Farms are everywhere in this region, many welcoming visitors with stores and educational programs. Holding the crown is Billings Farm & Museum in Woodstock, an outdoor history museum and full-operating dairy farm. Kids (and adults) love visiting the animals – the herd of Jersey cows, draft horses, steers & oxen, sheep, goats and chickens. There are farm life and history exhibits and frequent special events. Across the road is the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Park, where you can tour the mansion and gardens and hike one of the many adjacent trails.
The town of Woodstock has under 3,000 permanent residents, though it swells with tourists year-round, particularly in the fall. It is definitely one of the prettiest towns in Vermont and you can easily spend the better part of a day in the town center itself. Stop in at any number of shops, especially FH Gillingham & Sons General Store operating since 1886 and Yankee Bookshop operating since 1935. Take your time strolling the side streets and The Green and be sure to get a photo opp at the Middle Covered Bridge.
Nearby in Pomfret is Sugarbush Farm, a multi-generational farm where you can enjoy maple and sugar tastings, visit the sugar house and walk the educational trails, and stop in at the tiny farm chapel, all amongst the splendor of the surrounding mountains.
East of Woodstock the Ottauquechee River rushes through Quechee Gorge. At a dramatic 165 feet deep, the gorge is a popular tourist stop – ignore the commercial strip and head down the south trail to the gorge to admire it from the river. Once back up, take the northside trail to the dam. Detouring off Route 4 into Quechee (the town) will take you to the Quechee Covered Bridge and Mill Pond Falls. Stop in at the Simon Pearce Flagship Store, where you can watch artisans working at the turbine-powered glassblowing studio.
Plymouth is Calvin Coolidge’s hometown and where he’s buried. The sweet little Plymouth Notch Historic District is well preserved – it’s a joy spending a couple hours wandering around and stopping into the white clapboard buildings where docents fill you with history.
In Norwich, spend some time at the Montshire Museum of Science and the King Arthur Baking Company (this place will seriously make you want to take up baking). In the pretty town of Windsor, visit the American Precision Museum, the Path of Life Sculpture Garden, and the Cornish-Windsor Bridge over the Connecticut River, reputed to be the longest covered bridge in America. Other notable stops in this region is the Hall Art Foundation in Reading, the Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial in Royalton, the Brookfield Floating Bridge.
Winter is for skiing at Okemo, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. Summer for splashing in Lake Morey, Lake Fairlee or floating along the Connecticut River, in between shopping for the freshest local produce and ice cream at the many farms. Fall is for simply goggling at the supremely beautiful scenery, whether hiking or driving.
And about those general stores: Green Mountain Sugar House in Ludlow (snag one of the best maple creemees around), Bridgewater Corners Store, South Woodstock Country Store (oddly spacious for a Vermont general store), Teago General Store in Pomfret, and Free Verse Farm Shop in Chelsea.
If you’re in the region in September, be sure to enjoy a day at the Tunbridge World’s Fair, entertaining the local populace for over 150 years.
There – now you have a plethora of reasons to get on over here.