If you are one of those people who like to do the unexpected or march to the beat of a different drummer, you might want to visit Vermont in late fall. Sure the leaves are off the trees, but although you can appreciate beauty as much as the next person, taking a tourist bus to view foliage is certainly not your thing. So bare trees are not a problem for you. The days will be cool, perhaps in the 40s or 50s, and the nights cooler. Just perfect for undertaking active pursuits during the day and snuggling up to an open fire in the evening. Not sold yet? Let us offer some suggestions.
Rent a bike and head into the countryside. The cross country and snowmobile trails are all yours at this time of year. Gain a bit of elevation and the views are amazing. (No leaves in the way to block your view.) Pack a picnic lunch before you set out or plan your route to include a stop at a nearby village for a meal and conversation with the residents. Even if the first snow has fallen, no need to put off your ride. Try a fat bike with its wide tires and deep treads to keep you in control as you pedal along.
For something totally different, how about a brewery tour? Vermont is home to a large number of craft breweries. In fact, Vermont has more breweries per capita than any other state. Many offer tours and tastings. Some even have an accompanying restaurant for a Vermont take on a pub meal. There are even group tours that will take you to 3-4 different breweries in the same day to sample some unique brews and have a meal, and you won’t have to worry about drinking and driving. You can find more information on the Vermont.com site under Breweries.
If you’re travelling with the family, Vermont has some factory tours that will please everyone, even the youngest visitors. Head to the Vermont Teddy Bear Company in Shelburne to see how these famous bears are made. You’ll even see the teddy bear hospital where they are healed before going home to their young owners. Who doesn’t like chocolate? The home of Lake Champlain Chocolates is right in Burlington. Watch the hand-made chocolates being produced and be sure to take some home for family and friends. And, of course, a trip to Vermont is not complete without a visit to Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream in Waterbury. Besides seeing the factory where the magic happens, you might want to take in the Flavor Graveyard to “pay your respects to the dearly de-pinted flavors of years past.”
If your trip is not complete without searching out and enjoying great dining experiences, Vermont competes on the highest level. The focus here is on farm-to-table freshness and utilization of local products. Many young chefs raised on the concept of buying locally and finding unique ways to showcase those products bring creativity and innovation to meal preparation. Menus are, by necessity, seasonal and daily specials often highlight unique ingredients available during that day’s shopping. Sustainability and organic farming are companion philosophies that support the farm-to-table movement.
The arts play a large part in modern Vermont culture. Living in a place so beautiful can’t help inspiring the creative mind. There are galleries and museums galore in which to browse. You’ll find everything from fine art to hand-crafted furniture to unique sculpture. Check the listings on Vermont.com. Arts & Culture.
Did you know that both Norman Rockwell and Robert Frost lived in Vermont? Or that marble from Vermont was used to create the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery? If you are a history buff or just a collector of interesting facts, you will want to explore some of the many museums in Vermont. Check Vermont.com’s Vermont Museums for listings.
If you are the sort of person who actively pursues unique experiences, Vermont can perhaps check a few things off your bucket list. How about a dog-sled ride? Even if there is no snow, the dogs are harnessed to a wheeled cart for your ride. Can’t do this in the summer because the dogs can’t handle the heat, but it’s the perfect activity during the cool fall weather. If you are an incurable romantic, maybe you’ve always pictured yourself on a horse-drawn carriage ride. This is not your country hayride, but an elegant carriage complete with lap blanket to keep you warm. Everyone loves a circus and who among us hasn’t imagined what it would be like to fly through the air on the trapeze? The New England Center for Circus Arts in Brattleboro, a not-for-profit circus school, can give you that opportunity. (NECCA is an actual school for circus performers, not a novelty activity provider.) You can also take a juggling class or, if you have the time, attend a workshop.
All that being said, one of the experiences most valued by Vermont visitors at this time of year is the peace and relaxation they find. The days are getting shorter which allow long evenings to sit by a fire at a country inn or a rental cabin. The crowds of summer are gone and the winter ski crowds yet to come. Innkeepers and shopkeepers have time to stop and chat. You wake refreshed and renewed each morning, ready to let the day lead you where it will. When it's finally time to go, you head back to your everyday life knowing you will come again next year.