If you remember the TV series Newhart, you probably have a pretty good idea what Vermont looks like: an idyllic, largely rural state of rolling hills and blue lakes studded with church spires and white clapboard inns.
Here, you can largely escape the modern cacophony of billboards and big-box stores. Instead of fighting traffic, hop on your bike. Thrill-seeking riders head to East Burke, home to a 160-kilometre (100-mile) network of mountain-biking trails. If that sounds too extreme, try the paved biking trails in Stowe and Burlington, or any number of scenic back roads.
But that's just the beginning of the outdoor adventures. You can canoe, sail and fish on Lake Champlain, hike the Long Trail through the Green Mountains or go birdwatching in the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge. And, of course, you can head to Stowe or Killington for some of the best skiing in the U.S. Northeast.
With all its farmland, Vermont is a great destination for food lovers. Look for the Vermont Fresh Network sign at restaurants and inns across the state—it means the establishment works closely with local farmers to bring guests the freshest products, from apples and maple syrup to cheese and smoked hams. If you love ice cream, don't miss the hilarious (and delicious) Ben & Jerry's factory tour in Waterbury.
For gentle urban pleasures you can't beat Burlington, which features regularly in top-10 lists of the nation's most liveable cities. Check out the aquarium and the performing arts center, browse the boutiques along Church Street, or simply sit on a restaurant patio overlooking Lake Champlain and watch the world go by.
In small cities, towns and country byways throughout the state, keep your eyes open for small shops selling quilts, pottery, artwork and other handmade items. Vermont has long attracted people from other parts of the country who want to get away from the rat race, and many of them earn their living as artisans.