Nestled among the Battenkill River and Mt. Equinox, Manchester is well known for outlet shopping, fine dining options and other attractions. It is a short drive to the Stratton, Bromley, and Magic Mountain Ski Areas. The town of Dorset, right next door, is uniquely historic and quaint. You will find numerous white houses with green shutters. The entire area boasts visual and performing arts and celebrates writing, reading and the great outdoors.
For a step back in time, go to Bob’s Diner of Rt. 11 & 30, just east of Manchester. It is a totally retro diner complete with juke box and counter with stools. The menu includes kids options with fair prices.
Another amazing options for good eats is the area historic country stores and their respective delis. In Dorset, you will find the H.N. Williams Store with a few tables indoors and many meals offered for take-out. A big order of really yummy chicken strips and fries is only $6. If you are looking for fresh Vermont produce the Dorset Farmer’s Market is held at the store every Sunday from 10:00-2:00 during the summer months.
Best Outdoor Activity
If you’re looking for a place for the kids to run off some steam, check out Manchester’s Dana L. Thompson Memorial Park, also known as the Rec. Park by local residents. It includes a one-mile flat, gravel track for walking, running and biking. There is also an in-ground pool (only open in the summer), basketball courts, baseball diamonds, fenced-in dog park, playground, skate board park and tennis courts.
Wildwood Berry Farm, located in East Dorset, has blueberry picking that usually begins in July. Their tall bushes make picking easy for kids and adults. Buckets are available. They make the best homemade popsicles, a great reward after picking. You’ll want to try one of each flavor!
If you’d like to explore the area a bit by hiking try the Equinox Preservation Trust Trails. There are wonderful trails to the top of Mt. Equinox and everywhere in between. The Pond Loop (1.2km) is relatively flat with an amazing view of Mt. Equinox and little creeks along the way. It is perfect for younger kids. For those not interested in hiking, or unable to hike, there is also a road to get to the summit of Mt. Equinox for a fee by car and by passenger. This is located south of Manchester on 7A.
Best Indoor Activity
Manchester has a fabulous, brand-new library with events, programs and music. It has a huge children’s section, complete with a play area and sound-proof doors so kids can be themselves without disturbing anyone in other areas. There is also an amazing teen section (wee ones not allowed) complete with chess and computers for gaming. This is a great option on that rainy or snowy cold day.
Northshire Bookstore is the gem of our area. It’s located just off the roundabouts in Manchester. Be ready to get lost for hours and have everyone leave happy, guaranteed. This is the place with something for babies, children, teens and adults. Authors, often most notable in the field, are on location throughout the week, year-round for readings and special events as well as book clubs. The Spiral Press Cafe is located in the store is a great place to grab a bite to eat.
Just a short trip from the Manchester area is Weston, home of the Weston Playhouse with a performance for every one. This summer kids will love Junie B. Jones and Peter and the Starcatcher. Weston is also home to the famed original Vermont Country Store, a place where you can find everything from yesterday and today. It’s like a museum that you can taste, try and buy. There are vintage toys, products, home goods, quality clothing, foods and so, so much more. Kids will love the free tasting samples and penny candy. There is a restaurant is on site and open year-round. A snack bar is open summer months. Definitely worth a trip with or without kids!
Best Money Saving Tip
Manchester has a two-screen movie theater, Village Picture Shows. Go on Monday when tickets offered at a reduced cost to Vermont residents. Tuesday nights during the summer enjoy free Concerts on the Green. Join them each week from 6-8 pm in Manchester.
Secret Spots & Little Known Gems
No trip to the area is complete without attending a fair or festival. These are some of our favorites:
- In July there is a Sheepdog Trial Festival at Merck Forest, just northwest of Dorset at Merck Forrest.
- East Dorset hosts the 6-week Vermont Summer Festival which included Horse Shows from June–August. It brings the best in show from around the nation to compete in Vermont.
- During the holidays the Manchester and the Mountains Merriment Festival hosts a lighted Tractor Parades and Elf Express train ride.
About the Author
Amy Miller-Bremel is in her fourth year in the area after moving from Wisconsin. She is having a blast exploring and “playing tourist” in her new surroundings with her husband, Paul and three kids, London, McKinley and Meridian. They are busy taking in the many festivals, concerts, plays and are regulars at the farmers markets. They are usually found swimming all summer long and on the mountain snowboarding and skiing during the winter.
This post is part of our Hometown Expert Series: We invite FindandGoSeek users to share their insider tips about visiting their town. If you think you’ve got the inside scoop on where you live in Vermont and want to write about it, please contact us.
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