“This town is so cute, my teeth hurt,” I gasped as we motored up Central Street, past a real-life covered bridge.
Woodstock, VT is an ideal romantic New England getaway.
Bite-sized and delightful, Woodstock is a tourist favorite for a reason. We shall dive shortly into all the things to do in the town, but first… gaze at the sun streaming onto the village green, dappling the historic buildings with Vermont charm!
History of Woodstock, Vermont: It’s Old!
One reason Woodstock is so delicious is that it’s had time to find itself… Over 250 years of time, in fact! The town was chartered in 1761, and grew thanks to craftspeople, mill-powered manufacturing, railroads, and today, tourism.
This history lends itself to some of the most succulent visuals of Woodstock: the covered bridges! I was able to photograph two of them during our visit (Middle and Taftsville bridges), but missed the third: Lincoln Bridge. Darn it! Just have to go back to collect them all. Let’s learn about these historic feats of engineering…
Central Vermont is a Covered Bridge Paradise.
Middle Bridge (pictured in the first photo of this article) is right in the, er, MIDDLE of Woodstock, and encircles the road to hike Mount Tom — a hill my spouse and I thought and talked a lot about summiting, buuuut… were ultimately too lazy to even touch.
Anyhoo, Middle Bridge was rebuilt in 1969 and is golden wood on one side, and white paint on the other, with a lattice reminiscent of a see-through waffle cone along the sides. Another historic fact: This was the site at which my spouse and I got into a squabble about how important it is for the photographer to NOT cut off the top point of a covered bridge in the shot. (My vote: “VERY important, darn it!!! How could you cut off the triangle top, husband?!”)
Alas, by the time my point was taken (no pun intended), I was a frigid icicle from the vanity of taking cute travel dress photos without a coat in 35-degree weather, so we had to just accept the point-less photos we had. This squabble shall live on in the pages of Vermont history tomes, I am sure.
Next Up: Taftsville Covered Bridge!
Pictured above is the scarlet glory of Taftsville Bridge: a stunning structure that is is shockingly old. This covered bridge was constructed in 1836 from timber, and is still standing today! Granted, major repairs had to be made after hurricane Irene in 2011, but the fact remains that the Taftsville Bridge predates the Civil War. WOW.
Quechee Gorge Bridge (not a covered bridge, but awesome):
Taftsville Bridge is on the outskirts of Woodstock on the road back to Boston, and Quechee Bridge was also conveniently on our way home: just a bit further west on Route 4. While not a covered bridge, the graceful green beauty of Quechee is still historically important — and breathtaking.
Built in 1911, this is the oldest surviving steel arch bridge in Vermont, and has convenient walking paths along it and underneath. Colin and I did a little hiking around the gorge from the Visitor Center, but MAN was it cold and windy that November day. (Note: While April in Vermont is called “Mud Season“, Vermont’s November is… “Stick Season”. Accurate!)
Then something insane happened: Just as we were walking by, a violent gust of wind yanked a tree off its roots and SMASHED it down onto the bridge!!! Miraculously not a person was hurt, nor a car scratched.
Not missing a beat, all the burly men on the bridge immediately leapt to action, hauling the tree and its shattered branches off the road and bridge, dropping them back into the gorge. Sheesh!
Shall we move on to something calmer? How about giant birds landing on our hands?
New England Falconry: Birds in Woodstock.
The art of falconry is over 4,000 years old, and records even exist from ancient Mesopotamia of using birds of prey to hunt! In its current New England Falconry incarnation, however, falconry is not about hunting, but rather about the wonder of training birds to land on your (glove-protected) hand.
That chestnut brown bird you see standing on Colin, above, is Carson, and she is a Harris’s Hawk. Her name is in homage to Rachel Carson, the environmentalist who wrote Silent Spring. Carson’s bird buddy is Konrad, named after Konrad Lorenz, who helped found the study of animal behavior.
The care taken in naming these birds reflects the love for the hawks, falcons, and owls in the whole of New England Falconry in Woodstock. We were deeply moved by the connection between the Master Falconer, Ian, and the birds.
Ian the falconry expert was recruited all the way from Tennessee in a nation-wide search to essentially find the most powerful rapport between man and birds of prey possible.
Ian first started studying falconry as a bonding exercise with his mother, who is a hospice nurse. (Isn’t that an incredible detail? When’s the last time you asked your parent if they wanted to spend quality time with razor sharp bird talons? I usually just hop off on a Momcation rather than bonding with my offspring over fowl.)
Ian’s skill and passion for falconry grew exponentially, leading to him being recruited over 1,000 miles north to Woodstock, Vermont! Only the best for those birds.
Ian explained to us that hawks adore body heat. Sure enough, Carson was more than content to rest on a glove and soak in the steam coming from our jackets… looking stately all the while. We had done falconry in Ireland before, but didn’t learn half the details that Ian taught us in Woodstock!
We have our hotel, the Woodstock Inn, to thank for introducing us to these fine feathered friends, as the inn has a convenient partnership with New England Falconry which makes it easy for guests to visit. Want more animal partnerships? Let’s move on to COWS!
Billings Farm: Woodstock Cow Love
You are about to see some adorable photos of cows kissing and cuddling. Again, we have the Woodstock Inn to thank for this, as the hotel has a partnership with Billings Farm to give free entry to guests.
Billings Farm is a must-see destination in Woodstock, and its history dates all the way back to 1871 when it was founded by local Vermont lawyer, Frederick Billings.
Billings Farm can be visited in any amount of time, be it for a quick drive in to say hello to bovine buddies, or for an in-depth tour of the agricultural museum and historic house.
Since we had to get back to our kids (who were cavorting around Boston with their grandparents), we opted for the classic “flex your biceps at the cows and take a photo” option. That’s normal, right?
The most thrilling moment of our Billings Farm visit was a revelation about cow tongues. While snapping the picture, below, I realized just how spiral curly a bovine tongue can get!
The farm must be doing something right in caring for its animals, because I’ve never before seen such fluffy and radiant looking cattle! Don’t you just want to give a snuggle to this golden face?
Heading Back to the Town of Woodstock, Itself…
So, we’ve toured the birds and the cows of Woodstock, but what of the town itself? What is there to do in Woodstock besides revel in the history? Luckily, there is a whole lot.
Simply strolling and taking in the New England town charm is enough for the first hour. Notice something special? There are no unsightly power lines to block your view! This is because Laurance Rockefeller had all electrical cords buried underground in 1971 because his wife, Mary, pointed out how unsightly they were. Thanks, Mary!
Though it is a wee town, Woodstock boasts a sizable number of cafes, restaurants, and shops. Along with a movie theater (which we meant to check out, but instead gorged ourselves on cookies at the hotel), it also has a general store — FH Gillingham & Sons — dating back to 1886! Nearby, there is also skiing at Suicide Six, and for you baking aficionados, the King Arthur Flour headquarters.
But what’s my favorite part of Woodstock besides the covered bridge? The river that runs right through the middle of town! Look at it glistening, below…
So, Where to Stay in Woodstock, VT?
Here are some affiliate links to think through your accommodations in Central Vermont. Of course, the Woodstock Inn is the quintessential place to stay in town, and we loved exploring how its history and luxury mesh with Woodstock itself.
To see other options, here’s an easy link to see rankings and ratings of other Woodstock hotels — just be careful because a bunch of them have names so similar that we almost drove into the wrong parking lot!
If you’re driving further north and have kids with you, consider the super child-friendly family resort, Smuggs near Stowe, VT. They even have a singing pirate.
What do YOU think of Woodstock?
If you’ve been to Woodstock, Vermont already, what did you enjoy doing, and what did I miss? If you haven’t been already, does this seem like a spot you’d like to see?
We were hosted guests of the Woodstock Inn, but all opinions and cow kisses are my own.