Located in the beautiful Green Mountains of southern Vermont, Manchester is a charming small town with much to offer visitors and residents alike. With a population of just over 4,000 people, Manchester provides a friendly small-town atmosphere while still featuring plenty of activities, events, and attractions.
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Why Visit Manchester, Vermont?
Manchester has been a popular tourist destination for over a century, drawing visitors who enjoy the natural beauty of the mountains as well as the town’s shops, restaurants, attractions, and more. Here are some of the top reasons to visit Manchester:
- Outdoor Recreation – Manchester is surrounded by the Green Mountain National Forest, offering hiking, biking, fishing, and more. Bromley Mountain offers skiing and snowboarding in winter and hiking and mountain biking in summer.
- Shopping & Dining – Manchester’s main street features boutique shops, art galleries, restaurants, cafes, and more. Stop for lunch at a local eatery or spend an afternoon browsing for unique gifts and souvenirs.
- Historic Architecture – Manchester’s downtown features Georgian, Federal, and Victorian architecture, with many buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. Take a stroll and admire the beautiful historic homes and inns.
- Cultural Attractions – Visit the Southern Vermont Arts Center which hosts concerts, theater productions, and art exhibits. Or tour Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home, to learn about the Lincoln’s time spent in Manchester.
Is Manchester, Vermont a Good Place to Live?
In addition to being a popular tourist destination, Manchester is also home to many full-time residents who enjoy the small-town quality of life. Here are some of the benefits of living in Manchester, VT:
- Natural Beauty – Living amongst the Green Mountains provides easy access to hiking, skiing, and all kinds of outdoor activities year-round. The natural scenery is breathtaking.
- Strong Community – Manchester has a vibrant, tight-knit community with plenty of community events and activities bringing people together. Neighbors know and support one another.
- Good Schools – Manchester’s schools consistently rank highly, providing a quality education in a small-town setting. The student-teacher ratios are low.
- Convenience – While small, Manchester has most of the essentials including shops, restaurants, entertainment, healthcare facilities, and other amenities. Burlington and other cities are within an easy drive.
- Four Seasons – Manchester is beautiful in every season, from summer greens to fall foliage to a snowy winter wonderland. You can enjoy the outdoors all year.
Fun Facts About Manchester, Vermont
- The town was one of the first summer resort destinations in the United States, with visitors drawn by the natural beauty as early as the 1860s.
- Manchester was home to Abraham Lincoln’s son Robert Todd Lincoln and his family from 1945 to the 1980s. Their preserved estate Hildene is now a popular attraction.
- Manchester is Vermont’s best known upscale shopping destination, with dozens of high-end outlets, boutiques, galleries, and more downtown.
- The nearby Bromley Mountain resort installed Vermont’s first chair lift in 1936 and started the state’s ski industry.
- Manchester hosts popular annual events including the Vermont Summer Festival horse show, the Manchester Music Festival, and the Manchester Antique and Classic Car Show.
So if you’re looking for natural beauty, small town charm, history, culture, shopping and dining – consider a visit or move to Manchester, Vermont! The Green Mountains will welcome you.
Manchester, Vermont offers plenty of recreation and fun activities for visitors to enjoy. Here are some of the best options for recreation, shopping, dining, and entertainment in Manchester:
Hiking – Lots of great trails in the Green Mountain National Forest, such as the Long Trail, Bromley Mountain trails, and more. Manchester is surrounded by stunning natural beauty and great hiking trails that outdoor enthusiasts flock to every season. Here are some top hiking trail options in the Manchester area:
- Long Trail – Part of the legendary Long Trail runs down from Mt. Equinox Skyline Drive. It’s 10.2 miles round trip with great views from Lookout Rock. Difficulty ranges from easy to strenuous.
- Bromley Mountain – The hiking trails at Bromley Mountain Resort range from easy nature walks to challenging rock scrambles. Popular hikes include the Vermont View Trail and the Summit Trail up 3,281 ft Bromley Mountain.
- Lye Brook Falls – A moderate 2.8 mile hike in Green Mountain National Forest takes you to the 60 ft tall Lye Brook Falls cascade.
- Dorset Quarry – This 6 mile loop hike goes past the abandoned Vermont Marble Exhibit Center and beautiful mountain lakes before ending at the Dorset Quarry.
- Merck Forest Trail System – Over 30 miles of trails for hiking and mountain biking through diverse topography and landscapes.
- Hildene – The grounds of Hildene historic estate feature scenic nature trails past wetlands, meadows, and woodlands that are open year-round.
With options for all hiking abilities ranging from short nature walks to challenging mountain ascents, it’s easy to enjoy Manchester’s natural splendor on foot. The fall foliage views are especially stunning. The Green Mountain Club and area outfitters can provide more trail recommendations.
Fishing – Fly fish in the Battenkill River or visit Emerald Lake for catch and release fishing
Manchester offers excellent fishing opportunities for anglers of all levels throughout the area. Here are some popular spots and information on fishing around Manchester:
- Battenkill River – This river is considered one of the premier trout fishing destinations in the Eastern U.S. It’s known for its prolific insect hatches and is ideal for fly fishing. Brown trout along with rainbow trout can be found in the river.
- Emerald Lake – A peaceful 63-acre lake surrounded by natural beauty. It’s stocked with brook and rainbow trout and offers catch and release fishing only. No motors are allowed.
- Equinox Pond – A small pond located below Mt. Equinox that’s stocked with brook and rainbow trout by the state. It offers nice views while fishing.
- Manchester Recreation Center – The rec center stocks their two ponds frequently throughout the season, making it a family-friendly option. Regular stockings of trout occur.
- Dorset Quarry – This 80 ft deep former quarry is now flooded and stocked with trout, smallmouth bass, perch and more. It’s a unique angling spot.
- Lakes & Streams – The mountains around Manchester have small lakes, rivers, and streams that you can fish. Permits are required.
The Manchester area offers diverse fishing opportunities in scenic settings. Fly fishing is popular but bait and lures also work well. Local outfitters like Orvis offer gear, licensing, and guided trips.
Biking – Mountain bike on the trails at Bromley Mountain or bring your road bike to bike the scenic Vermont country roads
Manchester is a great destination for biking and mountain biking, with scenic road cycling routes as well as exhilarating mountain bike trails. Here’s more on the top places to ride:
- Bromley Mountain Bike Park – This lift-served bike park at Bromley Mountain Resort has over 40 trails spanning over 600 vertical feet. Designed for all skill levels, trails include dirt jumps, wooden bridges, berms and other features.
- Manchester Rec Center – The rec center maintains an intermediate level mountain bike loop trail just under 2 miles long through woods and meadows. It’s ideal for beginner mountain bikers.
- Merck Forest Trails – Over 30 miles of well-marked trails from easy to difficult traverse diverse terrain including ridges, valleys, wetlands, and old farms. Excellent for mountain biking.
- Landgrove Loop – A 15-mile loop on dirt roads through rustic Vermont towns taking you past lakes, farms, and forests. Challenging hills with very scenic views.
- Equinox Skyline Drive – For experienced road cyclists, Skyline Drive offers a steep 5 mile climb and stunning valley views. Not for the timid!
- Village Bicycle Shop – Local bike shop offering rentals, tours, trail info, and equipment for mountain and road biking.
From family-friendly rail trails to technical mountain bike park features, Manchester has diverse cycling opportunities for all ages and skill levels set in the heart of vibrant Vermont scenery. It’s easy to have an epic ride here.
Golf – Play a round at the Manchester Country Club or the Ekwanok Country Club
The Manchester Country Club is widely considered one of the top golf courses in Vermont. Here are some of the key things to know about golfing at this premier club:
- Layout – This 18-hole, par-72 course was designed by legendary golf course architect Donald Ross. It covers 6,724 yards through the Green Mountains. The classic design takes advantage of the dramatic natural landscape.
- History – The club dates back to 1895, making it one of the oldest country clubs in New England. Legends like Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, and Ben Hogan have played here over the decades.
- Course Highlights – Signatures include the cliffside 4th hole, the uphill approach on 9, and the famous “Cape Hole” par-3 15th hole over a ravine. Conditioning is immaculate.
- Amenities – The club features a stunning Tudor clubhouse, pro shop, practice facility, locker rooms, dining room, and pool. Caddies are available.
- Membership – The club has full golf, social, junior, and non-resident memberships available. Some limited public tee times are offered.
- Accolades – Golf Digest ranks it the #1 Private Course in Vermont. It’s hosted state amateur tournaments and is on many top course lists.
With its historic pedigree, classic Donald Ross design, and exceptional course conditions, the Manchester Country Club offers one of New England’s finest private golf experiences in the heart of the Green Mountains. It’s a bucket list play.
Shopping & Dining
- Downtown Manchester – Main Street is lined with cute boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, and cafes. Stop at Mrs. Murphy’s Donuts or The Perfect Wife Restaurant.
- Manchester Designer Outlets – Upscale outlet shops for brands like Burberry, Coach, Armani, Polo Ralph Lauren.
- The Village – More shopping and dining in a village setting including LL Bean and Orvis outlets. Enjoy American fare at Seasons Restaurant.
Manchester Designer Outlets
Manchester, Vermont is famous for its collection of high-end outlet shopping destinations, drawing visitors from near and far. Here’s an overview of the outlets and why they are so popular. Enjoy upscale outlet shops for brands like Burberry, Coach, Armani, Polo Ralph Lauren.:
- Manchester Designer Outlets – This outdoor village-style outlet features big name brands like Armani, Coach, Polo Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, Kate Spade, Brooks Brothers and more at discounted prices. Shoppers can save 25-65% on designer apparel, shoes, accessories, and housewares.
- Manchester Wood Outlets – Also known as “The Stores at Weston”, this indoor outlet mall includes brands like J.Crew, Theory, Cole Haan, Lacoste, Levi’s, Nike, and Frette at savings of 25-70% off retail.
- Orvis Company Outlet – The flagship retail store for the outdoor lifestyle brand Orvis sells discounted overstock and irregular items for both men’s and women’s clothing and gear.
- Vermont Country Store Outlet – Find bargains on New England-style candies, foods, home goods, clothing, and more at this outlet for the Vermont Country Store brand.
- Manchester Outlet Center – Discounted retailers here include Mikasa, Papyrus, Yankee Candle, Marimekko, and more.
Part of the appeal is the picturesque Vermont village setting with mountain views. But outlet shoppers also flock here to snag deals on high-quality, brand name merchandise sold at steep discounts. It makes for an affordable way to elevate your wardrobe and home. The selection and savings keep shoppers coming back.
Southern Vermont Arts Center – See performances and gallery exhibits.
The Southern Vermont Arts Center is a must-visit attraction in Manchester, Vermont for arts and culture. Here’s more about what they offer:
- Performing Arts – The center’s Arkell Pavilion Theatre seats 440 people and hosts concerts, comedy shows, musicals, and other live performances year-round. Past acts have included Judy Collins, Arlo Guthrie, and Jay Leno.
- Galleries – There are three art galleries exhibiting works by established and emerging artists. Media represented includes painting, sculpture, photography, prints, fiber art, and more. The galleries rotate new exhibitions every 4-6 weeks.
- Classes – A full schedule of arts education classes is offered in areas like painting, drawing, photography, ceramics, jewelry making, and more. Classes are offered for adults and youth at all skill levels.
- Events – Special events like artist receptions, lectures, art auctions, and donor events take place throughout the year. The Annual Fall Art Festival in October is a popular festival.
- Historical Campus – The arts center is located on 11 acres of Manchester’s historic district. The grounds feature gardens, a restored carriage barn, and an historic home used for offices.
- Gift Shop – Browse regional art, crafts, cards, jewelry, and other unique items in the gift shop which supports local artists.
With dynamic public events and exhibits as well as opportunities to make your own art, the Southern Vermont Arts Center is the perfect place to immerse yourself in Manchester’s thriving arts scene. Check their website for the current calendar.
Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home – Tour the preserved estate of Robert Todd Lincoln
Hildene is a must-visit attraction for anyone traveling to Manchester, Vermont! Here are some of the key reasons to visit this historic estate:
- Hildene was home to Robert Todd Lincoln, the son of President Abraham Lincoln, from 1905 until his death in 1926. Getting to walk through the preserved family home allows you to immerse yourself in the daily life of the Lincoln family.
- The 412-acre estate features beautiful gardens and grounds designed by Robert Lincoln, including a vintage revival Pullman palace railroad car that he used for transportation. Wandering the grounds is a treat.
- Inside the home, you can see Lincoln family personal artifacts, photographs, furniture, books, and documents that provide insight into the family’s life. Highlights include Robert Lincoln’s impressive library and Abraham Lincoln’s famous stovepipe hat.
- There are interactive exhibits on Abraham Lincoln’s life and legacy. For history buffs, these exhibits provide a fascinating perspective on this iconic president and his family’s story.
- Special events and programs are offered throughout the year, including lectures, concerts on the restored 1928 Aeolian pipe organ, and activities for kids like cotillions.
- The on-site Victorian mansion The Manor House offers fine dining in an elegant atmosphere. Be sure to eat here and soak in the ambiance.
- The setting in the heart of the beautiful Vermont countryside, surrounded by the Green Mountains, is idyllic.
With so much to see, do, and learn, Hildene is a must-visit attraction to fully experience Manchester, Vermont’s unique heritage and culture. Allow at least half a day to take it all in!
American Museum of Fly Fishing – Learn about the history of fly fishing
The American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vermont is a unique museum that is worth a visit for anglers and non-anglers alike. Here are some key details:
- The museum was founded in 1968 and is the largest museum in the world dedicated to the history of fly fishing.
- Exhibits trace the origins of fly fishing, rod materials and design, reels, lines, leaders, flies, and more. There are over 2,000 rods and reels in the collection spanning 400 years.
- Rare books like A Treatyse on Fysshynge wyth an Angle from 1496 are on display. This gives you an up-close look at important fly fishing literature through the centuries.
- The museum celebrates the art and culture of fly fishing through artwork, collectibles, accessories, and more. There are paintings, sculptures, and prints showing fishing scenes.
- Angling paraphernalia used by famous fishermen like Ernest Hemingway and Lefty Kreh are exhibited.
- A research library contains over 20,000 books, documents, and materials related to fly fishing history. Scholars and authors regularly access these archives.
- Interpretive exhibits look at things like the evolution of fly design, fly fishing in the arts, women in fly fishing, and conservation efforts.
- Lectures, classes, and special events are offered regularly. Experts share insights into fly fishing.
The museum is highly interactive and family-friendly. Even if you’ve never held a fishing rod, you’ll leave this museum learning about and appreciating the age-old sport of fly fishing in new ways.
Manchester Historical Museum – Exhibits on the history of Manchester
The Manchester Historical Museum is an excellent place to learn about the history and heritage of Manchester, Vermont. Here are some of the key reasons to visit:
- Housed in a restored 1846 bank building, the museum’s permanent exhibits provide an overview of Manchester’s history from its days as a farming community in the late 1700s through its rise as a Gilded Age resort destination in the 1860s to today.
- Artifacts, documents, photos, furniture, clothing, and other historical items bring Manchester’s history to life. Notable pieces include a Victorian-era velocipede bicycle, early hotel registers, and a mounted moose head from the Equinox Hotel.
- Special exhibits change periodically and delve deeper into aspects of Manchester history like pioneering African American residents, the Lincoln family’s time in town, and Manchester’s 1920s tourism boom. These rotating exhibits spotlight unique stories.
- The museum offers guided walking tours of Manchester’s Main Street highlighting the history behind different landmarks and architecture. This is a great way to explore downtown.
- Educational programs like lectures, workshops, and children’s activities are offered to engage visitors in Manchester’s local history and heritage.
- The gift shop sells books about Manchester and Vermont history, photographic prints, and other unique historic mementos you won’t find elsewhere.
- Admission is free for Association members or only $5 otherwise, making this an accessible activity.
Whether you’re visiting Manchester or live nearby, the Historical Museum is a great place to immerse yourself in the people, places, and events that shaped this Vermont town over the centuries. It’s both educational and entertaining for history buffs.
Manchester hosts a variety of popular outdoor events and festivals throughout the year that are worth checking out. Here are some of the top outdoor happenings:
- Summer Horse Shows – The big event is the Vermont Summer Festival at HITS in nearby East Dorset, featuring equestrian competitions, vendors, and family fun.
- Manchester Music Festival – This summer concert series held outdoors in July and August brings popular performing artists to town.
- Car Shows – The Manchester Antique and Classic Car Show displays hundreds of vintage vehicles downtown in June. Another big show is the Green Mountain British Invasion.
- Running Races – Races like the Manchester 5K/10K, the Livingston Relay, and the Mt. Equinox Skyrace take runners through the scenic Green Mountains.
- Farmer’s Market – The popular weekly farmers market features fresh produce, baked goods, crafts, music and more on the town green from May to October.
- Fall Foliage – Leaf peeping activities like train rides, hiking, chair lift rides, and festivals celebrate the autumn colors.
- Winter Carnivals – Annual winter carnivals in Manchester and nearby towns include sledding, skating, games, food, and fun.
The natural splendor of the Manchester area provides a beautiful backdrop for these spirited community outdoor events all year long. It’s a great way to experience the city with locals.
So whether you want to hike, shop, take in some culture or just enjoy good food, Manchester has it all!
Places to Stay
Here are some of the top lodging options to consider when visiting Manchester, Vermont:
- Equinox Golf Resort & Spa – Historic luxury resort and spa on 1,300 acres offering 183 rooms, fine dining, golf, pools, and more.
- The Reluctant Panther Inn & Restaurant – Charming 20 room romantic inn in a historic building with an acclaimed on-site restaurant.
- The Wilburton Inn – Elegant Relais & Châteaux property in a 1902 mansion with just 11 rooms featuring fireplaces and Jacuzzis.
- Hearthstone Inn – Cozy bed and breakfast in two 19th century homes with 8 rooms near downtown attractions.
- Inn at Manchester – Victorian mansion turned boutique hotel with 24 rooms, event space, free breakfast, and a great location.
- The Ira Allen House – Centrally located restored bed & breakfast offering 6 rooms with private baths and a full breakfast.
- Green Mountain Inn – Downtown landmark since 1833 with charming, traditional rooms and a popular tavern.
- Ekwanok Country Inn – Historic lodge offering 11 rooms on a peaceful 150 acre estate.
From cozy historic inns to luxurious resorts, Manchester offers a range of delightful lodging options that make the most of the area’s natural beauty and Vermont charm. Advance reservations are recommended.
Local Legends, Haunting Ghost Stories and more
Manchester, Vermont has its share of local legends, ghost stories, and interesting historical facts that add to its charm and intrigue. Here are some highlights:
- Equinox Hotel Ghosts – Manchester’s famed Equinox Hotel is said to be haunted by the ghost of Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of Abraham Lincoln. Guests have reported seeing apparitions in the hallways and hearing strange noises.
- Hildene Paranormal Activity – Abraham Lincoln’s son Robert Todd Lincoln’s estate Hildene is allegedly home to a number of ghosts including Robert and his wife Mary. Unexplained voices and figures appearing have been reported here.
With its long history and bucolic landscape, it’s no wonder Manchester has accumulated some fascinating local lore over the centuries. Embrace the mystery and intrigue!