13 Essential Things To Do In Southern Vermont

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Southern Vermont Fall Foliage

Vermont is incredible! This small but mighty state is beautiful, welcoming, and friendly, with so much in store within its borders.

It’s a state that some people tend to forget about or overlook due to its northern location and size, but not you! You know there’s a lot of punch packed into this scenic Green Mountain gem – and you’re ready to take a vacation and explore it.

There are lots of things to do in northern Vermont – you may know of some of them already. Popular Vermont attractions in the northern part of the state include the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory, Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks, Cold Hollow Cider Mill, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory, and Shelburne Farms.

However, if you’re visiting the southern Vermont area, you may wonder how to fill your time and set yourself up for a perfect day. Much of Vermont’s population – and therefore activity – is in the north, while southern Vermont is quieter, sleepy, and relaxed.

Don’t let that fool you, though – there are still lots and lots of things to do in southern Vermont, and you’ll love visiting and exploring it. Read on to learn more about the southern part of this great state and how to plan a Vermont vacation there that you’ll always treasure and remember. Have a great trip!

TL;DR

Best… Option
Historical Monument Bennington Battle Monument
Historical Home Tour Hildene
Place to Get Out in Nature Green Mountain National Forest
Place to Learn About Nature Vermont Institute of Natural Science Nature Center
Attraction for Families Montshire Museum of Science
Place to Stay Kimpton Taconic Hotel

1. Bennington Battle Monument

Bennington Battle Monument obelisk at 15 Monument Circle, Bennington, Vermont
EPasqualli / Adobe Stock

Address: 15 Monument Circle; Bennington, VT 05201

The Bennington Battle Monument was built between 1887 and 1889 to commemorate the Battle of Bennington, which took place on August 16, 1777. This famous battle is considered a major turning point in the Revolutionary War.

It’s located ten miles from the actual battlefield. Still, you can ride an elevator to its observatory level at 200 feet and see three states (Vermont, Massachusetts, and New York) as well as the actual battlefield.

The obelisk is 306 feet tall and a beautiful sight; the park is an open field, but it’s surrounded by Vermont greenery or incredible fall foliage. This monument will not be missed if you’re interested in Revolutionary War history.

2. Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park & Billings Farm & Museum

Address: 69 Old River Road; Woodstock, VT 05091

The National Park Service manages this National Historic Park and contains the boyhood home of George Perkins Marsh, an early conservationist. It’s free to visit. The home was originally built in 1805, although it has been expanded many times since, and it’s a lovely example of Queen Anne architecture style.

Exhibits on the property and in the home focus on conservation. You can also visit the adjacent Billings Farm and Museum to learn more about forest management and progressive dairy farming practiced by Frederick Billings, who owned and managed the property for himself, his daughter, Marsh, Laurance, and March French Rockefeller.

The 550-acre estate was donated to the people of the United States by the Rockefellers in 1992, and the farm is considered one of the best outdoor history museums in the nation.

See Related: Most Famous Landmarks In The USA Worth Visiting

3. Robert Frost Stone House Museum at Bennington College

Address: 121 Vermont Route 7A; Shaftsbury, VT 05262

This literary museum was once the home of the famous American poet Robert Frost; he lived there from 1920 to 1929 and composed many of his most well-known pieces there. The home was built in 1769 and is a rare example of original Dutch Colonial architecture. His gravesite in Old Bennington is also just minutes away.

This home is open to the public from Thursday to Monday from June to October and can be viewed by appointment during the winter months. There’s also a gift shop if you’d like to buy some beautifully bound volumes of Frost’s work or art inspired by his poetry.

4. Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home

Hildene mansion in Manchester, Vermont
Rolf Müller / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Address: 1005 Hildene Road; Manchester, VT 05255

In Manchester, you can visit Hildene, the Lincoln family home. Abraham Lincoln never visited this residence as it was completed in 1905.

It was the summer home of his eldest son, Robert Todd Lincoln, and his wife, Mary Harlan Lincoln. It’s a perfect example of the Georgian Revival style of architecture that was popular at the time.

The home is on 412-aces, and visitors can enjoy formal gardens as well as the residence itself. Inside, you’ll find furniture that belonged to the Lincoln family, including many pieces that belonged to the former president.

The home remained in the possession of the Lincoln family until 1975, when Mary Lincoln Beckwith died there. It was opened to the public in 1978.

5. Bellows Falls Petroglyphs

If you travel in the American West, you’re sure to find numerous petroglyphs carved into rock formations, and they’re quite a sight to see. You may be surprised that you can also see petroglyphs in Vermont!

The petroglyphs at Bellows Falls seem to show a group of human figures, and it is believed they were carved by Abenaki or Iroquois people before contact with European settlers.

This site is on the east side of Bellows Falls Island, south of Villas Bridge on the Vermont and New Hampshire border. Numerous panels display human forms; scientists believe there may be even more below the current water line that is now obscured by sediment. The Bellows Falls Petroglyphs are an interesting look into the distant past of Vermont and are worth checking out.

6. Wilson Castle

Wilson Castle in Vermont
Daderot / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Address: 2970 West Proctor Road; Proctor, VT 05765

Another interesting and historic home in southern Vermont is Wilson Castle. This house museum was built by John Johnson in 1885; its construction took nearly eight years and cost $1.3 million.

Unfortunately, the Johnsons could only live there temporarily because it was too expensive to maintain. It has changed hands many times since then and has been owned for the longest period by the Wilson family, which is how it got its name.

The home has been open for tours since 1962. It has 32 rooms on three stories and combines Dutch Neo-Reniassance, Scottish baronial, Queen Anne, and Romanesque Revival architectural styles.

7. Visit a Local Farmer’s Market

Vegetables for Sale in Vermont Farmers Market
Cavan / Adobe Stock

Farmers markets have been a big part of social life in Vermont for hundreds of years. You’ll have the opportunity to meet locals and learn about their farms and small businesses, and you’ll feel like you’re a part of the community while you’re there.

There are dozens of lively farmers markets all over southern Vermont, and visiting one or more of them is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in Vermont culture. The goods sold at these markets are locally grown and manufactured, and you’re sure to find lots of fantastic souvenirs among them.

Speaking of culture, I highly recommend exploring one or more to source some Vermont cheese. Sure, Wisconsin might pump out more cheddar than actual Cheddar, but Vermont cheese is something else, and a farmers market is the best place to source this small-batch edible gold.

Some markets are seasonal, but others move indoors in the colder months to operate year-round. The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont has a great website to learn more about what farmers markets are happening when.

8. Quechee Gorge

Quechee Falls in Vermont's Quechee Village
pixs:sell / Adobe Stock

Quechee Gorge is a 165-foot-deep gorge that is the deepest gorge in the state of Vermont. It’s a popular tourist attraction; it can be viewed from the U.S. Route 4 Bridge, and some trails run along both sides if you’d like to do some hiking to see it from other angles.

The Ottauquechee River flows through the gorge, sometimes rapidly, and it’s popular with whitewater kayakers. Even if you’re not someone who enjoys flailing around in whitewater, you’ll love listening to the river flow by and the incredible natural atmosphere along the gorge and in adjacent Quechee State Park.

9. Green Mountain National Forest

View south from Mt. Roosevelt toward Killington along the Long Trail of the Green Mountains
Joshua Conover / Adobe Stock

The Green Mountain National Forest is a lovely place for picnicking, backpacking, and camping. This 821,040-acre forest is one of only two national forests in New England and it’s worth your time and exploration.

Along with numerous mountain peaks, this forest is a mixed forest that includes both deciduous and coniferous trees. It supports abundant wildlife, including beaver, moose, coyote, black bear, white-tailed deer, and various birds.

It’s full of over 900 miles of multi-use trails to hike, and the Appalachian Trail, Vermont’s Long Trail, and the Robert Frost National Recreation Trail all run right through it.

The Green Mountain National Forest is true Vermont. If you don’t spend at least a little time exploring it in southern Vermont, you’ll miss out on the essence of this great state.

A trip into Green Mountain State Forest is always a satisfying adventure. If you want to go deep into a forest and spend time in the country but are apprehensive about doing it yourself, then you might like this 2-Hour Private Forest Immersion in Woodland Sanctuary instead!

See Related: National Parks in the USA to Visit

10. Southern Vermont Covered Bridges

Kidder Bridge in Vermont
thomas / Adobe Stock

Photographers love visiting Vermont because, in many ways, it’s truly the definition of picturesque. A feature that contributes to that fact is the state’s many historic covered bridges – there are well over a dozen to visit in southern Vermont, and there are 104 to see statewide.

If you’re interested in checking out some of these bridges, almost all of which were built in the late 1800s, you might start with some of the most typical, like the Green River Bridge in Guilford or the Kidder Hill Bridge in Grafton.

Scott Bridge in Townshend is one of the state’s longest covered bridges, and the Green Bridge, near Arlington, is one of the oldest. You may think at first that they all look the same, but you’ll soon see the uniqueness of each one and will marvel at their history and construction.

11. Vermont Institute of Natural Science Nature Center

vermont institute or natural science - raptor presentation
Vermont Institute of Natural Science / Facebook

Address: 149 Natures Way; Quechee, VT 05059

For those visitors interested in learning more about the flora and fauna of Vermont, the Vermont Institute of Natural Science Nature Center is a crucial stop. This non-profit environmental education center aims to teach individuals and communities to protect the natural environment through education, research, and wild bird rehabilitation.

This nature center offers programs to the public about Vermont’s plants and animals and several nature trails on the property. Visitors can also check out the raptor exhibits, including live hawks, eagles, vultures, falcons, owls, and ravens rehabilitated by the center but cannot be released back into the wild.

The helpful and enthusiastic staff here will be happy to offer information and answer any questions you may have about Vermont’s wildlife and ecosystems.

12. Montshire Museum of Science

Exterior of Montshire Museum of Science
Montshire Museum of Science / Facebook

Address: 1 Montshire Road; Norwich, VT 05055

Southern Vermont visitors who are interested in broader science topics beyond nature-focused science will enjoy a visit to the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich. This museum was established in 1976 and hosts over 150,000 visitors each year.

Montshire Museum of Science has over 150 exhibits on all science topics, including water, light, sound, motion, space, technology, and environmental science. Inside, you can check out a hive of honeybees, a colony of leaf-cutter ants, and aquariums full of local underwater life. Outside, you can walk the museum’s nature trails and check out more hands-on, interactive exhibits.

See Related: Where To Stay In Vermont: Best Towns & Villages

13. Stratton Mountain Resort

Stratton Mountain Resort in Stratton Mountain, Vermont
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 5 Village Lodge Rd, Stratton Mountain, VT 05155

Northern Vermont doesn’t have the monopoly on top ski resorts, oh no! Southern Vermont is home to the East Coast’s second-largest ski resort: Stratton Mountain Resort.

You might read “second largest” and see it as some dig, but this place is legitimately vast, with tons of things to do. It’s a top winter retreat, even if you aren’t interested in skiing, snowboarding, or the countless other winter sports they offer.

But skiers will be pleased to know that Stratton Mountain is crisscrossed with 99 trails to use, as well as 11 lifts.

FAQ

When is the best time of year to visit southern Vermont?

Most people will tell you that the best time to visit Vermont is in the fall foliage season, but anytime is lovely. Of course, when the leaves change in the fall, Vermont is especially spectacular, but it can also feel crowded and busy. You might prefer the spring or summer when everything is green or the coziness of a white Vermont winter instead – there’s nothing quite like Vermont when it’s covered with snow.

Is southern Vermont fun for families with children?

Certainly! If you want your children to experience the beauty and open spaces of the great outdoors, you’ll love a family vacation in Vermont. Spend time in the Green Mountain National Forest exploring the trails or learning about nature and science at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science Center Nature Center or the Montshire Museum of Science. Or, spend some time on a working farm at the Billings Farm & Museum.

What is the best place to stay in southern Vermont for those exploring this area?

These attractions are all over southern Vermont, so you’d be wise to stay in a centralized part of the region to reach them easily without a long drive. Manchester is a great option! There are quite a few very nice hotels in this small village of just 4,000 residents, including the Palmer House Resort and the Klimpton Taconic Hotel, for starters.

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Christy Articola
WRITTEN BY

Christy Articola

Christy is was born and raised in upstate New York but she has lived in Denver, Colorado for the past decade with her partner, Billy, and their cat, Lucy. Traveling is her favorite thing to do in the whole world, but she also loves writing, reading, being outdoors, seeing live music, cooking, creating art in many mediums, napping, spending time with friends and family, and laughing heartily as often as possible.

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