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Vermont: The Green Mountain State

by in Mar 2008
Vermont: The Green Mountain State
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By David Lyon and Patricia Harris

Vermont is New England’s vertical state, where things are always looking up — unless you’re staring down a black diamond ski run at Killington or Stowe. Lacking the saltwater coast of the rest of the region, Vermont compensates with its knobby spine of the Green Mountains and the nation’s first — and some would argue best — long-distance hiking path, the Long Trail.

The moment you drive across the border you’ll notice that Vermonters cruise around in four-wheel-drive vehicles with ski racks in winter and bike racks in summer. They just toss the snowboards (Vermont more or less invented the sport) into the hatchback. From Mount Snow in the south to outrageous Jay Peak in the Northeast Kingdom, there’s a ski, board, or bike trail with your name on it.

Two artists have captured the enduring rustic soul of Vermont. The “primitive” paintings of Grandma Moses recount a farm-life idyll of the state’s southwest corner. See many of them at the Bennington Museum.

A little farther north in the artistic and intellectual capital of Middlebury, artist Woody Jackson has established the black and white Holstein cow as the icon of the state. Jackson’s bovines emblazon the pints of premium ice cream produced by the Green Mountain moguls of mix-ins, Ben & Jerry, at their Waterbury factory. Also thank the cows for some of America’s best cheeses, which you can taste at the factories in Cabot or Healdville or Grafton — or in any of the state’s equally iconic country stores. (Catch the “original” in Weston.)

The signature taste of Vermont, though, is sweet. Even if you miss the spring maple syrup festivals, be sure to order a tall stack of pancakes at any of the state’s great diners and breakfast cafes. Your syrup should come in a generous pitcher.

Few states feed you as well as Vermont, thanks partly to the training programs of the New England Culinary Institute. Visit NECI’s restaurants in Montpelier and Essex Junction. When the aroma of pot-au-feu lures you into a village bistro, remember that the chef probably trained in Montpelier. And he or she likely uses locally grown produce, meat and dairy products — look for the Vermont Fresh logo.

The state is more than mountain trails, covered bridges, and rolling cow pastures. Two of its lakes — Champlain and Memphremagog — are so big they each have a legendary sea serpent, and the long, deep finger of Lake Willoughby resembles nothing so much as a landlocked fjord.

Though Vermont is one of the least populated states, its cities and towns are lively places. Burlington bustles with international flavor (Montreal’s only an hour away), while old time bohemians and the new millennium avant-garde blend in St. Johnsbury in the Northeast Kingdom and Brattleboro on the Connecticut River. Look for the country gentry in Woodstock — it used to be almost the private preserve of the Rockefellers.

Samuel Champlain no doubt named the countryside in summer (Vermont means “green mountain” in French). If he’d come in early October, he would have called it Rougemont. That’s when the hills light up with the scarlets and oranges of the maples, the somber bronzes of the oaks, and the acid yellows of birches and beeches. The north-south Route 100 cuts right through the heart of brightness. We’ll look for you at the scenic turnout.

Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

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Updated Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

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7 Responses to Vermont: The Green Mountain State

  1. Jonathan Spiller October 13, 2008 at 6:17 pm #

    I love Vermont. The Mountains, animals,scenic views, covered bridges. A good Bed and Breakfast ids the Carriage House of Woodstock, Vermont. I went there for a few days in October 2007.

  2. Gerry Kimmitt January 6, 2009 at 9:38 pm #

    My husband and I visited Vermont in 2005. We were looking for a special place to picnic and found Jamaica State Park, I believe it was a little bit north of Brattleboro. October is the best time, before they open the dam, as the small river that runs along the park is spectacular. We went back two years later in May, but the river was high and you couldn’t walk down to the banks. I love New England in general, but that was a very special memory for both of us.

  3. Laura Lewandowski December 27, 2009 at 8:03 pm #

    My husband and I love Vermont so much that we plan to move there in a few months. Visits and vacations just don’t do it anymore.

  4. Ben Schaeffer January 23, 2010 at 7:21 am #

    No matter where in the world I am, or where I’m living, the spirit and beauty of Vermont always lures me home. As I start to wind up a nearly ten-year stretch of living in the San Francisco Bay Area, city life has grown tiresome, and memories of crisp, fresh Fall air, vibrant blue skies, brilliant foliage colors, endless snowy days of dazzling sunshine, and the smell of a wood-burning stove are all making me homesick. Well, in 2014, I will be back in the Green Mountain State, a state that has been my home (on and off) since 1978. Yankee Readers look for my new B&B, which will be opening sometime in the late Fall/early Winter of 2014/2015, in South Newfane, Vt, located between Brattleboro and the Mount Snow Ski Resort. Website launch is planned for mid-Fall 2014. I can’t wait! It will be so good to come home!

    Ben A. Schaeffer, future proprietor of Ben’s Rainbow House B&B, South Newfane, Vt.

  5. Diane Pouliot September 3, 2010 at 7:55 am #

    I am kinda shocked that after reading the latest Yankee Magazine about the Best Foliage towns, I looked at this article and it seems that the corridor from Burlington to Pownal is not even mentioned. Route 7 and Route 7A Historical are not only historical routes that the Ethan Allen Boys walked and rode, but have some of the finest scenery, antiques, restaurants, independently owned motels/hotels/inn, independent book stores and as voted by Yankee readers–the #1 and #2 Foliage towns-Manchester VT and Middlebury, VT. Designer Outlets, finest skiing in the Northeast and yet-FORGOTTEN ON OUR VT MAP!

  6. Julia Purdy September 3, 2011 at 10:58 pm #

    Vermont will be open for business this foliage season, Irene notwithstanding. We are working as hard as anyone can to put our roads and bridges back together. Go to for a Google map showing closures, reopened roads, and bridges out. Above all, please be patient with us, observe all road signs, and be courteous. We’re going to be bruised for a long time, but we’ll welcome your smiling faces. Just be gentle and don’t expect too much.

  7. Doug Williams December 4, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

    We love the Wilmington Mt Snow area. We know of at a fantastic B&B the Nutmeg Inn. if you have AAA or are a teacher or a senior they give you a 10% DISCOUNT. The rooms have wood burning fireplaces, private baths and they serve FREE wine in the afternoon and a huge fantastic complimentary breakfast. It is the BEST.

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