WOODSTOCK, Vt. (WGGB) — Located about 120 miles north of Springfield is a town once voted the “Prettiest Town in America” by Ladies Home Journal.
Woodstock is also close to several ski resorts including Killington and Okemo.
Beyond the historic architecture and covered bridge that make Woodstock a picturesque place to visit, there are several great spots to check out.
As you drive up 91 to Woodstock, the views are absolutely incredible, so one place we wanted to visit was a place where you can really get back in touch with nature.
We found that at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park.
“This is Vermont’s first national parks site, although the Appalachian Trail is part of the National Park System. The park is named for three conservationists – George Perkins Marsh, Frederick Billings, and Lawrence Rockefeller,” says Tim Maguire, Chief of Visitor Services at the park.
“The park is donated to the National Park System for its conservation significance and was turned over to the Park Service in 1998, so this is our 16th year being open to the public,” Maguire adds.
With miles of roads and trails, there is no shortage of things to do once you’re at the park.
Maguire explains, “Some people like to take a walk. We have a network of nine miles of carriage roads, a total of 20 miles of walking trails. It’s a beautiful landscape to just reflect and have a peaceful time. We also have ranger guided tours. The mansion is popular. We do hour-long tours of the mansion. We do art tours. We have a significant Hudson River School painting collection selected by the Billings and Rockefeller families. We have art tours, we have forest walks.”
The roots of the park actually date back to a period of deforestation here in Vermont.
Trees were cleared for pastures for sheep raised for their wool and dairy cows – a fact that’s almost hard to believe now in an area that’s so lush with greenery today.
Woodstock is a great little rural community and one thing that they are proud of is their history of farming.
It’s a history that road trippers can see up close and personal at Billings Farm and Museum
“Billings Farm is a working dairy farm. We have about 60 Jersey cows. We also have soft down sheep. We have six working draft horses, chickens, plus we are a museum that tells the story of what Vermont was like 100 years ago,” says Susan Plump, public relations and special coordinator at Billings Farm and Museum.
Beyond their dairy operation, Plump adds that there are always activities for all ages going on at the farm.
“We have activities and programs each day. Most of our programs are about 20 minutes long and they are up close with the animals…up close with the Jersey cow. We actually invite visitors to come into the stall where the cow is and they can touch and feel.”
Many of the animals at the farm are also extremely friendly and will greet visitors along the fences.
There are also daily events at the farm where you can meet a draft horse, churn butter and learn the basics of milking a cow, and the hands on experience changes daily, so when you visit, be sure to pick up a schedule at the visitors center.
If there’s one product that Vermont is known for it has to be cheese, so you know we had to find a dairy farm and we did.
A family farm that has been producing cheeses and maple syrup for generations, travelers won’t want to miss Sugarbush Farm.
“We are known for maple syrup, for cheese, for coming to visit animals and for having a place – without charge – to come learn about those products,” says Betsy Luce, a second generation of the family behind Sugarbush Farm.
At Sugarbush, you can pick up tasty treats that are synonymous with Vermont.
“I think the fact that you have cheese and maple syrup at the same place is very important. The fact that you can taste everything you ever see here. There’s lots of farm animals. You can spend a lot of time wandering around. Our sugar walk, our maple walk, our animals,” Luce adds.
The family is proud to be carrying on Vermont’s farming tradition.
“Sugarbush Farm is a family business. You may see our grandchildren giving samples. You’ll learn the history of 1945 and most people like to see number one, a farm continuing to operate and not be turned into condominiums, and number two, to really meet the family.”
Luce and her family will be always happy to see you stop by. “They can expect a very warm welcome. They can ask us as many questions as they want. They can zip in and out in five minutes or spend two hours, have a picnic, whatever,” she explains.
Sugarbush’s farm store is loaded with their products for our road trippers to take home, so make sure you pack your cooler.
However, if you find yourself short on syrup or cheese, never fear. You can easily restock on your favorite sugarbush products by visiting their online store.
With all the great local produce and products made here in Vermont, it’s not surprising that one of the most popular places here is the Woodstock Farmers’ Market.
What is surprising is that it’s open year round and indoors, and has been voted one of the top places to eat even without a place for patrons to sit.
“It’s not really the open air market that you might think. We support our local farming community with fruit and vegetables in the summer and a ton of great specialty products all year round. We kind of think of everything, especially our products as local global. We get some great stuff in from Europe, the Midwest, but we cherish the stuff from 100 miles away,” says Patrick Crowl, owner of the market.
If you need a good place to eat while on the road or a good place to shop, the Farmers’ Market has it all.
“We’ve got so much to offer, from picnic stuff in the summer time, to gardening, to pick up on the way home..beer and wine…take something home. Great deserts…crazy deserts. We really have this quirky well rounded spectrum of stuff. It’s a fun place to come. Staff is upbeat. All of our guests have a great time. It’s a fun place to stay,” Crowl notes.
Many of the places we visited today asked where else we were going and all of them had fantastic things to say about the Woodstock Farmers Market, and we just happened to be there right around lunch time and believe us, it lived up to its reputation!
Woodstock has been a great place for today’s road trip, but if your looking to turn your trip into a once in a lifetime experience, it’s easy.
All you need to do is make a reservation with Balloons of Vermont.
“Every flight is beautiful, and I enjoy it so much. It’s a passion of mine, and every season has its own characteristic to see. Going out after a fresh snow storm is just spectacular,” says Darreck Daoust, President of Balloons of Vermont.
For those who have never been on-board a hot air balloon, Daoust adds that people are surprised at “how quiet and peaceful and surreal it is.”
“Even when you’re a couple thousand feet in the air, it just doesn’t seem real. It’s very, it’s really truly interesting to see how it works,” Daoust explains.
Looking for a place to propose or get married? Why not in a balloon?
“I’ve had dozens of engagements. We’ve performed a few marriages in the sky. In fact, I just got a thank you letter recently that came up on their one year anniversary, so it’s really pretty exciting.”