A Summer Weekend in Vermont

Well, six months later, I am dusting off the blog. Even when you move as often as I do, you forget how all consuming a new home can be, especially when your new home is 140 years old and your husband is gone for the first three months of said move. But now that the last of the boxes in the basement have been emptied and before we start on the first of many home renovations, l thought I would share a little of the fun that we’ve had along the way.

One of the things that we were most excited about our return to the east coast was the travel opportunities that living in New England affords. There are so many beautiful destinations that are just a short car ride away. Our list is long, and we were determined to start tackling it as soon as we could. So not long after we moved in, we booked a summer getaway to Vermont.

Vermont is famous for many things, most notably its maple syrup, its green mountains, and its spectacular fall colors. And now, for us, it is famous for being a beautiful summer holiday destination. We chose to spend my birthday weekend (in mid-July) in Woodstock, Vermont, and we could not have been happier with the choice.

Like many New England towns, Woodstock is small, but it is packed with goodness - the covered bridge in the middle of town being just one of many charming sights. We were immediately taken with the architecture in the town and the bucolic scenes we saw along the country roads. It was enough for me to dust of my big DSLR and capture the sights that really captured my imagination.

Billings Farm was one of the most pleasant surprises of the trip for us. We planned our excursion here explicitly for the youngest member of our family, but I think we all enjoyed it in equal measure. It’s a show farm, so the presentation of the Jersey cows and the horses in the pasture is done with an audience in mind, but man, do they make farming look good! Young or old, Billings is worth a visit.

Another pleasant surprise was an off-the-beaten-path visit to Kelly Way Gardens, a farm that provides the historic Woodstock Inn with sustainably grown fruit, vegetables, and herbs. While guided tours and tasting events are scheduled during summer months, visitors are encouraged to tour the gardens when open to the public. We loved wandering the grounds all on our own.

There’s plenty to do back in town, and we particularly enjoyed wandering into the cute shops along the main streets. The Yankee Bookshop is Vermont’s oldest independent bookseller and it is a very charming stop. My husband and I enjoyed perusing the local travel section, and my daughter got her second Beverly Cleary book, Ramona the Brave. I was also a big fan of the home decor store R.T. Home, as well as the charm of the Woodstock Pharmacy and the wonderful general store, FH Gillingham & Sons - a general store in the truest sense of the word. Try NOT finding what you need in this shop!

One of our final stops was what some call the most photographed farm in America. And while we were there out of season (it is most famously visited during the height of the fall foliage season), we still wanted to make our way to see the farm that is so photogenic that it made its way into films such as “Forrest Gump.” I definitely want to come back to see it all dressed up in its autumn glory.

The most photographed farm in America, Jenne Farm in Woodstock, VT.

Woodstock, Vermont was so refreshing for a weekend away, and I’ve decided that it needs to be my annual birthday destination.

A few additional notes about our visit:

  • We stayed at 506 On The River Inn, a wonderful property that features beautiful grounds, a great restaurant and bar, and loads of kid-friendly activities. Highly recommend.

  • My favorite store was Farmhouse Pottery (featured here https://www.instagram.com/p/B0a2EmsAmy2/). It’s the loveliest shop with beautiful handmade pottery and home decor. What a dream.

  • We were very low maintenance food-wise on this trip, but we really enjoyed the restaurant at 506 On The River Inn, as well as the easy lunch options at the South Woodstock Country Store and Mon Vert Cafe.

What I Saw in Seattle

Our family's travel style has evolved significantly in recent years. After living abroad for many years, hitting up a city's most notable and famous sights has become less and less important to us. My husband and I joke that we suffer from museum fatigue (a very privileged thing to suffer from, I know), which essentially means that after a while, the churches and museums and famous monuments all start to run together and become indistinguishable from one to the next. Now when we visit a new location, we try to seek out the less touristy places and spaces in an effort to get to know the character of the town better. In other words, we try to live like a local might for a few days.

Our trip to Seattle this August was a good example of this travel philosophy, so I wanted to share the highlights from our visit with you. You'll see that we ate quite a lot (my favorite travel activity), frequented beautiful shops (should have brought another suitcase), and found a few dream homes along the way. If those kind of things appeal to you (and if you want your Instagram to reflect that), consider this your cheat sheet on how to see the best of Seattle.

Restaurants

Oddfellows Cafe

This Instagram darling is more than just a pretty face. The food is wonderful, but you'll be so distracted by all the photogenic corners that you might not even notice. Just a warning that you'll be waiting for brunch on the weekend, but weekday mornings are sleepy and wonderfully empty.

The London Plane

Part restaurant, part shop, all beauty. The London Plane has it all, including their delicious, signature Plane bread (order whatever toast is on special - you won't regret it - and then pick up some flowers on your way out).

Molly Moon Ice Cream

You can smell the waffle cones baking in this Capitol Hill icon from blocks away - and chances are you can see the line out the door, too. But have no fear, the line moves fast and the ice cream is worth the wait. We had it three times in three days. Thanks for the holiday weight gain Molly Moon - it was worth it.

Bar Melusine

There's little I love more in a restaurant's design than a clean, striking aesthetic, and Bar Melusine excels in this area. But it also excels in delicious cocktails, fresh oysters, and the friendliest staff. Ask for a shucking lesson - they know what they are doing here!

Shops

Glasswing

Glasswing is a wonderfully curated shop, featuring plants and flowers and clean beauty products and beautiful clothes and accessories for men & women. I didn't want to leave, especially without some items from the new Ace+Jig collection that I spied on the racks. Everything here is absolutely swoon-worthy.

Totokaelo

Stepping into the Seattle branch of Totokaelo is like stepping into a modern art museum. The ceramic and glassware display made my heart skip a beat, and their clothing options are what my designer dreams are made of. I felt a bit like a child, hearing my mom's voice saying "look but don't touch," but honestly, I touched ALL the clothes.

Plant Shop Seattle

I know that I'm officially a plant lady when I go out of my way to visit a plant shop on my holiday. I did need to pick up a hostess gift, though, and I'm so glad that I decided to pop in Plant Shop Seattle to find it. I nabbed a perfect little pilea while not-so-secretly wishing that I could transport the entire store to my house in San Diego.

Neighborhood Highlights

Volunteer Park Conservatory

Tucked away in the beautiful Volunteer Park at the north end of Capitol Hill is a stunning historic conservatory. The rooms feature not only lush displays of all the humidity-loving plant friends but also a beautiful expanse of cactus and succulents. It was the last stop of our visit to Seattle and it made me insanely happy. Go - I promise it will do the same for you.

The Homes of Queen Anne

It's no secret that I love residential architecture, and the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle is full of beautiful homes, mostly of the craftsman variety (despite its name). I took a million house portraits, but will share just this one with you. Go out of your way if you must to see this beauty; the upkeep and care the owners put into it is worth your visit.

The Sunflower House in the Queen Anne neighborhood (on Nob Hill near Crockett).

Pioneer Square

Think pedestrian-only streets, beautiful facades, smart shops and colorful characters - this downtown spot is a can't miss Seattle highlight. Hit it up during the summer to see the lovely flower displays; they reminded me a bit of London, and I loved it for that.

Have you been to any of these spots? What did I miss that would make me a true Seattle local? Leave a comment below because I'm dying to make a trip back!