In this small and quiet state, the charming villages and colourful cities in Vermont are a delight to visit. Vermont is known for its maple syrup and world-class ski slopes, some of the best on the East Coast. Sandwiched between Canada’s Quebec Province to the north and Lake Champlain to the west, the state is surrounded by stunning landscapes everywhere you look and is just a short drive away from Boston, New York and Montreal.
Vermont is full of surprises, from Burlington’s trendy shops and restaurants to the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury, where the popular dessert brand produces sweet treats and unique flavours. Here are the best towns and cities in Vermont to explore.
- 20 Towns And Cities In Vermont
20 Towns And Cities In Vermont
The largest city in Vermont by quite some margin, Burlington is the Green Mountain State’s economic, entertainment and tourism hub despite not being Vermont’s official capital city.
Burlington was first established in 1783, shortly after the end of the American Revolutionary War,.
The then-New Hampshire governor Benning Wentworth awarded land grants to 64 settlers to develop the region in and around modern-day Burlington.
Spurred by the construction of Lake Champlain’s first steamboat in Burlington in 1808, the city quickly developed into a bustling maritime trading hub along Lake Champlain, especially after the Erie, Champlain and Chambly Canals opened for service during the early-to-mid 1800s.
Although a far cry from New York and Boston, Burlington is still an incredibly worthwhile destination, with the Church Street Marketplace, the Fleming Museum of Art and Waterfront Park all fantastic Burlington attractions to visit.
In Vermont’s central region, Montpelier is the Green Mountain State’s official state capital city and the least-populated state capital in the United States, with less than 10,000 permanent residents calling the city home.
The city was originally settled by European-Americans back in 1787 and has been Vermont’s first and only capital city thus far, with the city’s name derived from Montpellier in the south of France.
Despite Montpelier’s insignificance on the national and international stage, the city remains one of the largest in Vermont, with tons of historic landmarks and culture-rich attractions to explore all across this small city.
Visitors to Vermont’s capital can expect to come across some of the best restaurants, museums and art galleries in the state, as well as several unique attractions such as the nearby Camel’s Hump Peak and the Lost Nation Theater.
- Montpelier Scavenger Hunt: Small Capital, Big Charm
- 7-Hour Tour Through Montpelier and Mad River Valley, Vermont
The only city within western Vermont’s Rutland County, Rutland is among the most storied destinations in the state, with Rutland’s entire downtown district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Rutland lies within a 65-mile (105 km) trek from Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New York and has a population of just over 15,000 residents, enough to claim the title of Vermont’s third-largest city.
During the latter stages of the 1800s, Rutland became one of the largest producers of marble in the world when massive quantities of solid, high-quality marble were discovered nearby, attracting skilled Italian immigrants to settle in Rutland.
Both historically and culturally rich, Rutland is among the most popular travel destinations in Vermont thanks to venues and attractions such as the Chaffee Art Center, the Paramount Theatre and the Wonderfeet Kid’s Museum.
4- Essex Junction
Only formally incorporated as an independent city in 2022, Essex Junction is Vermont’s tech hub, with several tech start-ups and large tech firms.
IBM operates manufacturing plants in and around Essex Junction.
Essex Junction was first incorporated along with the adjacent town of Essex in 1892 before the residents of Essex Junction passed a vote in 2021 to secede from the town of Essex, establishing Vermont’s 10th city.
Even though it is the youngest city in the state, there’s still plenty of historic charm and modern urbanity to experience in Essex Junction, including some of the best restaurants and craft breweries in the state.
Barre, not to be confused with the town of Barre, which sits adjacent to the city, is the most populous in Vermont’s Washington County and is the self-described “Granite Center of the World”.
Barre is among the largest cities in the Green Mountain State and is situated just seven miles (11 km) from downtown Montpelier, with Barre forming part of the state capital’s metro area.
The city was first settled in 1788 by Samuel Rodgers and John Goldsbury.
After discovering large granite deposits nearby, it transformed into a boom town that attracted skilled granite workers from across Canada and Europe to Barre.
Barre is often touted as one of Vermont’s most diverse cities and is home to many interesting landmarks to visit, including the Vermont Granite Museum, the Barre Opera House and the Rock of Ages Visitors Center.
Situated on the scenic shores of northern Vermont’s Lake Memphremagog, which forms the border between Canada and the United States, Newport is renowned for its world-class outdoor activities, including snowmobiling, hiking and boating.
This outdoor-oriented New England city was settled in 1793, shortly after the American Revolutionary War and was a fairly influential railroad and maritime hub during the mid-to-late 1800s.
Located just 108 miles (173 km) from Montreal, Newport is an excellent base to explore New England and Canada’s Quebec Province, with attractions such as the MAC Center for the Arts and the Newport Farmers Market.
7- St. Albans
The city of St. Albans, surrounded by the town of St. Albans, is a small New England city that came to be after former governor Benning Wentworth passed the New Hampshire Grants in 1763, opening up the region for settlement.
St. Albans quickly grew following the end of the American Revolutionary War.
It was dubbed “The Rail City” after St. Albans became home to a major Vermont and Canada Railroad depot during the mid-1800s.
The setting of the Civil War’s most northern battle, St. Albans, offers a range of activities, from hiking the Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail to exploring the Saint Albans Museum.
Nestled on the shores of northwest Vermont’s Winooski River, roughly two miles (3.2 km) north of downtown Burlington lies the city of Winooski, a fairly populated Vermont city known for its busy bars and popular craft breweries.
The most densely populated municipality in northern New England, Winooski was officially settled in 1787 by pioneers Ira Allen and Remember Baker, who were drawn to the region by the waterpower potential of the Winooski River’s lower falls.
Modern-day Winooski is a vibrant hub in Vermont.
It hosts the annual Waking Windows music festival and Wolfsgart Airout auto show, making it an ideal destination in western Vermont for an interesting getaway.
A stone’s throw away from popular Vermont destinations such as Burlington, Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains, Vergennes is the least populated city in Vermont, with only about 2,500 permanent inhabitants.
The city was first settled by Donald MacIntosh in 1766 and is the only city in the state not to have been first chartered as a village or town before being declared an independent city.
Despite its size or rather lack of it, Vergennes has a range of eclectic restaurants, shops and a historic 1800s-esque city centre for visitors to uncover.
Towns To Visit In Vermont
Stowe in northern Vermont is a popular all-season resort destination with various outdoor activities no matter what time of year you decide to visit.
Stowe is one of Vermont’s premier ski towns and has a wide range of top-notch resorts, spas and restaurants, making it one of New England’s most exciting wintertime spots.
Some of Stowe’s most visited venues include the Stowe Mountain Resort, the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum, the Mt. Mansfield State Forest and the popular Little River Hot Glass Studio, all within 36 miles (57 km) from downtown Burlington.
The town of Bennington in southwest Vermont’s Bennington County is the second-largest town in the Green Mountain State in terms of population and just 38 miles (61 km) from Albany, New York.
Bennington is best known for being the home of the Bennington Battle Monument, which at 306 feet (93 m), is the tallest man-made structure in Vermont.
It marks the site of the American Revolutionary War’s Battle of Bennington.
While the monument certainly is the largest attraction in Bennington, it’s far from the only worthwhile landmarks to stop by in Bennington, with the town’s Park-McCullough Historic Governor’s Mansion and Dollhouse and Toy Museum of Vermont worth a visit too.
One of the most charming towns in New England, Woodstock is near Vermont’s eastern border and is known for its boutiques, covered bridges and rolling farmland.
The town has over 3,000 permanent residents and was first settled by European-Americans in 1768 when James Sanderson and his family moved into the region following the passing of the New Hampshire Grants.
While very little has changed in Woodstock since its 18th-century roots, it remains one of Vermont’s most visited small towns, with attractions such as the Billings Farm & Museum and the Woodstock Town Hall Theatre for visitors to experience.
Recommended tour: Brewery and Spirits Tour Woodstock
One of the most storied towns in Vermont, Manchester is home to Hildene, the former summer estate of President Abraham Lincoln and his family.
The Lincolns spent over 70 years summering in Manchester, making the town a neat destination to explore if you’re an avid history buff.
There’s more to this charming southwest Vermont town than just its presidential estates, though, with a list of landmarks worth visiting, including the Southern Vermont Arts Center and the nearby Stratton Mountain Resort.
The small town of Grafton in Vermont’s southeast region is regularly touted as one of the most scenic towns in New England, with central Grafton’s historic buildings and stately architecture perfectly preserved and restored for all to enjoy.
According to legend, Grafton was officially founded as “Tomlinson” in 1754 before its naming rights were auctioned off in 1791 for “five dollars and a jug of rum, ” with the bidder picking Grafton as the town’s new name.
The town’s most visited attractions and landmarks include the nearby Lowell Lake State Park, the Grafton Historical Society and the Grafton Trails & Outdoor Center, ideal for a weekend getaway to catch a break from the city’s hustle and bustle.
The four-season, outdoor-centred town of Brattleboro in southern Vermont is a picturesque destination perched neatly on the banks of the Connecticut River that’s beloved for its bustling art scene and shop-laden downtown district.
Brattleboro was founded as “Brattleborough” in 1753 as part of the New Hampshire Grants and was named after the former Attorney General of Massachusetts, William Brattle.
The Latchis Theatre, Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, Estey Organ Museum and the historic Creamery Covered Bridge are just a handful of the top-notch landmarks visitors can expect to see in Brattleboro.
The former frontier between the native Pennacook and Mahican people, Waterbury, is halfway between Burlington and Montpelier.
It’s an immensely historic destination home to the popular Waterbury Village Historic District.
The historic district encompasses much of the modern-day town, perfectly preserving downtown Waterbury to keep it as it was during its mid-19th century heyday.
The town is perhaps best known for being home to the popular dessert brand Ben & Jerry’s, who have been crafting their signature ice cream flavours in Waterbury since 1985.
Today, Waterbury is popular among historians and ice cream lovers, with venues such as the Ben & Jerry’s factory and the Waterbury Center State Park to explore.
The single-traffic light town of Bristol near the Green Mountain State’s western border is a quaint New England destination that treats visitors to excellent restaurants, shops and outdoor recreational activities year-round.
Bristol was first chartered in 1762 but wasn’t officially settled until two decades later, in 1783, with the town boasting a modest population of just under 3,800 residents.
Certainly a far cry from the Northeast’s largest cities, this idyllic Vermont town is perfect for a weekend getaway, with landmarks such as Bristol Falls and Art on Main for visitors to swing by when in town.
Perched on the scenic shores of Lake Champlain in Vermont’s Chittenden County, Shelburne is a modestly-sized town that oozes New England culture and history.
The town lies just seven miles (11 km) south of downtown Burlington and is among the many towns and cities in Vermont established following Governor Benning Wentworth’s passing of the New Hampshire Grants in 1763.
A fine destination for anyone looking to explore all the quaint villages and world-class attractions dotted around Lake Champlain, places to explore include the Shelburne Museum, Shelburne Farms and Shelburne Bay Park.
A haven for avid cross-country skiers, bird watchers and hikers, Middlebury is best known as the former residence of famed American poet Robert Frost, who spent 42 years as a teacher at the local Middlebury College Bread Loaf Campus.
Middlebury enjoys a general youthfulness that’s hard to come by elsewhere in Vermont, thanks to the modest but vibrant campus of the local college, which has seen several bars, shops and restaurants move into town to accommodate Middlebury’s student population.
Featuring a preserved downtown district that features many historic stone and brick-clad buildings, Middlebury is as charming a town as any in New England, with attractions such as the Henry Sheldon Museum and Middlebury College Museum of Art to visit.
A major skiing and snowboarding destination in New England, the town of Killington in Vermont’s central region is the location of Killington Ski Resort.
The town was founded in 1761 following the passing of the New Hampshire Grants and was known as “Sherburne” for almost two centuries before locals voted to rename the town in 1999.
Now among the most popular skiing destinations on the East Coast, Killington has top-notch attractions, such as the Killington Ski Resort, the Appalachian Trail and Coolidge State Park.
Looking for the best cities in North America? Check them out here:
- 20 Best Cities in Ohio
- 20 Best Cities in Missouri
- 20 Best Cities in Indiana
- 20 Best Cities in Texas
- 20 Best Cities in Iowa
- 20 Best Cities in Tennessee
- 20 Best Cities in Alabama
- 20 Best Cities in Oklahoma
- 20 Best Cities in New Mexico
- 20 Best Cities in Georgia
- 20 Best Cities in North Carolina
- 20 Best Cities in South Carolina
- 20 Best Cities in California
- 20 Best Cities in Virginia
- 20 Best Cities in Oregon
- 20 Best Cities in Arkansas
- 20 Best Cities in Puerto Rico
- 20 Best Cities in Alaska
- 20 Best Cities in Wisconsin
- 20 Best Cities in Utah
- 20 Best Cities in Kansas
- 20 Best Cities in Washington State
- 20 Best Cities in Rhode Island
- 20 Best Cities in Vermont
- 20 Best Cities in Minnesota
- 20 Towns and Cities in Delaware
- 20 Towns and Cities in New Hampshire
- 20 Best Cities in Mexico
- 10 Best Party Cities in Canada
- 10 Best Cities in Canada For Kids
- 20 Best Cities in Hawaii
- 20 Best Cities in New York
- 20 Best Cities in Idaho
- 20 Best Cities in Florida
- 20 Best Cities in Illinois
- 20 Best Cities in Wyoming
- 20 Best Cities in Nevada
- 20 Best Cities in Pennsylvania
- 20 Best Cities in Colorado
- 20 Best Cities in Arizona
- 20 Best Cities in Massachusetts
- 20 Best Cities in Maine
- 20 Best Cities in Louisiana
- 20 Best Cities in Maryland
- 20 Best Cities in Kentucky
- 20 Best Cities in Montana
- 20 Best Cities in Nebraska
- 20 Best Cities in New Jersey
- 20 Best Cities in South Dakota
- 20 Best Cities in North Dakota
- 20 Best Cities in Mississippi
- 20 Best Cities in Michigan
- 20 Best Cities in Connecticut
- 20 Best Cities in West Virginia