March 4, 2024

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Complete Guide To Vermont’s State Capital

Complete Guide To Vermont’s State Capital

Montpelier is Vermont’s capital city and the smallest state capital in the country. With a history dating back to the early 1800s, the city is home to numerous historic landmarks, including the gold-domed Vermont State House. Montpelier also lies in the middle of the Green Mountains and along the Winooski River, making it the perfect escape for tourists looking for a laid-back adventure.


Despite having a small population of just over 8,000, Montpelier remains the largest urban historic district in the region and delights with various cultural attractions, such as museums and art centers. For food lovers, there is a lot to look forward to in the city’s dining scene beyond its famous maple syrup, thanks to authentic Vermont farm-to-table cuisine on the menu. The craft beer scene is also abuzz with several spots for visitors to enjoy drinks and tastings.

Whether looking for an unforgettable outdoor adventure, surreal historical expedition, or eclectic culinary journey, Montpelier is a mixed bag of fun opportunities any first-timers will relish.

Top 9 Things To Do In Montpelier

The capital is among the prettiest destinations to visit in Vermont, partly because of its small-town charm that travelers never fail to notice upon arriving. Montpelier also offers some of the best activities in Green Mountain State, which tourists will have fun discovering.

Here are the ten best things to do in Vermont’s capital.

14 Check Out The Lovely Vermont State House

Vermont State House
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The Vermont State House with Colorful Foliage in Background.

The Vermont State House is one of the most iconic historical landmarks in the state and has remained in operation for more than one and a half centuries. It is a beautiful Greek Revival building hosting the Vermont General Assembly and other state legislative bodies.

The structure’s exterior features intimate Neoclassical design elements, while the interior sports American Empire and Renaissance Revival architectural styles.

Visitors can enjoy an exciting guided tour of the State House to explore its historical treasures or relax in its meticulously manicured gardens. The lush green spot is ideal for a picnic or lazy evening stroll.

  • Hours
    : Monday to Friday, 8 am – 4 pm; Saturday, 11 am – 3 pm (July 1 – October 30 only)

Note: Besides the guided tour, tourists can also opt for a self-guided audio tour available via a cellphone.

13 Survey The Sprawling Hubbard Park

Winooski River
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Winooski River cross the center of Montpelier in summer, Montpelier, Vermont, USA

Hubbard Park is a vast green space spanning almost 200 acres. It was opened to the public in 1899 and has since become among the city’s best public amenities. The park offers various recreational activities, among them 7 miles of trail, perfect for runners, walkers, joggers, and bikers.

Visitors can also take advantage of the multiple sports fields, a cute little pond, and sledding to spend quality time in the park. However, one of its highlights is the Observation Tower, at the highest point of Hubbard Park. From here, guests can soak in panoramic views of the city.

  • Hours
    : Open daily, 7 am – 9 pm

Related: Uncover Vermont’s Stone Legacy At The Rock of Ages Quarry This Spring

12 Satisfy All Sweet Cravings At Bragg Farm Sugar House

Montpelier during fall
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Montpelier in Vermont during fall season

Vermont is renowned for being among the world’s leading maple syrup producers, and the Bragg Farm Sugar House is the ideal place to sample this rich state heritage. The award-winning farm specializes in producing high-quality and authentic maple syrup, carefully prepared according to best traditional practices.

Tourists on the farm get to range over the farm’s sugar house, learn about the production process, and enjoy a taste of pure maple syrup. Besides the tour, an on-site gift shop sells cute artisan goods and handcrafts that visitors can buy as souvenirs.

  • Hours
    : Open daily, 8:30 am – 5 pm

The Coburn Covered Bridge (more on this to come) is just around the corner from the Bragg Farm Sugar House. Guests can spare some time off the tour to visit this iconic city landmark.

11 Sample Local Arts At Lost Nation Theater

House of Representatives
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House of Representatives chamber of the Vermont State House in Montpelier, Vermont

The Lost Nation Theater is a highly reputed theater in Vermont, boasting awards like “Theater of the Decade,” which it won in 2020 at the Broadway World’s Regional Theater Awards. The facility allows tourists to rediscover their love for the fine arts, especially in a historic theater that has been running for more than a quarter of a century.

Lost Nation Theater hosts an annual lineup of exciting shows, such as musicals, classic Vermont stories, and award-winning plays. Attending one of the showcases is an indoor activity that first-timers can look forward to in the capital.

  • Tickets
    : Visit their website to view the scheduled shows and their respective ticket prices

  • Hours
    : Tuesday to Friday, 12 pm – 4 pm

10 Get Cultured At The Vermont Historical Society Museum

 State Auditors office
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Vermont State Auditors office building in Montpelier, Vermont.

The Vermont Historical Society Museum chronicles the state’s rich social and cultural heritage from as early as the 17th century to the present day. It aims to educate locals and visitors through various exhibits and interactive displays relating to critical events and figures in the state’s history.

One of the highlights of the museum is the history gallery, which houses several interesting artifacts, including a Thomas Jefferson-signed historical document that ushered Vermont into the Union. Guests can also inspect memorabilia from the Revolutionary War and some associated with the indigenous Abenaki people.

  • Admissions
    : Adults $7, Families $20, Seniors, students, children $5, Members and children under 6 free

  • Hours
    : Tuesday to Saturday, 10 am – 4 pm

9 Hike The Camel’s Hump

Winooski River
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Montpelier, Vermont sits astride the Winooski River in the center of the state.

For tourists who don’t mind breaking a little sweat or shedding a few pounds, the Camel’s Hump offers the perfect physical challenge. This expansive trail stretches at least 12 miles, traversing the heart of the city to the neighboring town of Duxbury. The course is open to runners, walkers, and even bikers looking to explore Vermont’s open spaces.

Although the challenge can be grueling, the spectacular scenery of the Camel’s Hump makes it all worth it. Not to mention the rejuvenation participants feel at the end of the day. During winter, the frozen trail transforms into an adventurous ski path, making the trail useful throughout the year.

The hike can prove difficult for a novice, so beginners are advised to wear a comfortable pair of walking shoes and walking sticks.

8 Explore The Coburn Covered Bridge

Coburn Covered Bridge
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Coburn Covered Bridge, East Montpelier, Vermont

The state of Vermont lays claim to having the highest number of covered bridges in the United States. The historic bridge, completed in the early 1900s, is a symbol of Vermont’s history and is included in the National Register of Historic Places. Measuring approximately 69 by 16 feet in dimension, the bridge draws tourists to snap selfies on the iconic landmark.

What makes the Coburn Covered Bridge special is that while covered bridges are spread throughout different towns in the state, the Coburn Covered Bridge is the only one still standing in East Montpellier.

7 Cycle Along The Central Vermont Path

Summer farmers market
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Summer farmers market at State St. and Main in Montpelier, Vermont

One of the best ways to discover the capital is to hop on two wheels, and there is no better place to do this than on the Central Vermont Path. This comprises a network of trails open to walkers and bikers. Tourists can access the paths in Downtown Montpelier, and these run along the scenic Winooski River.

The Montpelier Recreation Path is especially popular with locals and tourists and features two paved trails. Riding along the trail is an excellent way of surveying the downtown area and exercising while at it.

There is a cute park along the Central Vermont Path where bikers can stop for a breather and enjoy a quick bite in the chilled atmosphere.

6 Go For Wine Tastings At North Branch Vineyards

Wrightsville Reservoir
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Wrightsville Reservoir at sunset near Montpelier in Green Mountains of Vermont

The North Branch Vineyards is a great place to sample local wine. This small family-run winery on the North Branch River has been operating since 2007 and produces a variety of unique wines from locally and regionally grown grapes.

The Vineyards are open to the public for tastings at various times of the week, and tourists will enjoy not only the wine tastings but also the quaint environment.

  • Hours
    : April to December, Sunday to Friday (12 pm – 6 pm, Saturday (2 pm – 6 pm), January to March (By appointment only)

5 Best Time To Visit Montpelier

Montpelier town skyline
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Montpelier town skyline at autumn in Vermont, USA

The best time to visit Vermont’s capital city is fall, when the conditions are mild, with temperatures ranging between 46 and 69 degrees Fahrenheit. The fall foliage transforms Montpelier into a breathtaking symphony of colors as tree leaves turn bright orange, red, and yellow.

This is the perfect time for tourists to schedule a Vermont fall foliage itinerary to scout the numerous open paces in the capital and bask in the cozy park atmosphere. The weather is a little chilly but not uncomfortable; leaf-peepers will need a sweater when venturing outside.

Pack enough layers for a Montpelier fall holiday and bring an umbrella, as the heavens can open anytime without warning.

Summer is the peak tourism season in the state capital, and tourists arrive in droves to enjoy the warm weather. The conditions are ideal for visiting the city’s sights, touring the local vineyards, and exploring the state parks.

The best time for budget travelers

The cheapest time in Montpelier is late October to November after the fall foliage has fallen and leaf-peepers start skipping town. This is a dry season between two fairly busy seasons in the city, so hotels lower their accommodation fees to attract the few tourists around.

Halloween is also a great time to be in the small city, and strolling through the main streets while admiring the spooky displays makes for a remarkable experience.

What to do in Montpelier during winter

Winter is for skiers and snowboarders looking to enjoy fun in the snow. Visitors can schedule a skiing vacation in the city at various ski resorts to take advantage of the snow season.

Related: A Journey Through Church Street Marketplace: Vermont’s Unique Winter Charm

4 Best Ways To Get Around Montpelier

Interstate 89
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Interstate 89 on the way to Maine, Montpelier, Vermont

Considering the small size of the capital, walking is the best way to get around Montpelier. This is an excellent way of touring the city’s main sights at a snail’s pace, and tourists can download a walking map from Montpelier’s official website to get acclimated to its layout.

Visit the State House Visitor Center, open throughout the week, for helpful information about touring the city and access to free maps.

For those who want to use public transportation, the Green Mountain Transit Authority operates the Capitol Shuttle, which serves the downtown area with stops at Statehouse and various other spots.

Alternatively, guests can board the Montpelier Circulator bus, which has routes to the neighboring destinations of Burlington and Barre.

Hire a car

Although not necessary, renting a car can also be a convenient option for visitors preferring to move around at their own pace. A hire will also come in handy when planning a day trip to other beautiful towns in Vermont worth touring.

The city has on-street metered parking around the Capitol District and further paid parking space throughout Downtown Montpelier.

  • Parking rates:
    On-Street metered parking is $1 per hour (2-hour limit); City Parking Lots are $0.75 per hour (all day, no time minimum); Stonecutter’s Way Parking Lot, $0.50 per hour (all day, no time minimum)

Parking spaces proximal to the State House run out pretty fast when the Legislative sessions are on (January to MaWilaiwan’srking a car in an on-metered parking space for longer than 2 hours results in a ticket.

3 Where To Eat In Montpelier

Tulips at the Vermont State House
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Tulips at the Vermont State House in Montpelier, VT

Montpelier’s dining scene has been on the up and up in recent years, and this can be seen in the explosion of fancy restaurants and eateries around the area. Foodies in the city are in for an unforgettable culinary adventure with enough flavors to delight all taste buds.

Whether looking to try the city’s freshly sourced farm-to-table dishes or sample chef-prepared international cuisines, there is always an eatery around the corner to address that. Here are the best restaurants in Montpelier.

For breakfast:

The Skinny Pancake Montpelier

  • Address
    : 89 Main Street, Montpelier, VT 05602

  • Hours
    : Open daily, 8 am – 8 pm

  • Food to order:
    Chicken Cheesy Pesto, Vermont blueberry compote

Wayside Restaurant, Bakery & Creamery

  • Address
    : 1873 US Route 302 Barre-Montpelier Road, Montpelier, VT 05602-8325

  • Hours
    : Open daily, 7 am – 8:30 pm

  • Food to order:
    lobster salad sandwich with toasted bread

For lunch and dinner:

Wilaiwan’s Kitchen

  • Address
    : 34 State St, Montpelier, VT 05602-2919

  • Hours
    : Monday to Friday (11 am – 2 pm)

  • Food to order:
    Gaeng Jeud Woon Sen, chicken noodle soup

Sarducci’s

  • Address
    : 3 Main St, Montpelier, VT 05602-2926

  • Hours
    : Monday to Thursday (11:30 am – 7:30 pm), Friday & Saturday (11:30 – 8 pm), Sunday (4 pm – 7:30 pm)

  • Food to order:
    Shrimp pasta, Caprese salad

Related: 10 Restaurants In Vermont That Are Worth Dining For The Views Alone

For drinks:

Three Penny Taproom

  • Address
    : 108 Main St, Montpelier, VT 05602-2906

  • Hours
    : Monday to Wednesday (11 am – 8 pm), Thursday (8 am – 8 pm), Friday & Saturday (8 am – 2 am), Sunday (8 am – 8 pm)

Charlie-o’s

  • Address
    : 70 Main St Ste 2, Montpelier, VT 05602-2927

  • Hours
    : Open daily, 2 pm – 2 am

2 Where To Stay In Montpelier

Skyline in autumn
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Montpelier, Vermont, USA autumn town skyline.

Vermont’s capital has enough accommodation options to guarantee travelers a good night’s sleep after a long journey. Depending on the budget, the city offers everything from luxury to budget lodgings to cater to all their preferences.

When scheduling hotels, tourists will want to know their preferred points of interest. Here are the best hotel choices in Montpelier.

Luxury option:

Capitol Plaza Hotel Montpelier Tapestry Collection by Hilton

  • Address
    :
    100 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05state’s

  • Rate per night:
    Starts at $276 for 2 guests

  • Amenities
    : Fitness center, Wi-Fi available in all areas, TV, Restaurant, Bar/Lounge, Coffee machine, Business center, Free Wi-Fi, Tea/coffee maker, Cable or satellite TV

Mid-range option:

Artful Lodging & Retreats

  • Address
    :
    80 College St, Montpelier, VT 05602, United States

  • Rate per night:
    Starts at $184 for 2 guests

  • Amenities
    : City view, Kitchenette, Tennis, Terrace/Patio, Balcony, Mountain view, Kitchen, Outdoor dining area, Air-conditioned, Coffee machine

Budget option:

Econo Lodge Montpelier I-89

  • Address
    :
    101 Northfield Street, Montpelier, VT 05602

  • Rate per night:
    $$

  • Amenities
    : Free Wi-Fi, Coffee machine, Free parking, Wi-Fi available in all areas, Cable or satellite TV, Free toiletries, Internet, Complimentary breakfast, Hairdryer, Express check-out

Related: Unwind In Style: Book These 10 Best Luxury Vermont Hotels For A Memorable Stay

1 How To Spend The Perfect Day In Montpelier

Vermont Statehouse
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The Vermont Statehouse in February, surrounded by snow.

After a tasty breakfast at Wayside Restaurant, Bakery & Creamery, start the day with a tour of the Vermont State House. Explore the historic treasures inside it, learn about the state’s past, and don’t forget to snap a few photos of its architectural prowess.

Head to Hubbard Park to survey the outdoors and chill in the cozy atmosphere. Inspect the many trails and climb the steps to the top of the historic Tower to get a bird’s eye perspective of the capital.

Later, proceed to Ben & Jerry’s Factory for a sweet ice-cold treat of the different ice-cream flavors available, and enjoy a laid-back stroll through the Flavor Graveyard. For lunch, visit the New England Culinary Institute and savor a sweet chef-prepared farm-to-table dish in one of the restaurants in the institute.

Kick off the afternoon by touring the Vermont Historical Society Museum and getting familiar with the social and cultural heritage of the Green Mountain State before sitting down to watch an interesting play at Lost Nation Theater.

Afterward, check out the Coburn Covered Bridge the head to Bragg Farm Sugar House for a taste of Vermont’s famous maple syrup. As the day draws to a close, get supper at Sarducci’s and down it with a few pints at Three Penny Taproom while mingling with the locals.

FAQ

Q: Is Montpelier worth visiting?

Yes! Vermont’s capital offers exciting outdoor recreational activities, iconic historical landmarks, and taste of the state’s famous maple syrup. Tourists also get to sample Green Mountain’s bustling craft beer scene.

Q: Which is the best month to visit Vermont?

The best time to visit Vermont is between September and October when the beautiful fall foliage brings out the best of the state.

However, summer is also a good time to enjoy the warm weather, and as a recognized winter destination, Vermont is perfectly worth visiting during the cold months.

Q: What attracts people to Vermont?

People from within and outside the country travel to Vermont to experience its quaint towns with exquisite fall colors and savor its sweet maple syrup and cheddar cheese. There are also plenty of outdoor and indoor activities in Green Mountain State.