We hadn’t planned to visit Shelburne Farms on our Lake Champlain sailing trip because we didn’t know about it. Fortunately, the new friends we met at Willsboro Bay who have been sailing on the lake for 47 years set us straight and insisted that we include this spot in our itinerary. We felt compelled to follow their lead.

Best. Advice. Ever.

Thank you Bunny and George! The itinerary they helped map out for us included a beautiful sail to the Vermont side of the lake then anchoring in gorgeous Quaker Smith Point before taking a quick dinghy ride to the bay at the bottom of the hill from the Shelburne Farms Inn. We went back the next morning for brunch at their farm-to-table restaurant and spent a couple of hours touring and learning about the 1400-acre non-profit working farm that focuses on sustainability practices and provides great educational opportunities. We also ate an unreasonable amount of delicious Shelburne Farms cheese.

It was the best stop of our trip, and we think anyone sailing on Lake Champlain should add it to their must-do list. Details below:

Anchor at Quaker Smith Point

Not only is Quaker Smith Point a great spot perfectly positioned for watching the sun set over the Adirondack mountains, it offers protection from both the North and the South depending on the weather report for the night.

We were the first boat to arrive and we anchored with good holding in 18 feet of water in the middle of the bay. By the time we returned to our boat later that afternoon, we had three other sailboats join us for the night.  See a quick video of Quaker Smith Point here.

Short Dinghy Ride to Adjoining Bay

Take your dinghy to the bay North of Quaker Smith and pull it onto the small beach just left of the stone retaining wall. There are some rocks, so wearing protective shoes as you pull your dinghy on shore is advised. We secured our dinghy to one of the trees on the beach. From there, just walk up the hill and the Inn at Shelburne Farms will be at the top.

Visit and Dine at the Shelburne Farms Inn

What a place! This former home of Dr. William Seward and Lila Vanderbilt Webb is the only Vanderbilt mansion where you can be a guest for the night. You’ll be on your boat, of course, but don’t let that stop you from exploring  the meticulously preserved first floor of the Inn and the stunning gardens overlooking Lake Champlain with an unrivaled view of the lake.

We had brunch including their Eggs Benedict, my favorite, which did not disappoint. I can only imagine dinner is even better. They source as much as possible from their farm, and what they don’t grow or raise, they procure from other local providers. Be sure to make reservations as this is a popular location for tourists staying in Burlington just a few miles to the North.

Explore the Grounds and Operation of Shelburne Farms

There are many well-maintained paths that are open for public exploration and you can pick up a map at the Inn. If you walk the two miles to the welcome center, you will encounter many dairy cows enjoying their best life, a spectacular view of the Inn, and the rolling hills of Shelburne Vermont.

We took the hour-long tour which you can sign up for at the welcome center. It provides a great background on the farm’s history and ongoing educational efforts. Their cheese-making operation, sustainable farming, commitment to solar energy, programs for kids, and just the beauty of the place are all worth a little on-land time before you head back to your boat for another day of sailing.

Lea Maxwell

Lea Maxwell is the sailor and scribe behind Escape Under Sail, a web|blog project that connects new and future charter sailors with the resources, information, and motivation they need to competently and confidently sail beautiful destinations around the world.

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