Get Away: Shelburne, Vermont
By Shari Hartford
There’s a sleepy little town in Vermont called Shelburne. Located six hours from New York City, two hours from Montreal, seven miles south of Burlington and on the shores of Lake Champlain, Shelburne has much to offer and yet has managed to stay off much of the travel radar for those who are seeking a rural escape with an slightly urban flair.
I recently made the trek to see what was happening and came away very pleasantly surprised.
My headquarters for exploration was the quirky and delightful Mt. Philo Inn, at the base of Mt. Philo State Park in nearby Charlotte, Vermont. The recently reopened inn is a refreshing mix of old and new. There are four, two-or- three bedroom suites, each with completely equipped kitchens (fully stocked with Vermont-made breakfast fixings), renovated bathrooms, porches and sitting rooms. With hiking trails right outside the door, it’s a great place to gather the family and reconnect.
While there aren’t a great many fine dining options, we did manage to find sophisticated fare in country settings. For regional libations, Shelburne Vineyard is a must stop. The vineyard grows traditional and hybrid grapes that allow for the production of quality wine in this northern Vermont climate. In the vault-ceiling tasting room I sampled several varietals and declared the Whimsey Meadow Rosé to be my fave. The glistening color and undernote of berries makes this a great sipper with your next grilled feast. Or make it a warm weather reminder when you’re huddled around the fireplace in the fall.
The all-day breakfast menu can’t be missed at Rustic Roots . This tiny gem was opened in 2013 and the chef/owner boasts an ambitious undertaking with home-baked breads, to-die-for popovers and house-cured and smoked meats. Everything is local and the maple syrup on the pancakes is divine. On the horizon are tasting and prix-fixe dinners and a cocktail menu.
Now that you’re well fed, it’s time to see the sights. The Shelburne Museum, located in multiple historic buildings on 45 acres, houses a diverse collection of paintings, quilts and Americana. Allow enough time to stroll and explore. In fact, the museum is worthy of a trip unto itself.
Also on the agenda…for the young and the young at heart…was a tour of the iconic Vermont Teddy Bear Factory. The charming building and equally charming tour guides take you through the magical world of teddy bears, from their hand-sewn inception to the “hospital” where just about any teddy bear injury can be repaired.
Shelburne Farms, a 1,400 acre working farm and National Historic Landmark, is a nonprofit organization that is working toward educating visitors about a sustainable future. There are walking paths and trails, a children’s farmyard where I saw two week-old baby goats and baby sheep, a cheddar cheese-making facility and dairy, an independent bread bakery and a market garden that produces fresh produce, fruit and flowers. Also on the property is The Inn at Shelburne Farms, a 24-room country inn built in 1887 on the shores of Lake Champlain as a private residence and furnished with exquisite original antiques. The inn serves breakfast and dinner from mid-May to mid-October. The restaurant serves farm-to-table specialties, highlighting the fresh produce, cheeses and meats from Shelburne Farms. My superb dinner was further highlighted by the magnificent sunset as viewed from my table on the porch.
All too soon it was time for the return trek back to New York. Note to self: this is not a trip to be made in just two days. Allow more time for travel and exploring.
Shari Hartford is the former managing editor for Diversion magazine, where she wrote about travel in the northeast and cruising. She is currently a freelance writer and editor based in her hometown of New York City.