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On the Map, Under the Radar: Manchester and Manchester Center, Vermont

October 8, 2010

Ever randomly picked out a location on a map and gone there simply because you could?

Over the Memorial Day weekend last year, I decided to go camping at Emerald Lake State Park in East Dorset, Vermont. It was close–only four hours driving–and I hadn’t visited Vermont before, so I figured why not? I needed cheap accommodations and the $16 per night campsite fee at Emerald Lake fit the bill. It was a chance for me to get away–alone, of course–to a place I’d never been. I was game.

Southern Vermont was beautiful, green, and serene and I had a blast. I spent two days exploring East Dorset, hiking nearby trails and lounging on the shores of Emerald Lake. On my last evening in Vermont, in search of a nice place to have dinner, I stumbled into Manchester, seven miles south of East Dorset and nestled in the Manchester Valley with the Green Mountains to the east and the Taconics to the west. It was a treasure trove waiting to be discovered. I elected to spend my last day there and I thoroughly enjoyed myself exploring this cozy New England hamlet and soaking up its small-town charm.

If you’re looking for a place to go–solo or coupled–for a picture perfect fall weekend, might I suggest Manchester for your consideration? You can:

Go Up for Breakfast

“Seats can be scarce in this cozy café,” says Michael Stern of, “but if you are looking for something extra-special in the morning, Up For Breakfast is a gold mine. You really do go UP for breakfast. It is a second-story restaurant with window views of Main Street. There is pleasant art on the walls; and if you sit towards the back, you can enjoy watching goings-on in the semi-open kitchen.” With cozy yellow walls, brick red trim and chicken/rooster-themed décor all over, I knew right away that I’d love this intimate breakfast spot. And what a breakfast! Fluffy buttermilk pancakes drizzled with real Vermont maple syrup, bacon prepared just right, and freshly squeezed orange juice. Great people watching. All ingredients for a perfect morning.


At Northshire bookstore

A little bookish sculpture at Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vermont


View the fall foliage

Columbus Day weekend, according to the locals, is one of the single busiest times of the year in Manchester. Fall foliage is just hitting its peak, so visitors from all over descend on the small town to go leaf-peeping. You can sign up for a fall foliage tour or wander the trails of the outlying areas on your own.

Blow your own glass
Take a trip to Manchester Hot Glass where you can watch the pros blow some glass or you can try your hand at blowing your own. Peruse the studio to purchase pieces blown right on the premises.

Get outdoors with Orvis

The flagship store of Orvis, the nationally-known outdoors retailer, is located in Manchester and here you can learn the ins and outs of fly-fishing and attend demonstrations about a number of other outdoors activities. If the outdoors aren’t your thing, there’s always shopping the massive, lodge-like store to keep you busy.

Dive the stacks

Northshire Bookstore is an independent, family-owned and operated bookseller born and raised in Manchester Center. You can browse its two floors of ample stacks for titles about Vermont or sit down to a cuppa joe at its Spiral Press Cafe.

Sample Mother Myrick’s Buttercrunch

Available in two varieties, Mother Myrick’s Buttercrunch is a buttery, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth toffee confection dipped in either milk or dark chocolate and coated with crushed almonds. If you really, truly can’t make it out to Manchester, you can order the delicious toffee online, but Mother Myrick’s Confectionery is best experienced in person.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. David permalink
    October 9, 2010 9:58 am

    I like your style of traveling. Can I ask if you drove to Vermont? I don’t have a car and I am always looking for places that are accessible by public transport.

    • October 9, 2010 6:14 pm


      I did drive to Vermont, although I do believe Amtrak goes to Rutland from New York Penn Station and then it looks like there’s a bus you can take from Rutland to Manchester ( Perhaps a jaunt to Manchester just might be in your future….

      • David permalink
        October 9, 2010 6:32 pm

        Thank you! I am actually living in Japan at the moment. But I miss the USA so much. If you ever want to come to Tokyo….

  2. October 22, 2010 4:15 am

    sounds lovely!

    • October 22, 2010 5:34 am

      It was lovely…and memorable. I had such a great time!

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