11 Fun & Best Things to Do in Montpelier, Vermont
The lovely northern Vermont town of Montpelier is home to Vermont’s capital, located in the middle of the Green Mountains and at the intersection of three rivers. The town may be the capital of Vermont, but the city prides itself on its local businesses and, to this day, does not have a Starbucks, Walmart, or McDonald’s. However, local restaurants and cafes are abundant, with many Vermont favorites, including pure maple syrup.
The charming city is known for its gold-domed Vermont State House, the state capital building. In addition, history lovers can learn much about Vermont’s early years at the Vermont History Museum, with exhibits from the Revolutionary War and the state’s early indigenous population.
While Montpelier is a small town, it has the vibrancy of a large city, with family-friendly activities, art, culture, and plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities. Montpelier has a lot to do, and the residents eagerly welcome visitors to central Vermont.
Outdoor enthusiasts love visiting Montpelier in the winter, with access to 25 kilometers of Nordic ski trails in town and fantastic skiing at Mad River Valley, a short drive away. Wintertime also brings the community together with the ice skating rink in front of the State House.
Spring and summer bring visitors to the Winooski River, local hiking and biking trails, outdoor restaurants, and boutique shops. You can also catch a Vermont Mountaineers game, a true American pastime. Part of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, the Mountaineers plays at Montpelier Recreation Field.
And the fall is one of the most beautiful times to visit central Vermont, with brilliantly colored foliage everywhere you turn. The scenic Mad River Byway is a 30-minute drive through beautiful central Vermont, but you can also witness the area’s beauty from the observation tower at Hubbard Park.
Sound like a relaxing vacation? Read on for more!
Your knowledgeable guide will take you on a two-hour walking tour of Genoa, where you’ll learn about the city’s rich history. Then, it’s off to Portofino for some free time to explore this picturesque seaside town at your own pace. Take in the stunning Mediterranean scenery and chic ambience before taking a boat ride back to Santa Margherita Ligure.
The hotel features a restaurant, fitness center, bar and garden, and offers free WiFi throughout the property. Each room at the hotel is fitted with a desk, and all units come with air conditioning, a safety deposit box and a TV. Guests at the Capitol Plaza Hotel Montpelier Tapestry Collection by Hilton can enjoy activities in and around Montpelier, such as hiking. Supreme Court of Vermont, Vermont State House and Camel s Hump are all popular points of interest near the hotel.
This lovely inn is located just a short walk from the Supreme Court of Vermont and the Vermont State House, so you’ll be right in the heart of the action. But even if you’re just looking to relax, The Inn at Montpelier is the perfect place to do it. With its own restaurant and free WiFi, you’ll have everything you need right at your fingertips. And if you’re driving into town, don’t worry about finding a place to park – The Inn at Montpelier offers free private parking for its guests.
If you find yourself wondering what to do in Montpelier, take a look at this short list below:
- Most significant landmark – Vermont State House
- Best park – Hubbard Park
- Best free activity – Camel’s Hump State Park
- Best activity for kids – Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks
- Best activity for adults – Tasting Room at Cold Hollow Cider Mill
- Best food – Sarducci’s
- Best nightlife – Charlie O’s World Famous
- Best all-around accommodation – Inn at Montpelier
Fun & Best Things to do in Montpelier, Vermont
1. Vermont State House
Address: 115 State St, Montpelier, VT 05633
While Montpelier is the smallest of the fifty state capitals, the gold-domed Vermont State House is one of the most notable state capitol buildings. Built in 1833, it is also one of the oldest capitol buildings in the United States. The current building is actually the third state house building on the same site.
The Senate and House chambers still have their original interiors, and the building showcases some of Vermont’s most important artworks. As you walk through the legislative chambers, the Governor’s Office, the Hall of Inscriptions, and the Cedar Creek Reception Room, you’ll see what makes the Vermont State House unique.
To do a self-guided tour of Vermont’s state capitol building, check out a free audio tour wand at the Sergeant-at-Arms’ office. You’ll know when there is an audio tour stop whenever you see a “whoosh” icon on the wall.
Not only is the inside of the building fun to tour, but many visitors stay and enjoy the broad lawn in front. It’s a perfect spot for a picnic, to throw a football, or let your kids run wild. The great lawn is also a popular spot for rallies, concerts, and other public events.
The Vermont General Assembly usually convenes in January and adjourns in May, so if you visit during this time, parking may be limited. Every Wednesday during the legislative season, visitors can watch performing artists in the well of the House Chamber at 7:30 pm. The Farmers Night Concert Series is a tradition dating back over a hundred years, performed by the Vermont Symphony Orchestra.
Whether you visit the Vermont State House for the art, architecture, or history lesson, you’re in for a memorable adventure. If you are looking for a unique way to experience Montpelier, including hidden gems off the beaten path, this magical scavenger hunt is for you!
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Stowe, Vermont
2. Hubbard Park
Address: 400 Parkway St, Montpelier, VT 05602
Hubbard Park is the largest park in the capital city, with over 200 acres, 7 miles of trails, a small pond, sports fields, and a famous sledding hill. Not only is Hubbard Park the largest park in Montpelier, but it’s also the oldest.
One of the most notable landmarks within the park is the Observation Tower, completed in 1930. It’s located at the park’s highest point, with fruit and nut trees planted around the base to attract wildlife. After climbing the stairs, visitors can delight in the beautiful views of the capital city and mountains.
You can enjoy many activities at the park, whether you want to hike, bike, play soccer, go sledding, or frolic in the beautiful weather. There are also plenty of picnic tables for relaxing and enjoying the surrounding nature. In the winter, the winter skiing trails are popular with locals and tourists alike.
The park has three main sections: the Old Shelter, the New Shelter Pavilion, and Seven Fireplaces. The historic Shelter Pavilion is located at the top of a grassy hill and next to the famous Sledding hill. The New Shelter Pavilion is more shaded, and it’s also handicapped accessible.
If you want to let your kids run free or you want to play a game of ultimate frisbee, the lawn at the New Shelter Pavilion is perfect. The last section of the park, Seven Fireplaces, is more secluded in a hidden glen.
Whether you plan to go skiing, sledding, hiking, or biking, Hubbard Park is easily one of the best places in Montpelier!
Looking for a place to crash? This new modern home is perfect for a family vacation if you want to stay near Hubbard Park, the Vermont State House, and downtown Montpelier.
3. Camel’s Hump State Park
Address: Monroe Trailhead in Duxbury, VT
Camel’s Hump State Park is the largest state park in Vermont, with over 20,000 acres. The Winooski River borders it on the north and Route 17 on the south, with the park straddling the Green Mountains.
How it came to be called “Camel’s Hump” is anyone’s guess, as native Americans first named it Saddle Mountain, or “Tah-wak-be-dee-ee-wadso.” In the 1600s, explorers called it “Resting Lion,” while an early map of the area in 1798 referred to it as “Camel’s Rump.” Finally, in the early 19th Century, it officially became Camel’s Hump.
Camel’s Hump is the third highest peak in Vermont, at 4,083 feet. Many trails take you to the summit, with trailheads on both sides of the mountain. So it’s essential to ensure you take the correct path when you begin your descent. Otherwise, you may end up on the wrong side of the mountain!
If you’re looking for a family-friendly hike, try the Bolton Window trail, a 3.2-mile hike with a gradual incline. Bonus, there are a lot of rocks for kids to jump on! A more challenging hike is the Monroe Trail, a 6.6-mile steep trail through the birch and maple forests. Although a tad strenuous, the views from the summit are worth every step!
Regardless of the trail you choose, you will be in awe of the views of the central Vermont region, Lake Champlain, and the Adirondacks. Hungry for a delicious dinner after your long hike? Head to Sarducci’s to refuel and relax with authentic Italian food.
See Related: Essential Tips for Hiking with Kids
4. Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks
Address: 1168 County Rd, Montpelier, VT 05602
Located just 2 miles outside Montpelier proper, Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks is a year-round attraction for children and adults alike. This family-run farm is both a learning experience and a delightful tasting experience.
Native Americans taught the farm owner’s ancestors how to tap maple trees; since that day, they’ve been boiling the sap to make maple syrup. While the sugaring season is only from mid-February to mid-April, all other months are dedicated to making maple candy, maple butter, and kettle corn.
When you visit the farm, you can expect to watch an entertaining video presentation on sugarmaking by Burr Morse and then take a trip to the sugarhouse. Visitors can also walk the winding path through the sugarbush, known as the “maple trail,” and check out the outdoor farm life museum.
Guests can also try Morse Farm’s maple creemee, made with the farm’s delicious maple syrup. If you want to purchase any Vermont specialty foods, gifts, and maple products, you can stock up at the Morse Farm gift shop.
If you need to rest your head nearby after too much maple syrup, head to the adorable Inn at Montpelier. And, if you didn’t get enough sugar at Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks, plan a trip to the annual Vermont Maple Festival in nearby St. Albans!
5. Cold Hollow Cider Mill
Address: 3600 Waterbury-Stowe Rd, Waterbury Center, VT 05677
Just a short drive from Montpelier, the Cold Hollow Cider Mill is a perfect day trip for families and adults alike. This kid-friendly working cider mill has free admission and teaches visitors how bees, maple trees, and apples work together. It’s easily one of the best places to visit in Montpelier!
You can watch authentic Vermont McIntosh cider pressed using a vintage rack and cloth press. And if you’re lucky, you’ll get a free taste of this delicious cider!
The mill is a treat for your senses, with the smell of homemade hot cider donuts wafting through the air. If this makes you hungry, you can order a sandwich and enjoy one of their hard ciders on their deck overlooking the mountains. Or, stop at the sample table to try their cider jelly and other favorites.
A trip to the cider mill is also an educational experience, with their live observation beehive. In addition, visitors can say hi to the mill’s apple tree pollinators and recognize their significance in cider-making. Adults can relax and enjoy the hard cider tasting room and can take their favorites home in growlers!
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Burlington, Vermont
6. Lost Nation Theater
Address: 39 Main Street Montpelier, Vermont 05602
The Lost Nation Theater is among the best regional theaters in the United States and won “Theater of the Decade” in Broadway World’s 2020 Regional Theatre Awards. The theater’s name comes from a part of the Braintree Mountain range known locally as “Lost Nation.” By calling it Lost Nation Theater, they seek to break boundaries, take dramatic action, and courageously make things happen.
Located in Montpelier’s City Hall building, the 3/4 thrust stage brings thought-provoking and unique theater to the area. The theater opened in 1988, with City Hall as a thriving home for over 30 years.
The annual line-up is usually announced in the spring, including shows that may have you crying from laughter, shock, or sadness. The theater’s past performances include classic Vermont stories, musicals, and Tony Award-winning plays.
If you visit Montpelier, a show at the Lost Nation Theater should be on your to-do list. Looking for an after-show dive bar for late-night fun? Head to Charlie O’s, where there is live music, karaoke, pool tables, pinball, and a cozy atmosphere.
7. Coburn Covered Bridge
Address: Coburn Rd, East Montpelier, VT 05651
While there are over a hundred covered bridges in Vermont, the Coburn Covered Bridge is the only one left in East Montpelier. The state built these covered bridges between 1820 and 1904 to protect the wooden structures from harsh winter weather.
These historical bridges are symbols of Vermont’s past, and as such, they are protected by state law. In addition, the Coburn Covered Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
The Coburn Covered Bridge was built in 1851 by Larned Coburn with queen-post construction. Although the state replaced the original timber deck with concrete and steel beams in the 1970s, the superstructure and excellently preserved wood trusses are still in excellent condition.
The bridge crosses the Winooski River and is 69 1/2 feet long and only 16 1/2 feet wide. This one-lane bridge just a couple of miles from the city’s center showcases the history of East Montpelier.
Many visitors stop by the historic covered bridge to enjoy one of the best free things to do in Montpelier. Want to go on a covered bridge tour? This map has the perfect road trip mapped out for the historic covered bridge fans!
See Related: Vermont Road Trip You’ll Want to Follow
8. Vermont Historical Society Museum
Address: 109 State St, Montpelier, VT 05609
The Vermont History Museum allows visitors to explore the state’s rich and diverse history. The Vermont Historical Society feels that understanding the past can change lives and improve communities, so teaching the community about history is of the utmost importance.
The museum is not just for locals, as exhibits show the role of Vermonters in two major national events; the Civil War and the Revolutionary War. Visitors can see how Vermont, the 14th state, responded to both wars and how things have changed.
The primary interactive exhibit, Freedom, and Unity: One Ideal, Many Stories, tells Vermont’s past from the 17th Century to the present. The display includes Vermont-related artifacts and tells the personal stories of Vermonters from the pre-revolutionary era to today.
The museum includes rotating exhibits, a local history galley, and a 20th Century Vermont mural. The mural, Salute to Vermont, represents over 300 years of Vermont history.
In addition to running the museum, the Vermont Historical Society also runs the Leahy Library and the Vermont History Center. If you’re a history lover, this quaint museum is a must-see attraction on your itinerary!
See Related: Best Military Museums in Europe
9. T.W. Wood Gallery and Arts Center
Address: Center for Arts and Learning, 46 Barre Street, Montpelier, VT 05602
After moving to its new location on Barre Street, the well-known T.W. Wood Art Gallery is open and ready for museumgoers. This local institution is an art destination for connoisseurs, with both permanent and rotating exhibits.
The art gallery was founded in 1895 and is committed to preserving and sharing Vermont’s artistic heritage. The namesake behind the museum was Thomas Waterman Wood, a local Montpelier resident who led the American Watercolor Society and the National Academy of Design. In addition, he was known for painting African American area residents as real ordinary people instead of objects.
In his older age, he wanted to create a museum for local artists, so he established a deed of gift in trust to launch the Wood Gallery of Art. At that time, forty-two paintings, etchings, and watercolors were donated to the newly-formed museum.
Many of Wood’s contemporaries donated their art to the new art gallery, such as William Beard, Frederick S. Church, J.G. Brown, and Asher B. Durand. When Wood died in 1903, his family donated most of his estate to the Wood Gallery.
Wood’s estate left the gallery over seven hundred works of art, including paintings, sketches, prints, and diaries. While most of his paintings are on display at the gallery, some paintings are on loan to the Vermont State House. Not only is the Wood Gallery a place to showcase local art, but it is also a venue for lectures, local events, and even concerts.
See Related: Best Museums in Minnesota: History, Culture, and Art
10. Capital City Farmer’s Market
Address: 133 State Street, Montpelier, VT
Every Saturday from May to October, you can find the Capital City Farmers Market on State Street, but the market also has a special Thanksgiving, Winter, and December schedule. Established in 1977, the Capital City Farmers Market grew rapidly through the 80s and 90s and had almost 40 vendors.
It wasn’t long before cheese producers and meat vendors were also a part of the market. Today, the market includes everything from Vermont bakers, local food vendors, and local Vermont goods.
Head west of the capitol building to the tax department parking lot to find the market. Regardless of the weather, the farmer’s market is held outside.
This market is the best place to shop if you’re looking for local goodies or souvenirs. You can’t go wrong with options ranging from Vermont-roasted coffee, grass-fed lamb, foraged mushrooms, raw milk cheese, and maple syrup. You can find the current week’s vendors here, so you can pre-order or reserve items as necessary.
11. Vermont Granite Museum
Address: 7 Jones Brothers Way, Barre, VT 05641
One of the more unique things about Vermont is its history in the granite industry. In response to a coalition of over three hundred concerned citizens, the Vermont Granite Museum was founded in 1994. The purpose and goal of the museum are to preserve the memories of the local granite industry.
The historic Jones Brothers Manufacturing Plant, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is the museum’s home. The Jones Brothers Manufacturing Plant was the oldest operating granite company before it closed in 1975. The coalition acquired the plant’s shed for museum use in 1997.
The museum welcomes people of all ages to uncover the origin of Vermont’s granite industry. In addition, the museum is committed to providing exciting learning experiences for adults, children, and teens.
The museum is perfect for a family adventure, with an interactive environment for all ages! There is also a school on site called The Stone Arts School, which the museum administers for aspiring sculptors.
See Related: Historical Landmarks in Iowa You’ll Want to Know
Is Montpelier worth visiting?
Absolutely! As the capital city of Vermont, there are tons of great things to do that make it well worth a visit! The outstanding beauty of the city nestled in the Green Mountains and at the convergence of three rivers makes Montpelier a popular destination for everyone. There are plenty of local restaurants to enjoy as well as historical museums and the golden-domed Vermont State House.
What is Montpelier known for?
The capital of Vermont is home to the Vermont State House, where visitors can take tours of the golden-domed building and learn about Vermont’s history. Downtown Montpelier has art galleries, sweet treats, history and art museums, and unique local food.
What are the best things to do in Montpelier with kids?
If you’re traveling with kids, there are plenty of Montpelier tourist attractions to keep them entertained! Vermont’s capital city is famous for outdoor activities at Hubbard Park, the sugar house tours at both Bragg Farm Sugar House and Morse Farm, and the covered bridges. During the winter, you can take a sled to Hubbard Park and go down Sledding Hill or go ice skating at the temporary rink outside of the State House.
What are some things to do in Montpelier when it’s raining?
If it happens to rain during your visit to Vermont’s capital city, don’t worry! There are still plenty of things to do, including a visit to Bear Pond Books or the Book Garden, a movie at the Savoy Theatre or Capitol Theatre, or a day trip to Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory.
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