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Find Outdoor Recreation and Picnic Dinners at Goshen's Blueberry Hill Inn

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The exterior of Blueberry Hill Inn - CALEB KENNA
  • Caleb Kenna
  • The exterior of Blueberry Hill Inn

For Vermonters planning summer vacations, social distancing may be a top priority. In their quest to avoid crowded spaces, more and more folks are focused on finding fun outside. With access to miles of trails, an open field and al fresco food service, a stay at Goshen's Blueberry Hill Inn is all about the great outdoors.

Innkeeper Tony Clark purchased the picturesque property in 1969 and opened Blueberry Hill in 1972; he still operates the inn with his ex-wife, Shari Brown. In keeping with tradition for the family-run business, their adult children, Britta and Oliver, are also on the property for the summer to lend a hand.

Carly Averill picking berries in the Green Mountain National Forest - CALEB KENNA ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Caleb Kenna ©️ Seven Days
  • Carly Averill picking berries in the Green Mountain National Forest

Brown described the inn's usual vibe as "very communal." Before the coronavirus pandemic, guests who stayed in its 12 rooms would gather at a farmhouse table for a one-seating four-course dinner, help themselves to food in the refrigerator and congregate in common spaces.

"Our whole setup was, we felt, pretty unique in that people who didn't know one another sat with one another, and they got to know one another," Brown said. "It's interesting changing that whole energy, and it's not quite the same, but we are making the best of it."

In the coronavirus era, making the best of it means, in part, foregoing deposits and limiting occupancy. While current state regulations allow Brown to book all of the inn's rooms, she's chosen to keep the guest count to about six or eight individuals.

In June, the inn began offering picnic dinners in place of the usual sit-down supper. Guests and nonguests alike can preorder a plated meal featuring local fare and eat outside at picnic tables or in Adirondack chairs by the pond.

"We give folks a tablecloth, and we roll napkins, and we give them mason jars, and we give them a candle and a little vase of flowers," Brown said. Picnic service will continue as long as the weather allows.

Adirondack chairs by the pond - CALEB KENNA ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Caleb Kenna ©️ Seven Days
  • Adirondack chairs by the pond

With less socializing taking place in the bed-and-breakfast itself, vacationers may be drawn to the myriad open-air activities available on or near its grounds. As Brown tells it, her ex-husband started one of the state's first Nordic ski businesses, the Blueberry Hill Outdoor Center. Located in the Moosalamoo National Recreation Area within the Green Mountain National Forest, the center is a four-season destination with trails for running, hiking, biking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Outdoor adventurers can access the Blueberry Hill trail network, the Long Trail and the Catamount Trail.

For those who truly want to embrace nature, Blueberry Hill offers camping. "We're getting more campers than inn guests," noted Brown. Visitors who schedule their stays through the booking app Hipcamp, which Brown called "the Airbnb of camping," can set up in Blueberry Hill's field, which has three outdoor showers and "great sunsets," she noted.

A bedroom with a view - CALEB KENNA ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Caleb Kenna ©️ Seven Days
  • A bedroom with a view

"There's really no other place to stay," wrote one camper in a Hipcamp review last year. "The meadow at Blueberry Hill is perfect, just a wide, green expanse of pure Green Mountain beauty."

Brown remarked that the inn's business is down by 80 to 85 percent. Still, as the innkeepers have made adjustments, they've found comfort in new interactions with Vermonters showing their support.

"We've been doing rocking business with the cookies," said Brown of Blueberry Hill's famous chocolate chip cookies. Folks can purchase the sweet treats, along with granola, trail lunches and other goodies, through the inn's online general store.

Blueberry Hill Outdoor Center - CALEB KENNA ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Caleb Kenna ©️ Seven Days
  • Blueberry Hill Outdoor Center

The picnic dinners, too, have opened the doors to locals. "Now it feels much more welcoming to the local community, and they seem to be appreciating it," Brown reflected. The inn even hosted a bluegrass picnic dinner on July 5, with a live band and 32 attendees.

Typically, the inn's guest list is mostly filled with out-of-staters looking for outdoor recreation. "More and more, even before [the pandemic], we're getting interest from local folks just wanting to explore their backyard," said Brown.

Vermonters seeking sanctuary could certainly find it on the picturesque Goshen grounds. "We sometimes forget when there are no guests that there's a pandemic," mused Brown, who lives on the property, "because there's just so much space here."

The original print version of this article was headlined "Inn and Out | Outdoor recreation and picnic dinners draw visitors to Goshen's Blueberry Hill Inn"

Vermont Vacation logoFind more information on Vermont day trips and adventures from the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing at vermontvacation.com/staytripper.