Located alongside Lake Champlain, the town of Westport serves as a serene gateway to the Adirondack Mountains. Showing off the best of small-town life, combined with natural beauty and boundless opportunities for outdoor adventure, the town that gave the world the Adirondack chair has drawn visitors for generations.
Westport is a historic town sitting on a quiet bay of Lake Champlain. Settlement at this location dates back to colonial times, but the original village was completely destroyed during the American Revolutionary War. The idyllic spot quickly attracted development again, and by the mid-19th century the small town was renowned as a lakeside resort destination. This history also includes serving as home to the oldest summer camp in continuous operation in the United States -- Camp Dudley, founded as a YMCA camp in 1885 and moved to its current location in Westport in 1908.
Visitors continue to come to Westport for its location on Lake Champlain. Boating and water sports are a top attraction and Westport Marina offers dockage and boat rentals. Ballard Park features a sand beach and swimming, with a stunning view of the lake and Vermont’s Green Mountains on the opposite side. The park hosts weekly evening concerts throughout the summer.
Hiking and bicycling options abound throughout the area. The town is also a haven for bird watching, with several sites in Westport featured as locations on the Lake Champlain Birding Trail. In the winter months, ice fishing is popular on the lake while ice skating and sledding can be found at Ballard Park.
The small town offers a great amenity with the presence of live professional theater. Offered in an unusual location, The Depot Theatre performs plays and musicals at the historic train station which dates back to 1876. Beautifully restored, the depot continues to serve as an active Amtrak station in addition to hosting the 136-seat performance space.
Since 1865, Westport has been home to the Essex County Fair due to its location near the lake. The annual festival of exhibits, carnival rides, and entertainment is accentuated by the historic structures which were built to host the fair. The fairgrounds are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The spirit of this relaxing corner of the Adirondacks may be best represented through its history as the birthplace of the iconic Adirondack chair. In an effort to provide comfortable porch seating for a large group of friends and family, Westport resident Thomas Lee designed the chair at his home. Using local wood – a single hemlock plank – he produced the famous design featuring a slanted back and wide arm rests to hold food and drinks. A woodworker and friend of Lee’s, Harry Bunnell, began making the chairs in his Westport shop. Bunnell eventually applied in 1904 for a patent for the design, which he named an “Adirondack chair.”
Today, locals and visitors to Westport can still enjoy taking a moment to enjoy the serenity of Lake Champlain, the mountains, and this quaint, small town.