, fertile lands, and beautiful variety of fruits and vegetables make heading to the farmer's market or local farm a great experience in the summer.
For strawberry picking, June and July are perfect to pick up delicious berries. We love Mazza's Farms for fresh produce in the summer, and for their pies in the fall.
For apple picking in the fall, we visit Burtt's Orchard in Cabot. They have apple cider donuts, apple cider; and even pumpkins for sale too. It's a great fall outing!
Hike Mount Mansfield: Vermont's Highest Point
Mount Mansfield is the highest point in the state of Vermont. The hikes to the top are healthy day hikes, with steady elevation gain and a total of 4-5 miles round trip. Mansfield is shaped like a man lying down, so parts are called the chin, the nose, and the forehead. Make sure you know which part you are hiking to be sure, and be warned - this is much more challenging than Mount Philo.
Mansfield is located within Stowe, which is a famous ski resort. If hiking to the top doesn't seem like something you are interested in, you can also take the gondola ride up the mountain. There's even a restaurant at the top where you can have lunch!
Sample Local Products: Maple Syrup
Another delicious way to enjoy Vermont is by sampling one of its most popular products- maple syrup! You can go to a classic sugar shack or even a larger factory to see how this delicious sweet stuff is made.
There are multiple different grades and kinds of syrup, and you won't find any Aunt Jemima here. It's all the real deal! We love local syrup so much it was even our wedding favor, which we purchased from Branon Family Maple Orchards.
Swim, Ice Fish, or Boat In Lake Champlain
Lake Champlain is absolutely gorgeous, and but very cold! If you are going to brave swimming in the famous lake in between New York and Vermont, make sure it is on a hot summer day. You can also visit Mallet's Bay, where Dylan and his siblings learned to swim as children.
Even in the cooler months, there are outdoor activities available on Lake Champlain. You can try ice fishing in the winter, or in the spring, consider taking a boat ride around the Lake to view the mountains up close. Concerts take place along the lake in the summer as well - and the 4th of July fireworks display is spectacular!
Hike Camel's Hump
If you're interested in another more challenging hike, consider Camel's Hump. While it trails Mount Mansfield in height by only a tiny bit, the hike itself is of the same level of difficulty. The hike is roughly 6 miles round trip with incredible 360-degree views from the bald summit. Camel's Hump is outside of Burlington, and farther north than Mount Mansfield, which will provide you a different vantage point to see other mountains and surrounding landscapes.
Get Some Ice Cream
No trip to Vermont is complete without some ice cream!
The famous Ben & Jerry's is available in most towns, or you can visit the Ben & Jerry's Factory for a tour. We've even managed to get free Ben & Jerry's at the Burlington Farmer's Market! For a local treat, try getting a maple creemee. It's vanilla soft serve ice cream sweetened with Vermont's famous maple syrup. Whatever ice cream choice you make, it's bound to be tasty.
Get more gluten-free food recommendations in this gluten-free travel guide to Burlington!
Final Thoughts About Vermont
Vermont holds a special place in my heart. I always enjoy coming back here and reconnecting with nature through all of these fun activities outside! And our wedding day was the epitome of a perfect summer day in Vermont - with sunshine, flowers, and nature all around us.
Every time we make the drive from Salem to Vermont, I can feel my mind begin to relax. Just being in Vermont is a little escape - and every chance to be outside is sacred. I hope you can use this list to plan an amazing adventure in the Green Mountains - and discover the best outdoor activities in Vermont!
Looking for more New England travel guides?
Check out my guide to Witch City - Salem, Massachusetts in all seasons.
Learn more about visiting New England's national park - Acadia, in Maine.
Discover our favorite secret spots for leaf peeping in New Hampshire during the fall.
Have you ever been to Vermont?
What's your favorite outdoor activity in the Green Mountain State?
Tell me in the comments below!