Vermont, whose name is French for “green mountains,” is home to quaint villages, twisting rural routes, stone fences and tree-covered mountains. But Vermont is also a place marching to beat of a different drummer. After playing an important role in the American Revolution, Vermont resisted the advances of the neighboring colonies and declared itself an independent Republic in 1777. Fourteen years later it was the first state to join the original 13. The state’s constitution, drafted in 1777, was the world’s first to outlaw slavery. To this day, Vermonters are still doing things their own way. Although the state is viewed as one of the most progressive in the country (progressive thinkers have gone so far as to pass a law outlawing billboards), change is not always the norm. Continuing a 200-year-old tradition, many towns still adhere to the official Town Meeting Day, held the first Tuesday in March, when residents gather to vote “on the floor” on town and school budgets.

Vermont stands out as a travel destination. Known for its spectacular scenery (which is what inspired the anti-billboard legislation), Vermont maintains more than 50 state parks, as well as Green Mountain National Forest, which extends nearly two-thirds the length of the state and has hundreds of miles of hiking and biking paths.

Several of the state’s most popular ski areas also lie within the National Forest. Vermont’s skiing isn’t of the caliber you’ll find in the Rockies but its mountains, trails and plentiful snowfall provide ample excitement. And although downhill skiing is the state’s forte, cross-country skiing is also popular, and there are some 40 ski-touring centers spread throughout the state.

Despite all of the winter sports and attractions, the state is at its most spectacular in the fall, especially late September-mid October. Visitors hoping to see fall foliage will find it as close as the nearest rural road. Visitors planning to stay during autumn should make reservations months in advance: The changing leaves always draw big crowds.

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