Ain’t no foliage drive like a Vermont foliage drive
Iconic: The state’s loveliest drive might just be its largest highway, Route 100 -- a 200-mile-plus thoroughfare that vertically dissects the state from Massachusetts to Canada. In fact, nature photographers from all over the country hit the highway for guaranteed peak foliage photography. Two reasons? Route 100’s lack of billboards and its close proximity to the Green Mountains. The other reason, of course, is that the highway leads you directly to some of Vermont’s most stereotypically charming small towns, from Weston (which houses the revered Vermont Country Store) to Plymouth Notch (home of the award-winning Plymouth Artisan Cheese). But the main event comes when you turn off Route 100 onto the Green Mountain Byway, which takes you from Waterbury to Stowe. This means leaf-watching against a backdrop of bucolic mountains and farmland, cider donuts from Cold Hollow Cider Mill, a detour into the Ben and Jerry’s Factory, and two crazier leaf-gazing options: a ride up the Stowe Mountain Gondola and a ride down the two-mile ZipTour. Consider making reservations for a revelatory dinner at Hen of the Wood.
Overnight splurge: The Lodge at Spruce Peak will point you towards the best foliage hikes in town.
Lesser known: Historic Route 7A, AKA the Shires of Vermont Byway, takes you between 17 tiny towns and villages, including the historic enclaves of Bennington and Manchester. The best leaf-viewing spot in the state may well be atop the 306-foot-tall stone obelisk Bennington Battle Monument (open through October 31). Or you can (carefully, carefully) cruise up the hairpin-y Skyline Drive, a privately owned toll road favored by motorcyclists that winds up to the top of Equinox Mountain. There, at 3,848 feet above sea level, you’ll have simultaneous views of the Green, White, Adirondack, Berkshire, and Taconic mountains.
Overnight splurge: If you can’t afford a room at the stunning Equinox Resort & Spa, at least consider grabbing a drink at the Falcon Bar and taking it out to the open-air fire pit. If you do stay overnight, book the Land Rover Experience the next day for an off-roading foliage drive through the Green Mountains.