One of the truly impressive things about Vermont is that the state has a complete ban on roadside advertising billboards. There is no visual clutter when driving along the scenic countryside in this state, and this attitude toward consumerism transfers to its shopping scene as well. There isn’t a single giant modern shopping mall in the state. Instead, folks here go out of their way to buy products made as locally as possible. The result is a shopping experience that feels like something from the 19th century or earlier. Sure, there are a handful of strip malls and outlet centers, but by and large most stores in Vermont are one-of-a-kind and invariably interesting.
Burlington has a wonderful area downtown called the Church Street Marketplace. Covering four blocks in the heart of town, this outdoor arcade feels more European than American. There are a few big name retailers on site, but most of the shops are local businesses. A minor carnival of street buskers and vendors in summer makes this the place to be when in Burlington.
Vermont is a very crafty place which is full of craftspeople and artisans. You will be presented with amazing pieces of original craftsmanship everywhere you go. The flip side to this scene is the massive outlet mall in Manchester. Serious discounts are available here, and some of the stores are solid companies like Orvis and its outdoor gear.
Vermont is also the best place in America to buy maple syrup right from the source. Every grocery in the state sells locally made syrup, but you can also drive right to the maple farms and see for yourself. Keep your eyes peeled for modest signs inviting travelers to stop off and check out the sugarhouse. The state tourism board also has a great brochure called Maple Sugarhouses Open to Visitors, which is available at all state visitor centers. You might only save a buck or two, but it’s the atmosphere that really makes this excursion worth the effort.