Vermont is the second smallest state in terms of population (it has 626,431 residents) and the sixth smallest in geographic area. Lake Champlain, the nation's eleventh-largest freshwater body lies at the northwest border with New York State and Canada. The state is split east-west by the Green Mountains, which are popular for recreational activities. The eastern border with New Hampshire is defined by the Connecticut River. Vermont is the only landlocked state in New England which often leads to it being short-changed in guides to the region. Its highest point is Mount Mansfield at 4,393 ft, and its lowest point is Lake Champlain, at 95 feet.
The state is extremely rural, its valleys dotted with farms. Its largest city is Burlington, pop. 42,417. Among the state's major exports are cheese, maple syrup, marble, slate, and granite. Tourism is also a very large industry in Vermont, as skiers travel from Boston, New York, Canada, and elsewhere to ski resorts up and down the Green Mountain spine during the winter. In summer, the many bed and breakfasts fill up with couples and families wanting to visit the state's small towns and wild areas. Vermont's autumn foliage is known for being the most spectacular in the country, and possibly the world. It occurs quite early -- usually mid-September to mid-October. The only time that the visitor might try to plan around is "Mud Season" (March-April), when unpaved ground becomes undriveable during the thaw. Even Mud Season has its charms, though.
Vermont was the 14th state admitted to the United States. It was not among the original 13 colonies because of a border dispute between New Hampshire and New York which was originally resolved in New York's favor. Vermont residents, led by Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys, fought New York's land claims tooth and nail until declaring independence and soon thereafter being admitted to the union. Vermont attracted settlers during the early nineteenth century, but population remained stagnant as flatter land to the West grew in favor. Significantly deforested by upland sheep farming during the 1800s, the forest has regrown (now covering 80% of the state) since dairy became the predominant form of agriculture. Vermont's urban areas have always been minuscule compared to the Northeast; the rural state, once seen as the most conservative (in terms of temperament, not politics) in the nation, is now considered politically independent, progressive and protective of its environment and rural character.
The Appalachian Mountains that enfold Vermont were most likely created during the Taconic Orogeny, when the North American plate collided with the African plate approximately 550 to 440 million years ago. The mountains have subsequently been eroded by ice, water, and wind, such that they are rather humble in their current state (they are suspected of having reached the heights of the Himalayas). Today Vermont is home to many wild habitats and their constituent flora and fauna, including northern deciduous forests, coniferous forests, wetlands, farmlands, powerline greenways, and patches of tundra (most notably on Mount Mansfield). Notable fauna include the black bear, moose, and the pileated woodpecker.
The Vermont dialect uses broad “a” and “e” sounds for vowels. Also, words that end with “r” get an “uh” sound, and one-syllable words are turned into two syllables. Here are some examples of Vermont speak: cow would be “kyow”, that is “tha-at”, there would sound like “they-uh” and idea is “oi-dea”. If you are not a native Vermonter, you will likely be called a “flatlander”.
A small but prominent French speaking community also exists in the northern part of the state through French Canadian immigration and the influence of Quebec.
There are two Amtrak trains that service Vermont:
The easiest way to get around the state is by car. Most roads to tourist destinations are paved and in good shape; however, be warned that in more rural areas the roads are usually dirt and can be a little unsafe. Major Interstates 89 and 91 as well as Vermont State highways and scenic byways provide direct routes to downtowns and diverse outdoor recreation.
The Chittenden County Transportation Authority (GMT) has 16 local bus routes, which extend throughout eight cities and towns in the greater Burlington area, as well as three link routs which connect Burlington to St. Albans, Montpelier and Middlebury.
The Burlington Metro Area is very bike friendly, even offering designated bike paths on roads and along Lake Champlain. The Island Line Bike path goes through Lake Champlain and then connects to the Champlain Islands via ferry.
Skiing and mountain activities
Maple syrup products and cheddar cheeses are the foods for which Vermont is most famous, not to mention Ben & Jerry's, which was founded in Vermont. Tours of the factory in Waterbury are available from 10 to 6 every day.
There are many outstanding restaurants throughout Vermont that use local produce. Burlington, the largest population center in the state, has the most variety of restaurants, but there are gems hidden even in the smallest towns, like Hardwick and Plainfield. Vermont also offers a variety of ways to see the farm to table connection, from guided tours of the people and places behind the flavors of Vermont to on-farm lodging.
Vermont is home to some very original and high quality breweries. When in the Green Mountain State, stop by for a tour or look for titles from some of these fine companies:
Vermont has one of the lowest crime rates of any state in the country. Outdoor hazards are much more common. Avoid wilderness areas during hunting seasons (November) when accidental shootings can occur. Always stay on marked ski trails while skiing. The areas around resorts may be trackless wilderness, and the cold is potentially deadly. Use good outdoor safety practices when hiking, boating, and biking.
Vermont is an 'open carry' state, in that the carrying of holstered, unconcealed handguns is perfectly legal. Vermont is one of the few states in the nation in which the concealed carry of a handgun without a license is also legal. Visitors to Vermont who plan to carry a handgun must bear in mind that this state shares a very lengthy border with New York State to the west, New York has some of the strictest handgun laws in the nation, and does not recognize licenses from any other state.
Fireworks - Although Vermont allows the purchasing and use of consumer fireworks, only sparklers and novelty fireworks can be bought and be in possession. So if you wish to use more explosive fireworks, it's best to go to a neighboring state to purchase and use them. Unfortunately, unless you hate this state, New Hampshire is the only nearby choice as all other neighboring states ban consumer fireworks. Do not bring your purchased non-legal fireworks back into Vermont, that qualifies as smuggling as you(the consumer) is in possession of fireworks. And punishments for smuggling fireworks in Vermont will lead to serious jail time. Lighting them in the countryside isn't recommended as you'll never know if there's someone nearby watching. This also goes for anyone who is just driving through the state with a vehicle full of non-legal fireworks.
The northern part of Vermont is close to Montreal. There are also nearby mountainous areas in New York (the Adirondacks), New Hampshire (the White Mountains), Massachusetts (the Berkshires), and Maine (the Speckled Mountains), all of which have their unique charms.