Shelburne, Vermont | Could You Live Here?
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.
Shipwrecks lie strewn across the bottom of Lake Champlain, so if your heart is set on waterfront, you may want to start diving for doubloons. “The market has always been good in Shelburne, but it’s definitely picking up,” according to Leanne Siffermann, an agent at Keller Williams Realty. “Inventory is low so far this year.”
That said, “there are always bargains to be had, but you have to be diligent. If something in a desirable area hits the market at a ‘bargain’ price, it can be scooped up within hours.” Homes sold last year (2013) ranged from $133,000 into the millions, with “plenty that sold in the $200s.” Truth is, you’re never very far from the water (and $20 buys a season’s pass to Shelburne Town Beach).
Quirkiest Museum. Thanks to founder Electra Havemeyer Webb’s obsession with Americana, the Shelburne Museum collection includes 38 buildings, a carousel, more than 400 quilts, Impressionist masterpieces, 22 gardens, and its Ticonderoga centerpiece. “Lots of young families with kids come,” says Leslie Wright, the museum’s former marketing manager. “It’s a place to let our kids run around so they don’t keep us up at night,” grins a tall man with a small boy.
Most Elegant Farm. Shelburne Farms is a Frederick Law Olmsted masterpiece, working farm, National Historic Landmark, and model of sustainability (count 530 solar panels), but it takes top prize for best barnyard. Kids can meet and milk Delaware, “the most patient cow on earth,” who’s just one of countless critters hoping to be admired. Stewardship is imparted gently; cheese and bread are made on site; educational programs run all year; and garden-fresh meals are served at the inn overlooking Lake Champlain. The grounds are open year-round for walking or snowshoeing.
Getting Your Bearings
Between May and October, the Inn at Shelburne Farms offers guests a taste of the landed-gentry lifestyle. In town, Heart of the Village Inn rolls out nine rooms of Victorian comfort, practically inside the museum grounds.
More information at: shelburnevt.org, sbpavt.org, vermont.org. For a slideshow of additional photos, go to: YankeeMagazine.com/more