Best Things to Do

Discover the best the Green Mountain State has to offer, from what to do to where to dine.

From its early abolitionist roots and prized dairy, to its stunning foliage and Olympic-class ski runs, Vermont is an American ideal. It is a land of striking color and expression, one which birthed Presidents Arthur and Coolidge, adopted poet Robert Frost and continues to produce iconoclasts like Ben & Jerry's, rock band Phish and Burton Snowboards. Vermonters are farmers and artisans, and above all, wanderers — all of them stewards of this singularly green space. No surprise, then, that Vermont has been christened "the West Coast of New England."

Tiny as it is, the state is a bona fide superstar. Bereft of billboards (outlawed in the '60s) and blessed by the tranquil waters of Lake Champlain, it's comfortably distant from the congested Northeast Corridor. But it's also near enough for weekend jaunts to BostonMontréal and New York City. Best of all, Vermont is an organic paradise. There's much to do in this northern playground without feeling like a tourist. Whether your agenda is relaxation or adventure, the Green Mountain State can accommodate. Summers are spectacular and winters generous (or notorious, perhaps) at the 44th parallel, but Vermont owes its blue ribbon status to the fleeting days between late September and mid-October. Autumn is truly Vermont's legacy to the world, drawing "flatlanders" to its hills just as they begin to burn bright with crimson and gold.

Picturesque Montpelier is the state capital (America's smallest), but Burlington is undeniably Vermont's hub. Tucked in the northwest, on the shores of Champlain, this surprisingly cosmopolitan city acts twice its size and marks the cornerstone of your tour. Consistently named one of America's top towns, Burlington's modest population (roughly 42,400) belies an abundance of activity. From the South End art hop to weekly farmers markets and a lakeside Latin festival, the tapestry of events is considerable. Bewitched by sunny afternoons and cool evenings, there's a palpable skip in everyone's step.