Mistakes Tourists Make While Visiting Vermont

If you're planning to visit the Green Mountain State, steer clear of these errors during your travels.

From charming towns and scenic mountains to hip breweries and plenty of après-ski fun, Vermont boasts countless tourist attractions that draw visitors from near and far.

While many residents of the Green Mountain State welcome travelers with open arms, they’ve also noticed a pattern of mistakes that outsiders tend to make during their stays. We asked some Vermonters to break down the most common ones.

Read on for 16 missteps and faux pas, as well as some advice for avoiding these errors during your Vermont travels.

Relying Too Heavily On GPS

“In our most gorgeous, remote areas, cell service is unreliable. In fact, there are significant areas without coverage. Screenshot your maps just like we printed them out in the old days. You won’t regret it. Also, be aware that GPS can send you on some roads that might be listed as roads but probably are not actually in use. (No, seriously. Ask me about the time I drove up a remote hiking path in a minivan.) Don’t power through! Don’t be afraid to turn around.” ― Jemima Talbot, owner of Vermont Moms

“Blindly following your GPS will often route you through some pretty gnarly back roads, and you might wind up in the wrong town at the end anyway.” ― Jane Lindholm, Vermont Public Radio host

Skipping The General Stores

“During the restricted travel times in the height of the pandemic, we traveled the state in our camper. We called it our staycation. We had a policy that we never drive past a general store without stopping. It is such a great way to see the local culture and travel back in time. We still have several great old general stores here that are worth seeking out, where you can find anything from hardware to jewelry, socks and ball jars. A handful of them still have operational post offices run out of them.” ― Katie Webster, food blogger and content developer at Healthy Seasonal Recipes

Forgetting To Pack Layers

“Leaf peepers, we love when you visit. We do. Vermont foliage is a spectacular display that’s not to be missed. But fall weather can be capricious. Pack for 80-degree weather and snow. You never know what you’ll get.” ― Talbot

“You have to be prepared for the weather. And that doesn’t always mean it is going to be cold! September and early October can sometimes be quite mild, so pack layers.” ― Webster

Driving Too Fast On Dirt Roads

“Vermont has an amazing network of dirt roads throughout the state. But driving on dirt roads can present some challenges to the uninitiated. You need to drive significantly slower on dirt ― think 30 miles per hour ― for a number of reasons including animals and kids, and because you can really do some damage to your car on the bumps and potholes. Please be very cautious of mud as well. It is slippery and can be deep. Proceed with caution.” ― Talbot

If you're heading to Vermont in the fall, pack layers to prepare for the season's fluctuating temperatures.
DenisTangneyJr via Getty Images
If you're heading to Vermont in the fall, pack layers to prepare for the season's fluctuating temperatures.

Not Trying A Creemee (Or, Calling It ‘Soft-Serve’)

“Stop for a creemee. A creemee is a frozen treat that’s unique to Vermont. It’s not soft-serve, and any local will recoil with horror deep in their heart if you make the comparison. A creemee is a unique and delicious treat and the best ones feature local ingredients. Yes, you’re in Vermont, get the maple flavor. You can bet that when locals line up at our favorite creemee spots, we’re getting maple too. Or maybe a twist with in-season fruit like red raspberries or cinnamon apple. Vermonters take their creemees very seriously. Pay attention to the seasonal flavors. Make sure you get the maple sprinkles, too. These little bits of maple candy elevate the creemee experience to something completely sublime. Just don’t call it soft-serve.” ― Talbot

Sticking To Woodstock And Stowe

“A mistake that I see over and over is travelers coming to Vermont, spending a weekend in the most touristy towns, and then complaining that Vermont is a crowded tourist trap. Stowe and Woodstock are adorable villages, but they are also extremely congested in the fall and on summer weekends, which often results in a less-than-pleasant experience for visitors. I suggest that travelers make their home base in one of the smaller and less touristy towns throughout Vermont. A few of my favorite towns are Bennington, Wilmington, Jeffersonville, Newport and Ludlow.” ― Tara Schatz, senior editor and CEO of Vermont Explored

“Woodstock, Stowe and Manchester are wonderful towns to visit, but you should see what else is out there during your trip. Check out other nearby small towns, take a walk on a dirt road, hike in a town forest, go to an event, or stop at a general store you’ve never heard of.” ― Erica Houskeeper, publisher of Happy Vermont

“Vermont boasts 251 towns and cities, and each of them has something special to offer ― whether [it’s] the best cider donut you’ve ever tried, an old-timey general store, an inventive brewery, an amazing local artisan gallery, a maple syrup producer, etc. Go for a road trip to discover the hidden gems and local spirit that defines Vermont.” ― Erin McCormick, creator of Travel Like a Local: Vermont

Waiting To Book Fall Accommodations

“The fall foliage in Vermont creates some of the most breathtaking views in the country, and draws many visitors to the state for peak color in the beginning of October every year. Don’t wait to book hotels ahead of time, as rates creep up tremendously the closer [you get to fall], and often require a two-night minimum. For more budget-friendly accommodations, check out Airbnbs, inns and B&Bs in more remote parts of the state. No matter where you stay, there will be epic color and many routes to see incredible fall vistas in every direction.” ― McCormick

Being Unprepared For Winter Road Conditions

“Our winters are no joke. Plan for cold and wind, and if driving, make sure to have good snow tires. Especially on the way up access roads to ski areas, we often see out-of-state plates spun off the side of the road. Visitors should be aware that during winter storms, Vermont roads will be covered with some snow. Drive with caution and keep a snow shovel in your trunk in case you do run into trouble. We do not have a clear road policy and motorists are expected to use their best judgment in bad weather.” ― Webster

“If you’re flying into Vermont and not familiar with winter driving, ensure you get a vehicle that’s all-wheel drive ― even better, one with snow tires. Ensure you map your routes ahead of time and stick to main roads. Sometimes GPS will take drivers on dirt roads (even logging roads!) that don’t get as frequent plowing and sanding. When in doubt, stay put during storms. They don’t last long and the roads will be cleared up in no time, allowing you to be on your way safe and sound, to the mountain or out and exploring.” ― McCormick

Limiting Your Visits To Ski Trips

“Vermont isn’t only for winter enthusiasts and skiing. In fact, the craft beer industry in Vermont has surpassed the ski and maple syrup industries when it comes to its economic impact on the state. Many visitors now to come to Vermont for its epic breweries (more per capita than any other state), cheese trail, sugaring season, maple creeemees, hiking, boating on Lake Champlain and back-road rambling throughout the small towns of Vermont. In any season, there are farmers’ markets, live music, independent bookstores and record stores, boutiques with local finds, and so much to discover outside of the mountains Vermont is known for.” ― McCormick

Missing The Hidden Gems

“I would say one of the biggest mistakes visitors make is not exploring beyond popular places like the Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour, the Vermont Country Store, or Stowe Mountain Resort ― all fine places, but they don’t give you a full picture of Vermont.” ― Houskeeper

“One of the biggest mistakes tourists can make is only visiting the most well-known destinations in Vermont. There are so many incredible hidden gems to discover in the Green Mountain state, [and] while the popular spots are great, there is magic to be found in some of the lesser-known places. If you’re looking for quiet and connection with nature, Vermont is the place to be.” ― Jess Ann Kirby, lifestyle blogger

“Vermont has plenty of hidden gems that are worth exploring. Don’t let the more popular attractions keep you from seeking out some truly unique experiences! I recommend you stop by Shelburne Museum on your next visit.” ― Ellen LaFleche-Christian, creator of Confessions of an Overworked Mom

Don't forget to hit the road and explore beyond the main town areas.
Brian Eden via Getty Images
Don't forget to hit the road and explore beyond the main town areas.

Staying On Land In The Summer

“Getting out on the water in the summer is absolutely the best. Try to get out on the water for a sunset cruise on Lake Champlain on the Spirit of Ethan Allen based out of Burlington, or rent stand-up paddle boards or kayaks for a more active way of being on the water. You can line up [a] fly fishing guide in our streams or get out on the larger bodies of water for game fish. Buy a license online with a few clicks. Our state park campgrounds book up early, so plan ahead!” ― Webster

Ignoring The Countryside

“When visiting Vermont, don’t be afraid to get out of town. While there are sweet local shops and good food in lots of Vermont’s towns and villages, it would be a mistake to stay put. Driving along Vermont’s country routes opens up the possibility of stumbling upon a charming farm stand with honor-system homemade ice cream, or passing picture-perfect views, old homes, and beautiful rustic barns. Instead of relying on places advertising their Vermont souvenirs, stop into places that serve the locals and you’ll find some of the best and truly local goods, crafts, sandwiches, and anything else you’re looking for. Don’t skip the state parks. Even if you’re not a rugged outdoors person, Vermont state parks are beautiful and have something for everyone.” ― Jessica Lewis Stevens, founder of Sugarhouse Workshop

Only Visiting During Peak Tourism Times

“Come to Vermont not just during the more popular times like Presidents’ Day Weekend or peak foliage. Come here in late May or early June when the landscape is bright green, or visit [in] late October, when there is still fall color but the crowds are gone.” ― Houskeeper

“Visitors only think to come in the fall for foliage or winter for skiing, but spring and summer are awesome times to visit Vermont. Summertime is a beautiful season here because it is nice and warm, but not too hot, and we have so many lakes and parks to visit. We have a thriving trail system for hiking and mountain biking. In the spring, you will find there are far less tourists, so making dining reservations are easier and you can visit our popular craft breweries without fighting the crowds. In the spring, you can come see Vermonters making maple syrup and enjoy sugar on snow. Meanwhile, many ski areas are open until the end of April, so you can also enjoy spring skiing. You can also take part [in] (or at least watch) pond skimming ― a hilarious tradition involving skiing, usually in costume, across a pond at the bottom of the slope. In late spring, visit our farms to see baby animals and cheesemaking.” ― Webster

Not Planning For Mud And Stick Seasons

“In Vermont, we have mud season in late March and early April, and stick season in November. In mud season, you’ll want to ensure you have some rubber boots if you’re going to be on the trails ― and in fact, many hiking trails encourage visitors to stay off of them for preservation during the worst of mud season. Likewise, if you’re traveling dirt roads, mud and mud ruts can be more slippery than ice, so plan accordingly. During stick season, once all of the leaves have fallen, many establishments close up for maintenance or a break after foliage season. The upside? Many of the accommodations that are open are more wallet-friendly, since there are fewer tourists visiting after foliage and before snow flies.” ― McCormick

Blocking Traffic To Take Photos

“Do not block the flow of traffic when you are trying to take pictures. Pull off to the side of the road to keep the road clear, and [keep] everyone safe. You can still take pictures from the side of the road and enjoy the scenery.” ― Travis Counter, chef and owner of Good Times Café

Forgetting To Bring A Cooler

“A couple of years ago, I was chatting with the owner of our small neighborhood health food bodega about some local blue cheese they were carrying. We kept chatting about how delicious the cheese was, and because we thought we were alone in the store, we were using some salty language to describe how much we loved it, when out popped a man from the back of the store. ‘Ladies, I’m from New Jersey, and you’ve completely talked me into trying some of that ‘transcendent’ blue cheese! But, son of a bitch, I just realized I left my cooler in the hotel room an hour away.’ The takeaway is: Always bring a cooler to Vermont, in case you discover the local cheese of your dreams.” ― Launie Kettler, creator of Teeny Tiny Kitchen

Quotes have been edited and condensed for clarity.

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