A few weekends ago Jess and I had a girls weekend getaway in Manchester Vermont where we stayed at The Equinox Hotel. The drive from Woodstock along scenic route 100 was gorgeous, passing through the Green Mountain range, Coolidge State Forest, Echo Lake, Okemo State Forest and Bromley Mountain. Even as a Vermonter, I can appreciate the beauty and diversity in the rolling hills, mountains and valleys as you move through each village.
In Manchester, we loved exploring the sweet, charming town. Vermont may be a small state (although not as small as Rhode Island) but it is always fun seeing the difference in landscape, atmosphere and unique charm in each small town. Manchester has an up-and-coming restaurant scene that is just as trendy as it is delicious. There’s a wide selection of boutique shops with options for everyone and plenty of activities whether you’re a thrill-seeker, adventurer or nature lover. If you’re thinking about heading to Manchester, VT, here’s 15 things to this summer.
15 Things to Do in Manchester, VT This Summer
Where to Stay
The Equinox provides a great central location to base your Manchester family vacation this summer. Even better, it’s pet friendly! The indoor pool, golf course, lake and spa make all of your activities accessible and easy. The luxury resort spa is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy treatments that utilize local products. In fact, the indoor pool is a great option for kids rain or shine! We also thoroughly enjoyed having drinks and apps on the Equinox’s beautiful front porch with the mountains as our backdrop.
We stayed in the Orvis Inn 2 Bedroom King Suite. And we each had our own king bed and full bathroom and the adjoining suite with a living room and kitchen was a lovely common area for lounging, chatting and doing late-night face masks. The spaciousness of the room would be perfect for families and groups. *Thanks to the Equinox for generously hosting us for a 2 night stay.*
Where to Eat
The Copper Grouse was just a few minutes by foot from the Equinox Hotel. Located in the Taconic Hotel, the Copper Grouse features American-style dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner and delicious specialty cocktails. We loved the Lightly Buzzed Margarita and ordered some small bites to share- the brussels sprouts, kale miso ceasar and mussels are a must. For desert we shared the chocolate chip cookies a la mode, definitely recommend it!
The Crooked Ram, owned by new friends of ours is the outdoor restaurant experience every small town needs right now. We dined outside in The Yard with the most hospitable, genuinely kind and fun staff. With the hip tunes, vibes and mouth-watering food- you just can’t go wrong. This place will instantly put you into happy summer mode and you’ll never want to leave! We loved the olives, burrata, crab toast and Margherita & Verde pizzas. Don’t skip the Tiramisu Profiterol or the Olive Oil Cake. YUM!
The Dorset Bakery located just outside of Manchester in the small town of Dorset is a sweet little bakery perfect for both breakfast and lunch. They have a lovely little sitting area both indoors and outdoors and you can also take sandwiches to go if you have a fun-filled day ahead.
Up For Breakfast
Just ask anyone where to go for breakfast, everyone will tell you to hit Up For Breakfast. The pancakes and eggs are always a crowd pleaser. If you’re looking for a great no frills diner experience, this is it.
We walked by the Silver Fork a few times and it looked so cool. The Silver Fork resides within the historic walls of the old Mark Skinner Library. The menu is an eclectic mix of Caribbean and European influenced dishes from award-winning Chef Mark French. The menu changes seasonally featuring fresh and fun ingredients.
Located within the Equinox Resort, Marsh Tavern is a cozy pub with a great casual vibe and delicious menu. We had delicious apps and cocktails on the front porch of the Equinox for happy hour and it was delightful. Try the pretzel and fried pickles!
What to Do
Jess and I didn’t quite know what we were getting ourselves into with the Land Rover Experience, and it was quite a surprise. Now that we’ve had the opportunity to experience it, we are here to say it was a very special and worthwhile excursion. The Land Rover Experience provides a unique opportunity to drive a Land Rover through a distinctively designed course including hill climbs, side tilts and rocky terrain. If you love off-roading and trying something different and new, this is your adventure! You can book right through the Equinox Resort.
The Dorset Marble Quarry is the first marble quarry in the United States. This beautiful swimming hole is surrounded by large marble, and crystal clear, refreshingly cold water. This local swimming spot has both marble and grassy areas for lounging and cliff jumping if you’re a thrill seeker!
Walking into Northshire Bookstore is a magical experience. This is by far the most beautiful, well-maintained and designed bookstore I have ever been to. This store is equal parts quaint and exquisite with levels and sections for every need, whether you are looking for your next beach read, stationary or a children’s gift. If you are a bookstore lover like me you could spend your entire day here and leave with more bags than you can carry. If you only have time for one shop in Manchester, The Northshire Bookstore is a must!
The Golf Club at Equinox is a beautiful course overlooking the Green Mountains. This easy going course is great for beginner, intermediate and advanced skill levels providing a range in holes and offering a variety of shots. Jess and I had the opportunity to play a few holes on our first night and it was really fun to play the course as the sun went down behind the mountains. The views are absolutely stunning.
The Dorset Union Store is everything you could want in a historic Vermont general store. They have a great selection of Vermont goodies, breakfast, and lunch deli options all while honoring the history of the store and town.
If you are looking for more of a leisurely swimming experience the Stratton Snow Making Pond, about 15 minutes outside of Manchester, is a great option. A local favorite, it’s the pond where Stratton Mountain gets the water to make their snow in the winter. Enjoy the views overlooking the Green Mountains while you take swim or go for a paddle. We picked up sandwiches from the Dorset Bakery and brought them with us to enjoy before taking a dip. It was cold but refreshing.
The Equinox Preserve and Pond Trail includes 11 miles of maintained trails ranging in difficulty. In addition, the trails are pet friendly, just don’t forget a leash. Mountain bikers are welcome but should avoid single-track trails. Choose your adventure whether that is an easy pond loop or a more challenging summit climb.
For outdoor enthusiasts, head to the Mountain Goat for all the gear, shoes and clothing you need. They have an amazing selection of brands and styles for the whole family including: Patagonia, Prana, Teva, Columbia, Chaco, Birkenstock, Blundstone, Salomon, Smartwool and many more.
A lovely shop for all your kitchen needs. If you love to cook and bake this is your happy place.
Manchester is a wonderful destination in New England for a getaway (and a convenient drive from Woodstock, VT). There are plenty of great options for shopping, dining, hiking, biking and swimming this summer! Whether you are the adventure seeker or looking to relax, Manchester has options to entertain families and couples alike.