Shelburne, Vermont | Could You Live Here?
The sky cracks open, spilling blue. We’re ready to push on, deeper into this weird and wonderful landscape.
Busy U.S. Route 7 flows down from Burlington, seven miles away, past shopping centers and mom-and-pop shops that back onto fertile Vermont fields. The commercial congestion thins out closer to Shelburne, and then the road swings into town past a dense concentration of appealing cafes and shops, skimming along the border of the Shelburne Museum, with tantalizing glimpses inside–like a drive-by museum. You can’t see Lake Champlain from the village, but the town hugs Shelburne Bay, and there are wide water views from nearby Shelburne Farms (tucked away, off the beaten path, with a sign so discreet you can easily miss the turnoff). Shelburne Bay Park conceals a pretty one-mile path along the lake, with more trails to be found in town at La Platte Nature Park.
“There’s a strong sense of community here,” says Elizabeth Bluemle, a children’s author who’s been the welcoming face behind the Flying Pig Bookstore for 17 years. She points across the street to Village Wine and Coffee, noting, “That’s a real community gathering place, and they have incredible scones and muffins.”
There are some intriguing options for meeting locals, including becoming a regular at the Shelburne Farmers’ Market from mid-May to mid-October, where you can pick up everything from pickles to Pakistani treats. Or volunteer in the gardens at the Shelburne Museum, or take a class at Shelburne Farms, which also runs family programs and a summer camp for ages 4 to 17. The Field House–a full-blown athletic complex–teems with parents and kids playing soccer, baseball, and ultimate Frisbee. Aspiring artists can gather at the Shelburne Craft School, one of Vermont’s oldest craft schools, to work with metal, glass, wood, and clay.
Right next door to the Flying Pig, the Bearded Frog keeps the whimsy quotient high with chevre crostini and venison cigar rolls. The Inn at Shelburne Farms has the best view on any menu–Lake Champlain and the misty Adirondacks–and uses ingredients fresh from the farm. Fiddlehead Brewing Company is on a quest to brew the perfect pint; regulars often pair it with wood-fired pizza next door at Folino’s. Rustic Roots serves coffee-maple sausage and seasonal soups, and Cafe Shelburne is an award-winning little French restaurant whose owners have been julienning stuff for years.
There’s kid-friendly, and then there’s Shelburne: Shops here have the potential to ignite your inner as well as your actual child. Jamie Two-Coats’ Toy Shop, on the town’s central grassy wedge, looks like the inside of a 5-year-old’s imagination–unbridled, unhinged, with loads of lovely Waldorf paraphernalia and European playthings. It’s beautifully offset by the reading selection at the Flying Pig. “We started out as a children’s bookstore,” says Elizabeth Bluemle, and it’s still kid-centric there, with 80 percent of its 30,000 books for kids. The Vermont Teddy Bear Factory is just a mile south of the village.