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3 Days in Vermont: Burlington and Stowe

Do you only have three days to spend in Vermont? Well, you won’t be able to do it all, but you can still visit some of the most popular places in Vermont in that short amount of time!

Ben and Jerry's factory, Burlington, and Lake Champlain in Vermont.
Spend three perfect days in Vermont!

3 Days in Vermont is the perfect amount of time for a solid introduction to two of my personal favorites: Burlington and Stowe.

The Green Mountain State is absolutely gorgeous, and this 3 days in Vermont itinerary will take you to one of the most scenic parts of the state. We will begin in Burlington and end in Stowe, and see some classic Vermont sights along the way!

Ready to begin? We only have 3 days in Vermont, let’s goooo!

3 Days in Vermont: Where to Go & What to Do

Day 1: Explore Burlington

The Church Street Marketplace in Burlington, Vermont
The Church Street Marketplace in Burlington, Vermont

I lived in Burlington on and off for several years, and this city will always be one of my most favorite places in VT.

Burlington is basically the closest thing to big-city vibes that Vermont has, but that doesn’t mean it’s a big city at all. In fact, despite its population size of about 44,000 people, it’s surprisingly easy to explore and see some of the biggest Burlington attractions in just a day or two.

Start off by exploring Church Street, the pedestrian-only walkway downtown that is a perfect representation of Burlington! You’ll find an eclectic array of unique shops, breweries, cafes, farm-to-table restaurants, and plenty of entertainment on the street, too.

In addition to the festivals and events that happen here year-round, street performers of all kinds make their way to the Marketplace. There’s always something interesting happening on Church Street.

If you’re visiting during the warmer weather, nab a patio seat at one of the cafes and just people-watch awhile and take it all in while you have a bite to eat. Church Street Marketplace is Burlington at its finest!

After you’ve explored Church Street, it’s time to head to the waterfront. Waterfront Park is within fairly easy walking distance, and there’s just nothing quite like seeing the glittering expanse of Lake Champlain with the Adirondacks framing it in the distance as you approach.

You can walk along the water or just sit a while on the bench swings and take in that lovely view, but I think the best way to explore Lake Champlain is to get out on the water.

The Spirit of Ethan Allen on the waterfront in Burlington, Vermont.
The Spirit of Ethan Allen on the Burlington waterfront

The Spirit of Ethan Allen is a popular cruise company on Lake Champlain, and they have a ton of options for boat tours.

If you book one of their dinner cruise options like Lobstah on the Lake, you’ll be treated to an incredible buffet dinner of Maine lobster, New England clam chowder, and crab-stuffed mushrooms alongside those scenic lake views. Yum!

After you’ve traded in your sea legs for land legs again, I say head out to explore Burlington nightlife.

There are so many incredible bars and breweries that have great scenes with live music, trivia nights, and all kinds of fun stuff. The Archives on College is a cool place if you want to enjoy some old-school arcade action with games like Ms Pacman, Centipede, and Tetris.

One of my favorites is The Whiskey Room, attached to RiRa on College. It’s a whiskey lounge that is very reminiscent of a classy British pub with its dark wood and gorgeous bar. If you’re a whiskey fan, I highly recommend making this a stop during your Vermont trip!

When it comes to where to stay in Burlington, you’ve got great options. If you’re looking for something that’s centrally located to both Church Street and the waterfront, check out Hotel Vermont.

It’s got that great independent Vermont vibe, and it’s located right next door to Hen of the Wood, one of the best restaurants in town. Seriously, start asking for recommendations for where to eat in Burlington, you’re going to hear Hen of the Wood over and over again!

Get some rest, because tomorrow we hit the road!

Day 2: Head to Waterbury

Waterbury, Vermont is just #smalltownvermontvibes all the way! It’s such a quaint and picturesque town, and it just so happens to be perfectly situated on the drive between Burlington and our next destination, Stowe.

While Waterbury isn’t typically a vacation destination all by itself, it’s a definite must-visit on your travels through this area! Not only is it scenic and lovely, but there are some very classic Vermont things to do here. It’s just about a half-hour drive from Burlington.

The Ben & Jerry's Factory in Waterbury, Vermont
The Ben & Jerry’s Factory in Waterbury, Vermont

Number one on the list is probably the Ben & Jerry’s factory. This is the original factory for the ice cream giant, and you can tour the factory (with samples) for $6.

Not only do you get to see how this delicious ice cream is made, but you even get to sample whatever is being made on the line for the day! One of the coolest spots at the Ben & Jerry’s factory is the Flavor Graveyard, where you can pay your respects to some of the flavors from yesteryear.

I never got a chance to try this one that was discontinued in 1989, but the epitaph is fantastic: “Tennessee Mud: The bottle is empty, The cup and the glass, Mud with Jack Daniels, Was not meant to last”

After you’ve paid your respects, you can head on to taste some other classic flavors of Vermont, like artisanal cheese!

Cabot Creamery is likely a brand you’ve seen around, but you’ll want to visit the Cabot Farmer’s Store in Waterbury. In addition to all the great Vermont cheese that you can sample, there are also other Vermont staples being sold there too, like Vermont maple syrup, local beers, wines, jams, and so much more.

Basically, this is a great place for your Vermont trip souvenirs. They sell shirts and hoodies and such, too.

Depending on how much delicious Cabot Creamery cheese you’ve sampled, you may be looking for a little physical activity to work some of those cheesy calories off. You’re in luck because Camel’s Hump State Park is located nearby!

If you want to hike to the top of Camel’s Hump, it’s a multi-hour, challenging hike, no matter which trail you choose, especially as you near the summit.

If you’d just like to get out and stretch your legs in this beautiful state park, there are a couple of options for that too, including a fully accessible ADA trail called the Camel’s Hump View Trail.

There are lots of trails at Camel’s Hump, so you can choose what appeals to you.

After you’ve explored Camel’s Hump, you can head back into Waterbury for another distinctly Vermont experience: a visit to Cold Hollow Cider Mill, where according to the sign out front, you can enjoy “Legendary Cider Donuts” and “Real Live Vermonters!”

This is seriously Vermont at its finest! You’ve got the bakery where you can enjoy freshly baked apple cider donuts, the cider samples where you can taste hot apple cider, cold apple cider, even hard apple cider, and find your new favorite so you can take some to go!

There are a ton of other Vermont goodies at Cold Hollow Cider Mill, too, and this isn’t a quick-stop kind of place. Plan to take your time here and explore all the great offerings. This is another great Vermont souvenir spot!

It’s also a great spot for lunch, so if you happen to be there before the Luncheonette closes at 3, grab a seat and check out their menu. Ingredients are locally sourced, their sandwich bread is baked onsite daily, and meals are made with the best of the best local honey, maple syrup, and apple products.

Now that you’ve crossed the cider mill off your Vermont bucket list, you can move on to the next destination on your three days in Vermont trip… Stowe, Vermont!

Stowe is just fifteen minutes up the road, so it’s not a long drive at all, but you’ll want to get there on day 2 of your Vermont trip so you can check in to our recommendation for where to stay in Stowe: the Trapp Family Lodge!

Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont.
Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont

That’s right, the von Trapp Family as in the family from The Sound of Music. They settled in this area after they emigrated to the United States, and today, this Austrian-style resort is a definite bucket list place to stay in Vermont.

Surrounded by gorgeous scenery, there is eye candy all around you at this gorgeous VT hotel, but there’s more to it than just pretty views! Activities at the Trapp Family Lodge include guided farm and forest tours, horse-drawn carriage rides, and outdoor concerts in the meadow in the warm weather months.

If you’re staying in the winter, there’s a whole other catalog of fantastic activities at this popular resort, including snowshoeing, skiing, maple sugaring tours and demonstrations, and so much more. 

Of course, any time of year you can swing by the von Trapp Brewing Bierhall restaurant to enjoy a bite and a brew!

The Trapp Family Lodge is considered a four-season resort, and there’s plenty of fun to be had onsite. Hopefully, you’ve arrived in Stowe with enough time to enjoy some resort fun and get a nice night’s sleep before your third day in Vermont, because you’ll want to hit the ground running in the morning!

Day 3: Have Stowe Much Fun

A colorful mural that says Welcome to Stowe (Vermont).
Welcome to Stowe!

Stowe, Vermont is a classic vacation destination all year round. In the warm weather months, you’ve got amazing hiking and mountain biking options that are perfect for all skill levels, local waterfalls, and covered bridges to scope out, and downtown Stowe is full of cute shops and cafes.

In the winter, you’re going to be battling some crowds! Considered one of the top ski towns in the United States, to call this a popular winter vacation destination would be an understatement.

One of the best Stowe activities in the warm weather months involves heading up Mount Mansfield to Stowe Mountain Resort. Taking a ride on the Stowe Gondola SkyRide is the perfect way to see what makes this area of Vermont so stunningly scenic.

In the summer, the Green Mountains practically come alive with the sound of mu… er, with the healthy, bright green vegetation, and in the fall, the blazing fall colors are nothing short of dazzling!

The best part about a Stowe vacation is that there is always something happening in this Vermont mountain town. You’ll find festivals, live entertainment, workshops, community events, and so much more throughout the year. Keep an eye on the events calendar and you’ll see what I mean!

As for must-visit restaurants in Stowe, there are several, but one of my current favorites is Doc Ponds. On a recent trip to Stowe with my toddler in tow, we stopped in for lunch and really loved our experience! It’s just got a very cool vibe and the food was delish.

Truly, it’s always going to be a little difficult to see all there is to see and do all there is to do on a three-day vacation, but you can most certainly get a taste!

Hopefully, this three-day itinerary in Vermont has given you just enough to pique your interest that you’re already planning your next trip to the Green Mountain State. Next time, maybe you can stay a bit longer to explore even more of this beautiful New England state!

Looking for more ideas for your Vermont vacation? Read these next:

3 days in vermont
Amy Hartle New England with Love

Amy Hartle has been a travel content creator for more than a decade. Of all the places she’s traveled, New England holds a special place in Amy’s heart. She is the founder and editor behind New England With Love, where she writes about her adventures exploring all six states.