Vermont’s charm and gorgeous scenery are best explored by taking a road trip along the iconic Route 30, with some great stops along the way.
Vermont’s unique combination of New England charm, gorgeous scenery, and artisan traditions are best explored by roaming its scenic roads and historic byways, including the iconic Route 30. Covering the 114 miles from Brattleboro in the southeast corner of the state to Middlebury in the northwest, this scenic highway traverses some of Vermont’s finest treasures, both natural and man-made.
Plan ahead for your Route 30 adventure to stay at historic inns and enjoy spa services and other luxuries along the way. You may also want to schedule your visit to coincide with one of Vermont’s many festivals and special events, from music concerts and a group yoga retreat at Stratton Mountain to a unique annual parade in Brattleboro.
Brattleboro, located two and a half hours from Boston and four hours from New York City, is the southern terminus of Route 30 and a gateway to southern Vermont. It’s also convenient to fly in from the airports in Albany, New York, and Hartford, Connecticut. Follow Route 30 northwest through picturesque towns and past hillside farms with incredible views of Green Mountain National Forest.
With festivals and special events in the summer, colorful foliage in the fall, and skiing in the winter, the region welcomes visitors year-round, according to Philip Tortora, communications director for the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing. He also notes that Route 30 has been popular for decades, and numerous new shops, restaurants, and lodging have opened in recent years.
Brattleboro to Manchester
Brattleboro features eclectic appeal with an abundance of artisanal crafts, foods, and breweries in its thriving downtown. Get a taste of farm-to-table culture by attending the annual Strolling of the Heifers parade through the city center, typically in June. The cow parade is followed by a street festival with artisanal foods for sale from local farms. Pick up maple-infused bourbon at Saxton’s River Distillery and gorgeous pottery and glass art at Fulcrum Arts gallery.
Back on the road, don’t miss the famous West Dummerston Covered Bridge, believed to be the oldest continuously operating bridge of its type in the state. Stop in Newfane to shop at Jack Winner Antiques, established more than 30 years ago, and to dine at the farm-to-table Artisan Restaurant. If you have time to stay the night, spend it at the romantic Four Columns Inn or the 1840s-era Gillian’s Guest House.
A little farther down the road in Grafton, visit the Grafton History Museum, a site on the self-guided Vermont African American Heritage Trail. From there, have a picnic lunch at Jamaica State Park after taking a walk along the West River. Pick up a snack of tasty Vermont cheeses at Grafton Village Cheese before taking a short detour to Stratton Mountain Resort. The resort offers lifts to the trails year-round as well as summer concerts, sports activities, and special events such as Wanderlust Festival, a group yoga and music event in June.
After arriving in Manchester, visit the Hildene estate and museum, the former home of President Abraham Lincoln’s son and family for many decades. Exhibits include the president’s iconic stovepipe hat and other historic items. Manchester is also known for sophisticated lodging options, including The Equinox Golf Resort and Spa and the boutique Taconic Hotel. Top the day off with dinner at the highly rated Copper Grouse Restaurant.
Manchester to Middlebury
The 30-mile section of Route 30 north of Manchester is Stone Valley Byway, an area of notable scenic beauty surrounded by mountains and lakes. Lake St. Catherine State Park and Bomoseen State Park provide recreational opportunities, or you can visit historic sites and museums, craft and food markets, and various cultural events in the area.
Pick up your favorite cheeses in West Pawlet at Bardwell Farm, an award-winning cheesemaker, and enjoy fine dining and lodging at the charming Dorset Inn in Dorset. Finish your journey down Route 30 in Middlebury, where you find the Middlebury College Museum of Art and Vermont Folklife Center, which honors the diverse cultures that make up Vermont’s communities.
If you have a few miles left in you, visit the Robert Frost Interpretative Trail in nearby Ripton. Read the poet’s immortal words on mounted plaques while strolling a lovely trail that meanders through woods, meadows, and wetlands.
The stops along Vermont’s Route 30 offer everything from historical nostalgia to luxurious pampering. Share the highlights of your journey with us on Twitter.