Aerial view of Stowe, Vermont.

7 Most Inviting Towns In Vermont

Vermont, like its fellow New England states, is small in size, and it is also second smallest in the nation in population. But the “Green Mountain State” is very big in terms of charm and beauty! Vermont is rightly known for its verdant mountains, burbling streams, shimmering lakes, and lush forests. Vermont also has one of the best collections of lovely small towns to be found anywhere. Touring this compact state is a breeze, so use our list of seven inviting small towns as a starting point for your Vermont itinerary.


Skyline of Montpelier, Vermont.
Skyline of Montpelier, Vermont.

In most states, you have to choose between visiting a small town or the state capital, but Vermont gives you both at once! Its seat of government, Montpelier, has only 8,000 residents but includes capital city tourist destinations like the Vermont State House and Vermont History Museum. The downtown commercial district along State Street, meanwhile, has a quaint small-town feel, making Montpelier perfect for a walking tour during a day trip. To see some of the most impressive historic architecture in town, add Green Mount Cemetery, founded in 1854 and home to some spectacular monuments, to your Montpelier walking tour.


Manchester, Vermont.
East Front of Hildene, Robert Todd Lincoln's 1905 Georgian Revival Summer home in Manchester, Vermont. Editorial credit: LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES /

No, this is not the city of Manchester in neighboring New Hampshire, but rather the town of about 5,000 residents tucked between the picturesque Green Mountains and Taconic Mountains. The nearby trail leading up to Mount Equinox offers a solid challenge to hikers, while the outlet mall on the outskirts of town is popular with shoppers seeking great deals on name brands. But downtown Manchester, with three separate historic districts showcasing Victorian (and earlier) architecture, deserves to be the star attraction. The 1905 Hildene House, with its opulent mansion and intricate gardens, is a definite must-see during your time in Manchester.


Mr Williams Bridge, a historic covered bridge in Grafton, Vermont, is decorated for the Christmas season
Mr. Williams Bridge, a historic covered bridge in Grafton, Vermont, is decorated for the Christmas season.

Set among the Green Mountains for over 200 years, Grafton was, in past lives, an important stagecoach stop, soapstone mining mecca, and textile mill hub. Historic buildings like the 1801 Grafton Inn speak to this long past, while the Grafton Historical Museum and Grafton Nature Museum offer excellent educational content. Downtown Grafton has benefitted from a series of revitalization projects over the past half-century, preserving and restoring much of its historic character. This revitalization, along with the town’s enviable location, has made Grafton a popular quick-trip destination from regional cities like Boston and Albany.


Whetstone Brook in Brattleboro, Vermont
Whetstone Brook in Brattleboro, Vermont.

Brattleboro sits close to Vermont’s borders with both New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and visitors from all three states flock to this beautiful town of 12,000 along the Connecticut River. Brattleboro has one of the most photogenic downtowns in Vermont, with a classic Main Street and unique architectural highlights like the Gothic-style Municipal Center. It also has its fair share of offbeat surprises, like the quirky Estey Organ Museum, an homage to the huge organ factory that used to be in town. For outdoor lovers, Brattleboro offers excellent kayaking, boating, fishing, and sightseeing along the river, and skiing in winter on nearby Mount Snow.


Aerial view of Woodstock, Vermont
Aerial view of Woodstock, Vermont.

Woodstock was a genuine factory town for much of its early history, with water-powered textile mills crowded along the shoreline of the Ottauquechee River for much of the 1800s. The mills brought wealth to Woodstock, which resulted in numerous stately Victorian-style homes, several of which have been preserved as charming bed-and-breakfasts. Along with its historic homes, Grafton has a classic covered bridge and a quaint “town crier,” which is simply a chalkboard open to community use. If this all sounds a bit too sleepy for your travel tastes, rest assured that Woodstock hosts lively events throughout the year, including its Harvest Festival in October and Wassail Weekend in December.


Ski resort in Stowe, Vermont
Ski resort in Stowe, Vermont.

For many, the name Stowe means skiing, as Stowe Mountain Resort rates as a top-tier (if not the premier) ski area in the eastern United States. Others recognize Stowe as the adopted home of the real von Trapp family of Sound of Music Fame, whose family lodge continues to welcome visitors. New Englanders, in particular, also know Stowe as an artists’ haven, with numerous studios and galleries such as the Helen Day Art Center and Northwood Gallery. Artists, skiers, and even Alpine singers are drawn to the indescribable beauty of the mountainous landscape, and you, too, might find it hard to leave after you experience Stowe!


A farm in Shelburne, Vermont.
A farm in Shelburne, Vermont.

There is no such thing as a bad location in Vermont, but Shelburne might occupy the most enviable spot in the state. The town sits along picturesque Lake Champlain, with the Adirondack Mountains to the west and the Green Mountains to the east, and the city of Burlington less than 10 miles away. In addition to being a great base of operations for exploring the region, the town is home to the Shelburne Museum, a 45-acre compendium of Americana that always surprises and delights visitors. Shelburne is also home to the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, which (not surprisingly) has very fun and very popular factory tours!

If your idea of a travel getaway is exploring classic yet distinctive small towns populated by proud and welcoming residents, all surrounded by a beautiful natural landscape, Vermont needs to be at the top of your list. The state is small enough for you to visit multiple great small towns in one day, but be sure to take the time to truly experience each stop along your journey. And do not be afraid to explore somewhere new and add another inviting Vermont town to your must-visit list!

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