Fall Activities in Vermont
In Vermont, fall is the shortest season, and the time of year our landscape turns its most spectacular hues. The scent, cool air, and brilliant colors make outdoor activities special and memorable. Set aside time to take advantage of the fall season and rejuvenate yourself.
In Vermont, we’re fortunate to have unique seasons. Here in the Green Mountains, fall is the shortest season, and the time of year our landscape turns its most spectacular hues. The scent, cool air, and brilliant colors make outdoor activities special and memorable. What’s more, it’s all happening here in our backyard. Set aside time to take advantage of the fall season and rejuvenate yourself. Here are some ideas to help you take a break and enjoy fall to the fullest.
Go Leaf Peeping
The secret has long been out. There’s nowhere nicer for autumn colors than in our state. Seeing amazing peak foliage is easier with a little information and planning.
- Where – Autumn colors are the result of intricate and unpredictable natural factors. Rain, the amount of sugar in the leaves, the number of daylight hours, and the change in temperatures impact the rate leaves change colors. This means that the leaves will peak first in northern Vermont and at high elevations. Over the course of several weeks, the foliage works its way to the southern part of the state. Take a scenic drive on VT Route-100 or go for a hike in the woods. Here are Five Family-Friendly Hikes to get you to the best views.
- When – Late-September to mid-October is the best time to leaf-peep, depending on where you go. Trees can change from green to golden yellow or bright red in a week or two. Use this foliage finder to see where and when to go.
Take a Forest Therapy Retreat
The act of walking through a forest has positive impacts on our body and mind. Being in a forest leads to a relaxed and healthy well-being by improving our physical health and mood. Forest walking reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol and boosts the immune system. To embrace forest therapy, visit one of these wellness-focused retreats in the woods.
- Craftsbury Outdoor Center: For a low-key excursion, check out the Outdoor Center in Craftsbury, VT. This non-profit organization implements sustainable practices in all their operations. The property includes 25 miles of well-maintained trails for walking, running, mountain biking, and a lake for paddle sports. Day passes are available if you choose not to spend the night.
Lodging & Food – Eco-friendly hillside cabins are the most recent addition to the property. The price of your cabin includes three healthy, all-you-can-eat, buffet meals. Their dining hall is also a member of the Vermont Fresh Network. Visit www.craftsbury.com
- Sterling Forest Lodge: For a premium wellness experience, this newly-opened lodge in Stowe offers intimate, boutique wellness stays. Sterling Forest has over 2000 protected acres of hiking and mountain bike trails. Surrounding the lodge itself are 30 pristine acres of fields, forest, an apple orchard, and a pond. Here you can walk a meditation path, commune with nature, and participate in forest bathing. The lodge also offers treatments inspired by ancient healing rituals. You can enjoy massage, yoga, Ayurveda treatments, and an outdoor sauna.
Lodging & Food - The lodge has six organically curated rooms, each named after the type of tree used for the wood flooring. The food at the lodge is created with each season in mind. They source most ingredients from nearby local farms and an onsite vegetable garden. Breakfast is included with regular stays. Visit www.sterlingforestlodge.com
There’s nothing more idyllic in fall than apple picking. Beginning mid-September, Vermont’s apple crop begins to ripen. Picking apples is a great way to connect with Vermont’s fresh local food traditions, and it doesn’t get any fresher than eating straight off the tree.
Vermont orchards grow more than 150 varieties of apples and growers produce around one-million bushels of apples each year. That’s about 40 million pounds of fruit. The McIntosh has been an important type of apple in Vermont since it was brought here by European settlers in the 1600s. Today, it makes up 50 percent of Vermont's apple crop. Other popular varieties you’ll find on the trees this fall include:
- Macoun – Tart with a sweet finish. A New England favorite for eating fresh and juicing.
- Empire – Sweeter than tart, crisp, and juicy. Great for pressing into cider.
- Cortland – More on the tart side, great on salads.
- Spartan – Well balanced flavor, a juicy all-purpose apple.
- Northern Spy – The hands-down New England favorite for baking and pies.
Blue Cross Apple Days – Pick a Peck of Fun, September 24 to October 9
Our Apple Days event has become a traditional celebration of fall in Vermont. Vouchers for this year are already claimed, but you can participate in Apple Days by visiting a participating orchard and sharing photos with us on social media.
Create One of These Fall Apple Recipes
The biggest challenge with apple picking is what to do with all the leftovers. Here are a few suggestions how to make a fun and delicious apple creation.
- Apple Cranberry Oatmeal: First, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 12 x 8-inch (2.5 quart) baking dish with baking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together 1 cup milk, ½ cup heavy cream, 2 eggs, ½ cup brown sugar, ½ cup applesauce, ¼ cup melted butter, and 2 tsp. vanilla extract.
In a medium bowl, stir together 3 cups old fashioned oats, 2 tsp. baking powder, and 1 tsp. apple pie spice. Add this mixture to the large bowl mixture and stir together.
Last, add 2 cups peeled, cored, and chopped apple, ½ cup dried cranberries, and 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Transfer everything to baking pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Serve with milk and pure maple syrup.
- Baked Apple Chips: First, preheat the oven to 200 F, and line a large baking sheet with a slipat mat or parchment paper. From the bottom of the apples, slice them into very thin slices, about ⅛ thick. Use a mandoline or a knife to slice.
Place them down in a single even layer on the lined baking pan. You don't need to leave any space between them as they will shrink. For extra flavor sprinkle cinnamon on top. Bake for 1 hour, then flip the apple slices over and bake for another 1.5 hours. If the apples aren't crispy enough, continue to bake, checking on them every 10-15 minutes.
- Vermont Mocktail Mule: In a highball glass or a copper Moscow mule cup, mix ¼ cup of chilled apple cider, 1 tsp. real maple syrup, 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar and small ice cubes. Stir, top off with ginger beer and garnish with an apple slice.
Visit a Fall Festival
Art, Craft, and Antique Festivals – These festivals fill the countryside with vendors from all over Vermont, showcasing their specialty goods. Examples include paintings, pottery, woodworking, fiber art, jewelry, photography, glass, and more. There’s also live music, food, artisan demonstrations, and family activities. Check in advance for admission and ticket information.
- Manchester Fall Art and Craft Festival, October 1–3
- Stowe Foliage Arts Festival, October 7–9
- Champlain Valley Craft Show & Antique Expo, October 21–23
Car Shows – If you’ve never been to a car show or meet-up before, it’s not what you’d expect. You get to meet the owners and mechanics of the vehicles and learn about cars and history. It’s fun and interactive for all ages. There’s one big car show in Vermont this October that features classic cars, food, and music. The other two events typically include enthusiasts displaying their muscle cars, exotics, trucks, motorcycles, and electric vehicles. All three events are free to attend.
- Cars and Coffee, Stratton Mountain, October 1
- Cars and Coffee Vermont, Burlington, October 8
- Middlebury Classic Car Show & Fall Festival, Oct 16
Wander Through a Corn Maze
This time of year, Vermont’s cornstalks are at their tallest, and farms across the state create mazes in their fields for traditional family fun. A corn maze is like any maze, except the life-sized design is set in a cornfield. You find your way by walking the trails that are cut into the cornfield, surrounded by walls of stalks 10 to 12 feet high. Big mazes can take up to two hours to navigate and it’s always a good idea for kids to be supervised by an adult. Here are just three examples of classic Vermont corn mazes. Check ahead of time for days and hours of operation. Most corn mazes are open until mid to late October.
- The Great Vermont Corn Maze - Danville, VT
- Percy Farm Corn Maze – Stowe, VT
- Gaines Farm Corn Maze - Guilford, VT
If you decide to experience any of these activities, please share your fall fun photos and tag us on social media @bluecrossvt.