With refreshingly cool scenic hills, majestic mountains, and emerald-green forests, as well as pristine, crystal-clear lakes and rivers, the state of Vermont is perfect for a summertime getaway. Nearby most Vermont vacation rentals are abundant opportunities for hiking, cycling, kayaking, power boating, sightseeing, and summer sports. Here are the best places to take a summer vacation in Vermont.

1. Burlington

burlington bike trail
Source: Flickr / Jeff Turner

Burlington, the state’s biggest city, lies on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain in northwestern Vermont. Paddlesurf Champlain offers rentals, lessons, and guided tours to help you explore the lakeshore on stand-up paddleboards. On land, rent bicycles from North Star Sports, and travel the beautiful Burlington Greenway Bike Path, which provides eight miles of trails connecting numerous lovely parks along the shoreline. Stop by the Burlington Farmer’s Market at City Hall Park, and shop for fresh produce, flowers and plants, and arts and crafts. Burlington is renowned for its breweries, and Burlington City Brew Tours takes you around to the best locations for tastings. Don’t miss a visit to the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, an innovative facility that highlights the wildlife and ecology of the Lake Champlain area.

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2. Montpelier

vermont state house
Source: Flickr / Jasperdo

The state capital, Montpelier, sits on the bank of the lovely Winooski River in central Vermont. Take a free tour of the State House, and admire the artwork and architecture of this historic building that was built in 1859. To cool down, head for Wrightsville Beach Recreation Area along the Winooski River on the north side of town, which features a beautiful beach, a boat launch, and a picnic area. The nearby 28-acre North Branch Nature Center, a renowned bird-watching location, features miles of trails through fields and forest. Stop by the Bragg Farm Sugar House for a tour and tastings at a traditional maple syrup farm.

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3. Brattleboro

connecticut river
Source: Flickr / Nicholas Erwin

Located in the corner of southeastern Vermont, the city of Brattleboro sits at the confluence of the majestic Connecticut and West Rivers. The Vermont Canoe Touring Center rents canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, and tubes, and also offers guided tours of the local waterways. The rivers provide great opportunities to fish for largemouth and smallmouth bass, pike, perch, bluegill, and many other species. Rent bikes at Brattleboro Bicycle Shop, and check with Vermont Cycling Tours for the best self-guided itineraries of the numerous nearby paths and trails. Don’t miss the annual summer Strolling of the Heifers Festival, which includes a parade, farm tours, cooking competitions, and lots of food.

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4. Newport

lake memphremagog
Source: Flickr / Michel G.

The city of Newport lies on the southern shore of pristine Lake Memphremagog in northern Vermont near the Canadian border. Memphremagog Cruises takes you on tours of the lake in comfortable power boats. Alternatively, take a sightseeing ride on the Northern Star, a luxurious two-story inland waterway steamer. Rent a bicycle at the Great Outdoors, and explore the town and surrounding countryside. Be sure to visit the Northeast Kingdom Tasting Center, where you can sample local products such as maple syrup and candy, baked goods, ciders, and wines.

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5. Bennington

henry covered bridge
Source: Flickr / cmh2315fl

Bennington sits along the Walloomsac River at the western edge of the Green Mountains in southwestern Vermont. On the north side of town, visit the beach at Lake Paran for swimming and sunbathing, and then hike the lovely two-mile trail to the Robert Frost Stone House Museum. Another great hike takes you to the summit of Bald Mountain for a panoramic view of the city and surrounding countryside. Be sure to visit the Historic Park-McCullough House, a 35-room mansion that is renowned as one of the finest examples of Victorian architecture in New England. Tour the pottery works and historic buildings at Bennington Potters, which makes beautiful hand-crafted ceramics. Don’t miss the displays, activities, and performances at the annual summer Bennington Arts Weekend.

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6. St. Albans

lake champlain
Source: Flickr / yuan2003

St. Albans city, surrounded by St. Albans town, lies on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain in northwestern Vermont. Downtown St. Albans is full of historic buildings to discover, and the St. Albans Tour Guides take you around to the most picturesque and fascinating locations. St. Albans Ride and Dine provides a meal along with a scenic cycling tour. Don’t miss visits to St. Albans Museum and Gallery, St. Albans Cathedral, and the amazing Verulamium Museum, which displays artifacts and recreates rooms from ancient Rome. Take the kids to the Willows Activity Farm, where they meet farmyard animals, take tractor rides, and enjoy other fun activities and shows. Stroll through the St. Albans Traditional Street Market on St. Peter’s Street to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods, and many other items. Every summer St. Albans hosts the St. Albans Folk Festival, the St. Albans Film Festival, and the St. Albans Steam and Country Show.

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7. Ferrisburgh

basin harbor club garden path
Source: Flickr / Don Shall

Ferrisburgh is in west-central Vermont on the shore of Lake Champlain. The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum has a fascinating fleet of replica historical ships along the lakeshore, and also oversees a collection of shipwrecks at the Vermont Underwater Historic Preserves. To access the shipwrecks, join a diving tour with Waterfront Diving Center. Button Bay State Park sits on a bluff over the lake and features a nature center with nature programs and hiking trails, a picnic area, and a refreshing swimming pool with lifeguards. The park also rents boats for fun on the lake. Kingsland Bay State Park has a swimming area, scenic trails, and rentals of canoes and kayaks.

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8. Middlebury

green mountains middlebury
Source: Flickr / Don Shall

Middlebury lies in western Vermont between the Champlain Valley and the foothills of the Green Mountains. Rent bicycles at Frog Hollow Bikes, and explore the numerous Lake Champlain Bikeway routes that pass through town. Hike the scenic Trail Around Middlebury or the multitude of trails in the 400,000 acre Green Mountain National Forest. Enjoy free movies and concerts all summer long at the park next to the Middlebury Town Office.

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9. Wilmington

harriman reservoir
Source; Flickr / fritzmb

Located in southern Vermont, the town of Wilmington is on the northeast shore of Harriman Reservoir, also known as Lake Wilmington, in the Deerfield Valley amidst the Green Mountains. Near Timber Crib Dam at the reservoir is a beautiful swimming beach. Island Jet Ski offers rentals of jet skis and also tours of the lake. Mount Snow at nearby West Dover has rentals and lifts for exciting downhill mountain biking. Alternatively, take a chairlift to the summit of Mount Snow to enjoy the breathtaking panoramic view.

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10. Grand Isle

grand isle state park
Source: Flickr / hebdromadaires

The town of Grand Isle lies on its namesake island in the midst of Lake Champlain in northwestern Vermont. On the south side of town is Grand Isle State Park, which features a nature center, sports facilities, and rentals of rowboats and kayaks. A few miles north of Grand Isle in Alburg Dunes State Park is a large beach as well as hiking and cycling trails through beautiful dunes and wetlands. Head for Ladds Landing Marina in Grand Isle for rentals of sailboats, motorboats, canoes, and kayaks.

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