Burlington
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With its strong agrarian heritage and activist-rich citizenry, Vermont is a paragon of the locavore movement. Even Michael Pollan, author of "The Omnivore's Dilemma," has lauded the state for its cooperative farming and abundance of organic produce. As food economies go, it doesn't come much fresher. You'll find LaPlatte River Angus is the beef of choice, Shadow Cross eggs are ubiquitous in markets and eateries alike.

Start your morning over tangerine juice and warm banana bread at Penny Cluse Café. Only seconds from Church Street, locals line up daily for the freshly baked biscuits, lathered with herb cream gravy. You can also fuel up with maple lattes and a French Dip at Sneakers Bistro in Winooski. The Crispy Kahlua Batter Dipped French Toast is a gourmet feast that’s sure to keep you motoring through the morning.

Save room for lunch, as some of New England's best Chinese food is plated daily at A Single Pebble. Pebble’s wafting aromas are impossible to miss. Armed with authentic dishes like double garlic eggplant and Beijing street noodles, this is Szechuan with a twist.

For dreamy lake views, celebrate with a bottle of sensuous Ridge Zinfandel at nearby Starry Night Café. Dishes capture the state's rustic terroir better than any roadside restaurant we’ve visited. Sun-kissed and well-fed, you'll know firsthand why Vermont is the country's gold standard in autumn drives.

If you fancy a more robust outing, Stowe can oblige. With lifts running into October, and hiking trails open year-round, there are several ways to Vermont’s storied roof. Ascend by gondola to the Cliff House, for wine pairings, seasonal game and deck seating at 3,600 feet. Then scramble to the summit itself, where you’ll spy peregrine falcons soaring below. A word of caution, though: New England's weather at elevation is capricious  even in mild months  so pack a jacket and watch for fast moving clouds.

Or sojourn over to Hen of the Wood, which puts you conveniently on the road back to Burlington. Tucked beside a tumbling mountain brook, this refurbished 19th-century grist mill exudes rustic elegance. The menu changes daily but you can expect to find dishes such as Hen of the Woods Mushroom Toast, grilled radicchio and rabbit leg. 

Sophisticated diners can also choose to journey further north, where Richmond’s The Kitchen Table Bistro promises excellent haute-country cuisine. Cider Steamed Maine Mussels and Mustard Crusted All-Day Roasted Pork Shoulder will have you dismissing fast food forever. This is what Vermont tastes like.

Search GAYOT's Vermont restaurant reviews for more dining options.