Indagare’s Kathryn Nathanson has recently returned from Twin Farms, where she discovered the many charms—and top activities—of New England.
It doesn’t take long at Twin Farms to notice a major theme: here, in picturesque Barnard, Vermont, it’s always ‘and,’ instead of ‘or.’ Torn between the crispy chicken sandwich and the halibut as an entree? The chef will make a smaller size of both. Hoping to enjoy a round of tennis or pickleball followed by archery and then fly fishing in a canoe? The team can customize each activity so there is time for everything.
Throughout my stay at the hotel there was an iced coffee (or glass of water or Champagne) in my hand before I realized I wanted one. It started raining one afternoon and the staff saw I didn’t bring the right shoes. Moments later, I had a new set of hiking boots.
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Under two hours from Burlington and 20 minutes from the charming village of Woodstock, Vermont Twin Farms sits on 300 acres of pristine land, with rolling hills, fields, ponds and lakes. It is an intimate, all-inclusive property with 10 suites and 10 cottages. And—just in time for its 30th anniversary—the hotel is launching eight spectacular, serene and distinct treehouses throughout the fall, giving the property 28 room options.
Design, whimsy, art, history, excellent gastronomy and hospitality make up the fabric of this hotel. For instance, in the Main House, a Jasper Johns painting hangs outside of, you guessed it, the john. At reception, the wallpaper looks like polka dots, but upon closer look, is actually potatoes. And at Twiggs—the newest dining venue designed by the same team behind Soho Farmhouse in the U.K.—an attention-grabbing Nam June Paik television sculpture greets diners. The property hosts a museum-worthy art collection, but there is a sense of humor at every turn.
The Main House is an 18th-century farmhouse purchased by writer Sinclair Lewis and journalist Dorothy Thompson in the 1930s, though it opened as a hotel in 1993. This is a property steeped in history—and where the rich heritage of Vermont also plays a starring role.
Prior to arrival, I thought that it was only about relaxing, eating and drinking, a common misconception. Of course, these are hallmarks of any stay and the dining program is the heart and soul of the property, but there is so much more. Guests can spend their days visiting local farms nearby for hands-on tours; visit shops in Woodstock or enjoy fly-fishing, painting, kayaking, hiking, mountain golf, and more—right from the hotel. Guests often stay for three nights, but you could easily extend to a week. The only other types of properties that have the level of personalization I experienced at Twin Farms are safari lodges in Africa.
Here’s my short list of what to do at the hotel and in the surrounding area.
Activities At & Around Twin Farms
At Twin Farms there are a variety of indoor and outdoor experiences for each season and complimentary activities are offered daily hosted by expert guides. Private activities can be accommodated on request.
Indoor activities include painting, yoga and fitness classes, meditation, puzzles and board games, art tours around the hotel, cooking classes (my favorite is the cacio e pepe and tortellini class taught in the Twiggs kitchen), as well as booking an appointment at the spa or Japanese Furo. In the winter, guests can enjoy cross-country and alpine skiing, ski-shoeing, snowshoeing, sledding, ice skating, ice fishing and fat tire biking. In the spring, summer and fall there’s hiking (with nine miles of multi-use hiking trails around the hotel), cycling (pedal-assist bikes, mountain bikes and hybrid bikes), mountain golf on-property or at a nearby course, ax-throwing and archery, tennis and pickleball, paddleboarding (plus paddleboard yoga), horseback riding at nearby Highland Farms, lawn games (croquet, bocce and cornhole), canoeing and kayaking, fly-fishing and swimming at Copper Pond on-property or at Silver Lake, nearby.
Not to be overlooked, Twin Farms truly showcases the “art of the picnic,” unlike anywhere I’ve traveled. Scattered around the grounds are 15 impressive and creative picnic set-ups (four are accessible in the winter, and the other 11 are available in the spring, summer and fall). Twin Farms has played with the themes of each picnic, and all have views of the mountains, meadows, ponds or streams. I’ll hold myself back on sharing more details, as I need to leave something to surprise….
Twin Farms also works with around 25 to 30 local farms and purveyors who supply the property with everything from farm eggs to cheese and syrup. The team can arrange a farm tour, with visits to greenhouses, gardens or the bee apiary.
Tip: if you find yourself at Twin Farms during maple syrup season (end of February to early April), ask to visit the family-owned Silver Lake Syrups, where you can sample their birch, pine and maple syrup and learn about the production process.
Note: Twin Farms closes every year for the month of April.
Other Stops Near the Hotel
- Billings Farm & Museum
- Kiss the Cow Farmstand
- Fable Farm
- Marsh – Billings – Rockefeller National Historical Park and Mansion
Shopping in Woodstock
- F.H. Gillingham & Sons
- The Vermont Flannel Co.
- The Woodstock Gallery
- The Yankee Bookshop
- Echo Market
- Farmhouse Pottery
- Woodstock Farmers Market
- Village Butcher
- Shackleton Thomas in Bridgewater (25 minutes from Twin Farms) houses the workshops of both world-renowned furniture maker Charles Shackleton and his wife, potter Miranda Thomas. Private woodworking and pottery classes are also offered.
- Stave Puzzles in White River Junction (40 minutes from Twin Farms) was founded in 1974 and is the most famous hand-crafted wooden jigsaw puzzle company in the world. The puzzles are known for their opulent, thought-provoking and meticulous designs. You will find them (and will likely lose many hours over them) in the Main House at Twin Farms.
- Simon Pearce in Quechee (30 minutes from Twin Farms) has a beautiful farm-to-table restaurant that has been called one of the most romantic in the world and won the “Best Award of Excellence” from Wine Spectator. Reservations must be made in advance. You can also come and watch the glassblowing.
- William Smith Auctions in Plainfield, NH (50 minutes from Twin Farms) is a well-known auction house that’s great for antiques.
Fall Foliage Drives
- Closest to Twin Farms – Drive out over River Road and take a left on Cloudland Farm Road; drive up to the top of the road for beautiful views. The gondolas at Killington are also a great way to see the trees from above (about 25 minutes west of Woodstock).
- Beyond – Gondola Skyride at Stowe (1 hour and 20 minutes from Woodstock) and Kancamagus Scenic Byway, New Hampshire 112, NH (2 hours from Woodstock)