When you think of Vermont, what do you picture? A glittering blue sky and rolling green hills as far as the eye can see? While many tourists come to see the state’s gorgeous natural landscape, it’s worthwhile to take a day exploring the region’s rich history. Take a trip into the past when you visit Hildene: The Lincoln Family Home in Manchester, VT. This 20th-century, 400-acre estate is a must-see for history buffs in the area.
If you’re looking for more Southern Vermont vacation recommendations, access your free copy of our Vacation Guide today. Inside, you’ll find our top picks for where to shop, dine, and explore in the area.
History of Hildene: The Lincoln Family Home
The Hildene Estate is the former summer home of Robert Todd Lincoln, son of Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln. When Robert was a child, he visited Manchester to meet his mother and brother. Forty years later, he returned to the area and purchased the 400-acre piece of land that would become Hildene. The Georgian Revival home was built at the turn of the 20th century. In 1978, after the death of Peggy Beckwith, the Friends of Hildene purchased the estate and eventually opened it to the public.
3 Things to Do at Hildene: The Lincoln Family Home
1. Tour the Home
The estate consists of 14 historic buildings, including the mansion, the carriage barn, the observatory, and the goat cheesemaking facility. Self-guided tours of the property are included in admission. If you opt for a guided tour, you’ll learn more about the family and the significance of Hildene. Be sure to stop at the museum store for a souvenir on your way out!
Though not technically part of the house, be sure to take a tour of the property’s restored 1903 wooden Pullman palace car, Sunbeam. The car is representative of models during Robert Lincoln’s time as president of the Pullman Company.
2. Stroll Through the Gardens
Don’t forget your camera when you tour the home’s stunning gardens! The estate’s famous formal garden was lovingly designed by Jessie Lincoln, President Lincoln’s granddaughter. It features more than 1,000 fragrant, heirloom peony blossoms. Enjoy the spectacular views from the formal garden, or revel in the relaxing terraced hillside landscape at the Cutting and Kitchen Garden.
The landscaped grounds at Hildene are so beautiful they made our list of the top three Southern Vermont gardens.
3. Visit the Dairy Farm
Hildene Farm and Goat Dairy is one of the most charming and picturesque spots on the property. Set amidst a sprawling 68-acre meadow, the farm is home to goats, cows, sheep, pigs, rabbits, and chickens. Learn about the cheesemaking process and sustainable farming practice while taking in the estate’s unforgettable landscape.
The estate is open year-round from 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and is closed for major holidays. All guests must pay admission at the Welcome Center. Guided tours and behind the scenes tours are subject to an additional fee.
Youth (ages 6-16): $6
Children under 6 and members: Free
Spend the Night at Our Romantic Vermont Inn
Touring Hildene: The Lincoln Family Home is just one of many exciting things to do in Southern Vermont. Take a trip to the Vermont Country Store, embark on a fire tower hike, or follow along the Vermont Cheese Trail. No matter how you spend your time in our gorgeous area, you’re guaranteed to make memories to last a lifetime.
When planning your next Vermont getaway, consider booking a stay in Rhoda’s Room at the Arlington Inn. This first-floor room, located in the Main House, features a delightful view of our property’s English gardens. The room also includes a queen bed, a double bed, and a private brick patio. It’s the perfect setting for a romantic getaway for two in the heart of the Green Mountain State’s countryside.