5 Gorgeous Vermont Scenic Drives

Vermont’s natural beauty is beyond compare, and there is no better way to enjoy the lush forests, majestic mountains, and beautiful foliage than by traveling along its scenic byways. So whether you’re planning future road trips in Vermont or only want to spend an afternoon exploring, there’s a route to satisfy everyone.

What we love most about Vermont scenic drives is that you can take most of them year-round, by car or motorcycle, and you don’t have to worry about too much traffic along the way. Here’s a list of our favorite Vermont scenic byways for you to enjoy.

Best Scenic Drives in Vermont

A map of scenic driving routes in Vermont shown on a mobile phone with a colalge of Vermont fall color images

Vermont Scenic Drives: Lake Champlain Byway – (US Route 2 and US Route 7)

  • Distance: 184 miles
  • Time needed: ~3.5 hours direct or 2-5 days

The Lake Champlain Byway is a nature lover’s dream, full of beautiful views of Lake Champlain, the Adirondacks, and Vermont’s Green Mountains. The route runs north to south along U.S. Route 2 through Grand Isle County and U.S. Route 7 from Chittenden County into Addison County.

With so many exciting stops along the way, you’ll want to spend at least a few days enjoying one of the best scenic drives in Vermont.

History buffs will enjoy stopping at several museums along the Lake Champlain Byway, including Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Rokeby Museum in Ferrisburgh, and Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes. Each location highlights different aspects of Vermont’s rich history of Native American, Yankee, and French settlers who first colonized this fascinating New England State.

USA Vermont Scenic Drives -Lake Champlain

There are also plenty of opportunities to stretch your legs and enjoy the outdoors, including biking along the Burlington Waterfront and enjoying several Vermont state parks along your drive.

If you’re more inclined toward the fruit of the vine, travel along the Middlebury Tasting Trail and sample some of the finest wines and craft beers that Vermont has to offer. 

When to go: There’s something special to enjoy along this route no matter what time of year you go. Admire the brilliant Vermont fall foliage, hike the trails in the summer, or enjoy the snow-covered mountain scenery in the winter.

Vermont Scenic Drives: The Shires of Vermont Byway – (Historic Route 7A)

  • Distance: 33 miles
  • Time needed: 50 minutes direct or 1 day

The Shires of Vermont Byway is nestled between the Taconic Mountains and the Green Mountains along Vermont’s historic Route 7A. Spend a few hours or the entire day driving from Manchester to Bennington, perhaps even hiking the Long Trail, a portion of the Appalachian Trail that runs parallel to the route.

USA Vermont Scenic Drives - Manchester

You’ll find unique sites to explore in each of the Shire’s towns, from organic farmlands in Pownal to the Bennington Battle Monument in Old Bennington.

Manchester is the perfect year-round destination, as it offers everything from outdoor recreation to the arts. Hildene, the Lincoln family home, is also located in Manchester. (Pro Tip: If you’re searching for a heavenly stack of pancakes, head over to The Little Rooster Cafe. The lines are long, but it’s worth the wait!)

Travelers with a sweet tooth will love the Village Peddler and Chocolatorium in East Arlington, home to the world’s largest chocolate bear, Cocoa. Sample an array of gourmet chocolates and other tasty treats, and take some along for the drive home.

When to go: Drive the Shires of Vermont Byway year-round and enjoy all the beauty that the Shires have to offer.

Vermont Scenic Drives: Mad River Scenic Byway – (Route 2, Route 100B, Route 100, and Route 17)

  • Distance: 36.5 miles
  • Time needed: 1 hour 15 minutes direct or 1 day

Vermont scenic drives are some of the most beautiful in the country, and the Mad River Scenic Byway doesn’t disappoint. This 35-mile stretch on two of Vermont’s most photo-worthy routes (Route 100 and 100B) is filled with rolling hills, rich farmland, and majestic mountain ridgelines.

USA Vermont Scenic Drives - Warren Covered Bridge over Mad River

The Mad River Scenic Byway is home to two famous destination ski resorts, Sugarbush and Mad River Glen. However, there are also many attractions in the villages below, where steepled churches and architecture tell of Vermont’s rich history. Aside from skiing, the Mad River Path also offers excellent views and access to swimming, fishing, and boating.

You can also savor a delicious meal at the Red Hen Bakery and Cafe in Middlesex or browse the Mad River Taste Place in Waitsfield, a specialty grocery store featuring some of Vermont’s best products.

If you’re traveling during the summer, bring your bathing suit and take a dip in the swimming hole at Warren Falls. (Pro Tip: The falls are quite popular for cliff jumping, so exercise caution if you choose to take the plunge)

When to go: The Mad River Scenic Byway is open year-round, although some portions of the Mad River Trail may not be available during the winter.

Vermont Scenic Drives: Stone Valley Scenic Byway – (VT Route 30)

  • Distance: 30 miles
  • Time needed: 58 minutes direct or 1 day

The Stone Valley Scenic Byway is 30 miles filled with majestic mountain slopes, storybook villages nestled in rural valleys, and many opportunities to enjoy the area’s natural beauty.

If you’re looking for one of the best fall drives in Vermont, you’ve found it. This stretch of Vermont Route 30 between Manchester and Poultney has incomparable scenery and recreational resources to inspire exploration and adventure.

USA Vermont Scenic Drives - Fall colors Srone Valley Scenic Byway

The Stone Valley Scenic Byway got its name from several well-known and prosperous marble and slate quarries. This particular stone trade played a key role in America’s development, and there are many historical villages along the route to visit and learn more about.

Those interested in the arts will love the Dorset Playhouse, and there is also a Revolutionary War battlefield historical site to explore.

Aside from this Vermont scenic byway’s cultural resources, outdoor recreation opportunities abound. Lake St. Catherine and Lake Bomoseen invite bicycling, hiking, camping, fishing, and more. In addition, there are numerous conservation areas and several ideal spots for picnicking.

When to go: Travel the Stone Valley Scenic Byway year-round to enjoy the breathtaking fall foliage, Nordic skiing, and everything in between.

Vermont Scenic Drives: Green Mountain Scenic Byway – (VT Route 100)

  • Distance: 71 miles
  • Time needed: 2 hours direct or 1 day

The Green Mountain Scenic Byway is a 71-mile corridor that connects the historic towns of Waterbury, Stowe, Morristown, Morrisville, Hyde Park, Johnson, Jeffersonville, and Cambridge. Recreational and cultural opportunities abound along the way, and you’ll want to take at least a half-day to pause and take in the sights.

USA Vermont Scenic Drives - Smugglers Notch State Park

This byway is home to some of the most scenic places in Vermont, meaning you’ll want to have your camera (or phone) fully charged for the trip. Most notable would be Mount Mansfield, the state’s highest peak, along with Smuggler’s Notch mountain pass and the Northern Green Mountains.

(Pro Tip: Planning on visiting Smuggler’s Notch State Park? Bring cash for park fees – $4 for adults and $2 for children aged 4-13)

Nature enthusiasts will love exploring Smuggler’s Notch State Park and Waterbury Center State Park, where there is ample opportunity for fishing, swimming, and hiking.

Then there’s the Ben & Jerry Factory Tour in Waterbury, where visitors can enjoy a delicious bowl of ice cream before continuing on their journey. And don’t forget the Vermont Maple Outlet in Jeffersonville, where one can purchase family-owned, award-winning maple syrup.

When to go: Most, if not all, of the attractions along the Green Mountain Scenic Byway are open all year round. We highly recommend driving in autumn to view the Vermont fall foliage.

More Tips For Driving in Vermont & New England

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