15 Places to Visit in Vermont in Fall
September 03, 2019
Are you looking for places to visit in Vermont in fall? Here are 15 Vermont towns worth exploring when the leaves change this autumn.
Route 125 runs through the heart of the Green Mountains between Routes 7 and 100. Along the way is the small town of Ripton, home to The Chipman Inn, Ripton Country Store, and Ripton Town Hall. Wind your way up Route 125, and you’ll come across the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail and the beautiful Middlebury College Bread Loaf School of English Campus. At the campus, explore the wide-open fields in a beautiful, historic setting.
Interesting town fact: For many years, Robert Frost lived in Ripton and was instrumental in establishing the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. Now an historic site, the cabin is owned by Middlebury College.
Getting there: From Route 7 south of Middlebury, take Route 125 toward Ripton.
This small town shines in the fall. The heart of town—Church Street—is where you’ll find the Dorset Union Store and The Dorset Inn. Explore nearby Dorset Hollow Road—a six-mile, scenic loop with gorgeous farmhouses and exquisite views of Netop Mountain, Owl’s Head, and Mount Aeolus. If you’re looking to spent more time outdoors, go apple picking at Mad Tom Orchard in East Dorset or take a hike in Owl’s Head Town Forest.
Interesting town fact: Buried in the range of mountain peaks—including Aeolus, Owls Head, Netop, and Dorset Mountain—was marble, a geological phenomenon that became Dorset’s claim to fame.
Getting there: From Route 7A in Manchester Center, take Route 30 north to Dorset.
Wilmington feels like a mix of the best parts of Vermont and the Berkshires—and that’s what makes it such a fun place to visit. Wilmington’s Main Street—Route 9—is lined with restaurants, shops, and local businesses along the Deerfield River. To the north is Mount Snow on Route 100, which offers mountain biking, scenic chairlift rides, and hiking in the fall. Just east of Wilmington is the Hogback Mountain 100-mile lookout, which offers some of the best fall views in the area. Wilmington and Mount Snow are home to the annual Vermont Wine & Harvest Festival in September, and you can also check out the Mount Snow Oktoberfest in mid-October.
Interesting town fact: The creation of Harriman Reservoir, visible from Route 9, submerged the former pulpwood and lumber village of Mountain Mills in the 1920s.
Getting there: From Interstate 91, take Exit 2 and follow signs to Route 9 west toward Wilmington.
Strafford’s town common and historic meeting house make this Orange County community a must-see in the fall. The gorgeous Town House, built in 1799, stands at the head of the classic town green. Strafford is also home to the Justin Morrill Homestead State Historic Site, which includes a cluster of light pink Gothic Revival buildings that are open from May to mid-October. Morrill, a congressman who was born in Strafford, was the chief author and sponsor of the Land Grant College Acts, which became the most important piece of educational legislation in the 19th century.
Interesting town fact: The first copper mine in the United States was opened in the southeastern part of Strafford in 1793, and copper continued to be mined there until the late 1950s. During the First and Second World Wars, a large percentage of the nation’s copper came from Strafford.
Getting there: From Interstate 89, take Exit 2 and travel east on Route 132 for about 9 miles. At the stop sign, you’ll be in South Strafford. From there, turn left onto Justin Morrill Memorial Highway, which will take you to Strafford’s upper village, where the Town House and Justin Morrill Homestead are located.
Grafton is beautiful any time of year, but the fall season in this tiny community is something special. Routes 35 and 121—two of the prettiest drives in Vermont—lead to Grafton, a town with fewer than 700 residents. Walk around the historic village and explore The Nature Museum (which will host a Fairy House Festival Sept. 28-29),the MKT Grafton general store, and Grafton Village Cheese. The Grafton Inn in the center of town has welcomed Theodore Roosevelt, Rudyard Kipling, and Paul Newman over its 200-year history. Be sure to head over to the Grafton Trails & Outdoor Center for hiking, canoeing, and biking.
Interesting town fact: Prior to the Civil War, Grafton was home to more than 1,480 residents and 10,000 sheep.
Getting there: From Route 11 in Chester, take Route 35 south to Grafton. From Interstate 91, take Exit 5 or 6 to Saxtons River and follow Route 121 west to Grafton.
Big surprise, right? Stowe is the most obvious of places to visit in Vermont in fall—but there are so many good reasons why Stowe should be on your list this fall. Not only do you have Main Street and the lower part of Route 108 lined with local shops and places to eat, you can also explore scenery and hiking trails in The Notch. Want to see foliage from Vermont’s tallest peak? Take a gondola ride at Stowe Mountain Resort or drive up the Stowe Toll Road. For some backroad beauty, wind your way through Stowe Hollow or head out to Nebraska Valley Road.
Interesting town fact: Before Route 108 was built in the early 1920s, a footpath and horse trail crossed The Notch. The Notch was used to illegally transport goods to Canada in the 19th century, and to smuggle alcohol during Prohibition.
Getting there: From Interstate 89, take Exit 10 and follow Route 100 north. The intersection of Route 108 and Route 100 is located in the center of town.
The town of Tunbridge is best known for the annual Tunbridge World’s Fair, a Vermont tradition that dates back to 1867. For four days in September, 20,000 people flock to this Orange County community to enjoy the fair. The fair happens before Vermont’s foliage season is in full swing, but there’s more to Tunbridge than carnival rides and oxen pulling. The town is also home to several historic covered bridges located just off Route 110. If you’re looking for a Vermont fall scenic drive, take Route 110 north from Tunbridge to East Randolph Road/Chelsea Mountain Road.
Interesting town fact: The Tunbridge World’s Fair was once known as the “Drunkards Reunion,” claiming that anyone found sober after 3 p.m. was expelled as a nuisance. It’s now a family-friendly affair.
Getting there: From Interstate 89, take Exit 2 onto Route 132 toward Sharon and South Royalton to Route 14 to Route 110. Heading north on Route 110, the fairgrounds are on your left.
Chittenden is tucked away in the Green Mountain National Forest and is home to the 750-acre Chittenden Reservoir, Lefferts Pond, and the lovely Mountain Top Inn & Resort. Chittenden has a small population of about 1,260 residents. However, the size of the town is 74.2 square miles—or 46,000 acres—making it the largest town by area in Vermont. The Green Mountains run along the entire eastern half of the town, making it even more secluded and wild, which is perfect for fall foliage viewing.
Interesting town fact: Chittenden was once declared the “Spirit Capital of the Universe” from the activities of William and Horatio Eddy, two brothers who claimed to have psychic powers in the 1870s. Legend has it that their family, which had a long history of psychic ability, could be traced back to the Salem witch trials of the 1690s.
Getting there: Take Meadow Lake Drive off Route 4 in Mendon, or from East Pittsford Road off Route 7 in Rutland.
Peru has everything you could possibly want in the fall, including The Peru Fair in late September, Seesaw’s Lodge and Johnny Seesaws for lodging and dining, and the J.J. Hapgood General Store. There’s also the wonderful Bromley Market on Route 11 and Bromley Mountain’s adventure park, featuring the Alpine Slide, Ziplines, and more. Peru is home to the Green Mountain National Forest and Hapgood State Forest, offering plenty of room for outdoor exploration.
Interesting town fact: The town of Peru was originally named Bromley.
Getting there: From Manchester, follow Route 11/30 east for about six miles to Route 11 east. Past Bromley, turn left to Peru Village.
In the heart of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom is the town of Craftsbury, where you’ll find the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, Pete’s Greens farm stand, the Craftsbury General Store, and the scenic Craftsbury Common. Fall foliage typically gets a head start in the Northeast Kingdom compared to other parts of the state, so you’ll be able to enjoy fall colors in Craftsbury in late September and early October. When foliage will peak this year is anyone’s guess, but you can definitely count on lots of autumn beauty in Craftsbury.
Interesting town fact: Craftsbury is known for being the filming location of “The Trouble with Harry” in 1955 by Alfred Hitchcock.
Getting there: From Route 15 in Hardwick, take Route 14 north and take a right on North Craftsbury Road.
The beautiful town of Warren is home to The Warren Store, The Pitcher Inn, and Sugarbush Resort. Fall foliage season is perfect if you’re paddling on Blueberry Lake, taking a scenic chairlift ride at Sugarbush, or enjoying a walk along one of the town’s many dirt roads. Sugarbush hosts Oktoberfest and the entire Mad River Valley offers plenty to do during fall foliage season. Whether you’re visiting Warren to get outdoors or to just relax, Warren offers the best of both worlds.
Interesting town fact: The Warren Store was originally the Warren House Hotel, which was built in 1839. It functioned well into the 20th century as a stagecoach inn and boarding house. This building also served at times as the town library and post office, and dances were held intermittently on the second floor.
Getting there: From Interstate 89, take Exit 9 to 100A south to Route 100 south.
Main Street in Norwich is lined with historic Georgian, Federal, and Greek Revival homes, and the local village green is a popular gathering place for the community. Settled in 1761 across the Connecticut River from Hanover, N.H., Norwich is an ideal destination for anyone who loves architecture, history, and classic New England beauty. Norwich is a walkable community, where you can reach The Norwich Bookstore, Dan & Whit’s general store, the village green, and the brew pub at The Norwich Inn all on foot. Not far from the center of town are King Arthur Flour and the Montshire Museum of Science. For a scenic fall drive, take Beaver Meadow Road from Norwich to Sharon.
Interesting town fact: Norwich was the original home of Norwich University, which was founded in 1819 and moved north to Northfield after the Civil War.
Getting there: From Interstate 91, take Exit 13 to Route 5 toward Norwich.
Once you’ve visited this small Vermont town for the first time, you’ll want to return every fall. Peacham is one of the sweetest towns in Vermont. The village center features a cluster of early-to-mid-19th century Federal and Greek Revival homes that have been designated a National Historic District. Peacham’s Fall Foliage Day in October is a nice way to explore the town and its history.
When visiting Peacham, be sure to go up Church Street and park near the Peacham Fire Station on your right. Walk in the field behind the fire station and up the hill, where you’ll see a gorgeous New England scene that includes the Peacham Congregational Church (one of the oldest and most photographed churches in Vermont), rolling fields, and the majestic mountains of northern New England.
Interesting town fact: Peacham is said to be the most photographed town in New England.
Getting there: From Route 2 in West Danville, turn south on Peacham Road to Bayley Hazen Road and travel for about 7 miles to the village.
Lincoln is an absolute dream during fall foliage season. West Hill Road is where you’ll see the most magnificent views of the Green Mountains. When the conditions are just right, Mount Abraham, the fifth highest peak in Vermont, shows a stunning alpine glow at dusk. Just outside of the Lincoln’s small village is Lincoln Gap Road, a beautiful mountain pass that takes you to the town of Warren (the road is closed in winter). At the crest of the Gap, you’ll see signs for The Long Trail, where you can enjoy an easy hike to Sunset Ledge to the south or a more challenging climb to Mount Abraham to the north.
Interesting town fact: Before Lincoln was settled by Quakers in 1795, indigenous communities gathered in the area around Mount Abraham. According to Seven Days, the mountain was considered a sacred meeting place where people could share information about weather and planting, dreams, and visions of the future.
Getting there: From Route 116 in Bristol, head south on Lincoln Road. Follow to York Hill Road and West Hill Road to see dramatic views of the Green Mountains. To get to Lincoln Gap, take Route 116 to Lincoln Road to West River Road to Lincoln Gap Road.
Woodstock is another obvious pick for places to visit in Vermont in fall. But no fall foliage list is complete without mentioning this classic Vermont town. Stop by the historic Billings Farm & Museum, explore the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park—the country’s only national park to focus on the concept of conservation—or hike up Mount Tom for scenic views. Stroll through Woodstock and visit the The Yankee Bookshop—Vermont’s longest running independent bookstore—or the F.H. Gillingham and Sons general store. A few miles away in nearby Quechee are Simon Pearce and Quechee Gorge.
Interesting town fact: The first rope tow in the country was operated at Gilbert’s Hill in Woodstock.
Getting there: From Interstate 89, take Exit 1 and travel west on Route 4.
What are your favorite places to visit in Vermont in fall?
-Grafton photo by Anand Khatri/Flickr