DuJour Navigation

The Weekender: Manchester, Vermont

An idyllic getaway with rustic charm and adrenaline-boosting activities

The dreamy town of Manchester in southern Vermont is reminiscent of a storybook setting. The local dentist, butcher, cheese shop, bookstore and candy shop are all within a two-block radius in the town centre. But, that’s when you explore on-foot. And it’s great to walk the streets of Manchester and discover the quirks of a small town. But, when you hop in a 2020 Range Rover Sport PHEV and explore the back roads, that is when you will find the real hidden gems. There is an 80+ acre plot of land laced with trails dedicated to Land Rover off-roading and a few miles further you’ll find an 80 acre farm where you can arrange an intimate dinner, wedding reception or a simple weekend away from the world.

The city boasts unparalleled mountainscapes, charming boutique hotels and lovely locals to offer their suggestions on “what to do.” Below, you’ll find our suggested weekend itinerary.

Where to Stay:

When you’re traveling to any city and you find a Kimpton hotel available, you know you’re in good hands. The Kimpton Taconic Hotel is located just a short drive up the road from Manchester’s main street. The boutique hotel is eclectic and sweet with a fire pit on the back porch for guest’s to relax around, a daily social hour serving local beer and wine and an impressive on-site restaurant that caters to both locals and visitors alike. The hotel is simultaneously sleek and warm, allowing guests to live in luxury while feeling at-home. Plus, the prime location encourages guests to explore every facet of Manchester with ease.

What to Do:

Vermont is centered around a lot of outdoor activities: skiing, snowboarding, hiking, etc.. If you would like a taste of the great outdoors without actually being cold or wet or exhausted, check out the Land Rover Experience Driving School. The 80-acre purpose-built course features ever-changing trails that you can explore in a Range Rover (co-piloted by a trained professional) for a one-hour ride, a half-day, full-day, or for however long you feel comfortable with. Even as an amateur driver (who really needs a car in New York City?) I felt secure and comfortable after the instructor drove us through the course and I saw that we never actually went faster than 6mph. Off-roading is not meant to be an extreme sport, it is about learning how to properly tackle bumps in the road (literally) and how to be safe about it. Were there times when the car was on just two wheels and my stomach plummeted into my butt? Yes. But, this Range Rover Sport is competent enough to recognize nearly every situation before you do. For instance, there is a new Wade Sensing system that provides real-time wading depth information compared to the maximum depth the car can handle (almost three feet).

If off-roading isn’t your vibe, take a trip to the Southern Vermont Arts Center. Perfect during the warmer months, you can explore the grounds and check out the galleries and ever-changing exhibits before visiting the newly renovated café for a quick bite to eat. 

Where to Shop:

The town of Manchester features several stand-out shopping moments but one of them is the Northshire Bookstore. First of all, it is dog-friendly and the staff will offer to give your dog treats so they will be happy to stay for a while. Second, the store is quite expansive, featuring several alcoves of hardcover and paperback books, journals, records, CDs, calendars and more. You can peruse for the book you never knew you needed or sift through the collection of records for the perfect addition to your arsenal. Afterwards, head back to the Kimpton Taconic to peruse the adorably curated gift shop for truly local Vermont goodies.

There are a slew of high-end boutiques sprinkled along Main Street such as Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren and a local store filled with Patagonia. If thrift stores are more your speed, there are a couple of gems nestled in Manchester. It may take some digging but you can find historic signage, vintage lamps and more.