Manchester is a charming hamlet in the southern part of Vermont. The village, surrounded by the Green and Taconic Mountains, is only 5 hours from the New York metropolitan area. The scenery is breathtaking. It’s a winter playground for skiers and snowboarders. If you enjoy winter pursuits like hikes, cross country skiing, or snowshoeing, there are trails for that. But, if you prefer to remain indoors, there is so much to see and do. Discover stately historic homes, art museums, and art classes. Dive into a delectable dessert at a village café. Dine in world-class restaurants, sip a beer at a craft brewery, or find the perfect outfit at an upscale shopping outlet.
Suppose you want to experience quintessential New England hospitality. In that case, you only need to book a stay in a gorgeous boutique hotel and enjoy a weekend dining by the fire or admiring the rural scenery in a horse-drawn sleigh – just like a modern-day Currier and Ives painting. It’s one of the most romantic places to enjoy a getaway.
I was a guest of the Manchester Visitor’s Bureau and The Kimpton Taconic Hotel, but all opinions are my own.
Things To Do In Manchester
Snuggle On A Chair Lift
Manchester is a ski town. You can reach Bromley Mountain in 15 minutes, Stratton Mountain in 25, and Mount Snow in 45 by car. If you want to include a day of skiing during your long weekend, you only need to pick from these three resorts to have a phenomenal ski day. At Stratton, you can choose other activities like tubing, cross country skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, or snowga (yoga in the snow). You can then return to Manchester and warm up by the fire après ski.
Visit Robert Lincoln’s Ancestral Home
Hildene is a stunning Georgian Revival mansion and the summer residence of Robert Lincoln, the only son of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln to survive to adulthood. A visit to Manchester as a child in 1864 was so memorable that he built Hildene as his ancestral home some 30 years later. The extensive property was once an active dairy farm, and today, cheesemakers craft artisan cheeses on the property.
Three generations of Lincolns lived at Hildene from 1905 to 1975. A tour through the house is a step back in time. The carefully preserved spaces look like they did when the family enjoyed their summer retreat, relaxing on 412 acres of glorious grounds. An informative tour of the home and his complicated legacy will shed light on Robert Lincoln. After he became the president of the Pullman Company, his critics accused him of racial injustice against the Pullman porters. The porters, most of whom were formerly enslaved people, were paid low wages and overworked during his tenure. Comparisons to his deceased father, President Abraham Lincoln, were harsh. Many felt he fell short in supporting the porters after his father’s mission to free enslaved people.
The goal of Hildene in the 21st century is to educate and create civil discourse about racial discrimination and partner with schools to educate students on civic engagement and environmental stewardship. A special exhibit pays homage to Abraham Lincoln with artifacts collected from his presidency. Be sure to visit the fascinating Pullman Sunbeam and Pullman Porter’s display on the property. Hildene is a perfect excursion for history lovers.
Gaze Upon Inspiring Art
The Southern Vermont Arts Center is a museum, exhibition space, and workshop in one beautiful spot, high on a hill above Manchester. The Yester House mansion (circa 1918) was a 300-acre farm owned by Charles F. Orvis, a fly fishing retailer and conservationist. When the Ritter family purchased the grounds, they opened their home to artists and society. After divorce and remarriage, Gertrude Divine (Ritter) Webster hosted exhibitions and musical performances for esteemed guests to promote the arts. She willed the home to the Vermont Historic Trust, and in 1950 it became an art gallery open to the public.
Today, art is exhibited in rooms throughout Yester House. Curate Café serves “artful” cuisine for lunch or dinner with stunning views off Gertrude’s sun porch. The Elizabeth de C. Wilson Museum, a second, modern building that opened in 2000, displays traveling exhibits and highlights of the permanent collection. Classes and programs continue throughout the year in the Hay Madeira Education Studios on painting, weaving, and photography. Musical performances occur in the Louise Arkell Pavilion, a state-of-the-art acoustical space on the 100-acre campus that showcases the Stroup Family Sculpture Park with installations throughout the landscape. Check the website for current exhibitions and class offerings. If you love art, pieces are available for purchase.
Hike In The Taconic Mountains
Nothing is more refreshing than a hike if you are enamored by winter’s beauty. In that case, there are trails for hardy souls that range from easy to moderate (check the conditions before you venture out). The Equinox Preservation Trust has a romantic stroll known as Flatlander’s Pass. The trip around Equinox Pond takes 1.5 hours, and hand-holding is highly encouraged.
Buy Gifts For Each Other
While Manchester is idyllic in the winter, it’s also a four-season destination. If you adore fishing, visit the Orvis store. Charles F. Orvis opened the store in 1856, making it the oldest mail-order business in America. The flagship location sells the best rods, clothing, and camping gear. There are lessons for those who want to master fly fishing (in season). Then you can practice your new skills on the Battenkill River. Not an angler? The Manchester Designer Outlets have designer finds at terrific deals that are sure to get your heart racing.
Create A Token Of Your Love
At Manchester Hot Glass, you and your partner will take a hands-on class on how to create a blown glass keepsake. Master Glass artist Andrew Weill has over 30 years of experience making hand-blown glass, custom lighting, jewelry, and art. He’s worked with famous clients and installed his work in homes and businesses in the area and worldwide. Weill will take you through the process of choosing an object and then teaches you how to blow and shape it to create a masterpiece. The process is fascinating, and it takes about 30 minutes for you and your partner to craft molten glass into an object of your choice. It was a fantastic experience, and the finished products are sentimental souvenirs for a romantic trip. It’s a hot activity.
Enjoy A Horse-Drawn Sleigh Ride
Taylor Farm has two teams of gorgeous draft horses that pull box-style sleighs into the woods around Londonderry, Vermont. Wool blankets lead to cozy cuddles, and a stop at a clearing mid-way allows time to warm hands by the bonfire while sipping hot cider. You can purchase s’mores kits or cheese and crackers at the Taylor Farm Store to nibble at the stop. Once you return, visit the farm animals or stock up on Vermont cheese, maple syrup, meats, CBD, and artisan goods. Each trip is specifically for your group. For couples, it’s a private, romantic ride. Check pricing for your sized party and BYOB.
Best Restaurants In Manchester
The food scene is eclectic. Enjoy fine dining, casual diners, and cafes in the heart of town.
The Raven’s Den Steakhouse & Taproom is a fantastic choice for steak lovers. Daily specials and 28-day aged Black Angus beef, prime rib, chops, seafood, and vegetarian dishes are prepared by skilled executive chef and owner Edward St. Onge. Nancy St. Onge welcomes diners with fantastic hospitality. This dynamic husband and wife duo created a warm ambiance (sit in front of the fireplace for maximum romance) and delicious fare in a low-key atmosphere. Chef Ed curates the award-winning wine list, and the craft cocktails are too good to skip. Desserts are prepared in-house and will make you swoon.
The Copper Grouse serves classics for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a stylish setting. Attached to the stunning Kimpton Taconic Hotel, the Grouse is the perfect restaurant for a gourmet brunch on your way to any adventure. Local ingredients are sourced and highlighted in the dishes here. There is nothing better than a plate of buttermilk pancakes with Vermont maple syrup, whipped butter, and fresh berries to start your day.
An intimate romantic dinner at The Silver Fork is always a fantastic date night. The Mid-Century Modern decor in the renovated historic Mark Skinner library and exceptional international cuisine prepared by award-winning Chef Mark French will make for a memorable evening.
Pro Tip: Do not skip dessert. The Caribbean bread pudding served alongside a coconut crème anglaise is nothing short of life-changing. For more dining choices in Manchester, check here.
Best Hotels In Manchester
The Kimpton Taconic Hotel offers understated luxury in the heart of the village. The clapboard architecture and expansive front porch beckon you to sit and take a few quiet moments. Combining a modern hotel with late 19th-century inn vibes is the perfect setting to relax after your explorations. This dog-friendly hotel has water and treats in the lobby for furry friends. Additional touches include happy hour, live music, and an all-day hot cocoa station, making this a welcoming place to rest your head. The décor and comfortable beds in your room, plus the robes and luxury products, could keep you upstairs for the weekend, but there is too much to miss beyond those doors. Check here for more inn and hotel choices. No matter where you stay, you will love your time in Manchester.
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