Hurricane Irene may have brought destruction to summer, but it hasn't spoiled fall. While the late August storm left parts of Vermont in tatters, local businesses immediately started putting the pieces back together, knowing that foliage season was right around the corner. And as the maple leaves deepen their hues, most of the state is ready to roll out its annual russet carpet.
Over Labor Day weekend—just days after the post-hurricane floods came and receded—travel was tricky in certain areas. Some roads like scenic Route 100 and Route 4 were closed in parts, bridges were out, and guests scrambled to rearrange wedding plans and reservations at inns and B&Bs. Nevertheless, many regions remained navigable, and restaurants and attractions began opening their doors to the few visitors who ventured north despite the devastating news headlines.
With each passing day, more of Vermont has come back to life. In early September, Select Registry Distinguished Inns of North America published a list of Vermont B&Bs open for visitors. Even heavily damaged businesses like famed glass studio and restaurant Simon Pearce in Quechee wasted little time and have since reopened.
While some roads and bridges (including several historic covered bridges) are still out of commission, scenic drives and leaf peeping are still very much on the harvest table this year. Overall, the state is welcoming visitors for the fall foliage season and has banded together to not only rebuild, but also to equip travelers with all the information they need to plan an autumn vacation. For travelers, it's an opportunity to give back by helping boost business at a time when help is severely needed.
Here's a roundup of useful tips and trip-planning resources, plus some deals and packages created to encourage post-Irene travel during this normally peak season:
Tips and Resources
- Travel planning guides: The Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing website serves as a portal for Vermont information and offers a room availability search. The Vermont Chamber of Commerce has an Irene Resource Guide with links to information on specific regions.
- Facebook: Follow both VisitVT and VTrans Irene Response to find status updates about the state.
- Road closures: Vermont 511 and the Governor's office have created maps for updated road and bridge closures. Vermont Vacation's map also details openings and closures as well as tourist information.
Fun Statewide Happenings
- Foliage: The Vermont Chamber of Commerce posts foliage reports in its bulletin, and Vermont Vacation has a fall foliage resource page.
- Apples to iPods: While apple picking at 15 orchards across the state, look for a special wooden apple. Winners will receive an Apple iPod or iPad.
- Other events: Find more fall festivities on Vermont.com and VermontVacation.com.
Deals and Packages
- Select Registry Distinguished Inns of North America: Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford has a two-night "Sights and Cider Package" available October 17 through 30, and Newfane's Four Columns Inn has put together a "Goodnight Irene Fall Foliage Package" with dinner and 15 percent off regular rates through October 22. Three Mountain Inn, located in Jamaica, served as a recovery center for hurricane evacuees and relief workers but has reopened with a two-night getaway deal that includes park admission and dinner, available until October 31.
- Ski Vermont: The site has compiled a list of deals at area ski resorts for autumn and early winter.
- VermontVacation.com: Go midweek and save at a host of B&Bs and inns, or search for any time offers by theme.
- Amtrak: Save 20 percent on the Vermonter and Ethan Allen Express through October 28, or book a rail-and-lodging package.
Keep in mind that you don't have to travel widely to enjoy Vermont. So don't feel pressured to drive to every inch of the state to see foliage. Instead, go by rail or linger in small towns and villages by savoring the many farm-to-table restaurants, grabbing a cup of joe or apple cider, and supporting other local businesses. Vermont will thank you.
Planning a trip to Vermont or have any savvy travel tips? If so, please comment below and share your information with other readers.