The village of Woodstock, Vt. is the definition of the quintessential New England experience, hence its reputation as “the prettiest small town in America.” Enchanting and tranquil, the picturesque town’s quaint main thoroughfare offers a cornucopia of activities. Not far away is the equally charming town of Quechee, where you can visit the world-famous Simon Pearce store for the finest in hand-blown glass and pottery.
While many think of heading north only for the skiing in the winter, the area boasts three of the finest championship golf courses in New England. At the Quechee Club, only a 10-minute drive from the center of Woodstock, both the Highland and Lakeland courses offer a variety of challenges along with dramatic scenery. And the Woodstock Inn & Resort Golf Club might be the most difficult short course you will ever play.
The Highland course was being renovated during my visit last spring, so only the Quechee Club’s Lakeland course was available to play. Measuring approximately 6,570 yards from the back tees, the links-style course is appropriately named, winding its way around long stretches of the Ottauquechee River. Although considered easier than its sister course, it demands accuracy off the tee to avoid the many water hazards and to set up proper angles to the greens.
Dating to 1865, the Woodstock Inn & Resort Golf Club is barely 6,000 yards. Don’t be deceived; it plays like 7,000. Rated one of the world’s top 100 golf resort courses by Golf Magazine, it was re-designed by legendary course architect Robert Trent Jones, Sr. in the 1960s and plays to a stingy par-70. You’ll be treated to panoramic views of the Kedron Valley, narrow, twisting fairways, knee-knocking approaches and water hazards on virtually every hole. This magnificent course is not for the faint of heart, but it is a true gem that will leave you smiling even if your scorecard winds up in the trash.
The Woodstock Inn is the place to stay before planning your itinerary. Set on the village green in the heart of town, travelers have been welcomed to its present site since 1793. The property has undergone significant changes through the centuries; the present structure was built in 1969. More recently, the Inn has undergone a major renovation of its guest rooms, adding modern touches like central air while maintaining colorful hand-dyed wool blankets, four-poster beds and original Vermont artwork. The 12 guest rooms in the Tavern Wing feature wood-burning fireplaces. The new 10,000-square foot spa has 10 treatment rooms and an enclosed outdoor courtyard with a wood sauna and hot soaking pool.
The inn’s dining options include the upscale Red Rooster Restaurant and the more casual Richardson’s Tavern. Of course, the close proximity of the village center will entice you to explore other possibilities.Bentley’s Restaurant, just a five-minute walk, is a lively, eclectic spot with Victorian sofas, Oriental rugs, antique lamps and an L-shaped, old-fashioned wooden bar. Gourmet magazine has called it the best luncheon spot in Woodstock. A decidedly different dining option is the charming Osteria Pane e Salute & Wine Bar. Tucked in a corner on the second floor of a building along Central Street, there are only seven tables, so reservations are essential. The emphasis is on fresh local ingredients and lesser-known Italian wines. There isn’t a wine list to look at; just let owner Deirdre Heekin know the style you prefer and she’ll select an appropriate glass or bottle.
Only a three-hour drive from Cape Cod, the welcoming village of Woodstock could easily become your summer, winter, fall and spring destination of choice.