8 Must-do Itinerary Ideas for a Killer Vermont Getaway

Get up close and personal with the Green Mountain State.

Lake Champlain Bridge
Lake Champlain Bridge | sebastienlemyre/Shutterstock
Lake Champlain Bridge | sebastienlemyre/Shutterstock

Looking to hit the road this summer and explore one of New England’s—if not the nation’s—most scenic states? We’re talking about Vermont, that northerly land of crisp fresh air, dramatic vistas, and those eponymous Green Mountains. Whether you’re an East Coaster or an out-of-towner, this day-long driving itinerary stretching from Stowe to Burlington will help get your summer 2021 bucket list in full gear. 

Along the way, you’ll find some worthwhile photo-ops in picturesque towns like Waterbury and Essex plus plenty of places guaranteed to hit the spot when you’re itching for a snack or thirsty for a tasty craft brew—as long as you’re calling the shots from the passenger seat, that is.

The Alchemist
The Alchemist

Grab a cup of coffee (and/or a sixer) from Black Cap Coffee & Beer

144 Main Street, Stowe
There’s no better way to kick off a road trip than with a cup of joe—it’s essential, really. So when your bags are packed, look no further than Stowe’s Black Cap Coffee & Beer to get your caffeine fix alongside a homemade pastry for good measure. While you’re there, peek into their fridge for a who’s who of craft beer spanning coveted local producers like Stowe’s very own The Alchemist (of Heady Topper fame) and Shelburne’s Fiddlehead Brewing Company.

Cold Hollow Cider Mill
Cold Hollow Cider Mill

Visit the Cold Hollow Cider Mill

3600 Waterbury-Stowe Road, Waterbury
Out of all of the cideries splashed across New England’s apple-heavy landscape, Cold Hollow Cider Mill is the undeniable crown jewel. With the Green Mountains towering in the background, you can roam around the gorgeous grounds while picking up a carton of freshly pressed cider and traditional treats like apple pies and cider donuts. And if you’re looking for something more substantial, the onsite Luncheonette offers lovingly prepared breakfast and lunch comforts everyday from 8 am to 3:30 pm.

Ben & Jerry's Factory
Ben & Jerry's Factory | Flickr/jpellgen (@1179_jp)

Then make a short trip over to Ben & Jerry's for a scoop

1281 Waterbury-Stowe Road, Waterbury
Still hungry? Dating to 1985, the official Ben & Jerry’s Factory in Waterbury has been a fan favorite among local and traveling dairy fiends, cranking out over 350,000 pints of ice cream each and every day. Although the factory is currently closed for tours, with plans to open back up in the fall, you can still pay homage to the birthplace of Chunky Monkey with a walk around the property before stopping by the Scoop Shop to grab a dip to-go.

The Essex, Vermont's Culinary Resort and Spa
The Essex, Vermont's Culinary Resort and Spa

Take a self care break at The Essex

70 Essex Way, Essex
After the hellscape that was 2020, you never need to talk yourself into a spa day again—anybody who survived that mess obviously deserves it. So why not swing by this self care oasis for an hour-long rubdown or invigorating facial? The Spa at Essex offers everything from massages to pedicures to keep you feeling fresh on your travels.

Lake Champlain
Lake Champlain | Meagan Marchant/Shutterstock

Explore Red Rocks Park

4 Central Avenue, South Burlington
It wouldn’t be a true Vermont vacay if it didn’t include at least one hike. Spanning 100 acres-long on the bank of Lake Champlain, Red Rocks Park in South Burlington is equipped with majestic overlooks plus 2.5 miles of lush walking trails—not to mention a refreshing swimming area perfect for cooling off after all that leg-stretching.

El Cortijo Taqueria Y Cantina - Burlington
El Cortijo Taqueria Y Cantina - Burlington

Enjoy for a little retail therapy at the Church Street Marketplace

131 Church Street, Burlington
Downtown Burlington’s Church Street Marketplace is an open-air mall with plenty of cute shops and awesome places to dine. For pasta and wine, try Pascolo Ristorante or head to El Cortijo Taqueria Y Cantina for a bounty of tacos, salads, nachos, and zesty margaritas. There’s also New England favorite The Friendly Toast in case you’re craving something unconventional or American bistro Sweetwaters for prime patio people-watching. 

ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain
ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain

Immerse yourself in a science and nature museum

1 College Street, Burlington
If you’re rolling with the family, Burlington’s ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, located right on the lake’s breathtaking waterfront, has your whole crew on lock with over 100 interactive exhibits covering 70 species of fish, reptiles, and amphibians. Open Friday to Monday and Wednesday, you can plan ahead and reserve your tickets online with 2.5-hour time slots offered twice daily.

Foam Brewers
Foam Brewers

Wind down with a beer at Foam Brewers

112 Lake Street, Burlington
Craft outfit Foam Brewers is arguably one of the finest endpoints for your long day’s journey. Whether you opt for a growler to-go or a pour of one of their renowned New England-style IPAs onsite, you won’t walk away disappointed. Also try the puckery Soft Machine sour ale as well as hard cider from Burlington’s own Citizen Cider. Stock up on a few select cans and make your way 10 minutes down the road to Battery Park, which overlooks not only Lake Champlain but the Adirondack mountains as well and serves as the perfect backdrop for a sunset toast.

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Jillian Hammell is a contributor for Thrillist.