The great thing about Vermont being a small state is that things are quite accessible! But what’s even better is that we have some of the most incredible places to go and things to see! So within an hour’s drive from Mad River Barn here are FIVE places to visit that are not only stunning but extremely educational. Learn while having a blast–works for us!
1. Shelburne Farms…Shelburne Farms is 1,400 acres of amazingness! It’s a nonprofit organization whose mission is to educate for a sustainable future. What is really cool is that it is on the National Historic Landmark and it started out as a family farm for the Vanderbilt’s and Webb’s.
In 1886, Dr. William Seward and Lila Vanderbilt Webb began acquiring farmland on the shores of Lake Champlain to create a model agricultural estate. What is now the Inn, used to be their summer home.
Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. created conceptual designs for the landscape. Prominent architect Robert H. Robertson designed four major buildings: The Farm Barn, Breeding Barn, Coach Barn and Shelburne House. These are buildings you must see! There are animals for the kids, trails for the walkers and hikers, bird watching, programs, and dozens of other things to do on one of the most beautiful piece of land in Vermont. (You can tell we like it can’t you.)
2. Shelburne Museum… Don’t let the word Museum give you an impression of one building with artwork — Shelburne Museum, is like no other museum we know…With 38 buildings that are part of the grounds as the history of New England is revealed through their ages…A jail, a country store, a vintage carousel, a huge ship, a country store (with all the stuff) and much more!
Want more… Here are their own words… Located in Vermont’s scenic Lake Champlain Valley, Shelburne Museum is one of the finest, most diverse, and unconventional museums of art and Americana. Over 150,000 works are exhibited in a remarkable setting of 38 exhibition buildings, 25 of which are historic and were relocated to the Museum grounds.
Impressionist paintings, folk art, quilts and textiles, decorative arts, furniture, American paintings, and a dazzling array of 17th-to 20th-century artifacts are on view. Shelburne is home to the finest museum collections of 19th-century American folk art, quilts, 19th- and 20th-century decoys, and carriages.
Electra Havemeyer Webb (1888-1960) was a pioneering collector of American folk art and founded Shelburne Museum in 1947. The daughter of H.O. and Louisine Havemeyer, important collectors of European and Asian art, she exercised an independent eye and passion for art, artifacts, and architecture celebrating a distinctly American aesthetic.
Remarkable collections exhibited in a village-like setting of historic New England architecture, accented by a landscape that includes over 400 lilacs, a circular formal garden, herb and heirloom vegetable gardens, and perennial gardens.
When creating the Museum she took the imaginative step of collecting 18th- and 19th-century buildings from New England and New York in which to display the Museum’s holdings, relocating 20 historic structures to Shelburne. These include houses, barns, a meeting house, a one-room schoolhouse, a lighthouse, a jail, a general store, a covered bridge, and the 220-foot steamboat Ticonderoga.
I know… cool right?!
3. Echo Lake Aquarium and Science Center… this giant fishbowl is 36,000 square feet of interactive exhibits, huge aquariums and science education programs. They have over 70 species of fish, amphibians, invertebrates, and reptiles…
You can stand next to a fish tank the size of a small house and check out what swims around Lake Champlain. ECHO (as it’s known too most) is located on the edge of the lake in downtown Burlington, and along the Burlington Bike Path, so you can get in a great walk or bike as well.
4. Barre Granite Quarries… In Barre, you will find some of the most amazing granite artisans in the world. At Rock of Ages, you can have a guided quarry tour takes you to an overlook of Smith Granite Quarry, at nearly 600 feet deep, we believe it to be the largest operating deep-hole, dimension granite quarry in the world. Or you can go on self-guided tour of their factory. Want to go bowling at an outdoor granite bowling alley– then this is your place. Check out their website for hours (outdoor tours are seasonal) and all the cool things they do.
While you’re in Barre, you must drive through the HOPE cemetery (okay, we are not creepy — even National Geographic Magazine, says to go). It is one of the City’s top tourist sites, with some of the most amazing hand-carved granite stonework ever!
5. Vermont History Museum… is located near the State’s Capital Building and houses their core exhibit… Freedom and Unity… Where you can walk through a recreated of a wigwam, a tavern where the Green Mountain Boy’s gathered and a railroad station set up as if in WWII. The museum represents Vermont history from 1600 to now — in a very cool historic building. Plus, the Vermont History Museum also always have ever changing “current” exhibits. It is a must see if you are interested in the history of our state, which was pivotal in the creation of our nation.
We could go on and on with the cool places to see and visit within an hour’s drive, but I think this list will keep you busy for a little while. We’ll get back to you with more soon.
Heather and Andrew