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Plan a Perfect Summer Weekend in Shelburne, Vermont

After a long winter and mud season, followed by a short spring, summer in the Champlain Valley is as beautiful as it is bustling.

With lengthening days and an abundance of sunshine, there is no better time to be outdoors soaking up copious amounts of Vitamin D and enjoying the Green Mountain and Lake Champlain views.

Which is why late spring and early summer are the best times to plan a weekend getaway to the beautiful town of Shelburne, Vermont, just south of Burlington.

A collage of shots from Shelburne VT.
Ready for a perfect weekend in Shelburne, VT?

Not only is Shelburne home to Northern New England’s largest art and history museum, but its beautiful natural areas, quirky outdoor art, and farm-to-table fare make this one of Vermont’s most beloved areas to explore.

A weekend will give you a taste of all the best things to do in Shelburne VT, but if you have more time, you won’t run out of things to do — promise..

Based on decades of exploring this beautiful area, we’ve curated a perfect weekend itinerary for a couple of enchanting days in Shelburne and the neighboring towns.

At-A-Glance: Shelburne, Vermont

Here’s a bite-sized snapshot of everything you need to know to plan your trip weekend getaway to Shelburne, Vermont.

  • When to Go: Mid-May through October
  • Where to Stay: Splurge on a few nights at the historic Shelburne Farms Inn with fantastic views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks, or enjoy this adorable dog-friendly Airbnb in nearby Monkton.
  • The nearest airport is Burlington International Airport (BTV), which is nine miles from Shelburne. Amtrak’s Ethan Allen Express stops in nearby Ferrisburgh or Burlington and provides daily service from NYC.
  • How to Get Around: We recommend renting a car or driving your own for this trip.
  • Top 3 Highlights: Meeting the animals at Shelburne Farms, exploring Shelburne Museum, and swimming in Lake Champlain.

Day One: Swimming, Creemees, and Sunsets

To get you into vacation mode, we’re going to start slow. Go for a leisurely swim in the lake, grab a maple creemee, and watch a fantastic sunset over the Adirondack Mountains.

Swim in Lake Champlain from Charlotte Town Beach or Kingsland Bay

A swimmer enjoying Lake Champlain at Kingsland Bay State Park.
A swimmer enjoying Lake Champlain at Kingsland Bay State Park.

The first thing you’ll want to do when you arrive in the area is head to the lake, especially if the weather is cooperating. Depending on where you’re coming from, there are a few different spots to swim in Lake Champlain.

My favorite is Kingsland Bay State Park in Ferrisburgh, just south of Shelburne. Located on sheltered Kingsland Bay, the water here is always clear, deep, and refreshing, and the views are pretty amazing, too.

An expansive grassy lawn leads down to the water, and a lovely trail hugs the shore onto the peninsula. Entry into Kingsland Bay State Park is $5/$2 for kids, and dogs are not permitted.

Charlotte Town Beach is a bit closer to Shelburne, so this might work better if you’re looking for a quick dip. Parking is $5 per car, and there’s a nice playground across from the beach. Water shoes are a must here as the beach is very rocky.

Grab a Creemee at Vermont Cookie Love

A maple creemee from Vermont Cookie Love.
A maple creemee at Vermont Cookie Love in Ferrisburgh, VT.

If you’ve never tried a maple creemee, now is the time to make it happen. “Isn’t it just soft-serve ice cream?”, you ask. Yes, but it’s ELEVATED. Creemees are creamier than soft serve, with a higher fat content. Plus, maple. Enough said.

I brake for maple creemees — literally. Just ask my husband. And Vermont Cookie Love is on my top 10 list. It was also voted ‘Best Creemee’ by readers of Seven Days for six years in a row.

In the summer, the ice cream window is open every day from 11 am to 5 pm. Don’t miss out!

Watch the Sunset from the top of Mount Philo

The sunset over Lake Champlain from the top of Mount Philo.
Sunset views from the top of Mount Philo.

Need to work off that creemee? Hike to the top of Mount Philo in Ferrisburgh. It’s the easiest mountain hike you’ll ever tackle, and you’ll be lavishly rewarded with stunning Lake Champlain views at the top.

And, to sweeten the pot for those of you who think no hiking is better than easy hiking, you can pay five bucks to drive to the top of Mount Philo, and you’ll get those same views without breaking a sweat. This is one of six mountain summits in Vermont that you can drive to the top of.

The parking lot and summit trails at the top of Mount Philo are universally accessible, and there are facilities and picnic tables at the summit, too. If you’ve already paid to enter Kingsland Bay State Park, you can use your day pass to enter Mount Philo, too.

Beer and Pizza: Fiddlehead Brewing Company and Folino’s Pizza

This wouldn’t be a Vermont Explored itinerary if I weren’t suggesting beer and pizza for a casual night on the town.

Not only does Fiddlehead Brewing Company make an outstanding IPA (crisp, fruity, and approachable, even for those who don’t enjoy IPAs), but it’s also the largest craft brewery in Vermont. Stop in for a pint or an eight-ounce pour (my favorite), and then order a wood-fired pizza from Folino’s, right next door.

Day Two: Farm Animals and Farm-Fresh Food

Today, you’ll immerse yourself in Vermont agrotourism and enjoy farm-fresh goodies as you explore more of the Champlain Valley.

Find Local Veggies, Meats, and Baked Goods at Shelburne Farmer’s Market

Greens and veggies for sale at the Shelburne Farmer's Market.
Beautiful lettuce, broccoli, and beets at the Shelburne Farmer’s Market.

When it comes to Vermont Farmers’ Markets, Shelburne has a lot going for it. It’s big but not overwhelming, there’s plenty of parking, and you can walk to nearby shops and restaurants to explore more of the town while you’re there.

The Shelburne Farmer’s Market takes place every Saturday between mid-May and mid-October at the Shelburne Village Fairgrounds. With more than 50 vendors selling everything from seasonal veggies and plants to Vermont cheeses, meats, and baked goods, this is THE spot to pick up picnic supplies for your next stop at Shelburne Farms.

There’s also a great selection of local crafts with pottery, woodwork, fiber arts, and more.

Meet the Animals or Have a Picnic at Shelburne Farms

Brown Swiss cows in front of the barn at Shelburne Farms.
Brown Swiss cows at Shelburne Farms.

There are so many reasons to love Shelburne Farms and so much to do when you get there. This 1,400-acre property includes a beautiful, historic farm, a sprawling inn, trails through fields and forest, and pebbly beaches on Lake Champlain.

Shelburne Farms is a nonprofit organization that aims to strengthen local food systems and cultivate learning for a sustainable future.

Park at the Farm Store & Welcome Center between May and October, hike the trails or take a tractor shuttle to tour the Children’s Farmyard. From here, you can meet the animals and explore more trails, extensive gardens, and cheesemaking facilities (tours at 11 am and 2 pm).

If you have time, walk down to the Shelburne Farms Inn to see the formal gardens and views of Lake Champlain. Give yourself at least a few hours to explore Shelburne Farms.

Learn about the Underground Railroad in Vermont at Rokeby Museum

Rokeby Museum in Ferrisburgh, VT.
Rokeby Museum in Ferrisburgh, Vermont.

Rokeby Museum tells the story of Rowland Thomas and Rachel Gilpin Robinson, devout Quakers and radical abolitionists who harbored many fugitive slaves during the 1830s and 1840s. It is not only one of the best-documented Underground Railroad sites in the country but also a National Historic Landmark.

Visit the 90-acre property, which includes a 1780s farmstead, eight preserved outbuildings with permanent exhibits, and extensive walking trails.

A major exhibit, Free & Safe: The Underground Railroad in Vermont, focuses on two fugitives, Simon and Jesse, who found shelter at Rokeby in the 1830s. Exhibits document their story from slavery to freedom. The beautifully restored farmhouse is fully furnished with 200 years of domestic belongings.

Rokeby Museum is open for guided tours Thursday through Monday between late May and mid-October.

Dinner at Shelburne Farms Inn

The Shelburne Farms Inn in Vermont.
Shelburne Farms Inn — lodging and dining

For dinner, head back to Shelburne Farms to dine at Shelburne Farms Inn, inside or out. This seasonal restaurant serves fresh vegetables and fruits from their Market Garden, as well as farmstead cheddar, seasonal lamb and beef, and other farm products from the working farm.

Time your meal to coincide with another gorgeous Lake Champlain sunset, and if the weather cooperates, I recommend eating outside on the patio.

Day 3: Explore Shelburne Museum

Plan on a full day of exploring Northern New England’s largest art and history museum.

Coffee and pastries at Le Marche Cafe

A breakfast sandwich from Le Marche in Vermont.
Breakfast sandwich and maple latte at Le Marche.

Le Marche is a French cafe and market in Shelburne and a new discovery for me. During a recent weekend trip to Shelburne, I indulged in their delightful offerings no less than three times, and I am officially their new biggest fan!

Stop in for a maple latte, decadent sticky buns, and croissants, or go all in with a full breakfast. Love it? You’re an adult and can come back for lunch, too!

A full day of art and history at Shelburne Museum

The Round Barn at Shelburne Museum.
The Round Barn at Shelburne Museum

Shelburne Museum is northern New England’s largest art and history museum and one of the top things to do in Vermont.

Don’t be fooled into thinking you can cover this whole museum in a few hours. This sprawling museum features 39 exhibition buildings with indoor and outdoor exhibits and more than 150,000 objects in its art, design, and Americana collection.

The Museum’s 45-acre campus includes a Shaker-designed Round Barn, a general store, a carousel, and the 220-foot sidewheel steamboat Ticonderoga.

My favorite exhibit, which I’ve been visiting for more than 40 years, is the Arnold Circus Parade, featuring 4,000 one-inch-to-one-foot scale figurines depicting a 500-foot-long circus parade. The figures were carved and painted between 1925 and 1955 and are a sight to behold.

The horseshoe-shaped Circus Building was specifically designed to showcase the miniature Arnold Circus Parade, which stretches nearly the full length of the building’s 518 feet.

In addition to Shelburne Museum’s permanent collections, new seasonal exhibitions are displayed each season.

Lunch at Le Marche Cafe

Crispy eggplant sandwich with carmelized onions at Le Marche.
Crispy eggplant sandwich with carmelized onions at Le Marche.

If you can’t pull yourself away from Shelburne Museum’s exhibits, the onsite Weathervane Cafe is open from 11 am to 3 pm. Otherwise, you can walk back to Le Marche for a sandwich. I ate the crispy eggplant sandwich picture above in just a few bites, and I’m still thinking about it.

Stay at This Cozy Barn Apartment in Monkton, VT

During our recent visit to Shelburne, we were fortunate to stay at the Barn at Grousewood in Monkton, which is about 14 miles from Shelburne.

This small, dog-friendly studio is eclectically decorated and located on 40 peaceful acres. It was such a treat to come back here after a full day of activities.

The outdoor fire pit is perfect for enjoying a beer after a day of adventuring, and there’s even a robust selection of books and games for quiet evenings.

The seating area inside the cabin.

Inside, there’s a full-size bed, a full bathroom and kitchen, and shelves full of books, games, and records. This little cabin is the perfect home away from home for couples or solo travelers, and I hope we can stay here again in the future.

Ready to plan your perfect summer getaway in the Champlain Valley? There are so many cool things to do in Shelburne VT!

A Quick Itinerary for a Summer Weekend in Shelburne VT

Hey, looking for more spots near Shelburne to explore this summer? Here are some posts you should check out! Take a look:

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Tara Schatz is a freelance writer and the founder and editor-in-chief of Vermont Explored and Back Road Ramblers, an American road trip blog. She is also the co-author of the 3rd edition of AMC’s Best Day Hikes in Vermont, released in May 2023, and the author of 100+ Wonderful Ways to Experience Vermont.