Vermont’s forested mountains, picturesque farmlands, and easygoing vibe make for a relaxing vacation of unwinding and reconnecting with nature. Year-round outdoor recreation, a culture centered on active lifestyles, a food scene where clean, farm-to-table food is the norm, not the exception: Vermont checks all the boxes. And because Vermont delivers so much variety in such a compact area, exploring the whole state is very doable (traversing the sixth smallest state from south to north takes about three hours). Whether you pack everything into one trip or plan multiple visits, here are our picks for a relaxing, recharging getaway in Vermont.
Greet the Sun
A trip to Vermont is all about maximizing your time in nature. Wake up before dawn to enjoy that sacred time when the world is quiet and you can set your intentions for the day. Tranquil mornings on the mat are always great, but you can also take sun salutations to the next level on a sunrise hike.
(Photos: Gretchen Powers and Vermont Tourism)
Explore the Northeast Kingdom
Vermont is one of the most forested states in the country. For the best sunrise views, get above the trees at a lookout point. In the Northeast Kingdom, the fire lookout at the summit of Bald Mountain offers elevated views of the sprawling forest and lakes below. The 4.2-mile trail begins at the Long Pond Trailhead near the Insta-famous Lake Willoughby (known for its stunning fall colors) and climbs to the summit. Not sure if you want to crank out the hike before the sun is up? The historic cabin on the summit was restored in 2013 by volunteers who hiked building supplies up to the site and is open to overnight campers on a first-come, first-served basis.
Hike in Northwestern Vermont
In northwestern Vermont, hike the Puffer Cabin Loop to the Puffer Shelter for some of the best views in the region. The 6.9-mile loop starts at the base of the Bolton Valley Resort—the highest base lodge in the state at 2,100 feet. From the summit of Bolton Mountain at about 3,650 feet, enjoy expansive views of the surrounding forests. Hikers can stay overnight at the rustic lean-to shelter, which sleeps six , first-come, first-served. The Long Trail, Vermont’s classic thru-hike, connects to the Puffer Cabin Loop, so the shelter may be busy in summer.
Tip: Fall can be a busy time when hikers congregate on trails with the best fall colors. Hiking at sunrise is a surefire way to beat the crowds, but you can also check out these local recommendations for alternative fall hikes that are just as spectacular.
Foster Your Creativity
Art truly has the power to ground and inspire us. Vermont is home to a robust art and craft scene, so whether you enjoy making art or appreciate the feeling you get from surrounding yourself with it, Vermont will feed your creative side.
Explore Outdoor Art
Vermonters take their outdoor time seriously. So it’s no surprise that the state is filled with public outdoor art exhibits in an eclectic mix of styles. At the 14-acre Path of Life Garden in southern Vermont, sculptures and botanical art—including a hedge maze—invite visitors to reflect on the human life cycle. The garden has been an evolving installation since 1997 and is still designed and maintained by the original artist, Terry McDonnell, and his family. While visitors can arrive at the garden by car, kayaks and rafts are the preferred means of transportation in the summer months. Rent a watercraft and take a shuttle about five miles upstream to float the Connecticut River until you reach the garden, which is right on the riverbank.
Tip: Road-trip Vermont’s Scenic Byways and stop at sculpture gardens and murals that capture your attention.
Vermont: where the outdoors and art intersect. (Photo: Vermont Tourism)
Take a Class
For a more hands-on experience, visit any of the three Vermont State Craft Education Centers. The Fletcher Farm School in southern Vermont and the Shelburne Craft School just south of Burlington both offer one- and two-day workshops that fit a dose of creativity into your vacation. Try your hand at artisan crafts like clay, glass, and metal work, fiber arts, jewelry making, basketry, quilting, or woodworking.
Clear Your Mind
The Vermont countryside is the ultimate setting for quieting your mind at a retreat. From wellness weeks full of yoga, good food, and time in nature to spiritual programs with a focus on meditation, there are plenty of opportunities to disconnect and recenter yourself in Vermont.
Head to an idyllic farm for a week or weekend of relaxation. The Empty Center in Southern Vermont hosts a variety of retreats to help you get back to nature and yourself. Each weekend is unique and includes seasonal activities, such as fall foliage hikes and experimenting with natural dyes, along with farm-to-table meals, reflective conversation, meditation, and yoga—all set on a pristine 180-acre homestead in the Green Mountains.
Traditional Buddhist Meditation
For a meditation experience informed by Buddhist teachings, head to the Trijang Buddhist Institute in central Vermont. The 365-acre meditation center in the Green Mountains offers workshops to guide visitors in Tibetan Buddhist practices under the direction of His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche.
Tip: If you’re looking for retreat vibes without attending a formal retreat, check out the luxury offerings at Twin Farms in Central Vermont. The 300-acre refuge helps guests create their own retreat experience with a mix of on-site and off-site adventures, spa and wellness services, fine dining, and high-end accommodations.
Spend Time on the Mat
Of course, when it comes to recentering yourself, sometimes time on the mat is exactly what you need. And there’s no time like vacation to spice up your yoga practice. In warmer months, Vermonters are all about taking their favorite activities, including yoga, outdoors. Check out these unique yoga practices in Vermont.
In the heat of summer, Vermonters punctuate their outdoor adventures with refreshing dips in local swimming holes. (Photo: Vermont Tourism)
If you’ve always wanted to try the goat-yoga trend, Vermont—with approximately 6,000 farms on 1.5 million acres of farmland—is the perfect place. In April, many farms open their barn doors and introduce the new kids (the baby-goat kind) to yogis for this popular activity. Visit Retreat Farm in southern Vermont for a chance to be on the mat with these adorable farm residents. Goat yoga probably won’t be the best workout of your life, but it just might be the cutest avenue to stress reduction and joy.
Tip: Plan to visit in spring or summer to catch goat-yoga classes. The season wraps up at the end of August, when the baby goats are too big to safely join guests on the mat.
In the heat of summer, Vermonters punctuate their outdoor adventures with refreshing dips in local swimming holes and time on the water at more than 800 lakes across the state. SUP yoga makes that tradition easy. Get out on the water with Killington Yoga in southern Vermont for downward dogs on a paddleboard. Classes are offered weekly throughout the summer. In the fall, rent a board and enjoy your own on-the-water flow. Whether you take a class or go the self-guided route, don’t miss taking a paddleboard or kayak for a spin on the 100-acre Woodward Reservoir, surrounded by lush forest.
Yoga Under the Trees
Unroll your mat high in the treetops on the elevated Forest Canopy Walk at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science. Fifty feet off the ground, the walkway provides a unique view of the raptors and other birds that nest in the tree canopy. The institute holds classes as special events during warm months into fall, but the canopy walk, which is open to visitors daily, is especially beautiful when the leaves change.
Vermont’s ever-changing landscape draws outdoor enthusiasts year-round to a place that embraces the idea that life is better when we slow down, look around, and simply take notice. Vermont can inspire, restore, and bring you to a whole new state. Sign up to receive the latest news from the Green Mountains.