Having grown up in the green mountain state, Vermont holds a very special place in my heart. California has made me weak in the cold weather department, so visiting Vermont in the summer is the prime time in my opinion. Although known for its skiing and abundance of cozy winter activities, there is no place sweeter than Vermont in the summer time..
I grew up close by to the biggest mountain in the East, Killington. Other nearby, well-known towns are Rutland, Manchester, Dorset, and Woodstock. The biggest city, Burlington, is a little under two hours from our house. I will eventually do guides to each specific city in Vermont, along with a winter guide, but I thought it would be most beneficial to first dive deep into the hidden gems and growing list of activities my hometown has to offer. After Instagram-ing away while on my last 10 day visit, I was inundated with friends interested in visiting my little state! After this post you’ll no doubt want to book your next trip and cross this gorgeous place off your bucket list.
Since I usually stay at my parent’s house near Killington, we’ll start out looking at how to spend a week in this area. A few favorite hotels near my hometown that I’d recommend is The Killington Grand Hotel (owned by the ski resort), The Woodstock Inn & Resort (a classic Vermont retreat with a touch of luxury and short drive to the mountain), The Mountain Top Inn & Resort (known for hosting incredible weddings with the best views in Vermont), and The Equinox (a luxury property with old world charm).
Where to taste Vermont:
I’m known to come home with way too many groceries in the summer time. Who doesn’t love all the fresh produce choices?! Vermont takes summer produce to another level, with so many local family operated farms, fresh organic dairy, and beautiful summer weather. There is nothing like the fresh heirloom tomatoes, asparagus, basil, watermelon, and corn you’ll find at local road side farm stands in the dead of summer. My mouth is watering! That said, Vermont packs a big punch in the food department for such a little state, and I’m not just talking maple syrup..
The Garlic – The best Italian food in the county! Also a hot spot for the winter season, it’s our family’s tradition to dine here on Christmas night!
Preston’s – Located at the Grand Hotel, and recently renovated. You’ll find delicious local cheese plates, grass fed streaks & burgers, and an impressive wine list.
The Lake House Pub & Grille – Casual lake front dining, about 35 minutes from Killington.
The Palms at Prospect Bay – Right next to the Lake House, this restaurant is owned by family friends and will guarantee a simple menu with an Italian flare (only open in the summer).
Table 24 – Nestled right in downtown Rutland – Killington’s closest “city”. I grew up coming here with my girlfriends all throughout high school. It’s still a favorite, and I still order the same few things. Make sure to try the Vermont cheddar fondue, fresh rotisserie sandwich, or their popular buffalo shrimp.
The Tavern at The Mountain Top – Although a popular destination for tourists and weddings, the Mountain Top Inn is top on my list. The views are captivating, and the food is farm to table with an impressive cocktail list. Great for a beautiful family dinner or a lunch with friends soaking up the sun on their beautiful patio. Try the maple Moscow Mule – you’re in Vermont, after all!
Brix Wine Bar – Light bites and the perfect spot to catch up with friends over a crisp glass of Northern California wine.
The Yellow Deli – Open 24/7 (literally) but closed Saturdays. This deli is a local institution that uses the freshest ingredients. I love their thick fruit smoothies and turkey sandwiches.
Sugar and Spice – Another local spot, but also popular with the tourist. Over Christmas, this place has an 1+ hour wait, but summer is a bit quieter. They make their own maple syrup on site (you’ll see the taps on the trees surrounding the restaurant!) and the food is diner food, but the best diner food you’ll ever have.
What to do:
Hike Pico Mountain – Not for the faint of heart, this is always the hardest workout I do all year, but the views and feeling you’ll have after is worth it. It’ll take about an hour to the tip top.
Hike Deer’s Leap – Super moderate hike. Come here in the morning then follow up your hike with Sugar and Spice breakfast!
Go to the Rutland or Dorset Farmers Market – Vermont just does it right in the farmers market department, this is one of my favorite things to do when I visit.
Visit a few Breweries and create your own beer tour – if you start from Killington, head towards Middlebury, which is a super cute college town about 40 minutes from Rutland (Killington’s closest town). Middlebury is filled with cute coffee shops and creative boutiques. Start your beer/hard cider hop at Woodchuck Cider, followed by The Otter Creek Brewery, have lunch at Two Brother’s Tavern (OMG their nachos), and finish the day at the gorgeous Lincoln Peak Vineyard. Although Vermont isn’t a Napa Valley comparison, the vineyards are beautiful.
Day trip to Burlington – Vermont’s biggest city is a good one, filled with things to do, sites to see, plus, its right on Lake Champlain. I’m going to do a Burlington guide soon, but want to point out a few of my favorite places in Burlington since I went to UVM for two years and have lots to report on! BVT is an easy two hour day trip from the Killington area, or you could spend the night at one of my favorite hotels, Hotel Vermont. Peruse Church Street (Burlington’s main street where no cars are allowed. There are tons of shops and street vendors to check out. Have lunch at the yummy Leunig’s Bistro located right on Church Street, then make your way to Splash for a lakeside cocktail on Lake Champlain. On your way back home, you can stop at The Ben & Jerry’s in Waterbury, then Cabot Cheese for the best cheese tasting of your life.
Browse the local shops in Woodstock – Woodstock is a quick 20 minute drive from Killington, home to The Woodstock Inn, lots of farm fresh restaurants, and cute shops run by friendly locals. Stop at the Woodstock Farmers Market (open daily) for fresh cheese and fruit for a happy hour snack plate once you’re back at the hotel.
Spend the day sipping beer and dipping your toes in the river at Long Trail Brewery – Long Trail is located between Killington and Woodstock, and is a must stop whenever I go back to Vermont, no matter the season. Long Trail sits right on a flowing river, so in the summer months you’re able to sit river side and enjoy lunch and a few tasting flights, and even dip your toes in the chilly water. We went with a few of my girlfriends during our last trip and had the best afternoon. The food is just as good as the beer. Make sure to try the fried pickles!!
Spend the morning at Killington Adventure Park – Into thrills? Killington doesn’t just offer skiing. Their summer program is growing each year. They currently have the best mountain biking in the east, a ropes course, a mountain coaster (think alpine slide meets roller coaster), a zip line, four wheeling, Segway tours, trampolines, and moderate to intense hiking trails. Killington also has one of the gondolas running for the summer season, which you can take up to the recently renovated peak lodge to enjoy lunch or a local beer while taking in the breathtaking views. Last but not least, don’t miss Killington’s famous belgian waffles! OMG.
Rent a boat on a nearby lake – There are so many beautiful lakes all throughout Vermont, Echo Lake, Lake Bomoseen, and Lake St. Catherine to name a few.
Visit Manchester and shop at the outlet stores (they have a Kate Spade outlet!) Manchester is a classy town less than an hour from Killington. My mom and I always make a day trip here whenever I visit. Manchester is home to J.Crew and Kate Spade outlets – need I say more?! 😉 Stop at the beautiful Equinox Resort for a memorable local cheese plate and cold glass of prosecco out on their beautiful deck.
And, most importantly, indulge in a creamee (as the locals call them ;)) – creemee’s are like gold to any Vermonter. A creemee is maple flavored soft serve ice cream. Enjoying this decedent treat is a must!
Keep your eye out for my in-depth guide to Burlington & Stowe Mountain Vermont. Maybe I’ll need to take a trip in the fall and report back…