Oh, Vermont. How did I never think about visiting this beautiful state sooner? All thanks to one of my close college girlfriends choosing to get married in an absolutely STUNNING venue in Stowe, we had the chance to explore Vermont!
From the city life of Burlington to the mountain resort town of Stowe, there was no shortage of things to do, places to eat, or breweries to try.
If you get a chance to book a weekend getaway to Vermont, I truly cannot recommend it highly enough. On top of that, if you are anything like me and prefer to avoid freezing cold temperatures; plan your trip around the summer months for comfortable (non-humid.. Yay!) weather.
Although I only had a quick 72-hour getaway to squeeze everything in, I loved every second of our weekend exploring, eating and drinking our way around town.
Below are some of my favorite recommendations to create an unforgettable Vermont vacay. (DISCLAIMER: This guide is for a summer/fall ,warm weather visit to the below destinations!)
If you are coming from Atlanta then you are in luck. There are direct flights daily to Burlington Airport. The bad news? The flight times are not super “convenient”. Delta offers one direct flight daily from ATL, getting you into BTV around 11:00PM. On the flip-side, the only direct flight back leaves at the crack of dawn 6:00AM. The good news about the late night and early morning flights is that you can take off less time from work and maximize your getaway days exploring all that Vermont has to offer!
If you are visiting Vermont and plan to stay put in Burlington throughout your stay then you can disregard my opinion on transportation.
Since I planned to explore multiple cities in Vermont in a short amount of time, I wanted full freedom to get around at my leisure. Uber and taxis are plentiful in the city of Burlington and the city itself is extremely walkable so getting around really is a non-issue. However, if you are like us, you’ll definitely want to look into renting a car to pop around from town to town.
This is especially true if you plan to make your way up to the mountain town of Stowe. There was only a handful of Uber drivers and if you were trying to get a ride at ‘odd hours’ (early morning or after 9PM), chances are the Uber drivers would have checked out. Alternatively, there are several taxi companies but their fares tend to be much more expensive.
Lastly, there is a ton to see and do outside of the cities themselves. Think cool hiking trails, lake activities, breweries, and more; where you will definitely want the freedom to get around at your own pace.
Where to Go in Vermont:
Okay so I am surely not an expert on Vermont by any means. Once again, thanks to the wedding itinerary, I was introduced to multiple unique destinations around VT. I am sure there are a lot of other special towns and places to explore around the state but with so little time; here are my recs.
I truly only had around 24 hours in Burlington all together and could have easily spent a week without running out of restaurants, shops, breweries, and activities. The city sits on the eastern side of Lake Champlain with it’s gorgeous views of the lake, mountains and plenty of local character as you walk along Church Street. Even just wandering the neighborhood streets full of charming, historic New England homes was enjoyable.
Here you can get lost at the Farmers Market, rent a bike, or eat all things maple syrup until you are stuffed. The options are endless!
This quant, stunning and unique mountain resort town exceeded any and all of my expectations. Situated roughly an hour away from Burlington; the town is easy to get to and full of activities to do both in the winter and off-season summer months. The drive alone from Burlington to Stowe is breathtaking. Stowe has it’s own character; full of cafes, farm-to-table restaurants, breweries, ski resorts, hiking trails and more.
I put Lake Champlain as a category of its own because of it’s sheer beauty and endless activity options taking place here. I did not get nearly as much time as I would have liked to explore the waterfront area or water activities but the time I had was thoroughly enjoyed. The waterfront is just steps away from downtown Burlington and has its’ own variety of food and ice cream stands, restaurant options, etc. During the warmer months, you can go sailing (highly recommend), rent a bike, walk around the waterfront park and enjoy the expansive lake views.
Where to Stay in Vermont:
- Hotel Vermont: We ALMOST stayed here but ended up opting with an AirBnB mostly for budget/cost reasons. If you get the chance to spend more time in Burlington than we did and want a unique, fun hotel experience; check out Hotel Vermont. The hotel has various events such as live jazz night, trivia, and more. On top of that they have a highly rated restaurant, Juniper, right on-site.
- Hilton Hotels – Lake Champlain: Hilton’s Lake Champlain hotel is the perfect stay if you are looking to reside just a block away from the lake waterfront. The best part is you’re still easily walkable to all of downtown and can take full advantage of both aspects of the city. It is also reasonably priced.
- AirBnB: Per usual, my love for AirBnB continued as we made our way to Vermont. I just love the local feel and experience that I get when I find a unique, cozy homestay in the cities I am visiting. This particular AirBnB was a shared home stay. The neighborhood was quiet and full of gorgeous historic looking homes. The home had everything we needed for our brief stay; complete with coffee, tea, a full-kitchen, tranquil garden and a full list of local suggestions from our host. (check out this bohemian dream of an AirBnB in the photos below)
- Topnotch Resort: Everything about this resort was an absolute stunner. This is where the wedding was held and every single moment spent here was flawless. On top of a wonderful event space; the restaurant on-site had some amazing farm-to-table options and craft cocktails, the pool overlooked the mountains, and the staff was extremely friendly/helpful. Don’t expect a budget stay here BUT if you are looking for a splurge, you cannot go wrong by staying at Topnotch!
- Stowe Mountain Resort: Although we did not get an inside view of this resort, the reviews online are great (especially for ski-season). What we loved about this resort was the convenient hiking trails, scenic gondola ride and mountaintop restaurant (Cliffhouse).
- AirBnB: And… once again we ended up at an AirBnB for all of the same reasons as above (and reiterating the fact that our stay was VERY budget friendly!) We didn’t plan to spend a lot of time hanging out in our room so we were going for a money saver, clean, comfy and convenient. Our private entrance, downstairs apartment was conveniently located right in downtown Stowe, next door to a full grocery market and was a great place to stay for two guests.
Where to Eat, Drink & Be Merry:
- Penny Cluse Cafe: YUM. Still craving more Penny Cluse gingerbread pancakes, super rich maple syrup, turkey sweet potato hash and coffee (on repeat). Penny Cluse Cafe is right downtown and on a weekend morning, you can expect a wait. The service was great and the diner style food was even better.
- The Skinny Pancake: Open for brunch, lunch, dinner; this restaurant has multiple locations and a large variety of items on their menu. If you’re like us, you might just end up at The Skinny Pancake at the crack of dawn before a 6:00AM flight (located at Burlington Airport Departure Terminal).
- El Cortijo: Located within walking distance from the Hilton – Champlain, this Mexican restaurant is a great food stop for any of you taco lovers. Eat-in or take-out. El Cortijo tacos and guac made for the perfect sunset sailing dinner onboard.
- Splash at the Boathouse: Located right on the lake and super convenient for a pre-sailing trip pitstop, Splash at the Boathouse is a great spot for a sunset drink on the water.
- Onyx Tonics: Specialty coffee in downtown Burlington. I can’t visit new cities without finding a unique coffee shop to pop in.
- For all you Brewery lovers, Burlington is FULL of great options: Check out Foam Brewers, Burlington Beer Company, Zero Gravity, and Switchback Brewery just to name a few.
Others (that I did not get to try but read several reviews and am dying to try when I go back one day!)
- Juniper: Breakfast or happy hour cocktails! Located at Hotel Vermont.
- American Flatbread: Pizzas made from scratch!
- Burlington Farmers Market: Every Saturday starting late spring through fall. Everything from coffee, fresh juice and fresh produce to flowers and artwork; they have it all.
- Alchemist Brewery: You can’t come to Vermont and NOT visit at least one of their many breweries. Alchemist Brewery is full of strong hoppy beers (so be prepared if you enjoy more than a few.) Give the Heady Topper a shot and look on their website for upcoming events (live music etc.)
- Idletyme Brewing Company: Another popular brewery within close distance from downtown. Not only do they offer hoppy craft beer but they also serve up crisp local spiked cider and a menu full of tasty food. Check out the back patio area with a bar and fire pit perfect for a cool summer day!
- Green Goddess Cafe: Fresh-squeezed juices, superfood lattes, cinnamon-raisin french toast, the butcher breakfast scramble… the list goes on. The portions are large and the breakfast here is the best way to kick-off a post-night out on the town.
- Flannel: Farm-to-table deliciousness at this restaurant located on the TopNotch Resort property. With gorgeous views of the mountains and resort pool; this is the perfect spot for a late afternoon craft cocktail and bite to eat.
- Cafe on Main: Breakfast and lunch spot right downtown. Came HIGHLY recommended from the bride (got to trust the expert!). Curried chicken salad sandwich? Yes please.
- Black Cap Coffee & Beer: Want a quicker option to grab a warm latte and breakfast? Black Cap is located right in downtown Stowe and is an easy on-the-go option. Try an almond-milk latte and their apple coffee cake to kick off your day.
Others that I wish I got to visit:
- Plate: Tip – Make reservations ahead of time!! Locally sourced, farm-to-table; this is one spot that I was very bummed we were not able to visit after all of the great things we heard!
- von Trapp Brewery & Bierhall: Yes, yet another brewery to add to the already long list of breweries in VT!
- Sunday Morning Farmers Market
What to Do in Vermont:
- Wander down Church Street: Shop, eat, and drink your way down one of the most popular streets in Burlington. From breweries to cafes to local Vermont souvenirs, I could have spent hours wandering around here!
- Go sailing on Lake Champlain: There are several sailing companies available for daytime or sunset cruises. We ended up sailing with the Whistling Man Schooneer Company and absolutely loved our experience. The crew, the boat, and the overall ambience of the evening made for the perfect last night in Vermont. BYOB (including snacks, apps, etc.) The crew will provide utensils, glasses, warm blankets, and more to make your evening as flawless as possible.
- Hike: With several nearby trails, the hardest decision was which hike to do during our quick 48 hour visit. We ended up hiking the ~ 2 hour moderately difficult trail up Mt. Mansfield. The trailhead can be found at the base of Stowe Mountain Resort. If you aren’t feeling the exercise piece, you can always take the gondola up for the same gorgeous views. (NOTE: the gondola ride down is free if you hike up!) Our second hike was the Stowe Pinnacle trail which provides amazing views and will leave you out of breath.
- Enjoy the outdoors: Golf, mountain biking, zip-lining, kayaking; you name it, you can probably find it somewhere within close driving distance of Stowe. Head over to Waterbury Reservoir to get on the water while canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding, fishing or for boat rentals.
- Go on a Brewery Tour: We did not have time for a brewery tour unfortunately but this experience did come highly recommended! There are lots of options available if you are looking to avoid driving from brewery to brewery!
- Shop: There are several unique shops downtown. Whether we were looking for souvenirs, gifts, clothing or mini bottles of Vermont maple syrup; our favorite stop was Shaw’s General Store right downtown.
For more U.S. city travel guides, head over to my North American travel page!