“Do they have cows!?” She asked excitedly over lunch.
I didn’t tell my daughter we were going to visit Woodstock’s Billings Farm & Museum until we were snuggled into a parking spot a few minutes away at the Woodstock Inn & Resort.
Lunch at Woodstock Inn
To kick off our day of adventure, we had lunch at the Inn’s Red Rooster restaurant. The gardens at Billings Farm produce many of the ingredients that go into the menu at the Red Rooster, so it was a fun way to prime our next stop, the Farm. I enjoyed a lovely bruschetta featuring tri-color baby tomatoes, garden basil, Maplebrook Farm mozzarella, red onion, and balsamic syrup on a local Red Hen Baguette. A Corina’s Switchy, a sparkling juice with apple cider vinegar, topped of a nice light lunch. Aria feasted on her favorites—chicken tenders and OJ.
Cows, Chickens, and Sheep, Oh My!
Billings Farm & Museum is a gorgeous historical farm nestled in Green Mountains of central Vermont. The weather was exceptional for our day of adventure in Woodstock, Vermont. and we had two core items on our agenda as we set out from the visitor’s center with our map in hand:
- Cows! (According to my daughter)
- Sunflowers (According to me!)
Billings Farm is home to the Sunflower House & Gardens which play host to thousands of flowers. I planned to take as many awesome photos as possible. But, before we set out to meet with Ben Pauly, the master gardener responsible for the alchemy in the sunflower house and gardens, first, we had to see the cows.
Note: Billings Farm laid out clear COVID-19 protocols, which made us feel safe and carefree. Masks are needed for all indoor spaces, which we appreciated. The Farm also provided hand sanitizer at almost every entry way and exit.
The dairy barn is one of the hubs of the farm and visiting with the latest lineup of Jersey cows was a total victory to start the day. The staff was very knowledgeable and eager to share their best bovine beta with my wide-eyed and very eager six-year-old. This is a definite must-do for families visiting the area. Together, we learned about milk production and the life of a dairy cow. We also had the added joy of getting to hang out with baby cows! Billings Farm is also home to a host of other barnyard animals. During our tour we got to meet chickens, sheep, goats and a lot of bumblebees.
Sunflower House & Garden
The bumblebees just could not get enough of the amazing flowers in the Billings Farm Sunflower House & Garden. We arrived at the gardens at peak afternoon, and they were all a-buzz. Meeting us there was the mastermind and alchemist behind the gardens, Ben Pauly, who gave us the grand tour. Inspired by a young and very passionate dinosaur aficionado that visits the farm, Ben intentionally designed this year’s Sunflower House to mimic the features of the stegosaurus and brontosaurus. He even added some meteors for flavor.
The Sunflower House was a crowd pleaser, appealing to both adults and children on their quest for knowledge and to run maze-like paths through an abundance of flowers. This place is just begging for you to have your camera ready. There is even a #SunflowerSelfie challenge where we could post a picture and win some fresh cheese from the farm!
Besides your camera, be sure to also pack some water, sunscreen, and a sunhat if you go on a warm, sunny day. After our exploration of the Sunflower House with its towering “Mammoth Grey Stripe” sunflowers (one of many varieties in full regalia during our visit) and cheery “Zowie Zinnias”, we needed a break from the sun that allows them to thrive.
Billings Museum & Dairy Bar
Inside the museum, you can expect to find air conditioning and artifacts, which made for a great break from the sun. From old school shoehorns to new school plows the museum is awash with information on all things agricultural. If you have a historian in your travel group, the “Upon this Land” exhibit is highly recommended!
Of course, the final stop at the Farm has to be The Dairy Bar. Offering a selection of ice cream and cheeses made from Billings Farm Milk, the dairy bar offers a sweet note at the end of the day, and even a cheesy snack for the ride home.
An afternoon at Billings Farm is just the beginning. With so much more to do in Woodstock, plan for a full day of adventure (like falconry) learning, and gorgeous views! The cost to get in is reasonable with general admission being less than $20. See here for a complete list of pricing. Admission is included for guests of the Woodstock Inn & Resort. The hours vary based on the season, so be sure to check them before you visit (May 31 – October 31 Open daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.). The Sunflower House and Garden are open mid-August to mid-September, which is a great time to spend a long weekend at the Woodstock Inn & Resort.
Rachel is the Owner/Transformationalist at Rachel Hailey & Associates Consulting, a firm which deals directly with the outdoor industry to foster DEI in organizations. Her main objective is to transform the outdoor industry into a diverse, equitable, inclusive and accessible space. Rachel is committed to creating an industry where anyone can experience, thrive, and lead in the out of doors no matter their circumstances, and has a focus on underserved and underrepresented communities. She has served and inspired over 100 organizations in the creation of actionable systems aligned with creating diversity, equity, and inclusion in outdoor spaces. She is a frequent writer for industry publications like Adventure Park Insider and Ski Area Management, and has given talks on DEI & Social Justice on international platforms.Outside of her endeavor to bridge the gap between racial and ethnic diversity in the outdoors and social justice, Rachel can be found hunting fairies in the woods with her daughter.