Best Things to See in Vermont in the Fall in Budget

Vermont in the Fall in Budget

Vermont is one of the best places in the United States to experience fall beauty. With its rolling hills, quaint towns, and abundance of maple trees, the Green Mountain State puts on a spectacular show of autumn colors each year. While some attractions in Vermont can be expensive, there are plenty of things to see and do in Vermont in the fall that are budget-friendly or even free. Here are some best things to see in Vermont in the fall without breaking the bank.

Take a Drive to See the Foliage

Take a Drive to See the Foliage

One of the most accessible and affordable ways to revel in Vermont’s fall scenery is to drive along one of the state’s many roads, passing through forests and farms. Some stunning routes include:

Route 100: This major north-south road on the east side of the Green Mountains winds through classic Vermont villages. It comes with covered bridges, mountain vistas, and stellar foliage displays.

The Route 7: Running north-south along the state’s western side. This road connects Burlington to Bennington while traversing rolling hills dotted with maple trees. They glow red and orange in the fall.

Route 9: Curving across southern Vermont from Brattleboro to Bennington. This east-west road offers views of bright fall colors against the Green Mountains.

The Molly Stark Trail (Routes 9 and 100): This scenic byway crosses central Vermont from east to west. This is passing historic towns and providing access to excellent leaf-peeping territory.

When driving these routes, be sure to pull over at scenic overlooks and charming towns along the way to admire the fall scenery, take photos, and soak in the crisp autumn air.

Hike to a Summit for Panoramic Views

Vermont has an extensive network of hiking trails that provide access to stunning vistas overlooking forests ablaze in fall. Many summits can be hiked without expensive gear like ropes or crampons, making them budget-friendly destinations. Some prime peak hikes to check out include:

Mount Philo: This short hike near Burlington climbs to the summit of Vermont’s first state park. It is rewarding hikers with views across Lake Champlain and New York’s Adirondack Mountains. The fall colors are sensational.

Bald Mountain: Located in the Green Mountain National Forest near Woodford. This moderate hike leads to an open summit with a fire tower and outstanding 360° views over a sea of autumn foliage.

Snake Mountain: Accessible from Addison County. This moderate hike has panoramic views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks from its bald summit. The trails are lined with berry bushes that turn red in the fall.

Mount Ascutney: Rising independently of the Greens’ main range. This 3,144-foot mountain near Windsor has a steep but scenic trail leading to the summit, with exceptional foliage views in all directions.

Experiencing Vermont’s fall spectacle from above can be a memorable and affordable adventure with a pair of sturdy shoes, some water, and a camera.

Pick Apples at an Orchard

Nothing says fall in Vermont more than visiting one of the state’s apple orchards. In addition to picking ripe, juicy apples straight from the tree, many orchards have family-friendly activities like hayrides, corn mazes, petting zoos, and baked goods stores. Plus, orchard admission is often free or very inexpensive. Some top apple-picking spots include:

Scott Farm Orchard: This enormous orchard in Dummerston has over 10,000 trees and 100 varieties of apples, plus a funVVVVVVVV Fall Festival on weekends in autumn.

Chapin Orchard: Located in Essex Junction. This 200-acre orchard lets you hand-pick apples while enjoying views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks.

Shelburne Orchards: Just south of Burlington. This orchard’s scenic Apple Tree Trail features 80 types of apples and activities like tractor-pulled wagon rides.

Green Mountain Orchards: In Putney, this family-owned orchard has gorgeous Rutland Mountain views and allows leashed dogs, making it an excellent outing for the whole family.

Don’t forget to pick up fresh-pressed cider, apple donuts, pies, and other tasty treats to round out your orchard experience.

Explore Waterfalls

Vermont has numerous waterfalls tucked away in forested glens and hollows, many of which you can visit for free. The falls are awe-inspiring in autumn as rain and fall leaf colors intensify their beauty. Here are a few that are must-sees:

Moss Glen Falls: Located along Route 100 in Granville, visitors can view this spectacular 125-foot waterfall tumbling over a cliff into a pool surrounded by maple trees.

Warren Falls: Accessible via a short riverside trail in Warren, this mighty cascade spills down a series of rock ledges with vibrant fall foliage.

Bartlett Falls: Near Belvidere Corners, this scenic waterfall on the North Branch flows through a gorge lined with birch, beech, and maple trees that display beautiful yellows and oranges in fall.

Hamilton Falls: North of Jamaica State Park. This fan-shaped 50-foot waterfall is visible right from the roadside. This feature is making it an easy and gorgeous fall pit stop.

Bingham Falls: Just west of Stowe. This picturesque 50-foot waterfall on the Little River is an easy hike rewarded with breathtaking scenery.

With their free admission and natural beauty, Vermont’s waterfalls are ideal budget-friendly destinations to appreciate the fall season.

Explore Stowe on a Budget

While the famous Stowe Mountain Resort is synonymous with spectacular foliage views, lift tickets can be pricey. Luckily, the charming town of Stowe itself offers affordable activities with autumn splendor as a backdrop. Top affordable options include:

Hiking at Stowe Recreation Path: This free 5.5-mile trail follows the West Branch River through wetlands and woods with ample fall photo spots.

Visiting Moss Glen Falls: As mentioned above. This stunning waterfall south of town is 100% free to see and experience.

Browsing Stowe Farmers’ Market: Every Sunday in the fall. This bustling outdoor market features artisan goods, produce, and tasty snacks with mountain views.

Stargazing on Stowe Pinnacle: Watch the sunset over the foliage sea before stargazing at this picnic-friendly vista along the Stowe Recreation Path.

Eating and Shopping on Main Street: Downtown Stowe has cozy cafes, Vermont breweries, antique shops, and bakeries to enjoy during your foliage getaway.

By focusing on Stowe’s charming town over its famous slopes, you can still experience the area’s quintessential Vermont fall allure on a budget.

Attend a Free Fall Festival

Throughout the autumn, Vermont towns host free festivals to celebrate the fall season with food, music, and fun. These community events often feature harvest markets, hayrides, live bands, carving demos, cider tastings, and family-friendly entertainment. Some top free Vermont fall festivals include:

Ripton Fall Festival: On Columbus Day weekend, this Addison County festival includes a community breakfast, parade, firehouse open house, foliage road race, and contra dancing.

Harvest Festival at Hildene: At the Lincoln Family Home in Manchester, enjoy apple picking, farm animals, and wagon rides. Also, enjoy live music, and fall crafts over Columbus Day weekend.

Rutland Halloween Parade: Rutland hosts Vermont’s largest nighttime parade with floats, music, and costumed marchers throwing candy on Halloween night.

Halloween Spooktacular in Shelburne: Events for all ages like trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, haunted barns, and movies at Vermont Teddy Bear.

Dia de los Muertos Celebration in Burlington: A lively costumed parade, altars to remember the departed, and music to honor this Mexican holiday.

With fun fall activities, entertainment, and community camaraderie, Vermont’s autumn festivals offer memorable experiences that won’t bust your vacation budget.

Experience Rural Fall Charm

While Vermont has a few cities, much of its quintessential New England charm comes from exploring rural villages, farms, and backroads blanketed in autumn colors. Some classic areas to take in the state’s autumnal allure include:

The Northeast Kingdom: Vermont’s gorgeous and remote northeast corner has tiny towns treated dirt roads perfect for foliage drives.

The Mad River Valley: Centered around Waitsfield and Warren, “the Valley” has country stores, covered bridges, and mountain biking trails to view the fall colors.

Southern Vermont Villages: Quaint towns boast pristine town greens, white-steepled churches, and historic inns surrounded by autumn tapestry.

Route 108 through Smugglers’ Notch: This winding mountain pass road past woodlands and family farms is one of the best foliage drives in the state.

Vermont Country Stores: These general stores in charming towns offer a nostalgic peek into rural life, cider, maple treats, and fall souvenirs.

By heading to Vermont’s small towns and rural landscapes, you can witness the seasonal transition through the eyes of locals and truly appreciate autumn’s fleeting beauty.

Other Budget-Friendly Fall Activities

Other Budget-Friendly Fall Activities
Early morning autumn light near Killington, Vermont. Photo taken on a calm tranquil colorful morning during the peak autumn foliage season. Vermont’s beautiful fall foliage ranks with the best in New England bringing out some of the most colorful foliage in the United States

Here are a few more ways to soak in Vermont’s fall charm without breaking the bank:

  • Visit Bennington Battle Monument – this striking 306-foot tower commemorating a critical Revolutionary War battle has an elevator to the top for expansive foliage views. Admission is only $5.
  • Check out Boyden Valley Winery’s Fall Fest – enjoy wagon rides, wine tastings, and cooking demos for just $10 admission.
  • Take scenic chairlift rides – Killington, Jay Peak, and other resorts offer panoramic lifts up mountains to see the fall colors. Rides start around $20.
  • Volunteer at a community harvest festival – have fun and give back by helping at a local fall fair or celebration.
  • Explore farmer’s markets – sample cider donuts, apples, pumpkins, and more while supporting local growers.
  • Fly a kite in a state park – like Waterton Lakes State Park or Grand Isle State Park to enjoy the fall winds. Just bring your kite!


What’s peak foliage season in Vermont?

Peak foliage in Vermont typically occurs between late September and mid-October. Leaf change starts first in the north around Burlington and Stowe and progresses south over a few weeks. Timing varies each year based on weather patterns.

Where are the best places to see fall foliage in Vermont?

Some of Vermont’s best areas for fall colors include the Green Mountains, Northeast Kingdom, Mad River Valley, Champlain Islands, Manchester/Stratton area, and anywhere along Routes 100, 7, or 9.

What’s the best way to travel around Vermont to see the fall colors?

Driving scenic routes at your own pace is one of the best ways to cover a lot of terrain and chase the changing leaves. You can also view foliage by train on the Green Mountain Railroad or Vermont Rail System.

What are the best fall activities in Vermont besides leaf peeping?

Top fall activities include apple picking, hiking, corn mazes, festivals, farmers markets, scenic chairlift rides, mountain biking, and visiting farms for pumpkin patches or berry picking.

What should I know before visiting Vermont this fall?

  • Book accommodations early, as the peak season is very busy
  • Expect more crowds on foliage drive routes on weekends
  • Bring layers and rain gear, as fall weather can be unpredictable
  • Have enough gas since some rural stations close seasonally
  • Respect private property when pulling over to view the scenery


With its picturesque villages, rolling farms and fiery autumn foliage, Vermont offers one of the best autumn escapes in America. From scenic drives to apple orchards to waterfall hikes and beyond. The Green Mountain State has endless things to see in Vermont in the fall without breaking the bank. Explore Budget-friendly Exotic Places to Travel in the World Mixing and matching the budget-friendly activities in this article allows you to craft an unforgettable and affordable fall vacation in Vermont. Just be sure to bring your camera and appetite – for fresh cider donuts!

Author: Brielle Walker

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