Fifteen minutes outside of Burlington, Vermont, nestled between Lake Champlain and Route 89 lies Shelburne Farms, a place far worthier of a visit than the average roadside rural destination. Built by Dr. Seward Webb and Lila Vanderbilt Webb (yes, one of those Vanderbilts) in 1886, the once lavish summer home has evolved into a fully sustainable, non-for-profit teaching farm populated by Brown Swiss cows, piglets, and baby goats.
While the farm’s inn is as beautiful and bed-and-breakfasty as can be, what makes Shelburne a truly worthwhile destination is its grounds: 1,400 acres of stunning farmland, with twisting trails that were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect most famous for designing Central Park. Tour guides claim that Olmsted designed Shelburne’s grounds with the intentions of surprising visitors at every turn and invoking a sense of wonder and mystique as they traveled around the farm. He seems to have accomplished his mission, as the farm’s terrain shifts from rolling hills and picturesque pastures to sandy shores and dense forests at every bend.
The Inn at Shelburne Farms is closed from October to March due to a lack of heating- during World War II the entire inn (including the furnace) was stripped of its metal for the war effort. The inn is also rumored to be haunted by the late Mrs. Webb, so plan any overnight trips accordingly.
If you somehow manage to get burnt out on petting cows, tasting (award-winning) cheese, and wandering around the miles of walking trails, you can just kick back in the inn’s gardens and look out over the water. Hopefully you’ll get lucky, and spot Champ- Lake Champlain’s very own version of Nessie- popping his head out of the water.