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10 Ways to Take an Affordable Vermont Vacation

Vermont is sandwiched between New York State and New Hampshire on its west and east respectively, with Massachusetts to the South and the Canadian province of Quebec to the North. However, it has a personality all its own. This quirky state is at once progressive and backwoods, modern but enveloped in natural beauty, surrounded by other states but boasting its very own idiosyncrasies. It’s also the second largest producer of maple syrup in the world. So yeah, it’s safe to say that Vermont has its own identity.

The name Vermont comes from the French words Vert Mont. Translated directly to English, this means Green Mountain. In addition to giving Vermont its state nickname as well as the name of its sweeping state forest, Green Mountain also provides a fairly apt description of the beautiful landscape. And this happens to be great news for the budget-conscious traveler. That’s because Vermont’s greatest attraction is its magnificent natural bounty, and it doesn’t cost a thing to immerse yourself in this beauty.

On the other hand, it can cost quite a bit for accommodations, meals and excursions if you’re not careful about how you spend. Fortunately, we’ve got a few great travel trips if you’re bound for Vermont.

But first, let’s take a quick look at how Vermont travel may be impacted by the time of year…

Seasonality in Vermont

Before you plan a trip to Vermont, bear in mind that it actually is an amazing vacation destination any time of year. Whether you visit in the winter to take advantage of Vermont’s excellent ski conditions, or you lose yourself in New England’s celebrated autumn foliage, or you simply visit in the spring and summer months to see the state at its most lush and verdant, the truth is that there’s never really a bad time to plan your Vermont vacation.

The drawback is that there isn’t necessarily an off-peak season in the traditional sense. That is to say, you may not save a ton of money by limiting yourself to one season or another. We typically advise travelers to plan their vacations around off-season deals and discounts. But it doesn’t totally make sense to say Vermont has an off-season. It’s really more about the type of experience you wish to have.

That said, Vermont is an extremely popular destination during ski season. It boasts some of the best ski resorts in the U.S. and winter sports enthusiasts flock to Vermont from December through March in search of fresh powder. But it’s not exactly accurate to say that hotels and resorts are handing out discounts in the warmer months. It’s more accurate to say that prices spike during ski season.

If you’re going for the slopes, expect to pay more than travelers who are visiting for the crisp air and fresh mountain streams in the summertime. Still, as noted above, Vermont offers what many consider to be some of the best autumn leaf-watching in New England, which would place it high in the running for best foliage in the world. And the spring months are marked by glorious forest blooms. So wherever you plan to lodge and whatever time of year you’re visiting Vermont, don’t expect a steep off-season discount.

Instead, it’s up to you as a savvy traveler to take extra steps to be sure you save on things like accommodations, amenities, and excursions. There are all kinds of Vermont vacation packages from all inclusive resorts and luxury hotel accommodations with modern amenities to rustic cabins, campsites and everything in between.

From popular destinations like Green Mountain Ski Resort, Stowe Mountain Resort, Killington Resort and Okemo Mountain Resort to more low-key experiences like camping near Lake Champlain, crashing in travel hostels, or looking for vacation rentals with the lowest nightly price, you have a ton of options. For a small state, Vermont packs in a lot of options, which means Vermont vacations can take many different shapes.

The cool thing is that it only takes a few hours to get from one end of the state to the other, so if you plan it right, you can see and do a lot in a day. It takes two hours to get from the Vermont State House in the capital city of Montpelier to the waterfront park at Lake Champlain. From there, an additional hour’s drive will take you to Green Mountain National Park. With its expansive mountain views, fresh air and local flavor, Vermont could be your dream getaway.

But before you book your trip, make sure you do everything you can to get the very best deals.

10 Ways to Save On Your Vermont Vacation

Vermont is a state noted for its quirky personality, natural beauty, and delicacies like maple syrup, beer, and cheese. The cool thing about Vermont is that it’s not very big, but there’s a ton to see and do. If you plan your trip wisely, you can fit in quite a bit. So how can you do it without overspending? We’ve got a few helpful travel tips so you can make the most out of your Vermont vacation on a reasonable budget.

1. Book Ahead of Time

First things first–you can usually save a lot of money by booking your experiences and excursions well ahead of time. For one thing, tickets to theme parks, lift tickets for ski resorts, and vacation package tours are all typically more affordable when you book online and ahead of time.

This also gives you the chance to take advantage of any special discounts for which you might qualify including student, senior, or military discounts as well as discounts for AAA or AARP membership. If you’re online and you don’t see any information about specialized or discount rates, you may consider reaching out directly to hosts and attractions to inquire about special deals. You may find that there are promotions or other savings opportunities that are not posted online.

If your top goals in Vermont involve hitting the fresh powder and carving pristine runs, you’ll definitely want to lock down your lift tickets in general. Not only that, but you may consider bypassing some of the better known destinations like Stowe Mountain Resort or the world class Terrain Park in favor of a few equally lovely but more obscure slopes.

Obviously, winter sports are never cheap to begin with. Whether you own your equipment or you plan to rent, skiing and snowboarding have some pretty steep inbuilt expenses. That’s exactly why you’ll want to take some extra steps to lower your cost. 

To this point, TripSavvy advises that “You’ll generally save money if you buy your lift tickets in advance. Also consider checking out some of Vermont’s lesser known ski areas like the Middlebury Snow Bowl and Magic Mountain if you want to ski on the cheap.”

If your visit to Vermont is likely to involve a few major attractions like museums and theme parks, you may also want to purchase Vermont attraction passes. Usually available through consumer discount clubs like Groupon, attraction passes may bundle together a bunch of cool paid attractions at discounted rates, or they may offer discounted rates for individual experiences, whether you’re looking to get into a water park, onto a golf course, or into a major national attraction like Sea World.

Make sure you spend some time online seeking out discounts, promos and other cool deals before you arrive.

2. Get a State Park Pass

And as long as you’re booking things in advance, now is a great time to grab a state park pass. Vermont has numerous beautiful state parks brimming with outdoor recreational opportunities. And it will cost you almost nothing to experience all that it has to offer across its gorgeous state park system. According to the Vermont State Parks website, you can get a full season pass providing access to all of Vermont’s state parks for just $30 a person or $90 a car.

It’s hard to stress just what a great deal that is. This pass gives you full access to the Green Mountains that lend Vermon both its name and its characteristic natural beauty. If you’re planning to hike or camp in Vermont, you could stretch a few dollars into a pretty epic experience.

And of course, that minimal expense just refers to the state park experience. You’ll spend even less outside of this system. Vermont is an absolute bounty of lakefronts, mountain trails, biking paths, and more. Especially if you’re visiting in the warmer months, you can build an entire trip around free hiking and climbing experiences. If you are a lover of the outdoors, Vermont offers no shortage of stuff to do for absolutely nothing.

3. Scout Out Free Activities

Speaking of stuff that costs absolutely nothing, Vermont is full of options. For instance, some of Vermont’s very best museums and art galleries offer free admission on certain days or times. Pinpoint top museums and galleries, and plan your itinerary around opportunities for free admission.

You may also be able to hop on to a free guided tour in town like Burlington or Montpelier, whether you’re interested in Vermont’s numerous historic sites, its natural beauty, or even some of its top breweries. 

And of course, it costs nothing to immerse yourself in some of the state’s walkable attractions. For instance, the Church Street Marketplace in Burlington is home to more than 100 stores, restaurants and attractions. You can make a whole day out of wandering this pedestrian mall–window shopping, grabbing bites at some of the best local food stands, and taking in performances from street buskers.

Pick and choose your purchases wisely, and otherwise simply allow the color, culture, and quirk of this college town to envelope you. You’ll find that one of Vermont’s greatest attractions is its community spirit–one distinguished by a love of music, arts, and of course, delicious food.

3. Consult the Events Calendar

On the subject of music and arts, Vermont is the site of near-constant outdoor community events, festivals, concerts and more. Most of these civic offerings are entirely free of charge, though it’s up to you how much you wish to spend visiting with local vendors.

And honestly, we advise spending a few dollars this way. This is your opportunity to taste craft beer, sample local cheese and, of course, bring home some of your very own authentic Vermont maple syrup.You’ll likely find that these fairs and markets offer pretty great deals for extremely high quality local delicacies.

It’s also worth noting that Vermont offers festivals celebrating each of its seasons, from autumn foliage and summer solstice festivals to all kinds of winter holiday events. 

Before you plan your visit, consult Vermont’s Calendar of Events and work a few free experiences into your itinerary. Plan to visit a weekend farmers market, a craft fair, or one of Vermont’s countless festivals, each distinguished by its own unique local flavor.

4. Visit Local Welcome Centers

No matter what you plan to do, make sure you do your due diligence in locking down promo codes, coupons, and discounts. One of the best ways to do this is to start with a visit to the local Welcome Center.

This is something you’ll want to do both online and in person upon your arrival. Welcome Centers and Visitor’s Centers are an absolute goldmine when it comes to digging for discounts. Those colorful little tourist pamphlets for outdoor adventures, guided tours, and museum entry that you see at every highway rest stop and hotel lobby are absolutely stuffed with coupons and helpful tips on when you can get discounts and even free entry to attractions.

Begin your search for these friendly promotions by checking out the state directory to Vermont’s Statewide Information and Welcome Centers. Here, you can not only begin your search online for deals and discounts, but you can pinpoint the physical location of a few top welcome centers. Make these centers your first stop upon arriving at any of the towns on your travel itinerary.

In addition to grabbing a bunch of pamphlets and coupons, you’ll generally find welcome centers staffed by friendly locals with all kinds of great tips for where to go, what to do, and how to save money while doing it. Ask plenty of questions during this first stop. You might be amazed at how a few insider tips can truly enhance your Vermont vacation experience.

5. Indulge in the Outdoors

As we’ve noted throughout this article, Vermont’s natural beauty is its biggest attraction. And many of these experiences can be had at little to no cost. Indulge in activities like hiking, biking, and swimming, or go for a leisure lakeside stroll and stop for a picnic.

Whatever your speed, you can do it outdoors in Vermont. If you’re traveling during the peak ski seasons, you’ll obviously want to layer up. Pack accordingly. On the other hand, if you’re visiting during the warmer months, Vermont is temperate, breezy, and flush with color. Not only that, but it’s one of the best times to visit a ski resort.

A ski resort in summer? What’s the point, you ask?

Well, BudgetTravel notes that while the ski mountains can often cost quite a bit during winter sports seasons, these same picturesque locations won’t cost you a thing once the warm weather hits. BudgetTravel points out that “Cyclists, trekkers, and ambitious trail runners will be rewarded with mesmerizing views at the top. If the state’s heavily forested landscape is something to see along the road, it’s otherworldly from this vantage point.”

The travel blog also points out that Lake Champlain, just a half-hour drive from the simultaneously bustling and charming college town of Burlington, offers countless low cost or entirely free activities. It doesn’t cost much to rent a kayak or paddle boat, and it’ll cost you absolutely nothing to catch some sun on the banks of the lake. If you’re a fishing enthusiast, you’ll need only your own gear to make the most of the fresh shimmering New England waters.

6. Think Sustainably

Speaking of Vermont’s incredible natural beauty, there’s a reason it looks and feels this way. Vermonters implicitly understand that nature is their state’s greatest resource and the top draw for visitors. This understanding is reflected in a culture that is highly environmentally conscious.

Residents of Vermont often take extra steps to reduce waste, improve efficiency, and protect the surrounding natural environment. Do your best to contribute to this orientation by taking a sustainable approach to your vacation. You’ll find that the big bonus to living sustainably is that you’ll actually save a bunch of money too.

Start by skipping the bottled water. Get a nice reusable water bottle–we’re personally huge fans of the Yeti for its durability and its sheer unmatched ability to keep freezing cold water freezing cold. But whatever your bottle of choice, you can fill up anywhere for free. Vermont’s tap water is clean and potable. No need to spend on bottled water.

As long as you’re avoiding spending on unnecessary consumables, it’s also a good idea to do a bit of grocery shopping at the start of your trip. It helps a lot if your accommodation has a kitchenette or access to a shared kitchen. That way, you can cook at least some of your meals in your lodging as opposed to dining out for every meal.

Likewise, it’s a great idea to buy a bunch of non-perishables like nuts, granola, jerky, and dried fruits. Pack these energy boosting snacks for your outdoor adventures and avoid spending nickels and dimes on food at every turn.

7. Find Cool Vermont Vacation Packages

You don’t have to book at a fancy hotel or an all inclusive resort to get a good package deal. There are all kinds of unique packages aimed at travelers looking to save. For instance, Vermont is well-known for its wealth of incredible breweries. But which should you visit, and what’s the best way to plan your route…and most importantly, who’s going to drive you home after all those brewery tours and beer tastings?!

This is a good time to consider booking a brewery tour package. According to Budget Travel, “If you want to get a taste of several different breweries and a deeper understanding of why Vermont’s beer scene is superior, you might consider a Vermont Brewery Tour with 4 Points. For less than a hundred bucks, the tour includes pick-up and drop-off, multiple brewery stops and tastings, snacks and entertaining fodder from your guide.”

The travel blog calls the experience a bargain, but says you could save even more money by creating your own strategically routed beer trail. Again, if that’s more your speed, make sure you have a transportation plan for returning to your lodging accommodations. Ubers and Lyfts are plentiful in some areas, but perhaps less so in the more rural sections of Vermont. Think out your designated driver strategy ahead of time.

And beyond that, think about different ways to package together the experiences that you consider most desirable. This may prove a great way to save money while packing more into your trip.

8. Book Discount Accommodations

If you’re thinking of staying in a hotel, bear in mind that the prices per night can vary widely.

Check out a few noteworthy lodging options for a point of comparison. For instance, at just over $100 a night, you can book a stay at the Comfort Inn Trolley Square in Rutland. Rooms at the Hilton Burlington Lake Champlain start at about $200 a night. Or you could book a stay at The Lodge at Spruce Peak Hyatt Residence in Stowe for rooms starting at just under $300 a night.

However, it also bears noting that each lodging option includes its own array of amenities from free parking and complimentary breakfast to shuttle services and onsite spa facilities. Again, it’s all about the type of experience you wish to have and how much you’re willing to pay for it. The important thing to do at this stage in your planning is some deep comparison shopping.

If you’re nervous about hesitating and losing out on great accommodations, you could try looking for hotels that allow free cancellation reserve. Search for “VT free cancellation reserve”, and start booking options risk-free.

But also bear in mind that hotels and resorts are just one lodging option, and generally the costliest. From there, you can consider an array of charming bed and breakfasts–something for which Vermont is famous–and a full array of Airbnb or VRBO vacation rental options including cottages, condos, full homes and even tree houses. If you’re willing to be flexible about your travel dates and the type of accommodation, you could save a ton. 

Indeed, Vermont is also well known for its excellent camping conditions. In the warmer months, you could easily pop up a tent and stay on a campsite for just a few dollars a night.

9. Consider Driving If Possible

Once you’ve figured out lodging, it’s time to think about your transportation plans. While we often advise opting for public transportation while traveling, Vermont is a bit different. It’s not a huge state, which means that most attractions are within a reasonably short drive of one another.

However, many of those attractions can be found deep in the woods, high in the mountains, or far off the beaten path. In other words, public transportation won’t take you to some of the best destinations in the state. This means your best bet for getting around the state will generally be a reliable car–preferably one with four-wheel drive if you plan on mountaineering at all.

If at all possible, you should consider making this vacation a road trip. Obviously, the feasibility of this will hinge on where you live. But if you are at all within striking distance of Vermont, driving is a good option. As an added benefit, this gives you the chance to overpack. That may sound like silly advice, but even in the spring, the evening temperatures can drop in Vermont, especially if you’re in the mountains. Driving gives you the chance to pack extra layers, a spare pair of sneakers, and all the camping gear you’ll need in case you decide to rough it for a few nights.

One travel blog notes that “Depending on where you are coming from, this will be a long, but much cheaper option. For example, it takes 6 hours to drive from New York City to Burlington, a much cheaper option…However, the drive is only 3.5 hours from Boston, MA;  4 hours from Portland, ME; 2 hours from Montreal, Canada.”

If it makes more sense to fly, it may be advisable to book a rental car upon your arrival. You’ll want to maintain your mobility on your Vermont trip. Having your own car gives you the freedom to take your trek as far and deep as you wish.

10. Use cashback or rewards programs

When you’re looking to book a hotel, rent a car, buy a ticket for a flight, or dine at a restaurant, make sure you’re maximizing your benefits by using a credit card with a generous rewards program. Before you hit the road, review the offers that come with your current credit cards or mobile device spending apps and see if any offer cash back, travel points, frequent flier miles, access to discounts, and more.

If none of your credit cards come with these travel bonuses, you may want to consider signing up for a new offer. For instance, those booking a flight may want to consider signing up for the rewards program specific to their airline. This rewards club will usually give you access to a credit card with generous travel rewards and friendly perks like preferred boarding, reduced baggage fees, and even access to a customer lounge at the airport.

On the other hand, if you’re planning to make a road trip out of your visit to Vermont, we strongly recommend reviewing card offers that provide rewards for fueling up. Getting points and cash back rebates for your gas station purchases can truly add up to some excellent savings.


On that note, there are actually tons of other ways to save money as you are motoring your way across the country. Any time of year is a great time for a road trip. But the cost of gas, tolls, and parking can add up.

So before you pack up the car, stock up on beef jerky, and put the rubber to the highway, make sure you know all the best ways to save money during your road trip