Why, hello dear reader. Fancy meeting you in a place like this! You know, on a website where we can chat all about some of the absolute BEST scenic drives in Vermont – awe-inspiring, totally jaw-dropping Vermont scenic drives that will change how you feel about the great state of Vermont.
And mind you, all this advice isn’t coming from not just anyone. Oh, hell to the no. No, this is super savvy, expert insight that is coming from someone who has been visiting Vermont for well over thirty years.
Yup, growing up my family had a house on Lake Champlain in New York. And because we were so close to Burlington, and Vermont in general, we would routinely catch the ferry from Essex and explore all that Vermont had to offer by road.
Brief aside, my dad also thought nothing of driving from our house in NYC all the way up to Vermont on a random Sunday afternoon.
So yeah, to say I’ve driven through Vermont a time or two is the total understatement of the century.
Therefore, if you want to learn all about some of the best drives in Vermont, then continue onwards my friend. Because I’m gonna share 10 of the absolute best scenic drives in Vermont with you.
I’ll also sprinkle in some epic info on how long the drive will take, where you can start and end the drive, and how long the drive actually is.
This way you can fully prepare for your trip with a tank full of gas and insatiable need to explore the great open road.
So, if you’re ready, let’s blow this popsicle stand wide open (metaphorically) and check out 10 of the best scenic drives in Vermont!
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1. Green Mountain Byway (Route 100)
The short, yet sweet Green Mountain Byway is one of the most popular scenic drives in Vermont – and for good reason! That’s because this ridiculously stunning drive is at its most beautiful throughout the fall when the leaves come alive and display an array of fiery colors.
And while you can simply enjoy the view from the inside of your car, I highly recommend making a few stops along the way. So, set aside some time to admire the fall foliage at places like Little River State Park, Gold Brook Bridge, and Waterbury Center State Park.
You can also stop for a road trip snack since there’s no shortage of delicious food stops on the Green Mountain Byway. Heck, you can even stuff yourself silly with a flavorful scoop (or ten) of ice cream from the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory or sip on a delicious apple city from Cold Hollow Cider Mill (nom, nom, nom).
What, feeling a bit exhausted after doing one of the best scenic drives in Vermont? Well, if so then no worries because ya girl over here has got you covered.
Because once you end your Vermont scenic drive in Stowe, you could always spend the night at:
- Trapp Family Lodge – Honestly, this place is awesome with a capital “A”. I mean, not only is this chill, alpine-inspired resort located just 3 miles from Stowe’s famous ski slopes, but it’s brimming over with Bavarian chic rooms that feature hot tubs, WIFI, TV, balconies with mountain views, and so much more. So, if you want to embrace your love of the Sound of Music and enjoy having two European restaurants, a bakery, a brewery, a wine cellar, and a heated pool on-site then THIS is definitely the place for you.
- Green Mountain Inn – Located right in downtown Stowe, this is hotel is exceptionally well-reviewed and well-priced for the area. Something that is kind of surprising when you factor in its premiere location and the fact that the building dates all the way back to 1833. Add in comfortable, well-appointed rooms with TV, wifi, Keurig coffee makers, gas fireplaces, and whirlpool tubs (in addition to a game room, fitness center, and heated outdoor pool on-site) and have the perfect place to stay during a romantic getaway in Vermont.
Pro Tip: If you’d like to extend your Route 100 drive, there are many ways to make that happen. You can continue past Stowe to Morrisville, drive along the Smuggler’s Notch Road to Jeffersonville, or make a huge 146-mile loop through Morrisville, Johnson Village, Jeffersonville, and Stowe.
How Many Miles: 10 miles
Driving Time: About 15 minutes (or 1 hour with stops)
Start and End Location: Start in Waterbury, Vermont, and end in Stowe, Vermont
2. Lake Champlain Byway
While most people assume that stunning fall foliage is the most beautiful thing to see in Vermont, I’d argue that Lake Champlain is a close competitor.
I mean, it’s a ginormous, 124-mile long, freshwater lake that runs parallel to the border of New York and Vermont – extending all the way into Canada at its northernmost points.
Originally, Lake Champlain also functioned as a natural border between the Abenaki and Mohawk Native American tribes. Although truth be told, this lake is actually named after the famous French explorer, Samuel de Champlain, who came across this jaw-droppingly beautiful body of water in 1609.
And while they were here, both Native Americans and Champlain alike claimed to have seen the legendary, Lake Champlain sea monster, Champ.
Yeah, just think of it as the Lochness monster, only in North America since eyewitnesses swear that Champ is a 10-foot-long creature with sharp teeth and impenetrable silver scales.
So, the moral of the story? Keep your eyes peeled and your camera at the ready people! Who knows, you might be the very first person to capture definitive, photographic proof of Champ’s existence!
Unfortunately, odds are you won’t see Champ on your drive along the Lake Champlain Byway. But you will be able to see loads of other amazing things during one of the best scenic drives in Vermont!
You can go apple picking at Happy Valley Orchard, picnic in Button Bay State Park, and hike to the top of Mount Philo. Plus, in between these hella awesome stops, you can always take some time to sit and gaze out at breathtaking Lake Champlain from its sandy shores.
So, relax, and enjoy the ride (both literally and metaphorically). And afterward, spend the night in Burlington at one of these super snazzy hotels:
- Hotel Vermont – Hidden away in downtown Burlington, this chic and modern hotel features a wealth of refined, contemporary rooms that include WIFI, flat-screen TVs, stone-tiled bathrooms, and whirlpool tubs/fireplaces – at least if you have the cash and want to be a baller for the evening. You can also snag some sweet, complimentary water, tea, and coffee from a communal panty before getting a massage at the on-site spa or enjoying a meal/drink at the cocktail bar (FYI, they also serve food) or fine dining restaurant here.
- GGT Tibet Inn – Definitely not the fanciest hotel on the planet, but it’s well located and a great option if you’re traveling to Vermont on a budget (rooms are under $100 per night). Rooms also have everything you need for a comfortable stay, including WIFI, TVs, mini-fridges, complimentary breakfast, and views of the one and only, Lake Champlain. There’s also an outdoor pool here that you can totally make use of on a nice, sunny day.
How Many Miles: 36 miles
Driving Time: 1 hour
Start and End Location: Start in Middlebury, Vermont, and end in Burlington, Vermont
3. The Champlain Islands
While the Lake Champlain Byway skirts along the eastern shore of the lake, The Champlain Islands drive actually allows you to do a bit of island hopping within the lake itself!
In other words, there’s no question of why The Champlain Islands route is easily one of the best scenic drives in Vermont.
Because as you wind your way along The Champlain Islands drive, you’ll discover two of the largest islands in the entire lake: South Hero Island and North Hero Island.
If you want, you can even transform this drive into a day-long activity, complete with several awesome stops that include going for a swim at Knight Point State Park, munching on an apple cider donut from Hackett’s Orchard, visiting the oldest log cabin in the country at Hyde Log Cabin, and spending a couple of hours at Alburgh Dunes State Park.
And if you just don’t want the island fun to end (like ever), then spend the night in this relaxed, lake view loft on North Hero Island. Not only are hosts Fred and Laurie BEYOND lovely, but you’ll enjoy a nice quiet weekend filled with hikes along stunning natural trails and days spent lounging in the sun along the sandy shores of Lake Champlain.
This guestroom is also pretty fab too since it includes a kitchenette and has everything you need for a super comfy stay.
Pro Tip: You can combine the Lake Champlain Byway with The Champlain Islands drive to make transform this into one hella epic experience! You’ll just need to drive an additional six miles from Burlington Vermont, to Colchester, Vermont.
How Many Miles: 39 miles
Driving Time: 1 hour (or 4+ hours with stops)
Start and End Location: Start in Colchester, Vermont, and end in Alburg, Vermont
4. Molly Stark Scenic Byway (Route 9)
History lovers of the world, unite! Because the Molly Stark Scenic Byway is easily one of the best scenic drives in Vermont for you!
First, there’s the history of the name behind this Vermont scenic drive. See, Molly Stark was the wife of General John Stark, who made his mark on history on August 16, 1777, in the little town of Bennington, Vermont.
That’s where (and when) he led the Colonial militia to victory over the British at the Battle of Bennington. Huzzah!
As a result, you’ll find loads of historical sites along this Southern Vermont drive. So, be sure to stop at the Bennington Battle Monument, take a picture of the Molly Stark Statue, and wander around historic downtown Brattleboro.
Because even if you’re not much of a history buff, the Molly Stark Scenic Byway is still one of the best drives in Vermont that is well worth your time.
I mean, after all, who doesn’t want to sample a bit of maple bourbon at Vermont Distillers, hike the Bald Mountain Trail, and admire the fascinating, historic artifacts at the Tasha Tudor Museum? I know I do!
Plus, once you’ve driven until you can drive no more, spend a glorious night at:
- The Four Chimneys Inn – Tucked away inside a beautifully restored mansion from 1913, this glorious bed and breakfast sits on an expansive 13-acre estate and features eleven luxurious, individually decorated rooms with free WIFI, TV, four-poster beds, private porches, jacuzzis, and more! You’ll also enjoy a complimentary and altogether decadent breakfast feast as part of your stay.
- Paradise Inn – Paradise may be a bit of an overstatement. But, if you’re looking for a comfortable and reasonably priced place to stay in Bennington, then check out Paradise Inn. It’s an easy 10-minute walk to the center of town, is surrounded by enchanting gardens, and has rooms that include AC, Wifi, TV, patios/balconies. There’s also an outdoor pool with a gazebo and hammocks that are available for guest use.
How Many Miles: 40 miles
Driving Time: 1 hour
Start and End Location: Start in Brattleboro, Vermont, and end in Bennington, Vermont
5. The Shires of Vermont Byway (Route 7A)
Nestled between the Green Mountains and the Taconic Mountains lies The Shires of Vermont Byway.
It’s a particularly gorgeous Vermont scenic drive that showcases blooming wildflowers in the spring, flourishing trees in the summer, bright red leaves in the fall, and snow-capped mountain peaks in the winter.
It’s undoubtedly one of the best scenic drives in Vermont. Plus, on your way from Bennington to Manchester, you’ll pass a couple of noteworthy Vermont towns that you’ll definitely want to explore.
Plus, even before you begin your journey, you’ll definitely want to take some time to explore everything that Bennington has to offer, including the Bennington Battle Monument, Bald Mountain, and the area’s many stunning covered bridges.
And as you make your way down one of the many Vermont scenic byways on this list, Shaftsbury will be the next major town you’ll come across. While you’re here, you can visit Lake Shaftsbury State Park and the Robert Frost Stone House Museum too.
Continue on down the road and your third stop on The Shires of Vermont Byway will be Arlington. It’s a teeny tiny town that is known for the Arlington Covered Bridge and the Arlington Village Farmers’ Market.
And last but certainly not least, you’ll end up in Manchester. While you’re here, you can admire stunning mountain views from stop Mount Equinox, picnic at Emerald Lake, and learn all about the production of maple syrup at the Merck Forest & Farmland Center.
Heck, Manchester is so awesome that you might as well make a weekend of it and spend the night at:
- The Reluctant Panther Inn and Restaurant – This exquisite, 4-star hotel makes for the perfect place to stay in Manchester, Vermont. Set on well-manicured grounds that feature rolling gardens and a charming pond, upscale rooms here feature marble bathrooms, flat-screen TVs, fireplaces, four-poster beds, antiques, and complimentary breakfast inside a high-end, on-site eatery (you can also just stop by the restaurant for dinner even if you’re not staying here).
- Kimpton Taconic Hotel – Offering guests stellar views of the surrounding mountains, this exceptional hotel is well-located and offers guests posh rooms that are outfitted with WIFI, Italian linens, and flat-screen TVs – with fireplaces and mountain views available in upgraded suites. Other fantastic amenities include a restaurant, gym, and a stunning lounge with a charming fireplace that you can cozy up around.
How Many Miles: 26 miles
Driving Time: 35 minutes
Start and End Location: Start in Bennington, Vermont, and end in Manchester, Vermont
6. Stone Valley Scenic Byway (Route 30)
The Stone Valley Scenic Byway is the longest route on this list. And even with its extra length, it’s definitely worth the extra effort and time.
While many of the best scenic drives in Vermont focus on the state’s thriving plant life, the Stone Valley Scenic Byway offers a little something different.
Because this drive highlights the area’s marble and slate quarries. Get it? That’s why it’s called Stone Valley!
Therefore, can see a fair few stone-related sites on the Stone Valley Scenic Byway, including the Marble House Project and the Bomoseen State Park Slate History Trail.
If you want, and the weather actually cooperates, you can also go for a swim at Half Moon Pond State Park, catch a performance during the Dorset Theatre Festival, learn about the cheese-making process at Bardwell Farm, and go wine tasting at Whaleback Vineyard.
And after all that driving, you’ll definitely want to relax the night away at:
- Lake Bomoseen Lodge – Exceptionally well-priced and well-reviewed, this amazing, 3.5-star hotel makes for the perfect stay in Bomoseen (right near Hubbardton). Not only does it overlook the lake but chic rooms here come fully outfitted with oak furniture, tartan accessories, Wifi, and flat-screen TVs, A delicious breakfast is also included with your stay, as is free coffee, kayak/paddleboard/canoe rentals, lake–access, and use of an onsite pool.
How Many Miles: 43 miles
Driving Time: 1 hour
Start and End Location: Start in Manchester, Vermont, and end in Hubbardton, Vermont
7. Mad River Byway
Despite the fact that the Mad River Byway is just 30 miles long, it has something for everyone to enjoy! Because with its historic landmarks, thriving natural landscapes, delicious eateries, and artsy independent galleries, it’s definitely one of the best scenic drives in Vermont.
First, there are the historical landmarks. So, be sure to check out the famous Pine Brooks Covered Bridge or pop into the Madsonian Museum of Industrial Design.
However, if you’re more of a nature lover than a history buff, then this is one of the best drives in Vermont that will not disappoint you.
Because you can hike part of the Mad River Path Recreational Trail Network, check out various cliff jumping spots on the way to Warren Falls, or go skiing at Sugarbush Resort throughout the winter months.
Regardless of your interests though, you’ll need to stop for a bite to eat along the way. And you should absolutely dine at the highly-rated Peasant Restaurant, try apple brandy at Mad River Distillers, and grab a treat at the ever-amazing, Waitsfield Farmers’ Market.
Last but not least, there are a wealth of enchanting, art-focused stops along the Mad River Byway. That’s why, during your trip, you’ll be able to buy everything from rugs at Ann’s Weavery to ceramic mugs at Waitsfield Pottery to glasswork at Mad River Glass Gallery.
Finally, spend the evening at:
- The Old Stagecoach Inn – This historic tavern/stagecoach stop from 1826 is just a stone’s throw away from the Waterbury-Stowe Amtrak station and features antique-style rooms that come with beamed ceilings, Wifi, four-poster beds, and anything else you might need for an epic stay. A sumptuous breakfast is also included with your stay, as is access to their awesome library bar.
- Fairfield Inn & Suites – Yeah, I know this is a chain hotel and that is kind of lame. But, it’s a nice chain hotel that sits right off of I-89 and has beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. Chic, well-appointed rooms here also come with wifi, flat-screen TVs, microwaves, and minifridges, Guests here can also dig into a giant, hot, complimentary, breakfast buffet or make use of the spacious indoor pool. hot tub, and on-site gym.
How Many Miles: 30 miles
Driving Time: 40 minutes
Start and End Location: Start in Granville, Vermont, and end in Middlesex, Vermont
8. Smuggler’s Notch Road
Smuggler’s Notch Road is definitely one of the best scenic drives in Vermont – and also one of the most dangerous. As a matter of fact, the conditions on this road become so unsafe that it actually closes each winter!
That said, Smuggler’s Notch Road is a gorgeous place to drive when snow isn’t lining the ground. Because each season brings with it, its very own unique beauty, with blooming wildflowers in the spring, bright green hills in the summer, and fire-colored leaves in the fall.
But regardless of what season you visit, you’ll be able to see a wealth of towering outcroppings of rock and larges expanses of evergreen forests that Smuggler’s Notch Road is known for.
That’s why I highly recommend going out and exploring the beautiful natural areas that line Smuggler’s Notch Road.
Because while you’re here, you can ski at Smuggler’s Notch Resort, hike the Mount Mansfield Loop Trail, and go rock climbing in Smuggler’s Notch State Park.
Pro Tip: Smuggler’s Notch Road is actually part of the extended, 146-mile Green Mountain Byway route. So if you’d like to extend this amazing Vermont scenic drive, even more, you can combine the Smuggler’s Notch Road with the rest of Route 100.
How Many Miles: 17 miles
Driving Time: 30 minutes
Start and End Location: Start in Stowe, Vermont, and end in Jeffersonville, Vermont
9. Middlebury Gap (Route 125)
Poetry lovers, this one’s for you!
Because guess what? The Middlebury Gap actually follows in the immortal footsteps of the famous poet, Robert Frost.
Yup, you’ll now understand exactly where his most famous poem, “The Road Not Taken,” came from and begin to see why he is the only person ever to receive a whopping FOUR Pulitzer Prizes for poetry.
And while Robert Frost technically spent most of his life in New Hampshire, he also spent a good chunk of time in Vermont, particularly along the Middlebury Gap.
As a matter of fact, many of his most famous poems actually describe the natural beauty of Vermont. So, during your time on the Middlebury Gap, be sure to visit the Robert Frost Farm, the Robert Frost Wayside Area, and the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail.
See, Robert Frost clearly understood that the nature in the Middlebury Gap was special, so you should obviously intersperse your Frost-centric stops with a few nature-focused ones.
Therefore, make time to feel the mist of Texas Falls, ski at the Middlebury College Snowbowl, find the hidden Bailey Falls, and hike sections of the Long Trail (yes, it’s REALLY long).
And once you’ve completed your drive, enjoy the ethereal charms of Middlebury at:
- The Inn on the Green – Step back in time at a hotel that is set inside a stunning, fully-restored, Federal-style home from 1803. Rooms here have a Victorian-era feel to them and are all individually decorated with exquisite antiques. Add in private bathrooms, satellite TV, WIFI, complimentary hot drinks/snacks, and free bike rentals and you have the perfect place to stay in Vermont.
- Middlebury Inn – Tucked away inside four gorgeous brick buildings that date back to 1827, this amazing hotel has enchanting, Victorian-inspired rooms that come outfitted with flat-screen TVs, Wifi, and four-poster beds. During your stay, you’ll also enjoy complimentary afternoon tea, free access to a nearby gym and day spa, and can savor local breakfast fare inside a quaint, on-site restaurant,
How Many Miles: 11.5 miles
Driving Time: 15 minutes (or 1-2 hours with stops)
Start and End Location: Start in Hancock, Vermont, and end in Ripton, Vermont
10. The Appalachian Gap (Route 17)
The Appalachian Gap, locally known as the App Gap, is one of the coolest drives in the state.
Like the Middlebury Gap, the App Gap also cuts through Vermont’s lovely Green Mountains, which means that you’ll get to take in these awesome views throughout the ENTIRE drive!
So, for the best App Gap experience possible, be sure to admire the natural wonders that surround you the entire time. You can even marvel at the thriving foliage outside your car window, pull over to take in the striking views, and tackle a hike or two.
And although you might think that you can hike part of the Appalachian Trail while crossing the App Gap, that’s actually not the case.
Instead, the most well-known trail that connects with the App Gap is the 272-mile Long Trail. And I don’t know about you, but 272 miles is a little too far for me to hike, so I’d rather just hike a few miles and then retrace my steps.
But if you’re looking for other hikes to try during your trip through the App Gap, you can consider the Beane Trail to Birch Glen Shelter, Molly Stark’s Balcony, or Theron Dean Shelter.
And after all that hiking, spend the night in:
- The Inn at Round Barn Farm – This luxurious bed and breakfast sits inside a historic farmhouse from the 19th-century that is situated on 245+ acres of land. So, expect to find stylish, country-themed rooms with steam showers, whirlpool tubs, free Wifi, gas fireplaces, flat-screen TVs, and canopy beds. You’ll also enjoy a complimentary breakfast each morning, as well as free, non-alcoholic drinks in the on-site game room. Add in an indoor pool and gym and you might never want to leave!
- Featherbed Inn – This cozy little bed and breakfast was once a dairy farm that dates all the way back to 1806. Since then though, the property has been transformed into a lovely little spot with nine unique rooms that feature antique decor, en suite bathrooms, vintage quilts, four-poster beds, Guests can also enjoy daily cooked to order breakfast as well as free, afternoon snacks (nom, nom, nom).
How Many Miles: 25 miles
Driving Time: 40 minutes
Start and End Location: Start in Starksboro, Vermont, and end in Waitsfield, Vermont
Vermont Scenic Drives Map
Additional Road Trip Resources You’ll Love
- 10 Awe-Inspiring Scenic Drives in Maine
- 20 Amazing Gifts for a Road Tripper
- 20+ Amazing Road Trips from NYC
Well, there you have it fall foliage fans.
Because that just about wraps up this post on 10 of the absolute best scenic drives in Vermont. Tell me, did your favorite Vermont scenic drives make the list?
If not then let me know in the comments below because I 110% want to check them out.
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