Vermont's Green Mountains, whose scenery inspired the likes of Robert Frost, are truly an all-year destination. In summer and spring, hiking trails, swimming holes, and biking paths open, revealing the greenery that gave the mountains their name. Fall is simply spectacular, offering the unsurpassed leaf peeping Vermont is known for. And come winter, the slopes at Bromley Mountain offer downhill skiing, while it's possible to cross-country ski and ice skate in town.
If this is your first time visiting the small town of Manchester, look no further than these 10 outdoor activities.
1. Explore Hildene, the Lincoln family home and gardens
At the turn of the century, Abraham Lincoln's son Robert Todd Lincoln built Hildene as his family's summer estate—a far cry from the log cabin his father grew up in. Now, Hildene is an essential stop in Manchester for its history, architecture, and impressive grounds. Visitors can tour the primary residence, visit the goat dairy farm, walk the trails, pop inside the Pullman palace car, or simply picnic on the wide lawn.
2. Hike to Lye Brook Falls
Venture into the wilderness on a moderate, out-and-back hike to Lye Brook Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in Vermont that offers unparalleled mountain views.
3. Stroll Dorset's Sunday farmers' market
Farmers' markets are particularly bountiful in this verdant corner of the country. Have a kitchen at your accommodation? Pick up produce for a homemade farm-to-table meal. If not, the fresh bread, pastries, and specialty goods are well worth a stop.
4. Go swimming and cliff jumping at America's first marble quarry
Dorset Quarry is a swimming hole with history. Not only does it have the distinction of America's first marble quarry, but it also supplied the stone for the New York Public Library and Harvard Medical School. The quarry shut down in the early 1900s and filled with water from a nearby spring. Ever since, it's been a popular summer swimming spot.
5. Pick your own berries or pumpkins at Wildwood Berry Farm
Celebrate the season at a nearby u-pick farm. Summertime means blueberries and raspberries abound, while fall travelers are treated to apples and pumpkins.
6. Go fly fishing in the Battenkill River
Fly fishing is a quintessentially New England activity—especially in Vermont, the state that Orvis Company and the American Museum of Fly Fishing calls home. While in Manchester, head to Battenkill to try and catch some trout. The river, which starts in the Green Mountains, flows south into Manchester and eventually to the New York border.
7. Admire the fall foliage at the Equinox Preserve
With over 900 acres of land on the slope of Mount Equinox, Equinox Preserve boasts some of the best walking trails and leaf peeping opportunities. For an accessible, not-too-strenuous route, take the mile-long loop around Equinox Pond, where you'll be greeted by idyllic views of the Northern Hardwood Forest. If you're up for a longer adventure, give Robin's Lookout a go—but be sure to come equipped with snowshoes or microspikes and hiking poles if it's wintertime.
Other activities and points of interest around Mount Equinox:
- Skyline Drive: The longest, privately owned, paved toll road in the United States—with pinch-me-this-can't-be-real views to boot
- Land Rover off-road experience
8. Go cross-country skiing at the Stratton Nordic Center
30 minutes by car from Manchester and about 45 from Bennington is Stratton Mountain where, come winter, you'll find 20km of tracked cross-country trails and 50km of backcountry skiing. The Sun Bowl Lodge is the best spot for rentals, lessons, and guided tours.
9. Learn how maple syrup is produced at Dutton Berry Farm
February to April is when the sugar makers remove taps from the trees to extract the maple syrup that Vermont is known for. At Dutton Berry, farmers tap over 3,000 trees per year—and when you visit, you can witness the process from the start and take home a bottle of the sweet stuff for yourself.
10. Go ice skating at the Riley Rink
If you're traveling with kids, there's no better activity than ice skating. At Riley Rink, you'll have the option to choose between figure skates with toe picks or hockey skates. Rental sizes range from a toddler's 8 to a men's 16.
If you need to pop inside somewhere to warm up, we've got you covered:
- Shop at the family-owned, independent Northshire Bookstore on Main Street.
- Get your art fix at Tilting At Windmills Gallery or the Southern Vermont Arts Center
- Indulge in some retail therapy at the Manchester Designer Outlets
Sounds like a long weekend trip you'd like to take? Leave the planning to Journy and travel with confidence knowing we only book activities and lodging with flexible cancellation policies and refundable rates—and that we're keeping a close eye on COVID safety developments with our network of on-the-ground experts.
Where to stay
Kimpton Taconic Hotel
Opened in 2015, the Kimpton Taconic Hotel on Main Street is one of the newer properties in Manchester Center. Rooms, furnished in a refined New England style, are located in either the main building or three separate cottages. The onsite restaurant, Copper Grouse, is one of the best in town for upscale dining and craft cocktails.
Barnstead Inn is a 14-room, family-run inn just outside the center of Manchester. The cozy rooms, situated in a 19th-century carriage house, all have private baths, air-conditioning, cable TV, and coffee makers. The one and two-bedroom suites have their own kitchen.
There are also ample Airbnb options in Manchester, which your Journy trip designer can help vet for you.