Ready to embark on a fall foliage Vermont road trip you won’t soon forget? Route 100 in Vermont is the most scenic road in the state, especially in the fall, when the trees light up the state with intense color that you have to see to believe!
At 216.6 miles, Route 100 is Vermont’s longest state highway, is also one of the most scenic and well-loved, meandering through the Green Mountains, as well as charming New England villages.
If you love the outdoors, this route 100 Vermont Fall Foliage road trip is a perfect getaway! There are so many great trails, not to mention waterfalls and scenic views along the way. Throw in fabulous shopping, dining, and lodging, and you’ve got all the ingredients for a spectacular fall foliage road trip.
If you’ve got five days to spend in the Green Mountains, then we have the perfect itinerary for you on Route 100. Explore all that this beautiful mountain road has to offer, from pristine lakes and waterfalls to magnificent vistas and quiet campgrounds.
The Green Mountains are a little slice of heaven for outdoor lovers of every persuasion, even when they aren’t green!
Our itinerary covers all of our favorite Vermont things: gorgeous mountain scenery, funky shops, local beers, a touch of history, and a whole lotta nature. Let’s get started!
5-Day Itinerary for a Route 100 Vermont Fall Foliage Road Trip
We’ll start our route 100 Vermont fall foliage journey in Southern Vermont, in the little town of Wilmington, and head north on Vermont Route 100 to Newport, just south of the Canadian border. This is a five-day road trip, but you can certainly complete it in fewer days, or stretch it for a week or longer.
We recommend doing this road trip in the first or second week of October. If you plan on camping, you should know that many Vermont State Park campgrounds close after Indigenous People’s Day (the second Monday in October).
Day 1: Wilmington, Vermont
Today you’re exploring the beautiful village of Wilmington. Relax by the lake, spend some time downtown, and eat at one of our favorite Vermont restaurants. Driving time: Depends on where you’re coming from.
It’s no secret that Wilmington is one of my favorite Vermont towns, perhaps because the lakes and mountains are so accessible here. Just south of the village is the beautiful Lake Whitingham, also known as Harriman Reservoir. Covering more than 2,000 acres, Lake Whitingham is the largest lake in Southern Vermont.
The picnic areas that surround the lake are free to use, and there are lots of great vantage points for capturing the beautiful fall colors reflected in the water. Head to Lake Whitingham early in the morning so you can capture the water when it is calm.
After you spend some time at the lake, head back into downtown Wilmington for a little meandering. The town itself is small, with only 2,000 full-time residents. You’ll find a lovely, walkable Main Street, cute stores, and plenty of restaurants. We love browsing in Bartleby’s Books, the 1836 Country Store, and Red Fox Shop.
Where to Eat: Locals love Dot’s Diner for a big, traditional breakfast, and we’d recommend Alpenglow for upscale dining.
Where to stay: If you’re looking to pitch your tent, head a few miles east to Molly Stark State Park, where you’ll find a quiet, wooded campground with private sites and hot showers. After setting up camp or before heading out in the morning, be sure to hike to the top of Mt. Olga (a 1.5-mile loop) for stunning views of the surrounding mountains – sunrise from the fire tower is the best!
If roughing it isn’t your thing, we recommend checking into the Wilmington Inn, which is located right on Main Street and very close to the Valley Trail if you want a short hike before setting out in the morning. A stay in this historic inn includes a full Vermont breakfast.
Day 2: Wilmington to Ludlow
This section of Route 100 heads through the southern section of the Green Mountain National Forest. You’ll be stopping in several small towns, hiking along the West River, and taking in the views from the top of Mount Snow. Driving distance: 53 miles
Mount Snow: Four Seasons of Recreation Opportunities
As you head out of Wilmington on Route 100, you’ll quickly enter the town of West Dover, home of Mount Snow. This is a very popular ski mountain, but it’s open in all four seasons.
In the fall, you can enjoy lift-serviced mountain biking, or simply ride the gondola to the top of the mountain for fantastic views of the Somerset Reservoir and the surrounding Green Mountains. This is a great spot to take in fall foliage views from the top of a mountain without having to break a sweat.
The Bluebird Express gondola runs from 10 am to 5 pm between mid-June and mid-October. Lift tickets are $20 for adults (13+) and $15 for kids (5-12). Kids under 5 ride for free.
Jamaica State Park
Continue north on Route 100 until you enter the tiny town of East Jamaica, where you will turn left to stay on Route 100 (also Route 30) and head toward the village of Jamaica. While there isn’t much to the town, Jamaica State Park is a gem of a spot in both summer and fall.
The park features a rail trail, camping, and a playground. In the fall, we recommend meandering along the West River Rail trail, either on foot or on a bike if you have one with you. If you have time, hike to Hamilton Falls, a beautiful 125-foot waterfall that is beautiful in the fall, even when the water is low.
The trail to Hamilton Falls is about six miles round-trip. You can ride a bike along the river for four of those miles.
By now your tummy must be growling. For awesome burgers, sandwiches, and milkshakes, head to Honeypie on Route 30 in Jamaica. This is a quick diner-type stop, but so good!
Weston, VT: Visit the Vermont Country Store
Weston is another one of those picturesque New England villages, complete with a little town green, several unique stores, and the famous Weston Playhouse. Shopping in Weston is like taking a step back in time, so that’s what’s on the agenda.
Located across from the village green on Main Street, the Vermont Country Store is a step back in time you won’t want to miss. The aisles are stocked to the rafters with penny candy, maple syrup, apothecary items, household goods, and lots of local goodies.
Browse the crowded aisles to discover the largest collection of weathervanes in Vermont, the Vermont Scale Museum, and a year-round Christmas shop. And speaking of Christmas, no matter what time of year you visit the Vermont Country Store, it’s always a good time to grab some one-of-a-kind Vermont gifts for your friends and family back home.
Explore the Village of Ludlow, Vermont
Finally, make your way to Ludlow, Vermont, located in Okemo Valley and home to Okemo Mountain Resort. Ludlow is a small community, but you will find a few unique shopping and dining opportunities, as well as several trails. Be sure to visit Buttermilk Falls while here. This lovely waterfall is a popular swimming hole in the summer, and stunning in the fall.
Where to eat and sleep: For really unique dining and lodging, you have to check out Homestyle Hotel and their sister property, Main + Mountain, which is right across the street. Between the two properties, you will find beautiful, eclectic lodging, a small, neighborhood restaurant serving local fare, and an indoor/outdoor neighborhood bar that also serves light meals.
For dining at the Homestyle Hotel restaurant, we recommend making reservations well in advance. This is a busy area during fall foliage season, and it’s a small space!
Day 3: Ludlow to Waitsfield
This section of route 100 is characterized by very small towns, mountainous terrain, and acres of farmland. For much of the drive, you will follow the eastern slope of the Green Mountains, along the border of the Green Mountain National Forest. There are too many fun stops to mention, so I’m going to focus on my favorites. Driving distance: 70 miles
Plymouth Notch, VT: Visit the Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site
About 18 miles north of Ludlow, turn right on Route 100A and drive a mile to President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site. Plymouth Notch is the birthplace and boyhood home of our 30th president, and his homestead and the surrounding village are virtually unchanged since the 20th century.
The village is known as the Plymouth Notch Historic District and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Meander around the 600 acres, visit the Calvin Coolidge Museum and Education Center and check out dozens of historically preserved buildings.
Long Trail Brewing Company
After leaving Plymouth, continue north on 100A to the town of Bridgewater Corners, where you’ll find the famous Long Trail Brewing Company. This quaint riverside pub and restaurant is the perfect lunch spot, and the view is pretty great too! In addition to their popular Long Trail Ale, they make a variety of delicious seasonal craft beers.
Moss Glen Falls, Granville, VT
Moss Glen Falls in Granville makes our list of the most beautiful waterfalls in Vermont. This picturesque waterfall is more of a roadside attraction than anything else, but it’s definitely worth a visit. Because Moss Glen Falls is located right off of Vermont Route 100, it will only take a few minutes to check it out. Bring your camera!
Follow the short boardwalk into the woods and check out the falls from the viewing platform. Because this is such an easy waterfall to see from the road, expect to share the spot with dozens of other leaf peepers.
From here, you’ll be heading into the beautiful Mad River Valley. If you have time, drive some of the back roads in the area, which is rural and full of character.
Dining and Lodging in Waitsfield, VT
Where to stay: After a long day of driving, exploring, and taking photos, it’s time to settle in for the night. The village of Waitsfield is a great little town with a few unique places to stay and eat. For a bit of luxury to go with your leaf-peeping, we recommend the Inn at the Round Barn, which is a gorgeous inn on 245 acres. Enjoy the indoor lap pool, amazing breakfast, and cozy rooms and common spaces.
If you are looking to spend less on your accommodations, check out Mad River Lodge, which provides standard rooms and suites and contactless check-in. While the rooms are basic, they are very clean and the location is great for exploring all of the Mad River Valley.
Where to eat: American Flatbread Pizza — undoubtedly the best wood-fired pizza in the state of Vermont.
Day 4: Waitsfield to Stowe
You won’t be driving much today because this section of Vermont Route 100 is packed with things to do! The Waterbury/Stowe area is a beautiful (and popular) fall foliage destination, and if you’re feeling short on time, I urge you to give it an extra day. Here are some of our favorite tourist attractions and natural areas on route 100 between Waitsfield and Stowe. Driving distance: 24 miles
Waterbury, VT: Home of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream
Waterbury is about 14 miles north of Waitsfield, so you can dive right into your fall foliage adventures without having to drive much. It’s home to Ben & Jerry’s Factory Store, where guided tours are offered daily. Learn how Vermont’s famous ice cream is made, and be sure to stop at the flavor graveyard to pay your respects to the “dearly de-pinted”.
After your tour and tasting, head to Waterbury Center State Park, which is located just off of Route 100 and is one of our favorite spots for paddling, fishing, picnicking, and remote camping. If you visit in the fall, you can hike a short trail along the lake for great fall foliage views.
There is front-country camping available on Waterbury Reservoir at Little River State Park, which is our top state park for kids in the whole state. This park is open until October 23rd, and there are camping cabins that you can rent if staying warm and sleeping in a bed is crucial. If you don’t want to camp, we recommend staying a few miles north in Stowe.
Just a half-mile from Waterbury Center State Park is Cold Hollow Cider Mill. Not only is this one of Vermont’s top tourist attractions, but they also have pretty delicious cider donuts. Pop in for lunch or some fresh baked goods, and don’t forget a gallon of cider for your cooler!
Fall in Stowe, VT: Home to Vermont’s Highest Peak
Stowe is known as a ski town, but it’s equally lovely in the summer and fall, with all kinds of shops, restaurants, and coffee shops to explore.
At 4,395 feet, Mt. Mansfield in Stowe is Vermont’s highest mountain. On a clear day, you can see west to Lake Champlain, north to Canada, and east to New Hampshire. There are several trails leading to the top, but if you don’t have time for an all-day hike, consider driving the auto-toll road or riding the gondola to the top of the mountain from Stowe Mountain Resort.
The toll road takes you right to the top of Mt. Mansfield, the peak that is locally called “the Nose.” From the Nose, you can hike along the ridge of the mountain to the Chin (2.8 miles round trip), which is the official highest point in Vermont.
The top of Mt. Mansfield is one of two areas in the state where you can find an alpine tundra ecosystem. This is a very fragile area, and hikers are asked to stay on marked trails and to keep dogs leashed at all times.
After your hike, be sure to stop at the Alchemist Brewery and Visitor Center to try out New England’s most famous beer, Heady Topper. The brewery and visitor center is located on Cottage Club Road in the village of Stowe. You will likely meet many fellow road trippers here — people come from near and far to stock up on the Alchemist brews. You are usually limited to 6 four packs of any variety.
If you have time, take a side trip through Smuggler’s Notch on route 108. This is a narrow pass through Mt. Mansfield and Spruce Peak, but not suitable for RVs. The roadside is flocked by huge boulders and dark caves, perfect for scrambling around.
There are several trails along the roadside, including a lovely hike to Bingham Falls. The trail is an easy 1.6 miles round trip and brings you to one of the state’s most lovely waterfalls.
Where to Stay: There are numerous lodging options in Stowe, and we would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite. The iconic Trapp Family Lodge is a gorgeous mountain retreat with miles of hiking trails, an onsite brewery and restaurant, and indoor/outdoor pools.
Where to Eat: Doc Ponds has a limited menu, but those tacos are divine! Have a root beer float for dessert and you’ll be golden ’till morning.
Day 5: Stowe to Newport
The last leg of your road trip on Vermont Route 100 is characterized by a wild stretch of road. The further north you go, the better your chances of seeing one of North America’s largest mammals, the massive moose. Be on the lookout for these gentle giants, especially along the roadside, where they pose a threat to unsuspecting motorists. Driving Distance: 48 miles
Newport, VT: Where Vermont Meets Canada
As you head out of Stowe and into Hyde Park, be sure to take in the spectacular views of Mt. Mansfield behind you. You have entered the famous Northeast Kingdom, an area known for its wild and rugged beauty. Heading north, you’ll pass through several small towns, including Eden, Lowell, Westfield, and Troy, before heading into the relative metropolis of Newport.
Located on the shores of Lake Memphremagog, Newport is a bustling place these days. Main Street is lined with restaurants, boutiques, and galleries. Several waterfront overlooks allow you to take in the majestic views of the massive glacial lake, which covers 41 square miles.
The Newport Bebee Bike Path starts in the downtown area and runs for about six miles along the shore of the lake and into Canada (bring your passport if you choose to cross the border).
For another fun excursion, head to the Haskell Free Library & Opera House, where you can stand in both Vermont and Quebec at the same time. If you are lucky enough to visit the opera house for a show, you can sit in Vermont and watch the performers on stage in Canada!
Where to Eat: Try the Derby Line Village Inn for spectacular German cuisine. If you’re looking for the best Thai and sushi in the Northeast Kingdom, you have to try Dusit Thai Cuisine. The owners relocated from Thailand in 2015, and have been wowing locals and visitors with their delicacies ever since.
Where to Stay: Your first impression of Newport City Inn may be that it’s a run-down roadside motel, but beneath the surface, it’s a gem! The rooms are beautifully decorated and spacious and there’s a great indoor pool too.
Need more room to spread out? This beautiful waterfront condo sleeps 7 comfortably, and it has a beautiful sunroom and fireplace.
Where to Camp: With 75 huge campsites for both tents and RVs, a swimming beach, and a playground area, Prouty Beach & Campground is a fun and inexpensive way to explore Newport and the surrounding communities. It’s a county park, right next to the bike path, and less than a mile from downtown Newport.
Where to Next?
After completing your route 100 Vermont fall foliage road trip through the mountains from south to north, you can easily hop on Interstate 91 in Newport, which will whisk you away to points south.
If you’re up for further adventures, you can head north into Canada (Montreal is two hours away), southwest into Burlington and the Champlain Valley, or south on the Connecticut River Byway.
Vermont Route 100 Fall Road Trip FAQs
We get a lot of questions about traveling through Vermont, so we just wanted to take some time to answer the ones we get most often. If you have any other questions about road tripping through Vermont, simply leave a comment and we’ll answer ASAP.
Should we drive Route 100 in Vermont from south to north or north to south?
We recommend driving this route from south to north. Why? Because the southern end of route 100 is closer to major metropolitan areas and airports. The beginning of this road trip is 60 miles from Albany International Airport in New York, 126 miles from Logan International Airport in Boston, and 205 miles from JFK in New York City.
Once you’ve completed the 189-mile drive on Route 100 from Wilmington to Newport, you can hop onto Interstate 91 and head south again.
When is the best time to see fall foliage on Route 100 in Vermont?
You will see fall colors on Route 100 from late September through most of October. October is the busiest month for tourists in Vermont, who come from all over to see the leaves change.
The speed limit on Route 100 varies wildly from 25 mph in town centers to 50 mph between towns, so no matter what time of year you plan to drive it, plan on taking your time!
Will we have access to amenities on Route 100?
Yes! One of the most beautiful things about a Vermont Route 100 road trip is that you travel through the Green Mountain National Forest and the mountains, but you’re never very far from a village or town, which means you’ll have easy access to gas stations, grocery stores, hotels, and campgrounds.
What to Pack for Your Vermont Route 100 Road Trip
Not sure what to pack for your Route 100 Vermont fall foliage road trip? Keep it casual! You’ll be doing a lot of outdoor adventuring, and even the in-town activities (shopping, museums, and restaurants) don’t require fancy duds.
One thing you won’t find much of on Route 100 is nightlife, so leave the fancy dress and high heels behind. Here are some more packing must-haves to help you make the most of your trip.
- Activewear – Nothing heavy-duty, but you’ll be spending some time outdoors and you want to be comfy. Opt for sturdy non-cotton pants (like these) and a breathable, moisture-wicking shirt. I love merino wool shirts because they keep you cool when it’s hot out and warm when it’s cold out, plus they don’t stink like polyester blends and they dry quickly.
- Sturdy shoes – Again, you want your feet to take you wherever you need to go. Rugged trail shoes or waterproof hiking boots would be my suggestion.
- Jackets – The weather in Vermont is fickle, especially in the mountains. For fall travel, pack a down puffy jacket and a wool hat. These down jackets pack down really small and are perfect for travel.
- Camera – Perhaps your phone doubles as your camera. Awesome! If your phone camera doesn’t take great photos, consider bringing a separate camera to capture all the beautiful scenery. If you want a dedicated point-and-shoot camera that packs neatly into a backpack, check out the Canon PowerShot SX620. Overall, this little camera takes better photos than the best smartphone with a powerful zoom and 4K video. I love traveling with mine, and it’s great for saving your phone’s battery!
Resources for Planning Your Vermont Road Trip Itinerary on Route 100
We’ve been traveling around Vermont for a pretty long time, but we’re always discovering new places to go and cool things to see. Here are the books, maps, and resources we used to plan this journey.
- For great book recommendations about adventuring in Vermont, read: Books About Vermont for Exploring Like a Local.
- Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing – This is our one-stop shop for finding cool things to do throughout the state. Sign up for their mailing list or order a free vacation guide before your trip.
- Discover Newport Vermont – Plan your stay in Newport and the surrounding communities.
- Go Stowe – All the happenings in and around Stowe, VT
What’s your favorite fall foliage road trip in Vermont? Share it with our readers in the comments below.
Watch the Vermont Route 100 web story next!
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Tara Schatz is a freelance writer and the founder and editor-in-chief of Vermont Explored and Back Road Ramblers, an American road trip blog. She is also the co-author of the 3rd edition of AMC’s Best Day Hikes in Vermont (pre-order your copy for the 2023 release date in May).
Sunday 22nd of May 2022
Hi, what airport is the closet when we are done with the Itinary?
Sunday 22nd of May 2022
Hi Robert -
If you are heading north from Wilmington to Newport, Burlington International Airport (BTV) is about two hours away. A night in Burlington would make a great last day/night of the itinerary too.
Friday 11th of March 2022
Very useful information thx!