Shelburne Farms
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont (AMC Books)
Address:1611 Harbor Road, Shelburne
Hours:9 a.m to 5 p.m., May–October
Fee: $8 adults, $5 kids 3–

Shelburne Farms,

Bathrooms: At Welcome Center and Farm Barn
Water/Snacks: Water, snacks, sandwiches, and picnic fare are available at the Farm Barn and the food truck snack bar

USGS Juniper Island quad;

Easy paths meander through farmland, meadows, and hills that give magnificent views of the Lake Champlain shoreline and surrounding farmland and mountains.

Lake Champlain on a windy day can be an exciting place!

Shelburne Farms is the quintessential family outing in Vermont. With great hiking, expansive views, an educational farm, petting area, cheese making facility, Lake Champlain shoreline, and nearby nature trails and apple orchards, it is simply a great place to spend time with kids. There is a lot to see and do, so allow for a full day or more. (Note: Dogs are allowed November 1–March 31.)

Originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (who also designed New York’s Central Park and Boston’s Emerald Necklace), the farm is a testament to landscape design and straddles an interesting mix of natural and man-made landscapes. Almost every vista, pasture, and forest has been thought out and designed to allow for maximum functionality and beauty.

The best way to see the property is on Farm Trail. Starting at the Welcome Center and parking area, take a tractor-drawn shuttle to the Farm Barn, where you’ll find the trailhead as well as a children’s farmyard, a cheese making shop, a food cart, and the headquarters for the farm’s educational programs and camps. Since the trail begins and ends here, there’s no need to soak it all in at once.

From the Farm Barn trailhead, take Farm Trail loop counterclockwise up the hill past the Sheep’s Knoll. This open hillside presents excellent opportunities for log-rolling down the hill. Try a relay race of running up the hill and rolling down it! Continuing on counterclockwise, you will hike through the woods past the market garden on the right, a great place to stop and view the prolific gardens tended by the staff and volunteers.

After turning left and right, the path crosses through open pasture down the beautiful shoreline of Lake Champlain. This is a great picnic spot and the halfway point in your walk. Continue on the route through open pasture and woods, then on to the appropriately named Whimsy Meadow, full of wildflowers, a maze of paths through the flowers and high grasses, shade trees, and probably some fairies and gnomes as well.
Continuing on around the loop, the high point of the property, Lone Tree Hill, awaits with excellent views of Lake Champlain, the Adirondacks to the west, and the rolling Green Mountains to the east. Descend Lone Tree Hill to return to the massive Farm Barn.

If you are short on time or the kids aren’t up for a long hike, you can take the 0.5-mile Lone Tree Hill Trail to the high point to catch the view.

Plan B:

There is much to do in the area, so you can plan to pack your day very full. The nearby Shelburne Orchards offers pick-your-own apples, peaches, grapes, pumpkins, and cherries; cider doughnuts; live music; and the most fun tree rope swing that we have ever tried. Standing on a steep hillside, you swing out over the abyss and brush the leaves of the apple trees beyond. The excellent ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center in nearby Burlington is a great rainy day option.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Burlington has perhaps the widest array of eating opportunities in New England. From trendy food carts to high-end cuisine, it has something for everyone. For the most options, head to Church Street, a pedestrian-only stretch of restaurants, shops, and music venues. The kids will have a blast sampling tasty treats from the food vendors and watching the many street performers and musicians.


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