Our previous road trip to Vermont brought us to the snow covered mountains of Greensboro for a visit to Hill Farmstead, but today we’re traveling just a few miles from Burlington to enjoy more moderate temperatures and greener pastures at the beautiful Shelburne Farms.
During the summer it’s obvious why Vermont was named the Green Mountain State and here is one of the places where you can really soak in the scenery. Shelburne Farms is a non-profit working farm sitting on 1,400 acres of land overlooking Lake Champlain. It was built in the late 1880’s by Dr. William Steward Webb and his wife Eliza Vanderbilt Webb. Like many of the magnificent historic homes on the east coast, this one also belonged to a Vanderbilt. In 1970, maintaining the farm became too much of a burden and the great-grandchildren were faced with a tough decision. They had to either break up the estate and sell it off as their inheritance, or preserve it for the community. Thankfully the 1960’s rubbed off on them and the young hippies made the right decision. Today the farm is visited by over 70,000 people each year and offers a variety of educational programs teaching both children and adults the benefits of sustainable farming practices.
There is so much to do at Shelburne Farms that it’s nice to have more than one day to enjoy it all. When we visited Shelburne I milked a cow, pet a lamb, picked tomatoes, and attended bread and cheese making classes. For the ultimate experience I suggest staying at The Inn overlooking Lake Champlain. This historic home has amazing 360 degree views of the lake as well as pastures designed by Frederick Law Olmstead. There is also a restaurant here which serves up many of the items grown on the farm alongside other locally sourced ingredients. The Inn is definitely on the more luxurious end of the accommodations spectrum, but if you’re spending a long weekend in New England, it’s always nice to search out places with history and character. There’s a special feeling you get when your room smells like hundred year old wood and you know exactly where everything on your plate came from. As if all this wasn’t enough for one day, we happened to visit on a Wednesday and enjoyed a free community bluegrass concert on the lawn as the sun went down. It was a perfect day in Vermont.