aerial view of stowe, vermont

9 of the Most Scenic Towns in Vermont

Regardless of the season, Vermont boasts breathtaking scenery. With expansive forests, rugged mountains, lakes, and streams, Vermont best represents the beautiful New England scenery. Moreover, the state is home to a collection of beautiful small towns, serving as gateways to its scenic natural landscapes. From the beauty of the Green Mountains to the tranquil shores of pristine lakes - from dense woodlands to calm streams - these towns provide access to a wealth of awe-inspiring views. Each town possesses its own unique character, enticing visitors to explore and immerse themselves in Vermont's unspoiled beauty. 


View in browser You need to attribute the author  Show me how  More details View of Lake Willoughby in Westmore, Vermont, By Mwparenteau - With my camera at a weddingPreviously published: Simultaneously published on Flickr and Facebook, CC BY-SA 3.0,
View in browser You need to attribute the author  Show me how  More details View of Lake Willoughby in Westmore, Vermont, By Mwparenteau - Simultaneously published on Flickr and Facebook, CC BY-SA 3.0, File:Lake Willoughby, Westmore, Vermont, 2015.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

With only 370 people, Westmore is an extremely small town. However, the size of this idyllic town only accentuates its quaint architecture and surrounding natural beauty. Here, you get to appreciate the rocky bluffs of the Appalachian Mountains, crystal clear water, and dense forest – all from within the town itself. Westmore is situated on the north-east shore of Lake Willoughby – one of the most beautiful lakes in Vermont. The massive cliffs of Mounts Hor and Pisgah border either side of the lake, creating a dramatic landscape that is only accentuated with the small town of Westmore superimposed upon them.

Westmore is also nestled deep within the woodlands of the Appalachians and is next door to Willoughby State Forest, which borders much of Willoughby Lake. The combination of water, mountains, and forest provide ample opportunity for anyone who wishes to seize it. Whether you want to hike through a forest and summit a mountain to view the Appalachians and Lake Willoughby from above, relax on the beach, or simply relax and drink in the view along side the lake, Westmore has more than enough scenery to go around. The views are great all year round, but are especially breathtaking as the leaves begin to turn in fall. When you visit, make sure to check out the many hikes, campgrounds, and parks in the area! Just be careful if you go out on the water and be on the lookout for Wicked Willy – the fabled monster patrolling the deep waters of Willoughby Lake.


A Civil War Memorial stands in the center of The Park, Rochester, By Kenneth C. Zirkel - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
A Civil War Memorial stands in the center of The Park, Rochester, By Kenneth C. Zirkel - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, File:Civil War Memorial, The Park, Rochester, Vermont.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

A gateway for Green Mountain National Forest, and known as the “The Heart of the Green Mountains”, Rochester is the perfect place to go for anyone who enjoys forested mountain peaks. Green Mountain National Forest is unique, being the only federally managed forest in Vermont and one of the largest forests in the state. This massive forest is filled with multiple hikes allowing anyone to access the timeless scenery the Green Mountains have to offer. True to their name, the Green Mountains, part of the Appalachian Mountains, are covered in a variety of trees, such as spruce, maple, beech, and birch. Not only does this provide diverse, sweeping views in the summer, but the beauty of the area persists with an incredible array of colors during the fall, and pristine, snow-capped peaks during the winter months.

Although the landscape surrounding Rochester is breathtaking, the town itself also presents incredible scenic opportunities. Rochester is a cultural hub, with art galleries, theater productions, festivals and much more -  and this is reflected in the town’s image. Rochester is filled with picturesque buildings, complimenting the rolling backdrop of the hills and mountains for which the region is known. If you prefer rural scenery, consider relaxing beside the winding White River as it makes its way through Rochester, and drink in this gorgeous town and its scenic surroundings.   


Express Gondola at Killington Mountain Resort in Fall
Express Gondola at Killington Mountain Resort in Fall

Located near the outskirts of Green Mountain National Forest and near Coolidge State Forest, Killington has it all. Killington provides access not only to the forest, but multiple ski hills, like Pico Mountain Ski Resort and Killington Resort, which provide incredible panoramas of the Appalachians. If winter views from atop mountain peaks are not to your taste, the area also has incredible fair-weather hikes and scenic views. Significant lookouts, like Shrewsbury Peak and Little Killington Peak, give those looking for scenic views the opportunity to wonder at the wooded expanses of the Coolidge and Green Mountain Ranges.

Additionally, the Killington area has beautiful water features, like Thundering Falls and Chittenden Reservoir. Thundering Falls, the sixth tallest waterfall in Vermont, cascades 140 feet down a narrow, rocky chute, and provides the avid outdoors person the chance to see the site of a historic watermill. On the other hand, Chittenden Reservoir is a tranquil lake surrounded by the Green Mountain National Forest. Due to its location, development of the shoreline is limited, meaning the majority of the lake is rugged and pristine as if no human had ever visited. As such, the scenery of Chittenden Reservoir is truly natural. Whether you prefer mountains, forest, river, or lake views, Killington has it all – no matter the season. If you decide to visit, do not forget your camera, because you are going to need it!


East Front of Robert Todd Lincoln's 1905 Georgian Revival Summer home in Manchester, Vermont, via LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES /
East Front of Robert Todd Lincoln's 1905 Georgian Revival Summer home in Manchester, Vermont, via LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES /

Located squarely in the southern block of the Green Mountain National Forest, Manchester is a gorgeous small town that perfectly portrays New England charm and natural beauty. No other town in Vermont allows you to walk down marble – yes, marble – sidewalks with the beautiful Green Mountains in the background. Manchester lies in the foothills of Mount Equinox, an almost 3000-foot tall mountain, known for its beautiful views and diverse ecology. Many hikes can be found in the area, so it is easy to find a trail that takes you straight to the top of the mountain. If you have mobility issues, or simply do not like to hike, this summit can also be reached via the Skyline Drive – a scenic road allowing the summit to be accessed by car. From here, you get a 360-degree view of the surrounding countryside, allowing for stunning vistas in any season you choose to visit.

Although the mountains are the main draw for the Manchester area, there is much more to be seen. For example, just a short hike from the town itself, you can hike to Lye Brook Falls – a beautiful waterfall that requires you to follow a picturesque brook through the Lye Brooks Wilderness. Another draw to the area is Emerald Lake State Park. This park features the small but beautiful Emerald Lake, as well as opportunities to view the old remains of marble quarries – all with the forested Appalachian backdrop. The mixture of marble and peaked woodlands, whether in Manchester proper or out, makes this location a must if you want the authentic scenic Vermont experience.


Whitingham Antiques and Collectibles, Whitingham Vermont, By John Phelan - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Whitingham Antiques and Collectibles, Whitingham Vermont, By John Phelan - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, File:Whitingham Antiques and Collectibles, Whitingham VT.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Whittingham can be found between the narrow strip of land that separates Harriman Reservoir and Sandawga Lake. As such, this location has spectacular lakeside views that get better the more you explore. Harriman Reservoir is the largest man-made body of water fully located in Vermont. With the Green Mountain National Forest bordering it to the west, there is ample opportunity to view the forested Appalachians as they fall to meet the water’s edge – a view made even better if you catch it while the sun sets. Filled with hiking trails and paddling routes, there are no shortage of ways to view this beautiful lake. If you are someone who enjoys the juxtaposition of nature and man-made elements, then consider visiting the Glory Hole – essentially a large concrete drain created to stop the lake from overflowing – located a few miles west of Whittingham.

Although much smaller, Sandawga Lake is also a major draw to the area. A locally held secret, this lake is known for fishing, and for its floating island located right in the middle of the lake. This “island” is large – about a quarter the size of the lake itself, and is made of the remnants of an ancient bog torn off the mainland, and only appeared once the area was dammed in 1880. It can be easily paddled to, and since its creation, has been known as a national oddity. Filled with gorgeous lake views and the opportunity to catch a glimpse of a floating island, Whittingham scratches the itch many get for unique, yet beautiful, scenery.


Waterfront view in Groton, Vermont, during autumn
Waterfront view in Groton, Vermont, during autumn

Groton is a charming beach town of roughly 1000 people, spread out along highway 302 in eastern Vermont. It is surrounded by a plethora of parks, like Kettle Pond, Still Water, and Seyon Lodge State Parks – just to name a few. These must-see attractions all share the Groton State Forest, a 26,000 acre forest filled with mountainous ridges, cliffs, ponds, and streams. Notable bodies of water in the area to check out include Stillwater Pond and Lake Groton, which both provide rocky hills, covered in a variety of different species of trees, making this area a great place to visit if you want a view– especially in the fall. For those who want sweeping views from atop a mountain, Groton also provides access to Owl Head Mountain, which overlooks the great Groton Forest. If seclusion is more your style, then Seyon Lodge State Park may be a better alternative. Considered one of Vermont’s best kept secrets, this retreat lets you relax beside a tranquil pond, or trek, ski, and bike through the trees to view multitudes of wildlife within the depts of nature. No matter what kind of scenery you want, Groton is sure to satisfy.


Street signs in Alburgh, Vermont, By Royalbroil - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Street signs in Alburgh, Vermont, By Royalbroil - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, File:Alburgh VT Sign US2.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Nestled in the northwest corner of Vermont, Alburgh offers a natural landscape that is unlike the rest of Vermont. Although Vermont is covered in beautiful forests and mountain tops, it lacks access to many large bodies of water. Lake Champlain, one of the most beautiful lakes in America, is a vast and picturesque freshwater expanse. It borders Alburgh, and serves as a visual centerpiece with the distant Adirondack Mountains providing a stunning backdrop. This lake not only exposes you to beautiful waterfront views, but also provides the opportunity to explore the many islands within Lake Champlain. The town's topography incentivizes exploration with meandering roads and bridges revealing captivating watery vistas at every turn, rolling hills and verdant forests.

Another feature which makes Alburgh stand out are the large sand dunes of Alburgh Dunes State Park. Among some of the biggest on Lake Champlain, these dunes present a tableau of sandy shores, accentuated by the surrounding forest and wildlife. The coexistence of large lakes, hills, woodlands, and sand dunes paints a vivid portrait of untouched natural beauty, unique even for Vermont – a place already known for its breathtaking scenery.

Island Pond

Fall in Island Pond, Vermont
Fall in Island Pond, Vermont

Island Pond is situated just a few miles shy of the Canadian border in the eastern part of Vermont. Filled with rivers, a tranquil pond, and a giant wildlife refuge, there are no shortages of beautiful scenery. Island Pond sits on the shoreline of its namesake, which reflects the remote Brighton State Park – a park known for fast-paced rivers and tree covered mountains. For wildlife enthusiasts, the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge is a hidden treasure. This refuge encompasses a variety of habitats, making it an ideal location for birdwatching, wildlife photography, and serene nature walks. The refuge's commitment to conservation ensures that Island Pond remains a sanctuary for both residents and the abundant wildlife that call it home. The refuge puts the Connecticut River water shed on display with a variety of unique habitats like northern forest and multitudes of marshes. To make access to this region easier, many boardwalks with lookouts have been made, allowing most of the refuge to be explored without your feet ever touching the marshy ground!

In Island Pond, Vermont, the combination of the pond itself, the wildlife refuge, and the forested peaks that are typical of the Appalachians paints a vivid portrait of natural beauty. If you are looking for a place that really takes you out into the depts of nature, then give Island Pond a visit!


Aerial view of Stowe Vermont and autumn colors.
Aerial view of Stowe Vermont and autumn colors.

Stowe can be found between two large forests, Mount Mansfield Forest and CC Putnam Forest, making it the opportune place to glimpse woodland scenery. Also in the area are water features such as Waterbury Reservoir and Sterling Gorge Falls.  Additionally, Stowe acts as a gateway to the breathtaking landscapes of Mansfield and Stowe Mountains, and Waterbury Reservoir and Sterling Gorge Falls. Thus, Stow is no stranger to diverse vistas, from rocky alpine views to forested waterfronts.

With clear, deep water and mountain views in every direction, the Waterbury Reservoir provides excellent scenery of the Appalachians, whether you are viewing this gorgeous backdrop from the lakeshore or boat. Between the numerous boating opportunities and hiking trails in the area, there are many ways to experience the reservoir. Waterbury Reservoir is sharply contrasted to Sterling Gorge Falls. These narrow, cascading falls can be found via a short hike around Stowe’s Sterling Valley. As an added plus, this short hike comes packed with information through the many signs along the way, describing the area’s history, geology, and much more.

Although the water features around Stowe are well worth visiting, the largest draw to the area are its nearby mountains. Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak, looms above the town, its rugged slopes covered in thick forests, at least - until you get to the top of the mountain. At over 4000 feet, this is one of the few paces in Vermont where you actually get to experience true alpine scenery. From its summit, you're rewarded with sweeping panoramas that change with the seasons, showcasing Vermont's pristine wilderness in all its glory – however, you will have to walk all the way up. If hiking is not your thing, consider visiting Stowe Mountain! The gondola to the peak runs all year long, allowing you to experience incredible views no matter the season, with much less effort.  

In Conclusion

In summary, Vermont's small towns serve as a means to experience the state's breathtaking natural beauty. From the towering peaks of the Green Mountains to the forested shores of its many pristine lakes, each location offers a unique and captivating experience. Whether you seek alpine grandeur, charming townscapes, or secluded lakeside serenity, Vermont presents an abundance of awe-inspiring scenery for a wide spread of people. These scenic views invite exploration at every turn, and create new appreciation of Vermont's unspoiled landscapes.

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