The air felt cooler when we turned right off Route 100 and made our way up a dirt road in Rochester. After driving for 90 minutes with my 7-year-old daughter, Phoebe, we were eager to arrive at our destination, stretch our legs and settle in. With just a half-mile to go, I turned off the air conditioning, opened the car windows and tapped the breaks to admire a small row of sunflowers. Then, at a bend in the road, we crossed a bridge over the White River and the iconic Liberty Hill Farm and Inn came into view.
That barn. Those mountains. This place.
Since 1984, Beth and Bob Kennett have been welcoming overnight guests at Vermont’s Liberty Hill Farm, a working dairy farm located on 240 acres halfway between Sugarbush and Killington resorts.
The farm was started in 1780 by John Emerson, grandson of Dr. Charles Wesley Emerson, the founder of Emerson College. The farm’s five-story red barn—with a cupola perched on top—dates back to the 1780s and has been featured in countless travel guides and magazines. But what Liberty Hill Farm is especially known for are its memorable farm stays offered throughout the year.
Guests from as far away as California, Mexico, Italy and the Netherlands have come to stay at the farm, many returning year after year. With seven guest rooms, four shared baths, two spacious sittings rooms, a dining room and a delightful front porch, Liberty Hill Farm is home to 250 Robeth Holstein cows, as well as chickens, pigs and some adorable, playful barn cats.
Liberty Hill Farm is a place where families can unplug, slow down and soak up the outdoors in summer, winter, spring and fall. During our two-night stay in August, Phoebe fed baby calves, picked summer squash from the garden and collected rocks from the banks of the White River. She played with other children at the farm, spending hours practicing cartwheels on the lawn, climbing up into the barn’s hayloft and taking turns on the tire swing. Isn’t this the way life is supposed to be?
The heart of the operation is the farm’s matriarch, Beth Kennett, who grew up on her family’s farm in Maine and purchased Liberty Hill Farm in 1979 with Bob (who has farming roots in New Hampshire). On any given day, Beth can be found chatting with guests on the front porch of the farm house, scooping up her grandchildren for a hug or preparing a wonderful, family-style meal for a house full of people.
Every morning and evening, guests and the Kennett family gather around the farm house dining room table for breakfast at 8 a.m. and dinner at 6 p.m. Adults and kids share stories and laugh together while enjoying hearty meals that Beth makes from scratch: baked chicken, a zucchini and corn tart, mashed potatoes, and a homemade garden salad with fresh tomatoes. Guests linger over coffee and one of Beth’s wonderful desserts—such as blueberry pie, berry crisp or chocolate cake.
“I get to share my home and my life with people from all over the world,” says Beth. “I get to feed people and I get thanked for it every day. How lucky am I?”
Sugarbush Resort to the North
The joy of staying at Vermont’s Liberty Hill Farm is the chance to experience life on a working farm. But there’s also so much to do beyond the farm. You can hike in the Green Mountain National Forest, go tubing down the White River, take a scenic drive along Route 100, Route 125 or Brandon Gap, or plan a day trip at a nearby ski resort.
Liberty Hill is ideally located 25 miles south of Sugarbush Resort and 22 miles north of Killington Resort. Both resorts, located along Route 100, and are known for world-class skiing and riding, plus a variety of family-friendly activities in the summer and fall.
Sugarbush Resort in Warren offers a network of 22 downhill mountain biking trails, as well as an 18-hole disc golf course, an 800-foot Zipline and scenic lift rides at Lincoln Peak. Lift access is open seven days a week between June and Labor Day, and shifts to weekend hours in September through Columbus Day Weekend.
The resort, known for its laidback vibe and scenic beauty in Vermont’s Mad River Valley, also hosts plenty of fun events this time of year, from the New England Craft Beer Open at the Sugarbush Resort Golf Club in September to Community Day at Lincoln Peak in October.
While you’re at Sugarbush in the summer or fall, grab lunch at the new Rumble’s Kitchen (named after Sugarbush’s Bernese mountain dog mascot who spent nearly nine years at the mountain), which offers indoor and outdoor dining at the base of Lincoln Peak. The menu features meats and cheeses from local farms, and includes a wide selection of salads, sandwiches, burgers, chicken and seafood, with vegan and gluten-free options.
Killington Resort to the South
To the south of Liberty Hill Farm is Killington Resort, another fun option for families in the summer and fall.
The Killington Bike Park features three high-speed lifts serving over 30 miles of trails suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced mountain bikers.
If you’re looking to take in gorgeous views from one of Vermont’s tallest peaks, hop on the Killington K-1 Express Gondola and eat lunch at The Peak Lodge, which serves up burgers, steaks, wraps, pasta and beverages at the mountain’s 4,241-foot summit.
In addition to mountain biking and scenic lift rides, Killington’s outdoor Adventure Center is a thrill seeker’s dream. Home to the Beast Mountain Coaster, Skye Ropes Course, Jump Tower and Zipline, the Adventure Center caters to kids and adults of all ages.
For those of us who are a little less adventurous, the Adventure Center also has a playground, a water slide for tubing and a trampoline jump. The nearby Snowshed Umbrella Bar is the perfect place to kick back with a craft beer or cocktail and unwind after a busy day adventuring with the kids.
Our visit to Vermont’s Liberty Hill Farm, Killington and Sugarbush turned out to be one of our favorite trips of the summer. For the first time in ages, it was as if the chaos of daily life had slowed down. Phoebe and I were rested, well-fed, happy and completely unplugged.
We’re planning to go back to Liberty Hill Farm to experience more of the same. How lucky are we?
For more information, visit www.libertyhillfarm.com
Erica Houskeeper is a writer and communications professional with nearly 20 years of experience. She grew up in Manchester, Vermont, and started skiing at age 4 at Bromley Mountain. She also spent her childhood skiing at Stratton, Magic, and the former Snow Valley ski area. After working as a journalist in Vermont, Erica later became director of communications for the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing. In 2009, she launched www.happyvermont.com, a Vermont travel blog that explores the places and people of the Green Mountain State. Her blog has hundreds of subscribers and a loyal following. Active on social media, Erica has more than 2,400 followers on Twitter (@EricaHouskeeper), as well as many Facebook friends and a growing audience on Instagram. She currently works as a communications and PR consultant, and lives in Burlington with her husband and young daughter.