Each September, when school starts again and subtle hints of fall creep into the air, I get the itch to start filling my weekends with fall activities.
Vermont fall offers countless options for seasonal enjoyment. So, Burlington VT Moms Blog compiled the Ultimate Guide to Vermont Fall Fun to help you and your family enjoy the season in our beautiful state! Below, you’ll find all the best spots for leaf peeping in Vermont, the best places to stop for eats along the way, a variety of festivities happening around the state, and other locations where you can participate in some fall fun!
Enjoy western views overlooking Lake Champlain and beyond from the top of Mount Philo. The perfect excursion for all abilities and generations, you can choose to hike the trail, walk the road, or drive on up to the summit. Bring a picnic, then stop at Vermont Cookie Love in Ferrisburgh on your way back home for freshly baked fall-tastic cookie flavors like oatmeal, coconut, chocolate chip, dried cranberry, almond (that’s all one cookie!) or pumpkin chocolate chip.
Be a Tourist in Your Own State
You’ll find the both the Stowe Gondola SkyRide and Cold Hollow Cider Mill on many tourist must-do lists, for good reason. The views that emerge as you ascend Mount Mansfield on the gondola wow any and all foliage enthusiasts and kids will love the gradual, smooth ride. Once up top, choose to hike around or just rest and take it all in. On your way out of town, grab a dozen piping hot cider donuts from Cold Hollow, voted best cider donuts by Seven Days readers.
Colors on the Move
Leaf peeping doesn’t have to take place from the top of a mountain ridge. On the contrary, Vermont’s towns and valleys are as spectacular as the mountains during foliage season. Take in the beauty of hillsides, rivers, and covered bridges surrounded by autumn colors on a Fall Foliage Train Ride, departing from Chester, Vermont three times a day on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from September 19th to October 18th. On your way to Chester, take a slight detour to the King Arthur Flour Bakery + Café in Norwich. King Arthur Flour rules seasonal baking, virtually guaranteeing fall goodies right when you want them.
Seeing the autumn colors is one thing. Being inside the colors is a whole other experience. Through Columbus Day weekend, Little River State Park is an ideal spot to immerse yourself in the fall scenery. The History Hike is much more a walking journey back in time than a hike. The trail meanders through beautiful forest, past stone walls, foundations, and orchards from a century ago. You may work up an appetite, so head into Waterbury for lunch or dinner at Prohibition Pig. While known for classic cocktails and craft beer (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), kids and adults alike will love the hearty BBQ comfort food.
Profile-Worthy Photo Op
Route 100 through the Mad River Valley follows the eastern edge of the northern half of the Green Mountain National Forest, making it one of Vermont’s most scenic stretches of road. Tucked into the forest in Granville you’ll find family-favorite Moss Glen Falls, a breathtaking waterfall just a short walk into the woods, with easy access from Route 100. A backdrop of fall colors make the waterfall even more sensational. On your way to or from the falls, round off your quintessential Vermont experience at The Warren Store. Order a sandwich on homemade bread at the deli or a whoopie pie from the bakery in the barn out back.
When Should You Go?
Pinning down peak foliage is tricky. Luckily, there are plenty of others doing it for us. Check the Vermont Travel & Tourism Foliage Forecaster or the Yankee Live Foliage Map to plan your optimal trip. Then get out there with your favorite people and soak in the autumn beauty, because pretty soon you’ll be giving it up for the frosty Vermont winter.
Vermont Fall Fun Festivals and Events
1. 40th Annual Harvest Festival at Shelburne Farms
September 15, 10:00am-4:00pm
Cost: $10 adult/$5 seniors and children/children 2 years and under are free/admission is free for membership holders
This annual festival never disappoints! The barnyard animals will be out for visiting as always, but this festival offers so much more! Join this fall celebration and enjoy a variety of live music and other performances, fresh farm food, a plethora of free activities for kids, horse-drawn hayrides, local artisans, as well as live bird presentations by Outreach for Earth Stewardship.
2. Colors of the Kingdom Festival, St. Johnsbury
September 15, 8am-5pm
Head to downtown St. Johnsbury and celebrate fall with exhibits, tours, live music, craft activities, and more!
3. Shoreham Apple Fest, Shoreham
5k/10k race at 10:30am, Festival at 12pm
A 5k/10k race kicks off this event at 10:30. Then, beginning at noon, the town green will be abuzz with music, farmer’s market booths, and local food sample tables. An annual fundraising event for the Platt Memorial Library, attendees’ lunch purchases will benefit this worthy cause.
September 22, 10am-4pm
At this festival, you’ll find no shortage of craft and vendor booths, food, live entertainment, and other activities.
5. Sam Mazza’s Harvest Weekends, Corn Maze, Hayrides, and Annual Pumpkin Weigh-In Colchester
September 22, 12pm – 3pm
12th Annual Giant Pumpkin Weigh-In Saturday. Also starting Saturday, Sept 22nd, each weekend Sam Mazza’s will have fall activities. Enjoy a tractor-drawn hay wagon to their pumpkin patch to pick your own pumpkisn on weekends from 10am –4pm, weather permitting!
6. Old Fashioned Harvest Market, Underhill
September 29, 9:00-5:00 & September 30, 10:30am- 4pm
Loads of kiddo activities, over 100 craft vendors, an opening day parade, pet show, and live entertainment including music, delicious food options, hay rides, and more. This two-day extravaganza has it all, even a 5K run to burn off all those doughnut calories!
October 5-7, Festivities start at 10am each day
This festival occurs during peak foliage season and features over 150 fine artists and artisans, live music and a variety of other entertainment, and delicious food!
8. Harvest Weekend Billings Farm and Museum, Woodstock
October 6 & 7, 10- 5pm
An admission fee is charged*
This party includes a traditional corn husking competition at noon and also includes a barn dance! Kids and adults can learn how to press cider, preserve apples, make butter and ice cream, dig up potatoes, and build fences. Step back in time with 19th-century games like apples on a string. This museum is a must-visit for families — the foliage on your way to Woodstock is a fantastic bonus!
9. Montpelier Fall Festival, Montpelier High School
October 7, 11am-3pm
This event supports the local schools of Montpelier. Festivities includes a 5k race, a kickball tournament, and ultimate frisbee, in addition to crafts, food and other games.
October 14, 11am- 5pm
Ever see a parade of 200 tractors? Well, here’s your chance! This Vermont favorite also features local music, plenty of food, barnyard animals, and free activities for kids. Festivities begin at 11 on the green by Spear’s Corner Store. The parade kicks off rain or shine at 1pm, but you’ll want to get there early if you want to participate in the pie-eating contest at noon!
Fall without apple picking is like summer without creemees. We have so many wonderful orchards to choose from and enough weekends to hit up several, if not all of them! After all, not every variety is available at the same time, and you’ve got to balance out your Macintoshes and your Red Delicious. Fill your baskets and test out different pie recipes, make an epic vat of homemade apple sauce, or just eat the crunchiest ones straight up. The doughnuts aren’t bad either. Check out this list to work out your pickin’ schedule!
Adam’s Apple Orchard & Farm Market, Williston
Boyer’s Orchard and Cider Mill, Monkton
Chapin Orchard, Essex Junction
Hackett’s Orchard, South Hero
Hall’s Orchard, Isle La Motte
Happy Valley Orchard, Middlebury
Shelburne Orchards, Shelburne
Corn Maze Frenzy
Lose yourself in a dizzying farm labyrinth or a “maize maze,” if you will. Your kids will love running around the puzzle trying to find their way out. Here are some fun ones to visit!
1. Great Vermont Corn Maze, North Danville
Well worth the (amazing foliage) drive to the Northeast Kingdom, this Top-10-in-America rated option is the ultimate corn maze experience. Seriously, this thing is huge. The website recommends starting before 1pm.
2. Isham Family Farm, Williston
This maze is made out of both corn and sunflowers! As you search for the exit sign, you’ll also be playing scavenger hunt. Good times!
3. Percy Farm Corn Maze, Stowe
Enjoy a scenic drive to one of the most charming towns in Vermont, Stowe! Work up an appetite solving the maze, then head to one of the town’s adorable restaurants for lunch or an early dinner. Bonus: This maze is dog-friendly, but leashes are required for Rover.
4. Whitcomb’s Corn Maze, Williston
Last but not least, Whitcomb’s combines their maze with learning, as you reach checkpoints that teach you all about pumpkin harvesting! Perhaps you will also find the candy jackpot hidden within the 4-acre maze, or maybe the special marked ear of corn which entitles you to a free small pumpkin.
And speaking of pumpkins…
When we think October, we think pumpkins, and we’re not just talking about fancy coffee drinks here, but actual pumpkins! If you’ve never picked your own straight from the patch, you are missing out on some serious fall fun. Here are a few places to choose from as you hunt for the perfect jack-o-lantern candidate. Don’t forget to roast those seeds for a well-earned reward (because you know you’ll be doing most of the carving work, not the kids).
Chapin Orchard, Essex Junction
Isham Family Farm, Williston
Parker Family Farm, Williston
Red Barn Gardens, Williston
Sam Mazza’s Farm Market, Colchester
Shelburne Orchards, Shelburne
Whitcomb’s Land of Pumpkins, Williston
1. Trunk or Treat and Pumpkins in the Park, Milton
October 26, 6-8pm
Now that you’ve picked the perfect pumpkins, it’s time to carve them and what better way than somewhere that’s not your house? Bring the mess to Milton instead! They will even provide the stencils, decorations, and carving tools. The event will also include costume and best carving contests with prizes, as well as trick or treating, refreshments, and a big bonfire.
2. Halloween Express Party and Train Ride, Main Street Station, Burlington
October 27 & 28
Attend the pre-boarding party one hour prior to your train’s boarding and then enjoy your one hour train ride from Burlington to Shelburne and back. Train rides are family friendly and, while the trains are decorated, the experience is not meant to be scary at all.
2. Haunted Happenings, Shelburne Museum
October 28, 10am-1pm
Cost: $7/person, Free/members & under 3
Put on your costumes and head over to Shelburne for this incredible event that combines candy with culture — the best of both worlds! Named a Top 10 Fall Event by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, this spooktacular fall fun shindig turns the museum into a trick-or-treating tour as workers dress up to hand out candy. Wrap up with lunch at the cafe, now featuring Skinny Pancake.
3. Halloween Family Party at University Mall, S. Burlington
Details for this annual event have not been posted yet. Please stay tuned to the University Mall Facebook page for details!
Knock out some early Christmas shopping while your kids are rewarded with candy from every store you drag them, too. They can also enjoy fall fun activities, like a pirate train ride and a bouncy house!
4. Trick-or-Treat Street on Church Street, Burlington
October 28, 1pm- 4pm
Enjoy trick-or-treating, face painting, and other seasonal activities on our beautiful, car-free favorite downtown Burlington street.
5. Swim with the Pumpkins at Burlington YMCA
October 28, 6pm-7:30pm
Children can go pumpkin picking in the pool and take home an inflatable or real pumpkin. Light refreshments are also provided.