Vermont’s scenic routes link downhill thrills with its vibrant local culture.
As the number one ski and snowboard state in the east, visitors to Vermont know they’re in for an epic alpine adventure, but the exploration shouldn't end at après. Local culture in Vermont’s mountain communities thrives with diverse art offerings, rich history, and lively performances around every turn—all accessible via Vermont’s designated state byways.
Vermont state byways, a network of 10 well-signed and mapped scenic routes, wind around Vermont’s mountain peaks and travel through valley towns. The byways range in length from 14 miles to more than 400 miles, meandering through a landscape of rivers, forests, and pristine hillsides to vibrant towns and villages.
The following selection is a small sample of the many artistic, historic, and theatric attractions dotting the byways system all awaiting skiers and riders as they travel to and from the slopes.
Art and craft thrive at the juncture of the Northeast Kingdom Byway and Connecticut River Byway, south of Burke Mountain. The Northeast Kingdom Artisans Guild in St. Johnsbury is one of five designated Vermont State Craft Galleries; here visitors will find traditional and contemporary handmade crafts and fine art as well as rotating exhibits that change every six months. Nearby, the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum is home to a stunning collection of fine art, much of it from Hudson River School artists.
The Green Mountain Byway is home to Stowe Mountain Resort and a wealth of ski history. The Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum collects, preserves, and displays more than 7,000 pieces of equipment, clothing, 10th Mountain Division memorabilia, and artwork that depicts the state’s rich ski story. Catch nationally acclaimed and locally sourced talent right at the base area of Stowe’s Spruce Peak. The Spruce Peak Arts Center hosts live theatrical performances, musical concerts, film festivals, and other creative events throughout the year.
A magnet for architects and designers, the picturesque Mad River Valley is known for its covered bridges, historic barns, and quality craftsmanship. Visitors who enjoy the views atop nearby Sugarbush Resort and Mad River Glen also become immersed in the visual arts produced by glassblowers, potters, and photographers who welcome guests into their studios and galleries along the Mad River Byway. Be sure to stop in Waitsfield’s Madsonian Museum of Industrial Design to see its collection of cleverly designed products.
A short drive from Middlebury College Snow Bowl and on the Lake Champlain Byway, the Vermont Folklife Center is home to an interactive exhibit where visitors can hear remarkable stories told first-hand by Daisy Turner, a former slave who lived to be Vermont’s oldest citizen at 104 years old. Also in Middlebury, the Henry Sheldon Museum is the nation’s oldest community-based museum and features historical objects from 19th century Vermont life as well as rotating exhibits. The Middlebury College campus is home to the Mahaney Center for the Arts, which houses the Museum of Art, studio theatre, dance theatre, and recital hall showcasing a wide variety of student and professional visual and performance arts.
Attractions along the Crossroad of Vermont Byway showcase the creative ways artists have incorporated natural resources found in the region and the historical impact the production of these items had on their communities. Amongst Killington Resort, Pico Mountain, Suicide Six, and Quechee Ski Area, guests watch furniture and pottery come life at the hands of artisans at ShackletonThomas, wooden bowls take shape at Andrew Pearce, and glass vessels bloom at Simon Pearce. Theater and live performances of all kinds draw audiences to the Paramount Theater in Rutland on the western end of the byway and, on the eastern end of the byway, craft and art galleries thrive in Woodstock.
East of Bromley Mountain in Manchester, where the Stone Valley Byway merges with the Shires of Vermont Byway, Abraham Lincoln’s son, Robert, built the Hildene estate which was home to three generations of the president’s descendants. Robert served as president of the Pullman Company and, at that time, employed the largest number of African Americans in the county as Pullman porters. Tour the restored Pullman train car while learning about the work of the porters and how it influenced their lives.
The Scenic Route 100 Byway extends along much of Vermont’s famous “Skiers' Highway.” Vermont’s iconic general store, the Vermont Country Store, is located in Weston between Okemo Mountain Resort and Magic Mountain. Near the intersection of the Scenic Route 100 Byway and the Molly Stark Byway, travelers to Mount Snow Resort can stop at the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum in West Marlboro to see one of the largest collections of native birds and mammals in the northeast and learn about the ecology, geology, and natural history of the area.
Explore More of Vermont’s Byways
Themed itineraries are available for each of the byway routes to help guests explore the state’s hidden gems based on their interests. Creative inspiration springs from Arts & Culture itineraries, which paint a path to galleries, museums, studios, and performance venues. Sites on the History & Heritage itineraries reveal a diverse and engaging past. Chews & Brews itineraries recommend year-round indoor farmers markets, wineries, breweries, maple sugar houses, cheesemakers, and tasting tours of all kinds. For those who refuse to come inside after the lifts stop running, Outdoor Recreation itineraries point to nearby trailheads. Itineraries can be followed in conjunction with any —or all—of the other themed recommendations for exploration along the byways. Find these itineraries online or request a brochure at vermontvacation.com/byways. Additional themed travel trails are available at vermontvacation.com/itineraries.