If you’re looking for a non-ski adventure in and around the Mount Snow area then consider a bucolic 50-minute drive through the Green Mountain National Forest from West Dover to Manchester for an enjoyable day trip.
From the historic Hildene estate and summer home of Abraham Lincoln’s son to Mount Equinox, the second tallest Mountain in Vermont to the well-known Manchester Designer Outlets, there’s a lot to see and do in Manchester.
And the directions to get there from West Dover are easy. Just take Vermont Route 100 north past Mount Snow until you reach Vermont Route 30 and take a left. Turn left again when Route 30 also turns left at the intersection with Route 11. Route 30 will take you right into the center of Manchester.
We’ve included a list at the bottom of this post with the dates for festivals in and around Manchester in 2023.
Things to do
The center of Manchester has long been famous for its designer outlets. Stroll through the downtown area with its scenic green mountain backdrop while enjoying a top-notch shopping experience with brands like Armani, Brooks Brothers, Eileen Fisher, Le Creuset, Marimekko, Tumi, Ralph Lauren, and more. The Vermont Flannel Company also recently opened a store here.
The Northshire Bookstore in the center of town is an independent bookstore with over 10,000 square feet of sprawling store space that’s great for browsing and discovery. They have an entire floor dedicated to children, a used books section, and often have author readings for kids and adults. Bonnet and Main is a popular cafe in the same building selling coffee, baked goods, and lunch.
Orvis, world famous for selling fly fishing, hunting, and sporting goods, was founded in Manchester in 1856, making it the oldest mail-order retailer in the United States. Visit their shop or consider signing up for a fly fishing or wing shooting class with Orvis experts.
The American Museum of Fly Fishing is dedicated to researching, preserving, and interpreting the treasures of angling history and the rich heritage of the sport. The museum houses the world’s largest collection of angling and angling-related items and organizes exhibits that document the evolution of fly fishing as a sport, art form, craft, and industry in the US and abroad. Their signature summer event will be held on the museum grounds on August 12th.
Enjoy a self-guided tour of Hildene, a Georgian revival mansion built in 1905 as the summer residence of Abraham Lincoln’s son, Robert Todd Lincoln, and his wife Mary. Highlights include a 1,000-pipe organ, formal gardens, a 1903 Pullman Sunbeam car, a working farm, and 12 miles of walking trails that are available for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter. The estate also has a goat dairy and cheese-making facility and is a stop on the Vermont Cheese Trail.
In the warmer months, you can drive to the top of the majestic Mount Equinox, which at 3,848 feet above sea level is the highest peak in the Taconic range and the second-highest mountain in Vermont. At the top, take in the 360-degree view of Vermont, New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and on a clear day, Montreal’s Mount Royal. The mountain is also home to the only North American Charterhouse of the Transfiguration of Carthusian Monks, an enclosed Latin religious order of the Catholic Church.
The Southern Vermont Arts Center is a multi-disciplinary arts organization and performance space housed in a colonial revival estate built in 1916, and home to the area’s largest outdoor sculpture park. Stop by to explore a curated exhibit, listen to a reading or live musical performance, take a class, or wander the grounds which are open to the public with trails for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. The center’s curATE café also serves small plates, salads, and sandwiches, with dinner options and a full bar. Recently, the Sunday brunch has included a popular jazz trio.
Al Ducci’s Italian Pantry is an Italian specialty food shop and deli with a great selection of imported Italian cheeses, meats, and wines. They also make delicious Italian American sandwiches and other prepared foods. You can get the sandwiches to go or eat in.
The Crooked Ram started as a retail bottle shop in 2017 and quickly grew into a full restaurant. They offer several distinct dining experiences, including a no-reservation bar, an intimate dining room, a seasonal open-air kitchen, and a café. Guided by local-first sourcing, their menu is rooted in seasonal agriculture and paired with a selection of craft beverages, natural wines, and cocktails.
Honeypie is in Jamaica on the way to Manchester and makes a tasty stop for burgers, sausages, and sandwiches. Craft beer enthusiasts should also check out Meuleman’s Craft Draughts across the street. The shop has a great selection of Vermont and regional beers, as well as domestic and imported. The owners of Honeypie are also behind the highly praised SoLo Farm & Table which serves farm-to-table style dining in an 18th-century farmhouse in South Londonderry.
Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home, offers 12 miles of trails which are open to guests year-round. There is a fee but it includes access to the house, farm, and other exhibits.
The Equinox Preservation on Mount Equinox has several trails for hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, mountain biking, and horseback riding. The trails vary in length and difficulty from the easy Pond Loop which is less than a mile to the more difficult and steep Blue Summit Trail that ascends steadily through high-elevation forests to reach the summit.
The grounds of the Southern Vermont Arts Center are open to the public. Visitors can explore the area’s largest outdoor sculpture park, or use easy trails for walking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. The trails also connect to the trails at the Equinox Preservation. Admission to the campus is free and trails can be accessed during daylight hours.
A 1.5-mile hike in the Equinox Highlands, the Pew Forest hiking trail makes its way through northern hardwood forests. The hike is of moderate difficulty and there are no user fees. No pets allowed.
The Prospect Rock trail is a popular and steep hike with a great view of the Manchester valley and Mount Equinox. There are no user fees and the trail is open year-round. Dogs are welcome.
The Lye Brook Falls trail follows old logging railroad paths and roads up a steady incline. Take the Spur Trail off the side to reach one of the highest waterfalls in Vermont. The Lye Brook falls are 125 feet high. The trail is difficult with minimal maintenance in some areas. The slippery rocks of the waterfall also make it extremely dangerous and climbing is not recommended. There are no access fees and it’s open year-round. Leashed dogs are welcome.
The Spruce Peak Trail is a 4.8-mile round trip on a section of Vermont’s Long Trail. It passes through a hardwood forest and large boulders and crosses several streams. There are no fees and it’s open year-round.
Festivals in and around Manchester in 2023
Battenkill Fly Fishing Festival
April 28-30, Arlington, VT
The 2nd annual Battenkill Fly Fishing Festival celebrates the wild brown and brook trout of the Battenkill Watershed and the art of fly fishing. Festival highlights include a keynote presentation by Orvis’s Chief Fly-Fishing Enthusiast and free fly-casting clinics and workshops, along with craft beer, local food vendors, and live music.
Booktopia 2023: May 5-6
May 5-6, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester, VT
This 2-day event is a celebration of reading, readers, and authors. It was originally hosted in collaboration with “Books on the Nightstand”, a podcast hosted by Random House Publishers, Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness. Now it continues in May with exclusive author events, presentations, book signings, meet and greets, and a celebratory dinner.
June, July, & August
Vermont Summer Festival
June 23-August 13, East Dorset, VT
This all-inclusive equestrian festival is one of the most popular horse show series in the country. Divisions for every level of rider are featured, from the Short Stirrup Classic to the $40,000 weekly Grand Prix.
Manchester Music Festival
Various dates between June 29-July 30, Manchester, VT
The Festival engages, inspires, and grows a supportive audience for classical music, performed at the highest level of artistic excellence. The organization also teaches exceptional young performers the art of chamber music. Performers include world-renowned musicians, rising stars, and exceptional young artists.
Dead of Summer Music Festival
July 7-9, Manchester, VT
Enjoy 2-days of music and camping in the Green Mountains with plenty of live music, food, and craft beer. This family and kid-friendly festival has options for both RV and tent camping too. The musical lineup includes Melvin Seals, Pink Talking Fish, Steely Dan, Damn the Torpedos, Bearly Dead, Bella’s Bartok, Dead Man’s Waltz, Hayley Jane, Deadgrass, Clare Maloney & The Great Adventure, Saints & Liars, Misty Blues, and ARUKAH.
16th Annual Fly Fishing festival
August 12, Manchester, VT
Join the American Museum of Fly Fishing for their signature summer event on the museum grounds in Manchester. There will be fly-tying and casting demonstrations, and you can try your hand at casting vintage rods. Visitors can also visit the museum and enjoy a unique collection of vendors, including painters, appraisers, artisans, and angling-related non-profits.
Green Mountain Bluegrass & Roots Festival
August 18-20, 2023, Manchester, VT
This music festival showcases a variety of bluegrass, roots, and Americana music from icons of the industry and up-and-coming artists. Expect live music on multiple stages, local food trucks, and Vermont craft beer and wine, along with camping options.
Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival
September 8-10, Manchester, VT
125 juried artists and artisans from throughout New England and the North East, will display and sell contemporary craftwork. Visitors can expect live demonstrations from master craftsmen, great food, and live music.