Northeast Kingdom

A person stands at the shore of a large lake.
Seen from afar, a building is built on the shore of a lake with exposed rocks and surrounded by trees with fall colors.

Northeast Kingdom

The Northeast Kingdom attracts visitors with its mix of wide-open valleys and rugged mountains, winding dirt roads and placid glacial lakes. This rugged and remote landscape calls to hikers, bikers, and outdoor adventurers of all kinds. While fostering a free-thinking, do-it-yourself attitude, the NEK has led to some of the most distinctive historical, cultural, and dining attractions you’ll find in Vermont—or anywhere else, for that matter.


Made up of Orleans, Caledonia, and Essex counties, the Northeast Kingdom is bordered by Canada and northern New Hampshire. To the west, meanwhile, the Green Mountains divide it from the rest of northern Vermont. Interstate 91 climbs the region like a ladder, connecting population centers along the way. The biggest town is St. Johnsbury, widely known as the Kingdom’s arts and culture hub. Just up the road is Lyndon, gateway to the world-class mountain biking scene at Kingdom Trails. As it heads for the Canadian border, I-91 brushes past Newport on the U.S. shores of Lake Memphremagog, a stunning 6,000-acre lake that extends into Quebec.

Spinning off from this interstate are two-lane highways and back roads that lead to smaller towns filled with both well-known and hidden gems. On one day you might visit Jay Peak, a ski resort famed as one of the most family-friendly in the East. The next, you’re immersing yourself in a quirky roadside attraction that reimagines safety pins and toothbrushes as art objects, a.k.a. the Museum of Everyday Life in Glover.

There is enough in the Kingdom’s 2,000 or so square miles to fill a weekend of exploring—or even better, a week or more—with options for differing ages and skills. Endurance riders can tackle the 93-mile Lamoille Valley Rail Trail, New England’s longest, which extends from St. Johnsbury across the Green Mountains to the shores of Lake Champlain. Avid hikers are drawn to Westmore’s Mount Pisgah: A strenuous trek here pays off in stunning views of Lake Willoughby, a fjord-like jewel framed dramatically by Pisgah and Mount Hor. Getting out into nature doesn’t demand sweat equity, though, at places like the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge in Essex County, whose paths include scenic universal-access boardwalks.

No matter what particular passion they bring with them, visitors can count on the Kingdom’s tradition of independence and innovation to deliver a one-of-a-kind experience. For foodies, that could mean heading to Hill Farmstead Brewery to taste beer that’s been ranked the world’s best, and picking up some of the same Jasper Hill cheese used by Michelin-star restaurants. Culture aficionados can wander the nation’s oldest unaltered art gallery, the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum, or discover the legacy of a pioneering Black educator at Brownington’s Old Stone House. Plus, there’s first-class live music to be had—by local talents and touring stars alike—at Greensboro’s still-gleaming Highland Center for the Arts, which debuted in 2017.

For lovers of serendipity, it’s hard to beat the sprawl of Danville’s Great Vermont Corn Maze and the intimacy of Dog Mountain’s folk-art-filled chapel devoted to departed pets. And those seeking a little of everything at once? A full calendar of annual celebrations (including Vermont’s biggest foliage festival) brings together local food, art, and heritage with that most important attraction: vibrant community spirit.

Two people ride their bikes along a dirt path in front of a red barn.
A red barn has an open door exposing items inside and Adirondack chairs outside on a sunny day.

72 Hours in the NEK

One of the most awe-inspiring destinations in Vermont, this regional itinerary will have you feeling like a local. Venture to the Canadian border or find a touch of big-city flare in a small town.