9 Fresh-Air Activities to Enjoy in Vermont
You’ve received the invite and you’re headed to a wedding in Vermont. Naturally, the choice to attend wasn’t very hard. Witnessing the nuptials of loved ones is always a must, but especially so when you consider everything there is to do in the Green Mountain State. Fresh air, wide-open spaces and an abundance of outdoor activities await travelers here all year round.
Whether you decide to check out what Vermont has to offer during a wedding weekend or tack on a few extra days to your trip, these beautiful and bucolic spots—all of which happen to be close to popular wedding destinations—will not disappoint.
1. Billings Farm & Museum
A certified Bee Friendly Farm (BFF), the Billings Farm & Museum in Woodstock is home to the 10,000 square foot Sunflower House (how’s that for plenty of space?). The charming public farm educates visitors on backyard garden tips to support pollinators and offers up some pretty tasty, locally crafted honey ice cream too.
Somewhat like a corn maze, The Sunflower House is actually outside and you wander its “rooms” and “hallways,” built up by more than 50 different varieties of sunflowers that range from 18 inches to 14 feet in height. It's best visited if you’re in Vermont for a summer wedding, annually reaching peak bloom just in time for late summer fêtes around August 15, but viewable through mid-September.
Located in Northern Vermont, this charming town is nestled at the foot of Mount Mansfield. Known for its expansive trails and ski slopes, families flock here in the wintertime to enjoy its world-class ski resort—in our humble opinion, one of the best on the East Coast. Visitors also fall in love with Trapp Family Lodge, a mountain resort that is actually owned and operated by the real von Trapp family, which will make all of your Sound of Music dreams come true. If you’re more of the walking or cycling type, head over to the Stowe Recreation Path for just over five miles of pavement that winds through some of the area’s finest restaurants and shops.
3. Northeast Kingdom
Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom is home to some of the state’s most rural beauty, in addition to a rich diversity of art, entertainment, shops and architecture. Not to mention, it’s home to Jay Peak Resort, one of the state’s popular wedding venues. For a slice of truly unique culture, head to Glover to visit the Museum of Everyday Life that celebrates the mundanity and delight of everyday objects. Or, enjoy some outdoor time at the tucked-away Lake Parker and wrap up your day with an artisan pizza at The Parker Pie Co. No matter what, make sure you stop at Lake Willoughby (Vermont’s deepest lake) that’s enveloped by a beautiful fjord-like mountain range that your Instagram followers will most certainly appreciate.
4. Addison County
Say hello to Vermont’s most agricultural region, home to incredible scenic vistas, fine dining and unique culture. Historic downtown Middlebury offers stellar recreation opportunities all season long, including the Trail Around Middlebury and the Middlebury College Snow Bowl in winter. Explore Vermont art on nature’s stage at Lemon Fair Sculpture Park in Shoreham or head to Champlain Orchards, one of the oldest operating orchards in the state, and pick your own seasonal fruit or simply admire the view. And don’t leave without sampling a Vermont maple creemee. Find this thick, sweet soft-serve ice cream at Vermont Cookie Love in North Ferrisburgh.
5. Lake Champlain
Lake Champlain is an expansive region that offers an abundance of sparkling natural beauty. You can hike or bike one of its many trails along the shore, go swimming or sailing, catch bass (which the lake is celebrated for) and watch the sunset over the waterfront. The lively city of Burlington is also set on the lake, as is a cluster of quaint towns where you can grab a bite to eat, sample a local brew and enjoy the view.
6. Mount Mansfield and Smugglers Notch
Smugglers’ Notch State Park is a narrow pass through the Green Mountains that is flanked by 1,000-foot cliffs. A popular spot for camping and picnicking, it also provides ample opportunity for bouldering, ice climbing and cave exploring, not to mention some epic IG photos. Nearby Mount Mansfield also offers plenty of trails where you can see some truly stunning vistas (and indulge in a few fresh waffles) if you hike or ride the gondola to the top. Those who use a wheelchair or don’t feel up to a long hike may enjoy the Smugglers Notch boardwalk, which brings the beauty of Vermont’s forests to all ages and ability levels. Prefer to drive? Check out the Mount Mansfield Auto Toll Road.
7. Green Mountain National Forest
You truly haven’t seen fall foliage until you’ve seen it in Green Mountain National Forest. Spreading across a vast swath of Vermont, the Forest is accessible from many angles, including on many parts of Vermont’s Long Trail for those who want to design their own day hikes. A stunning destination in any season, the area offers fishing, camping, and canoeing and attracts skiers and snowshoers during the winter months. Jerusalem Trail, just outside Starksboro, is an awesome trail that attracts more advanced hikers up for a challenge and has classic wooden trail signs to guide you along the way. At 6.2 miles, it will have you hiking into what feels like the clouds before you arrive at Stark’s Nest, a warming hut with some pretty primo views.
8. Quechee Gorge
Around 13,000 years ago, glacial activity formed Vermont’s deepest gorge and created the natural wonder that is Quechee. Today, visitors can marvel at “Vermont’s Grand Canyon” and enjoy spectacular views from the bridge, followed by a romantic picnic in the recreation area. Fair warning: It’s best to go on the early side, as the viewing points can get a little more crowded in the afternoon.
9. The Kelly Way Gardens
Located at the Woodstock Inn & Resort, Master Gardener Benjamin Pauly—whose nickname is the “tomato whisperer”—has planted the Kelly Way Gardens, which the resort describes as a farm-to-table program started from scratch that provides the property with an on-site, holistic food supply. The picturesque gardens contain 57 types of tomatoes each season on a plot of land that is 3.5 acres, certified organic and is open for guests to explore during the summer. One thing you’ll want to do when you visit is look for the Gourdwalk—yes, an actual trellis archway where 17 different varieties of gourds hang above your head.