Everywhere you turn, the charm of Quechee and neighboring Woodstock grabs your attention. Whether it’s perfectly constructed covered bridges or the beautiful Federal and Georgian style homes, the hands of early American craftsmen are still evident. Then, add today’s glass blowers and cheese makers and you realize that the spirit of artisan craftmanship has lived on.
All of these, plus museums, country inns, farms, attractions, recreation, and the colorful rolling countryside of Vermont makes this a fantastic vacation destination.
Those Covered Bridges
Four beautiful covered bridges grace the Quechee and Woodstock areas. The oldest is the bright red, long-span Taftsville bridge between the two towns that dates to 1836. It’s lauded for its original craftsman design that survived 2011’s Hurricane Irene flood, though it did need some repair.
In Woodstock, the much-more recently built (1969) Middle Bridge is a charm because of its lattice sides. Drivers can easily peer through the lattice to see the rows of Federal style homes on the riverbanks and the surrounding hills.
A bit to the east of Woodstock is the 1877 Lincoln Bridge. If you visit, you’ll find clear views of a classic design in a pretty rural area. In Quechee, you’ll find one of the most charming bridges described in the next section.
Early American craftsman gravitated to this area because of the abundant waterpower and crisp climate. Quechee was a classic mill town that has now been revitalized through the addition of the Simon Pearce Glassware store, factory, and restaurant.
The store features classically elegant glassware emphasizing traditional designs, and it’s always fun, though toasty, to watch craftsmen shape blown glass. What really makes this store, however, is a top-notch restaurant with a fantastic view of the river, falls, and the Quechee Covered Bridge.
I’m not sure whether the drive over the bridge into the store is prettier than the view of the bridge from the store/restaurant. The sloped Quechee Covered Bridge offers a grand entrance to the tiny town with sweeping views of the falls and mill pond behind it. From the restaurant, the flower-boxed lined bridge makes it seem like you are in Switzerland or Germany.
Antique malls and craft stores dot the area, some with an overwhelming amount of old furniture and collectable stuff. Andrew Pearce also offers a wooden bowl store and there’s a nifty Farmhouse Pottery making store in Woodstock. However, some of the real craftsmanship is found on the farm.
Driving the countryside is fun in itself, especially during fall foliage season, but two farms are worth destinations especially worth pursuing.
Sugarbush Farm is a great place to learn about cheese making and maple syrup production. Samples are available as well as its store. You can always coax some farm animal to stick their heads through a fence with some purchased feed.
The real star of the show is the Billings Farm and Museum at the edge of Woodstock. This working Jersey dairy farm is a veritable monument to rural life. There’s a never-ending series of demonstrations and exhibits on vegetable farming, dairy production, tractor maintenance, quilt making, and much more. There’s a nifty sunflower maze plus a great dairy bar.
Next to the Billings Farm, there’s the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Natural Historic Park featuring a mansion from the 1800’s. It’s a tribute to the roots of the conservation movement since Frederick Billings was a progressive dairy farmer who managed his lands and forests with a view to future generations. Laurence Rockefeller, a wealthy financier of the parks, later owned the property. I loved the wood interior of this home.
In Quechee, the Vins Nature Center is a wild bird rehabilitation center featuring raptor shows.
Quechee is famous for its picturesque forested gorge with a tall steel arched bridge. The gorge is a great place for hiking and photography.
In the winter, several top-notch ski resorts are nearby plus ice skating, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing.
Tips on Visiting
Though the prettiest time of year to visit is the October fall foliage season, it is also the most crowded. Avoid fall weekends, since this is within driving distance of Hartford and Boston.