Wondering how to spend five fall days in Vermont? About five years ago, I decided this SoCal girl needed to go leaf peeping in Vermont!
I haven’t experienced that much in the way of a fall season since moving to San Diego in 2000.
When my husband was in grad school in NY back in the 90’s, I always thought we would make it to Vermont during fall season.
And we never did.
So obviously, I have had a leaf peeping trip to Vermont on my bucket list for a very long time!
When my youngest started her junior year in high school in 2017 (and had her drivers license), I decided it was time my husband and I started taking an annual fall foliage trip to someplace that screams fall.
And Vermont was the first place on my mind!
In a rush?
How to Spend Five Fall Days in Vermont:
- Arrive in Burlington
- Drive to Woodstock
- Drive to Stowe
- Drive Back to Burlington
- Our Itinerary in a Nutshell
Arrive in Burlington
We rented a car from Hertz Rentals at the Burlington Airport for our leaf peeping fun…
To be honest- I was a little disappointed when we landed in Burlington on Oct 4th and the TREES WERE STILL GREEN!
I couldn’t believe it!
In fact, on the first day of the trip, my husband told me if I said how mad I was about the green trees one more time- I was going to completely ruin the trip for him.
I tried to explain to him that all my planning and looking forward to the trip was directly related to NOT SEEING GREEN.
But his attitude was to just be content to be on a getaway together – yellow, red, OR green leaves.
This isn’t the best photo but it is the only photo I took in Burlington of the GREEN leaves 😂:
The weather was sunny and perfect in the high 50’s to low 60’s every day of our trip except our full day in Stowe which was quite rainy (but of course we didn’t let that ruin our experience).
So I was still able to wear my cute boots and sweaters – phew!
Which of course is another reason why this SoCal girl feels it is crucial to get a fall getaway in her life from now on…
It’s just no fun to have all those cute fall clothes and no where to wear them 😂.
The people at our hotel promised me that once we left Burlington and went into the mountains, we would see a lot more color.
And luckily for me – and my husband- they were right :).
Where to Stay
We only spent one night in Burlington because from my research, it was just like any other city/college town with a cute downtown.
However, that wasn’t what I flew all the way to Vermont to see so one night was all I wanted with that experience.
We stayed the night at Hotel Vermont and I seriously could not have been happier with that choice!
Hotel Vermont is a cute boutique hotel right downtown by the waterfront.
Our room was quite comfy and cozy.
I loved the little amenities they provided like recycled glass water bottles that you can fill up at the snack station available on every floor.
They honestly thought of everything at this hotel :).
Where to Eat and What to Do
We had a great dinner at Hen of the Wood that evening and then strolled around downtown.
We wandered down Church Street Marketplace which is the city’s inviting pedestrian district.
My husband just reminded me of the fun fact that Church Street was modeled after Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado ;).
My music loving husband was quite excited to see the place that the band Phish started their journey – Nectar’s Restaurant and Live Music Venue.
We did not see anyone perform that night but he was happy enough just walking into the venue and seeing the Phish paraphernalia.
photo courtesy of Nectar’s website
The next morning, we woke up and ate a quick breakfast at the Skinny Pancake on the waterfront before heading out of town on our scenic road trip through the Vermont countryside.
Drive to Woodstock
On day two of our fall foliage trip in Vermont, we leisurely drove to Woodstock which was about two to three hours of driving the scenic backroads.
The Most Scenic Roads to Take
We took Vermont Highway 7 through Middlebury.
Then we veered off that highway onto Highway 53 and 73 to get to Highway 100.
From there we got on Highway 107 and then Highway 12 which took us straight into the small but cute town of Woodstock.
From all of my googling and researching, I found this route was going to give us exactly what I was looking for when I was planning our leaf peeping in Vermont getaway.
And I was correct ☺️.
The scenery on these backroads was truly peaceful.
You can of course follow the highway like Google Maps will suggest but obviously that was not what I was looking for for our itinerary.
We made quite a few stops along the way to Woodstock as our only plan for the day was to enjoy the drive and the scenery.
Where to Stay and Eat
We spent our one night in town at the Woodstock Inn and Resort where we also ate dinner at their Red Rooster Restaurant.
After dinner, we walked around the small town.
The shops had already closed for the day.
So we spent our time wandering the quaint streets looking at homes and the covered bridge in town.
Our room had a wood burning fireplace in it so after our strolling, we lit up some logs and enjoyed a relaxing evening in our room.
Drive to Stowe
We then spent the day meandering up to Stowe Mountain Resort.
It was a hard decision which cute small town to make our last stop for this quick fall foliage trip (without too much driving exhausting us).
However, we are a snow sports family and enjoy mountain resorts no matter what the time of year so I decided Stowe would probably be a good fit for the two of us.
Where to Stop
Simon Pearce Flagship Store
One of our stops along the way was at The Mill at Simon Pearce Flagship Store in Quechee.
We had a cocktail in their lounge and then toured the glassblowing workshop.
I loved all their glassware but in the end decided to only come home with a small glass pumpkin to remember this stop.
If you have never watched glass blowers at work- you are in for a treat!
It was quite mesmerizing (and hot!).
Ben and Jerry’s Factory
Our next stop was the Ben and Jerry’s Factory which was a mandatory Vermont experience for us as we are ice cream lovers ;).
Plus we remember when Ben and Jerry’s ice cream first came out when we were in college in the 90’s. It was an immediate hit!
We paid for the tour and enjoyed learning all about the story of this DELICIOUS ice cream!
The cemetery in the back for all the retired flavors may have been our favorite part though –
Well that and the sample of ice cream at the end of the tour!
Quechee Gorge Bridge
The bridge is a major tourist attraction for the state of Vermont.
Where to Eat on the Road to Stowe
We had lunch at Big Fatty’s BBQ near the bridge in White River Junction.
Big Fatty’s BBQ was recommended by a friend who has spent a lot of time in the state of Vermont so we knew we couldn’t go wrong here!
Where to Stay and Eat
The Lodge at Spruce Peak is the main lodge at the ski resort.
I knew once we made it to our hotel, we would want a break from driving for a full day.
And staying on the hill seemed our best option for this.
We spent our first evening trying to stalk a wedding that was being prepared right on the grounds of the property and figuring out if being wedding crashers was something we could pull off.
In the end we chickened out btw…
We had a lovely sunset dinner at the resort’s Solstice Restaurant on the second evening of our stay.
What to Do
Stowe is a very quaint Vermont town with plenty of vintage and farmhouse finds at all their cute stores.
If only I wasn’t getting on an airplane to get home- I would have had a car full of goodies!
On our second day in Stowe, we took the Stowe Gondola to the top of Mount Mansfield and hiked down.
You can find all the hikes off the gondola here.
Our hike was pretty easy along the service road down what looked like a ski run.
It was raining on us so we didn’t really want to take any crazy adventures off the beaten path!
We saw lots of fall foliage on this hike and had the whole mountain to ourselves so it was very peaceful and mind clearing to be up there.
Mountains are one of our favorite places to spend time together so it was a perfect last full day on our fall foliage trip to Vermont.
Drive Back to Burlington
Our flight out of Burlington wasn’t until 5:30pm that Sunday so we were able to take our sweet time driving back to the Burlington airport.
Where to Stop
Smugglers Notch State Park
We took the scenic route back to Burlington via Highway 108 through Smugglers Notch State Park.
Honestly- this is the biggest change I would make to our itinerary.
I would have wanted at least one full day to explore this park and all the incredible hikes and fall foliage it offers.
Hopefully I will return to Vermont someday and spend more time in this state park!
Old Red Mill
Another fun stop we made was the Old Red Mill in Jericho, Vermont.
I loved the craft shop here and got one of my family’s favorite wood cutting boards in this shop :).
The mill also has a fun little museum in the basement about snowflakes!
University of Vermont, Burlington
Our last quick stop on our way to the airport was to take a quick jaunt around the University of Vermont.
We have always loved exploring universities and seeing what student life is like at the different colleges.
The university is very pretty.. but this SoCal blooded couple could tell we wouldn’t survive one winter in this town!!
Where to Eat on the Road to Burlington
After spending about an hour in Smugglers Notch State Park, we were getting pretty hungry.
The concierge desk at the Lodge at Spruce Peak told us to eat at 158 Main in Cambridge, Vermont on our way back to the Burlington Airport.
This was probably the most authentic and tasty home-cooking place we had eaten on this entire trip… the recommendation was appreciated!
Our Itinerary in a Nutshell
- Flew from San Diego to Burlington, Vermont
- Drove from Burlington to Woodstock, Vermont (2 hours)
- Drove to Stowe, Vermont (3 hours)
- Spent Full Day in Stowe
- Drove back to Burlington (1 hour) for an evening flight to San Diego
I hope this post is helpful to you in planning how to spend five fall days in Vermont or at least is inspiring you to add it to your fall foliage trip bucket list!
And if you don’t have a fall bucket list yet- this is the first place you should put on it 🍁.
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Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go.
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