Because I start test pilot school on my 30th birthday, I wanted to take a fun trip now, while I still have both spending money and vacation time, to celebrate this milestone. Although I was born and raised in North Dakota, I’ve been living in Houston, TX long enough now that I get serious fall withdrawals every October. I knew I wanted the trip to be somewhere with bright fall colors, cozy sweaters, and plenty of apple cider and those delicious warm cider donuts. After polling my Instagram besties and scouring the travel guides online, it seemed that Vermont was one of the top-rated destinations for brilliant fall foliage in late October.
I’m sharing some of my favorite stops for a fall trip to Burlington, VT but honestly Vermont was so beautiful I’m sure it would make a great trip any time of year.
Where to Stay
Hotel Vermont: Search the internet for “best places to stay in Burlington” and this boutique hotel located right off Lake Champlain is sure to appear at the top of any list. They have thought of literally everything. From bikes in the lobby which are free for guest use, to cozy rooms stocked with goods from local shops and artisans (flannel robes, handmade mugs, etc.), and free amenity stations on each floor, you will feel right at home the second you step in the door. There are plenty of top-rated restaurants nearby and Church Street Marketplace as well as a running & bike trail along Lake Champlain are within walking distance.
What to Eat
Breakfast & Brunch:
Rustic Roots: You know a place is good when you need a reservation at 9am! We didn’t have one but were able to sit at the bar and I’m so glad we did. This chef-owned restaurant is located in the village of Shelburne in what looks to be a renovated, adorable old home. The food was delicious, made-from-scratch and breakfast comes with a hot herb-buttered popover. What’s not to love?!
Myer’s Bagel Bakery: Their bagels are hand-rolled and wood-fired Montreal style, meaning they are a thinner bagel and are boiled in honey sweetened water before cooking. If you’re looking for a delicious bagel sandwich and a good cup of coffee, look no further.
Apple Core Luncheonette and Brew: First stop straight from the airport and couldn’t have chosen a better lunch spot. It was an absolutely beautiful day to sit out on their deck at a picnic table with a grilled sandwich and a hard cider flight. I had the “Vermont to the Core” sandwich which features cider jelly from the cider mill next door.
Red Hen Baking Co.: This bakery features a miles long artisan bread and pastry menu and supplies fresh bread to local restaurants. We stopped here for lunch after visiting Stowe and Smuggler’s Notch and it really hit the spot.
Waterworks Food + Drink: Located in the nearby town of Winooski with beautiful views of the Winooski River, I cannot recommend this one enough. Waterworks has an extensive drink and dinner menu. I honestly didn’t see a cocktail or food item I didn’t want to try. If I came back to Burlington, this one would definitely be on my list.
Hen of the Wood: Directly next door to the Hotel Vermont, I was told this hip restaurant has a waitlist nearly two months long. My boyfriend and I put our name in for seats at the bar and managed to get in after around an hour and a half wait but I recommend making a reservation. The menu changes daily so it is relatively small, but always features locally grown produce and prides itself on using them to highlight local flavors. Be prepared to spend a bit more here as it is higher end and portions are on the smaller side. We chose this as my birthday dinner.
My only regret is that I arrived just after summer and completely missed an opportunity to get a local staple ( or so I was told by a local…), the maple creemee which is supposedly just maple soft-serve but it sounded pretty good to me!
What to See/Do
Ben & Jerry’s Factory: They were closed the day we stopped, but what trip to Vermont is complete without a tour of this legendary ice cream factory which has been in service since 1985?
Church Street Marketplace: This historic district runs between Pearl and Main Streets and is a National Register Historic District featuring shops and historic buildings.
Woodstock Farmer’s Market: Not a farmer’s market in the typical sense. Think Whole Foods but with local treats like maple kettle corn and heirloom apples. Yum.
Smuggler’s Notch: It rained the entire day we planned to hike, but we made the best of it by following the winding road up the mountain pass. The fall colors did not disappoint. I think I exclaimed “Oh Wow!” the entire drive. Every guide I searched included this stop for hiking and fall foliage.
Shelburne Farms: We didn’t have much time to explore here but the grounds were absolutely breathtaking. A 3,800 acre agricultural estate, the property was originally purchased and developed by Lila Vanderbilt and her husband in 1886 before being donated by their descendants to a nonprofit educational organization in 1984. The estate’s landscaping was inspired by Central Park landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Enjoy a walk through the farm featuring fall foliage, grazing cattle and stunning views of Lake Champlain and New York’s Adirondacks just across the lake.
Stowe: Adorable local shops, a plethora of great restaurants, and endless outdoor activities make this quaint, four-season mountain resort town a must-stop.
Vermont Artisan Coffee & Tea: Voted one of the best coffee roasters in Vermont, this is a great stop on the way to hike in Stowe. They even have an outdoor fire pit. Ginger maple latte was amazing…enough said!
If you’ve been to or live in Vermont, what did I miss? If you haven’t been *yet*, what would you do first?!