Visit Shelburne, Vermont on the shores of Lake Champlain, where animals and folk art rule at the town’s top attractions — the Shelburne Museum and Shelburne Farms.
Call it a seriously bizarre case of mistaken identity.
Both are national treasures, outstanding resources in their respective fields (sustainability and Americana), but only one is plunked down in an actual field.
That’s not to say there aren’t gardens galore at the museum, too: 22 of them, in fact.
There are further obvious clues to differentiate between the two, not the least of which are their names. Museum. Farm.
But you get the point. And in fact, these two grand attractions, separated by a five-minute drive, actually share a few things, too. For starters, a first name that clues you in to the location (Shelburne, Vermont). Spectacular settings, although one is right in town (museum) and the other one’s off the beaten path (farm). Endless quantities of entertainment. And unpredictability.
Shelburne Museum is impossible to categorize. Thanks to wealthy founder Electra Havemeyer Webb’s obsession with folk art and Americana, the enormous collection includes 38 buildings, among them a tiny (50-ton) slate jail and a very pretty lighthouse, along with 150,000 other surprises.
The vintage carousel draws kids to itself the way J.K. Rowling does.
The collection of 400 quilts is the largest in the country. Not to overlook the Impressionist masterpieces, mechanical toys, gardens everywhere, 500-foot-long carved circus parade, and steamboat Ticonderoga, dragged two miles overland to its resting berth.
Whereas Shelburne Farms is a spectacular, Frederick Law Olmstead-designed 1,400-acre working farm with the best fairytale barnyard on earth.
Yes, this National Historic Landmark has a mission of sustainability, but it’s also got adorable pet bunnies. Cows to milk and some pretty sweet chickens.
Babies of all kinds.
Cheese and bread are made onsite, and the elegant main-house-turned-inn serves garden-fresh meals overlooking sparkling Lake Champlain. The views are incomparable.
It’s a heady mix, and that’s not hyperbole. Between the farm and the museum, there’s enough on hand in Shelburne to fill a weekend or two, easily. Shelburne Farms and Shelburne Museum couldn’t be more different. Or more the same (which is to say, fabulous). It’s all right to confuse them–it happens all the time.
Just don’t leave one out.