Visitors have been journeying to Vermont since the 19th century when railroads made the pastoral landscape and fresh air accessible from steamy cityscapes. As painter Charles Heyde wrote from North Dorset in 1852: “Nothing could be more sublime than the effect of these mountains whose tops are amid the clouds the shadows of which rest upon their surfaces.”
While Instagrammable moments may have supplanted picture postcards from Vermont, the lure of an escape to the Green Mountain State endures. Inviting opportunities to “outdoor” abound, with Stratton Mountain at the heart of southern Vermont, whose storied villages feature in many a traveler’s Top 10.
Nearby Manchester was recently highlighted for its picturesque setting and variety of year-round activities, including those at Stratton Mountain, “making it an ideal destination for visitors of all ages.”
Here is where warm welcomes meet cool breezes. Where summer’s long days are made for exploration and adventure. Hike sections of the Long and Appalachian trails. Paddle the lakes and ponds. Cycle roadways with wide “tractor” lanes and heart-pumping climbs. Ride across a covered bridge. Mountain bike adrenaline-fueled descents, berms and technical single-track or softly pedal over serene wooded trails.
Tour a landscape dotted with farms and gardens. Discover secret swimming holes and fly-fishing pools. Check out special exhibitions and performances at the Southern Vermont Arts Center. Polish your game with Cliff Drysdale Tennis at Stratton on New England’s only authentic red clay courts. And there’s an adventure camp for the kids.
It’s all right here.
For a Side of History with Your Vermont Vacation
Manchester is where Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys staged the battle against Britain for Fort Ticonderoga, the Revolutionary War’s first victory. They met at Marsh Tavern in the Equinox Hotel, open since 1769 — long before Heddy Topper or Hill Farmstead brews made it to the world’s best beer lists. Stop for lunch, a Vermont craft draft on tap and one hearty helping of American history.
Head south to the Bennington Museum, shadowed by the Bennington Battle Monument, and browse 13 gallery spaces with exhibits that include Bennington Pottery, a 1924 Wasp touring car (only 20 were made, all here in Vermont), and a remnant of the original Green Mountain Boys flag, one of the few remaining Revolutionary regimental flags.
Take the road less traveled and it will lead you straight to the Robert Frost Stone House Museum on Route 7A in Shaftsbury. The seven-acre homestead is where he wrote some of his best loved poems including “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”
Choice Lodging at the Heart of Southern Vermont
Choose from a range of hotel and condominium lodging options at Stratton Mountain and enjoy a full menu of fun from golf, downhill mountain biking, kayak and ATV tours to patio dining, shopping and yoga at the summit of southern Vermont’s tallest peak. With attractive summer rates and packages like the Long Weekend, Stratton Mountain Resort is the perfect base from which to venture out in every direction. Where will it be today? Manchester, Jamaica, Newfane, Peru, Londonderry, Landgrove, Dorset … they’re all at your doorstep when you stay at Stratton.
We put together a Top 10 list of things to see and do that are So VT, but there’s no reason to stop there!
1. Farms, Farmers and Their Markets
Farm-to-table is no cliché when you get to meet the farmer. Taylor Farm in Londonderry, a working farm for 180 years, welcomes visitors. Meet the animals including Skippy the Scottish Highlander. Pick up artisan cheese, maple syrup, preserves … everything you need for a picnic! North Meadow Farm in Manchester offers tours daily with raw milk, eggs and their own cheeses – we highly recommend the everything bagel curds. You might run into fifth-generation dairy farmer Jesse Pomeroy bringing in the herd at milking time.
Throughout the season, you’ll find a farmer’s market almost every day of the week with fresh produce, bread, crafts, music … opening with bright lettuce and garlic scapes in the spring and running straight through the deep colors of fall with apples, pumpkins and the final heirloom tomatoes.
2. Fine Dining Without the Fuss
Leave that jacket and tie at the state line. Verde, in Landmark Courtyard at Stratton, offers patio dining and live music, with the fare — and flair — of Chef Luca Sena along with signature spirits and a wisely curated wine list. Silver Fork in Manchester’s original Mark Skinner Library features an eclectic menu with Caribbean and French influences, and was named the No. 1 U.S. Restaurant for Date Night by Trip Advisor. SoLo Farm and Table in South Londonderry is worth the trip from anywhere, luckily it’s just down the road, with a farmhouse ambiance and the globally inspired menu of James Beard Award winning chef Wesley Genovart.
3. Go Ahead, Dive Right In
Dorset Quarry takes the idea of a plunge pool to new heights with deep blue-green water and sky-high marble cliffs lined with thrill-seekers ready to jump into the chilly depths on a hot summer day. The nation’s first commercial quarry opened in 1785, supplying marble for many landmarks including the New York Public Library. Abandoned in the 1920s, it soon filled with water; today it is privately owned and graciously shared with visitors. Approaching from Manchester, you’ll see it on your right just before reaching Dorset Village. Check out some of our other favorite swimming holes.
4. Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home
First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln and her sons visited Manchester in 1864, expecting to return the following summer with the president, who purportedly had planned to retire in Vermont. Decades later, their son Robert Todd Lincoln built a stunning retreat on 412 acres with an unparalleled view of the verdant Northshire valley. Named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, the Lincoln family home is a classic mansion surrounded by formal gardens, especially dramatic when thousands of peonies bloom in June, and filled with family artifacts including that stovepipe hat the president wore to Ford Theatre. Stroll the trails and you’ll come upon a restored 1903 Pullman Car – Robert Lincoln was chief counsel and president of the Pullman Palace Car Company — before reaching Hildene Farm and Goat Dairy.
5. “Books are a Uniquely Portable Magic,” Stephen King
Voted Best Bookstore in the country by Publishers Weekly magazine, the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester features 10,000 square feet of inspiration and escape with author events throughout the year. Naming it among the Best of New England, Yankee Magazine said, “Northshire Bookstore is the independent bookshop/café you might have created in your dreams.” Check out the staff picks and pick up your perfect summer read. Browse the gifts, music, clever cards, and an expansive kid’s section. As one visitor remarked, “This place has everything I need to live: books, coffee, tasty food in the café.”
6. Broadway Without the Bright Lights
The stars shine brighter here, in the night sky and on stage. Tracing its roots to the Great Depression, the Weston Theater Company is nationally recognized for multi-stage summer shows, year-round music and educational programs. Broadway and regional theater stars make their way to Weston each summer. This year’s lineup includes Shrek the Musical, Hair, Steel Magnolias. The 45th season of the Dorset Theatre Festival brings a return to indoor performances in the historic Dorset Playhouse with a revival of the chilling Wait Until Dark, world premieres of Scarecrow and Thirst, a witty Irish drama, and Back Together Again, a concert.
7. The Covered Bridges of Southern Vermont
With about 104 of them, not counting the Cornish-Windsor Bridge Vermont shares with New Hampshire, the Green Mountain State boasts the highest density of covered bridges anywhere. Following Route 30 north toward Stratton, you can cross the Williamsville Bridge in Newfane, a 120-foot lattice truss built in 1870, then to the Scott Bridge in Townshend, a three-span structure that runs 260 feet, and is a state-owned historic structure. Head south from Stratton toward Manchester for the Chiselville Bridge in Sunderland; walk down to the river for a view of the bridge from below. Bennington brings you to the Paper Mill Village and Silk Road bridges, with pull-offs for parking.
8. Mount Equinox Skyline Drive
It’s only 5.2 miles to the top of the world. At 3,848, Skyline Drive takes you to the summit of the highest peak in the Taconic Range. Between Manchester and Arlington off Route 7A, the toll road delivers views clear across the valley to the Green, White, Adirondack, Taconic and Berkshire mountains as the Battenkill flows below. The longest paved toll road in the United States has been in continuous operation since 1947. Enjoy the vistas and picnic areas along the way and from the summit viewing center, a gift from the Order of Carthusians; the only Carthusian monastery in North America is in the valley below.
9. Fly Fishing the Legendary Battenkill
Prized by anglers and renowned for its wily old brown trout, the Battenkill runs right through Manchester, where you’ll find the Orvis flagship store stocked with everything you need, and anything you could want, to go home with a story that’s no fish tale. They’ve been building the highest quality rods for more than 150 years. Orvis Fly-Fishing School will get you ready to cast a line in the challenging waters of Vermont’s legendary Battenkill.
10. Old Fashioned Country Fairs and Country Stores
Family owned since 1946, the Vermont Country Store in Weston will take you back in time. Here you’ll find fun and practical finds like penny candy, cookie buttons, toys, old-fashioned games and forgotten favorites like Lemon-Up shampoo. Plan to spend a while.
One of the most famous country fairs is celebrating 39 years on September 24, and it’s right around the corner from Stratton. The Peru Fair opens with a parade leading to more than a hundred exhibitors at the center of this charming village. The town was officially chartered in 1761 but it wasn’t until 1827 that JJ Hapgood opened the first general store; fast forward to 1987 when it was a movie set for “Baby Boom.” The store looks quite different now but it’s still at the center of Peru with provisions, gifts and an award-winning eatery where in 2015 Sir Paul McCartney dined on margarita pizza and organic kale salad. The breakfast sandwiches are delicious too.
It Goes to Eleven
Maple creemee stands are everywhere once you cross into the 802. Order the sweet, soft ice cream twirled onto a cone or in a cup. But it’s not called “soft-serve” in Vermont. It’s a creemee. And it tastes like summer. Dig in.
Listen to the tunes of Stratton Mountain Music all summer long.