Thanks to the brilliant colors in Vermont’s maple, oak and birch trees, fall foliage season is the busiest time of year for central Vermont. You generally need to book lodging several months in advance, especially for the first two weekends of October. Expect plenty of company at tourist attractions (such as the Ben & Jerry’s factory and Cold Hollow Cider Mill) and on the roads. But the crowds are certainly bearable, especially in Montpelier—Stowe, Woodstock and Burlington see many more visitors this time of year. The weather can vary from blue-sky, 70 degree September days to snow in October, so it’s wise to pack layers, hats and gloves. Still, Vermont’s fall is incomparable, making this season the best choice for a visit. Otherwise, the months of June, July and August are also popular—there’s not only hiking and biking, but also sailing and other watersports on Vermont’s lakes, and numerous warm-weather festivals. Rates during the summer, however, can be lower than during the ski season. February and March, as well as MLK Jr. weekend in January, are the busiest times at resorts.
November is “stick season,” when the trees have shed their leaves and it can be grey and cold without the distraction of snow. April is mud season—which is what it sounds like, and often a far (colder) cry from spring than in other, more temperate parts of the country. During both months, some lodging properties shut down while others offer discounts. There’s no real reason, save for visiting relatives at Thanksgiving or hoping for early season, to visit central Vermont during these months.
For Vermont, spring starts in earnest in May, which can be a delicately beautiful time of year to visit. While most higher-elevation hikes are off-limits until after Memorial Day, lower-elevation parks and preserves make for nice spring walks. Most places are open, and prices can be better than during the height of summer or winter, with fewer crowds. The Vermont Maple Festival in St. Albans is typically held the first weekend of May. You should be able to book a room in Montpelier with a few weeks’ notice. Bring biking clothes—temps in the 50s and 60s inspire long, two-wheeled sojourns.