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Tourism in Vermont 

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Tourism in Vermont is big business! But why is this industry so important and how is it best managed? Read on to find out…

Tourism in Vermont


Vermont, nestled in the northeastern United States, is characterised by its picturesque landscapes and distinct seasons. Within the realm of the tourism industry, Vermont offers both opportunities and challenges. This article seeks to understand the dynamics of Vermont’s tourism sector, examining its economic contributions, potential for growth, and the imperative of sustainability.

Tourism in Vermont 

Geography of Vermont

Vermont is a state located in the New England region of the northeastern United States. Here is an overview of the geography of Vermont:

  1. Location: Vermont is situated in the northeastern part of the United States, bordered by the states of New York to the west, New Hampshire to the east, Massachusetts to the south, and the Canadian province of Quebec to the north.
  2. Size and Area: Vermont covers an area of approximately 24,900 square kilometers (9,600 square miles), making it the 45th largest state in the U.S. It is relatively small in comparison to other states.
  3. Landforms: Vermont is characterized by its picturesque landscapes, including the Green Mountains, which run north-south through the center of the state. Mount Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont, reaches an elevation of 1,340 meters (4,395 feet). The state is also dotted with numerous lakes, rivers, and valleys.
  4. Lake Champlain: Lake Champlain forms part of Vermont’s western border with New York. It is a large freshwater lake that offers opportunities for boating, fishing, and other recreational activities.
  5. Climate: Vermont experiences a humid continental climate, characterized by cold winters and warm summers. The state’s higher elevations tend to be cooler than its lower-lying areas. The fall season in Vermont is particularly famous for its vibrant display of colorful foliage.
  6. Forests and Wildlife: Vermont is known for its dense forests, covering about three-quarters of the state. The forests consist of a variety of tree species, including hardwoods such as maple, oak, and beech. Wildlife commonly found in Vermont includes white-tailed deer, moose, black bears, and various bird species.
  7. Agriculture: Agriculture plays a significant role in Vermont’s economy. The state is known for its dairy farming, producing high-quality milk and cheese. Other agricultural products include apples, maple syrup, and various vegetables.
  8. Rivers: Several rivers flow through Vermont, including the Connecticut River, which forms the eastern border with New Hampshire. These rivers provide opportunities for water-based activities like fishing, kayaking, and canoeing.
  9. Green Mountain National Forest: Vermont is home to a portion of the Green Mountain National Forest, a vast area of protected land that offers opportunities for outdoor recreation, including hiking, camping, and wildlife observation.
  10. State Parks: Vermont has a number of state parks, which provide opportunities for camping, hiking, swimming, and picnicking. These parks showcase the natural beauty and diverse landscapes of the state.

Overall, Vermont’s geography is characterized by its scenic beauty, with rolling hills, lush forests, picturesque lakes, and charming small towns, making it an attractive destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.

Tourism industry in Vermont

Vermont’s tourism industry is a vital part of the state’s economy and attracts visitors from all over the world. Known for its stunning natural beauty, outdoor recreational opportunities, charming towns, and rich cultural heritage, Vermont offers a diverse range of attractions and activities for tourists. Here is an introduction to the tourism industry in Vermont:

Natural Beauty: Vermont’s landscape is a major draw for tourists. With its rolling green hills, picturesque valleys, sparkling lakes, and majestic mountains, including the iconic Green Mountains, the state offers breathtaking scenery throughout the year.

Outdoor Recreation: Vermont is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors can enjoy a wide range of activities, including hiking, biking, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, fishing, boating, and golfing. The state is home to several ski resorts, such as Stowe Mountain Resort and Killington Resort, which attract winter sports enthusiasts.

Scenic Drives and Foliage: Vermont is renowned for its scenic drives, especially during the fall season when the foliage turns vibrant shades of red, orange, and gold. Visitors can explore the state’s picturesque countryside along routes like the Green Mountain Byway and the Lake Champlain Islands.

Cultural Heritage: Vermont has a rich cultural heritage, which is reflected in its historic towns, covered bridges, and traditional crafts. Places like Burlington, Montpelier, and Woodstock offer a blend of history, arts, and local charm. The state is also known for its annual events and festivals celebrating music, art, and local traditions.

Farm-to-Table Cuisine: Vermont’s agricultural heritage is showcased in its farm-to-table cuisine. The state is famous for its fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, maple syrup, and craft breweries. Visitors can enjoy farm tours, farmers’ markets, and dining experiences that highlight locally sourced ingredients.

Vermont Teddy Bears and Ben & Jerry’s: Vermont is home to internationally recognized brands like Vermont Teddy Bear Company and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. Visitors can tour the facilities, learn about the production process, and even create their own teddy bears or enjoy a scoop of unique ice cream flavors.

Craft Beer and Distilleries: Vermont has a thriving craft beer scene, with numerous breweries and brewpubs offering a wide selection of locally brewed beers. Additionally, the state has a growing number of artisanal distilleries producing spirits like vodka, gin, and whiskey.

Historic Sites and Museums: History enthusiasts can explore Vermont’s historic sites, such as the Shelburne Museum, Hildene (the Lincoln Family Home), and the Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site. These attractions provide insights into the state’s past and offer engaging exhibits and events.

State Parks and Outdoor Adventures: Vermont boasts a network of state parks, offering opportunities for camping, hiking, swimming, and wildlife observation. Popular parks include Green Mountain National Forest, Smugglers’ Notch State Park, and Lake Shaftsbury State Park.

Ecotourism and Sustainability: Vermont is committed to sustainability and ecotourism practices. Visitors can explore environmentally conscious initiatives, including organic farms, renewable energy projects, and nature conservation efforts.

The tourism industry in Vermont is supported by a range of accommodations, including resorts, hotels, bed and breakfasts, and campgrounds. Additionally, there are tour operators, recreational outfitters, and visitor centers that provide information and services to enhance the visitor experience.

Statistics about tourism in Vermont

Now lets take a look at some of the key statistics that help us better understand the scale of tourism in Vermont:

  1. Visitor Spending: In 2019, visitors to Vermont spent approximately $2.8 billion in the state.
  2. Economic Impact: Tourism contributes significantly to Vermont’s economy, supporting over 32,000 jobs and generating over $369 million in state and local tax revenue.
  3. Number of Visitors: Vermont welcomed over 13 million visitors in 2019.
  4. Seasonal Variation: The tourism industry in Vermont experiences seasonal variation, with peak visitation occurring during the fall foliage season and winter ski season.
  5. Ski Industry: Vermont is renowned for its ski resorts. In the 2019-2020 season, the state recorded over 4 million skier and snowboarder visits.
  6. Outdoor Recreation: Outdoor recreational activities attract visitors throughout the year. Vermont has over 8,000 miles of hiking trails, 20 alpine ski resorts, and numerous opportunities for fishing, boating, and camping.
  7. Bed and Breakfasts: Vermont is known for its charming bed and breakfast establishments. The state has over 200 B&Bs, offering unique and cozy accommodations for visitors.
  8. Craft Beer Industry: Vermont has a thriving craft beer scene, with over 80 breweries producing a wide range of artisanal beers. The state is known for its quality brews and beer tourism.
  9. Farm Tourism: Vermont’s agricultural heritage is a draw for tourists interested in farm tours, agritourism experiences, and farm-to-table dining. The state has over 700 dairy farms and is famous for its maple syrup production.
  10. Ecotourism and Outdoor Conservation: Vermont’s commitment to environmental sustainability and conservation attracts visitors interested in ecotourism. The state has numerous nature preserves, state parks, and outdoor initiatives promoting sustainable practices.

These statistics showcase the significance of tourism in Vermont’s economy and highlight the diverse attractions and activities that draw visitors to the state throughout the year.

Tourism in Vermont 

Vermont offers a range of attractions that appeal to different interests. Here are some of the most popular tourist attractions in Vermont:

  1. Green Mountain National Forest: Covering a vast area of over 400,000 acres, the Green Mountain National Forest offers opportunities for hiking, camping, fishing, and wildlife viewing. The forest is known for its scenic beauty, including pristine lakes, waterfalls, and picturesque mountain views.
  2. Lake Champlain: Lake Champlain, which spans across Vermont, New York, and Quebec, is a popular destination for boating, fishing, and water sports. The lake offers stunning views, historical sites, and opportunities for swimming and kayaking.
  3. Burlington: Located on the shores of Lake Champlain, Burlington is Vermont’s largest city and a vibrant cultural hub. Visitors can explore the Church Street Marketplace, a pedestrian mall with shops and restaurants, visit the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, or take a stroll along the waterfront.
  4. Stowe: Stowe is a charming town nestled in the Green Mountains and renowned for its ski resort. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, visitors can enjoy hiking, mountain biking, and scenic drives. The town also features a lively village with shops, restaurants, and galleries.
  5. Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory: Located in Waterbury, the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory offers guided tours where visitors can learn about the company’s history, see the ice cream-making process, and enjoy delicious samples.
  6. Shelburne Museum: This unique museum in Shelburne showcases American folk art and includes over 150,000 works in diverse collections. The museum’s exhibits are housed in historic buildings, including 38 exhibition buildings spread across 45 acres.
  7. Killington Ski Resort: Killington is one of the largest ski resorts on the East Coast, offering a variety of terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. The resort features multiple peaks, a range of lodging options, and a vibrant après-ski scene.
  8. Smugglers’ Notch State Park: Known for its stunning rock formations and scenic mountain pass, Smugglers’ Notch State Park offers hiking trails, rock climbing opportunities, and breathtaking views. The park is particularly popular during the fall foliage season.
  9. Vermont Teddy Bear Company: Located in Shelburne, the Vermont Teddy Bear Company is a must-visit for teddy bear enthusiasts. Visitors can take a guided tour of the factory, learn about the bear-making process, and even create their own custom teddy bear.
  10. Montpelier: As the capital city of Vermont, Montpelier is worth a visit for its historic charm and cultural attractions. Highlights include the Vermont State House, Hubbard Park with its observation tower, and the eclectic mix of shops and eateries in the downtown area.

These are just a few examples of the many attractions that make Vermont a popular destination for travelers. The state’s natural beauty, outdoor recreational opportunities, charming towns, and cultural sites offer something for everyone to enjoy.

Types of tourism in Vermont

Vermont offers a diverse range of tourism experiences that cater to different interests and preferences. Here are some of the most popular types of tourism in Vermont:

  1. Outdoor Adventure Tourism: Vermont is known for its stunning natural landscapes, making it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Outdoor adventure tourism in Vermont includes activities such as hiking, biking, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, fishing, kayaking, and more. The state’s mountains, forests, lakes, and rivers provide ample opportunities for outdoor recreation throughout the year.
  2. Ski and Snowboarding Tourism: Vermont is renowned for its ski resorts, attracting winter sports enthusiasts from around the world. Resorts like Stowe Mountain Resort, Killington Resort, Sugarbush Resort, and Jay Peak Resort offer excellent ski slopes, snowboarding parks, cross-country skiing trails, and other winter activities.
  3. Fall Foliage Tourism: Vermont is famous for its stunning fall foliage season when the leaves of the trees transform into vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow. Many visitors come to Vermont during this time to witness the breathtaking beauty of the autumn colors and take scenic drives or hikes through the countryside.
  4. Culinary and Agritourism: Vermont is celebrated for its farm-to-table culinary scene and artisanal food products. Agritourism is popular in the state, with visitors enjoying farm visits, farmers’ markets, maple syrup tasting, cheese tours, and exploring the local food and beverage culture. The Vermont Cheese Trail and Vermont Maple Trail are particularly sought after by food enthusiasts.
  5. Cultural and Historic Tourism: Vermont has a rich history and a vibrant cultural heritage. Visitors interested in history and culture can explore historic sites, museums, art galleries, and cultural events. The Shelburne Museum, Vermont State House, Hildene (the Lincoln Family Home), and the Billings Farm & Museum are some notable attractions.
  6. Small Town and Village Tourism: Vermont is dotted with picturesque small towns and villages, each with its own charm and character. Places like Woodstock, Stowe, Manchester, and Middlebury attract tourists with their quaint architecture, boutique shops, art galleries, and cozy inns. Exploring these towns offers a glimpse into Vermont’s rural charm and local communities.
  7. Nature and Wildlife Tourism: With its abundance of forests, mountains, and protected areas, Vermont is a haven for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. Visitors can engage in birdwatching, wildlife spotting, nature walks, and photography in places like the Green Mountain National Forest, Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, and the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge.
  8. Wellness and Retreat Tourism: Vermont’s serene landscapes and peaceful environment make it an ideal destination for wellness and retreat tourism. Many resorts and retreat centers offer spa treatments, yoga classes, meditation retreats, and wellness programs to help visitors relax, rejuvenate, and focus on their well-being.

These popular types of tourism highlight the diverse attractions and experiences that Vermont has to offer. Whether you’re an outdoor adventurer, a food lover, a history buff, or seeking a peaceful retreat, Vermont has something to cater to your interests.

Economic impacts of tourism in Vermont

Tourism plays a significant role in Vermont’s economy, contributing to job creation, revenue generation, and overall economic growth. Here are some key economic impacts of tourism in Vermont:

Job Creation: The tourism industry in Vermont supports a significant number of jobs across various sectors. This includes direct employment in accommodations, restaurants, attractions, and recreational activities, as well as indirect employment in industries such as transportation, retail, and service sectors. The tourism industry provides employment opportunities for local residents and contributes to the overall employment rate.

Revenue Generation: Tourism brings in substantial revenue to the state of Vermont. Visitors spend money on accommodations, dining, transportation, shopping, recreational activities, and attractions, generating revenue for businesses and the local economy. Additionally, tourism-related businesses pay taxes, which contribute to the state’s tax revenue.

Small Business Growth: Vermont’s tourism industry is primarily composed of small businesses, including bed and breakfasts, inns, restaurants, and retail shops. These small businesses benefit from tourist spending, creating opportunities for entrepreneurship, growth, and innovation.

Ancillary Services and Industries: The tourism industry stimulates the growth of ancillary services and industries that support the needs of tourists. This includes transportation services, tour operators, travel agencies, rental companies, event planners, and more. These businesses benefit from the demand generated by tourists, contributing to the overall economic activity in the state.

Infrastructure Development: The tourism industry often drives infrastructure development and improvement in Vermont. To meet the needs of tourists, investments are made in transportation infrastructure, accommodations, recreational facilities, and visitor centers. These infrastructure developments benefit not only tourists but also the local community and residents.

Cultural Preservation: Tourism in Vermont promotes the preservation of cultural heritage and traditions. As tourists seek authentic experiences, there is a focus on preserving local arts, crafts, music, and cultural events. This leads to the promotion of local artisans, cultural organizations, and historic sites, contributing to the preservation and celebration of Vermont’s unique cultural identity.

Regional Development: Tourism in Vermont is not limited to a single area but is spread across the state. This helps in promoting regional development and dispersing economic benefits to various communities. Rural areas and smaller towns often benefit from increased tourism, leading to economic growth and improved quality of life.

Seasonal Employment: Vermont’s tourism industry experiences seasonal fluctuations, with peak visitation during the summer and fall seasons. This creates seasonal employment opportunities for individuals, particularly in industries such as ski resorts and outdoor recreational activities. Seasonal employment helps to support the local workforce and provides income during specific times of the year.

Overall, tourism in Vermont contributes significantly to the state’s economy, creating jobs, generating revenue, supporting small businesses, fostering regional development, and promoting cultural preservation. It is an essential economic sector that plays a vital role in the overall economic well-being of the state.

Tourism in Vermont 

Social impacts of tourism in Vermont

The tourism industry in Vermont has several social impacts that contribute to the overall well-being of the state’s residents and communities. Here are some key social impacts of tourism in Vermont:

Community Engagement: Tourism provides opportunities for residents to engage with visitors and share their local knowledge and experiences. It fosters a sense of community pride and encourages residents to showcase their cultural heritage, traditions, and unique attractions. This interaction between residents and tourists promotes cultural exchange and mutual understanding.

Cultural Preservation: Tourism in Vermont often highlights the cultural heritage of Vermont and encourages the preservation of local traditions, arts, and crafts. The demand for authentic experiences motivates communities to preserve their cultural identity, support local artisans and craftsmen, and organize cultural events and festivals. This helps in passing down traditions to future generations and keeping the local culture alive.

Economic Opportunities for Residents: The tourism industry in Vermont creates employment opportunities for local residents, allowing them to work in various tourism-related businesses such as accommodations, restaurants, attractions, and outdoor recreational activities. This provides a source of income and contributes to the economic well-being of individuals and families.

Community Development: Tourism in Vermont can stimulate community development by attracting investments and infrastructure improvements. Increased tourist visitation often leads to the development of amenities such as visitor centers, parks, recreational facilities, and transportation infrastructure. These improvements benefit both residents and visitors, enhancing the overall quality of life in the community.

Educational Opportunities: Tourism in Vermont offers educational opportunities for residents, particularly in the areas of cultural heritage, history, and environmental conservation. Museums, historic sites, and nature centers provide educational programs and resources that help residents, especially children, learn about the state’s rich history, natural environment, and sustainable practices.

Appreciation for Natural Resources: Vermont’s tourism industry promotes the appreciation and conservation of its natural resources. The state’s scenic landscapes, mountains, lakes, and forests attract outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. This increased interaction with nature fosters an understanding of the importance of environmental stewardship, leading to efforts to protect and preserve Vermont’s natural beauty.

Volunteerism and Civic Engagement: Tourism in Vermont often encourages community members to participate in volunteer activities, supporting visitor services, cultural events, and conservation initiatives. Residents may become involved in local tourism organizations, community groups, and initiatives that aim to improve the tourism experience and enhance the destination’s attractiveness. This fosters a sense of civic engagement and community involvement.

Enhanced Infrastructure for Residents: Tourism development often leads to infrastructure improvements that benefit residents. These can include better roads, upgraded public facilities, improved recreational opportunities, and enhanced healthcare and emergency services. The infrastructure developments driven by tourism help to create a more livable and accessible environment for residents.

Overall, tourism in Vermont has positive social impacts by promoting community engagement, cultural preservation, economic opportunities, educational experiences, and environmental appreciation. It contributes to the overall social fabric of the state and enhances the quality of life for residents.

Environmental impacts of tourism in Vermont

Tourism in Vermont can have both positive and negative environmental impacts. Here are some key environmental impacts associated with tourism in Vermont:

Natural Resource Conservation: Vermont’s tourism industry relies heavily on its natural resources, including its forests, lakes, rivers, and mountains. To maintain the attractiveness of these natural landscapes, there is a need for sustainable management practices to ensure the conservation of these resources. This includes responsible land use planning, protection of sensitive ecosystems, and preservation of wildlife habitats.

Tourism in Vermont 

Sustainable Outdoor Recreation: Vermont’s outdoor recreational activities, such as hiking, skiing, and fishing, contribute to the enjoyment of the state’s natural environment. To minimize the environmental impact of these activities, sustainable practices are encouraged, such as staying on designated trails, respecting wildlife, practicing Leave No Trace principles, and following fishing and hunting regulations.

Waste Management: Increased tourism in Vermont can lead to higher waste generation. It is essential to manage waste effectively to prevent pollution of natural areas and water bodies. Vermont promotes recycling and waste reduction practices, and many businesses and accommodations in the tourism sector have adopted eco-friendly measures such as recycling programs and energy-efficient operations.

Transportation Emissions: Tourism in Vermont involves travel, and transportation emissions can contribute to air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Encouraging sustainable transportation options, such as public transportation, carpooling, and biking, can help reduce the environmental footprint of tourism in Vermont. The state has been working on promoting sustainable transportation initiatives and expanding public transportation options.

Water Conservation: Water is a valuable resource in Vermont, and tourism activities can put pressure on local water supplies, especially during peak seasons. Sustainable water management practices, including water conservation measures, wastewater treatment, and responsible water usage by tourists and accommodations, are important to ensure the long-term sustainability of water resources.

Energy Consumption: The tourism industry in Vermont requires energy for accommodations, transportation, and recreational facilities. Encouraging energy-efficient practices, such as using renewable energy sources, implementing energy-saving measures in accommodations, and promoting sustainable transportation options, can help reduce the energy consumption and carbon footprint of tourism.

Wildlife Protection: Tourism in Vermont can impact wildlife through habitat disturbance, increased human-wildlife interactions, and the potential for illegal wildlife activities. Protecting wildlife habitats, enforcing regulations against poaching and illegal wildlife trade, and promoting responsible wildlife viewing practices are important for preserving the state’s biodiversity.

Conservation Education: Tourism in Vermont provides opportunities for educating visitors about the importance of environmental conservation and sustainable practices. Interpretive signage, educational programs, and guided tours can raise awareness among tourists about the state’s unique ecosystems, wildlife, and conservation efforts.

It is worth noting that Vermont has made significant efforts to promote sustainable tourism practices and environmental stewardship. The state’s tourism organizations, businesses, and governmental agencies work together to minimize the negative environmental impacts and promote sustainable tourism development. By encouraging responsible behavior, educating visitors, and implementing sustainable policies, Vermont aims to balance tourism growth with environmental protection.

Tourism in Vermont 

FAQs about tourism in Vermont

Now that we know a bit more about tourism in Vermont, lets answer some of the most common questions on this topic:

What is the best time to visit Vermont?

The best time to visit Vermont depends on your preferences. Many people enjoy the fall foliage season from late September to early October, while others prefer the summer months for outdoor activities. Winter is ideal for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts, and spring offers pleasant weather for hiking and exploring.

What are some popular outdoor activities in Vermont?

Vermont is known for its outdoor recreational opportunities. Popular activities include hiking, biking, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, fishing, boating, and exploring the state’s many parks and natural areas.

Are there any famous ski resorts in Vermont?

Yes, Vermont is home to several renowned ski resorts, such as Stowe Mountain Resort, Killington Resort, Sugarbush Resort, and Stratton Mountain Resort. These resorts offer a range of winter sports activities and amenities.

What are some must-visit towns or cities in Vermont?

Burlington, the largest city in Vermont, is a popular destination known for its vibrant arts scene, shopping, and dining. Other charming towns to explore include Stowe, Manchester, Woodstock, and Bennington.

Are there any cultural attractions in Vermont?

Yes, Vermont has various cultural attractions, including museums, art galleries, and historical sites. Some notable places to visit are the Shelburne Museum, Vermont State House, Hildene (the Lincoln Family Home), and the Billings Farm & Museum.

What is the famous Vermont Maple Syrup all about?

Vermont is renowned for its maple syrup production. Visitors can learn about the maple sugaring process at sugarhouses, participate in maple syrup tastings, and even join maple syrup festivals held in the state.

Can I hike the famous Long Trail in Vermont?

Yes, the Long Trail is a popular hiking trail that extends for 272 miles through the Green Mountains of Vermont. It offers beautiful scenery and opportunities for multi-day backpacking trips or day hikes.

Are there any scenic drives in Vermont?

Yes, Vermont offers stunning scenic drives, such as the Route 100 Byway, the Appalachian Gap Road, and the Lake Champlain Byway. These routes showcase Vermont’s picturesque landscapes, mountains, and charming towns.

Are there any events or festivals held in Vermont?

Yes, Vermont hosts various events and festivals throughout the year. Some notable ones include the Vermont Maple Open House Weekend, the Stowe Winter Carnival, the Vermont Brewers Festival, and the Vermont Balloon Festival.

Is Vermont a family-friendly destination?

Yes, Vermont is known for its family-friendly atmosphere. There are numerous family-oriented activities and attractions, such as farm visits, children’s museums, adventure parks, and family-friendly ski resorts.

To conclude: Tourism in Vermont

Vermont’s tourism fabric, interwoven with natural beauty and a deep-rooted sense of community, offers unique allurements for visitors and industry players alike. As the state progresses, prioritising sustainable growth and local engagement becomes increasingly vital. Ensuring these principles will undoubtedly solidify Vermont’s standing as a distinguished travel destination.

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