Vermont State Historic Site and the Lake Champlain Bridge © Zeph77
Vermont is a small, highly attractive state in New England, sandwiched between New York and New Hampshire, and bordering on the Canadian province of Quebec in the north. The impressive Green Mountains create a north-south spine running most of the length of the state, the majority of which is covered by dense forest, and the glittering Lake Champlain stretches across the northwest. With 52 state parks, top-class outdoor activities, spectacular fall foliage and local delicacies, it is no surprise that tourism is Vermont's biggest industry.
Vermont was originally inhabited by small groups of Algonquin-speaking Native Americans, including the Abenaki and Mohicans. The Iroquois later edged out most of the smaller groups, claiming the area as a hunting ground. In 950 AD, the Viking explorer Olaf Tomsson is said to have settled in the northern part of the region, only to be pushed out by the Abenaki. Large-scale European settlement began much later in the mid-1600s, when French explorer Simon de Champlain claimed what is now known as the Lake Champlain region as part of New France. The British soon ousted the French and new settlers brought new conflicts, giving rise to the Green Mountain Boys militia (begun by New Hampshire settler Ethan Allen) who fought the British in the Revolutionary War. Vermont became the 14th state to join the Union in 1791.
Vermont is popular year round, but the abundance of world-class ski resorts means that winter is a peak season, with a focus on cross-country and downhill skiing, snowshoeing and snowboarding. For those who prefer the warmer months, summer offers a wide range of activities from hiking, fishing, camping and water sports, to traditional New England clam bakes, lake cruises and rambles through small towns. The breath-taking fall foliage, when the sugar maples are a riot of golds, oranges and reds, draws many a 'leaf peeper.' At any time of year the culinary delicacies of the state should be sampled: try some maple syrup (Vermont is America's leading producer of the sweet treat), indulge in the famed Vermont Cheddar cheese, or visit the birthplace of Ben and Jerry's ice cream.
Although Montpelier is the state capital, Burlington is Vermont's biggest city, situated on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain. The city is attractive, lively and historically significant, and was once one of the leading ports in the country. A restored waterfront with views of the Adirondacks, bustling markets, a moderate climate and friendly locals make Burlington an essential stop on any visit to the Green Mountain state.