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TRAVEL GUIDE: Visiting Vermont on a Budget

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It might not be New York City — both in population and reputation — but Vermont has a charm all its own that attracts tons of visitors each year. Famous for its skiing, hikes, maple syrup, and fall foliage, the Green Mountain state likely has something for you.

As with all popular vacation spots, prices get pretty steep for those who can’t throw away a thousand dollars a day on renting designer skis. Don’t be discouraged though—there’s plenty to see and do in the Green Mountain State that don’t cost a nickel. Check out our guide below on visiting Vermont on a budget.

STAY:

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When you’re travelling on a budget and searching for a cheap place to stay, it’s hard to beat airbnb.com, a site where private homeowners offer rooms and apartments for travelers to stay in.

Don’t be intimidated by this idea. Photos and reviews of the home and homeowner offer all the facts. Plus, you essentially get a bed ‘n breakfast experience, without some of the frills, at a severely reduced price. You’ll get a taste of classic Vermont hospitality instead of the cold comfort of a typical budget hotel.

EAT:

FarmersMarket

Local Flair – Farmer’s Markets

These pop up in small towns all over the state in warm months. You’ll find plenty to love here in the way of home-grown food from local vendors. From wild-caught quail, an Asian shrimp wrap, or a loaf of herb bread, you’ll find it all here. Again, you can see firsthand Vermont’s unique a sense of community and local pride.

Best Brunch – Skinny Pancake (skinnypancake.com)

The Skinny Pancake, with locations in Burlington and Montpelier, specializes in a wide variety of delicious crepes suitable for any meal. Try the Atlantic Monster, a crepe of egg and fresh salmon, or the poutine, a signature Quebec dish made of fries, gravy, and melted cheese.

Best Fancy Dinner – Farmhouse Tap & Grill (farmhousetg.com)

A classy dinner that won’t break the bank, Burlington’s Farmhouse Tap & Grill offers quality and quantity, with local dishes and craft beer. Try some grass-fed beef or the Thai mussels with grilled bread.

Best Variety – Duino Duende (duinoduende.com)

Duino Duende offers a huge variety of dishes from dozens of countries, and, on occasion, live music. You might hear a jam band, which are mainstays of Vermont (the group Phish hails from these parts). For eats, order the Korean beef & mushroom bulgogi.

Best Tea House – Dobra Tea (dobrateavt.com)

You wouldn’t expect Vermont to have much Asian culture, but Dobra Tea gives you a taste of the Far East, complete with sitar music, raised sitting areas, and beautiful tea sets. Share a few pots and a plate of appetizers as your worries drift away in a relaxing respite from your hectic vacation.

Best Dessert – Creamees

If you have a sweet tooth, Vermont has plenty for you, from maple syrup to maple syrup-flavored things. None is more worthwhile than the maple creamee — a Vermonter term for soft serve ice cream. You can find a cheap cone of it wherever they sell ice cream throughout the state.

SEE & DO:

Church Street in Burlington Vermont

Scenic Drives – Highway 7A & Highway 108 North

Vermont is full of beautiful drives of  rolling hills that give way to charming town squares and granite cliffs. Avoid big highways in favor of tiny, winding roads. Highway 7A through Green Mountain National Forest and highway 108 north through a canyon out of Stowe are highlights.

City Life – Burlington

Vermont’s most populated town is a refreshing mix of small town charm with big city convenience and nightlife.  Try visiting during one of Burlington’s many outdoor festivals for a livelier experience.

Stroll along the Church Street Marketplace for shops and people watching. Head over to the shimmering waterfront on Lake Champlain or to the University of Vermont. The fire escape of Williams Hall on the campus is worth a visit for its views of the city and sunset.

State Capital – Montpelier

The nation’s smallest capital city is, like Burlington, a Vermont twist on an urban area. Park near the Capital Building, take the tour inside, and head out from there. If you’re a fan of eclectic shops, you won’t be disappointed here.

Small Town – Woodstock

Although Vermont is full of small towns, Woodstock is a village that looks so classically American, you’ll be surprised it isn’t sepia-toned. Despite the tourism factor, it feels as if you’ve stepped through a time warp to the 1800s, complete with covered bridge, roundabout town square, old town hall, and bronze statues.

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Best Hike – Mount Mansfield

Be sure to devote a half or full-day to exploring a slice of Vermont’s lushly forested mountains. No attractions can beat the splendor of a walk in the Vermont woods. Mount Mansfield, the highest peak in the state, is always rewarding. Use the less-traveled trails that start in Underhill State Park.

Vermont Dairy – Sugarbush Farm (sugarbushfarm.com) & Cabot Cheese Factory (cabotcheese.coop/pages/visit_us)

Sugarbush Farm, north of Woodstock, is a stop you surely won’t regret. A friendly employee will teach you a few things while letting you sample liberal amounts of maple syrup and cheese, all made on-site. Afterward, browse the gift shop, feed the farm animals, and explore the property to see the maple syrup process firsthand.

Still in the mood for more cheese? Check out the Cabot Cheese Factory, in the town of Cabot, for a cheap and interesting tour that furnishes you with even more samples. A lot of people visit the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory in Waterbury, but most locals agree it’s an over-priced tourist trap.

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