The town of Manchester sits in the shires of southwestern Vermont between the Green Mountains and the Taconic Range. Traditionally considered a ski town due to its amazing winter sports conditions, Manchester is vibrant all year-round and offers plenty of warm weather activities, particularly outdoor sports. The entire town has a sporty legacy – Burton Snowboards and Orvis fly fishing equipment were both founded here. Its close proximity to the Stratton Mountain Resort, Bromley Mountain, and Magic Mountain ski areas make it an excellent winter destination.
Bromley Mountain: This family-friendly mountain is ideal for kids and parents alike. Kids will think the mountain is massive; parents will think that the mountain is just right. In the wintertime, they offer ski lessons, rentals, and Mountain Camp for children. In the summertime, ride on the triple track Alpine Slide, see the treetops from a Giant Swing, play golf, or maneuver through their Aerial Adventure Park.
Stratton Mountain Resort: If you’ve ever wished you could be trapped in a holiday snow globe, Stratton Mountain is the place for you. Idyllic and exciting, the mountain has been open for skiing for more than 60 years. Ski, snowboard, and tube through 99 groomed trails during the winter season; in the summertime, go golfing, ride the scenic lift, and experience the adrenaline of the downhill Bike Park.
Magic Mountain: Magic boasts some of the most fun and exciting slopes in the northeast. Ski or snowboard more than 1,200 feet of descending elevation along impeccable trails; take lessons and rent gear; or attempt the advanced slopes on the upper mountain.
Manchester offers tons of shopping, from artisan galleries to designer outlets to indie bookstores. Whether you’re on a summer shopping spree or are looking for holiday gift opportunities, you will certainly find something that suits your needs and tastes. Buy backcountry gear at The Mountain Goat, books at Northshire Bookstore, cookware at the Le Creuset outlet, and more. There are plenty of shops along Main Street and outlet malls throughout the surrounding area.
View and participate in a variety of arts, theater, and music throughout Manchester. The Southern Vermont Ballet offers classes in pointe, jazz, and modern dances, as well as twirl classes for little kids. Take music lessons at Taconic Music, which also has a resident ensemble that puts on performances throughout the year; furthermore, in the summertime Taconic hosts an annual Summer Festival. The Southern Vermont Arts Center offers classes and performances as well. If you’re just looking to browse, or even shop, there are several galleries sprinkled throughout Manchester such as Tilting at Windmills or Hemholz Fine Art.Historically, Manchester has been a popular vacation destination since the 1800s, and both it and the region surrounding the town are steeped in wondrous American history. Lodge at the romantic Dorsett Inn, established in 1796 (great for Valentine’s Day!); or at the iconic Equinox Hotel, at which the Lincoln family also stayed in 1864 before Robert Lincoln, firstborn son of Abraham and Mary, moved back to Manchester to build Hildene, “the Lincoln Family Home,” south of town. The estate includes 412 acres of gardens, an observatory, a museum store, a goat cheese making facility, a wetland boardwalk, and of course the Georgian revival mansion itself. More historic mansions can be found in Manchester center. If you tend to prefer museums over historic homes – or if you’re interested in Manchester’s connection to the sport of fly fishing – check out the American Museum of Fly Fishing on Main Street.
Manchester has lots of fun and entertainment for visitors of every age, including kids. If you visit in the wintertime, the ski areas will offer lessons or even kid’s camps so they can learn and play while you ski the day away. At any time of year, families with kids can appreciate the natural beauty of the region on one of Manchester’s plentiful hiking trails – though be sure to check the difficulty rating on your hike of choice before you decide to bring the kids along.
After a long day skiing or playing in the snow, nothing sounds better than a hot, delicious meal or a refreshing beverage. Luckily, Manchester has some pretty excellent fare to eat and drink. There are a plethora of bakeries, cafes, coffee houses, bars, taverns, steakhouses, and restaurants sprinkled throughout town. Some highlights: Ye Olde Tavern, built in 1790; Moonwink Burmese food; Jamerican Cuisine Food Truck, for Jamaican/American fare; and the Crooked Ram, which has both a bar and a dining room.
The Green Mountain Bluegrass and Roots Festival takes place every summer in Manchester over the course of four fun- and music-filled days. Hear jazz, folk, bluegrass, and acoustic Americana music while you sample food and drink from local food trucks and breweries. The festival takes place right in town, so attendees can stay in any of Manchester’s excellent hotels.
The Manchester Music Festival is hosted by the Southern Vermont Arts Center in the summertime, featuring amazing performances by many talented musicians. This festival has been going on for about fifty years.
Also not to be missed is the annual Vermont Summer Festival Horse Show, during which equestrians compete at all types of horsemanship events over the course of two months in the summertime.