Things to do in Manchester VT
Manchester is a four season destination that’s part small town, part active adventure. And dispite what you might think about Vermont there are plenty of things to do in Manchester VT.
I’ve lived in the area since the Fall of 2015 and can tell you there is plenty to do and see for a small town in Vermont. This list is some of my favorite things to do and see in and around Manchester, Vermont.
One of Manchester VT’s newest activities, Pastime Pinball, is located right downtown next to one of the round-abouts.
Inside is an arcade kid’s dream with over 50 different pinball machines. Pastime Pinball is a bit of a museum as well and has pinball machines from the 1950s all the way up to today.
My favorite machine is the Ghostbusters game located up the first set of stairs to the right. I used to have one of the high scores on it, but got bumped. TO whoever took my spot, I’m coming for ya!
Climb Mount Equinox
Mount Equinox towers over Manchester Vermont, and for those who head to the summit, provides an amazing view. It is one of my favorite things to do in Manchester during the Fall.
It is a challenging hike and can take around 3-4 hours just to reach the summit. I recommend bringing hiking poles and plenty of water and snacks.
Here’s the map for the Mount Equinox Preserve and Trust. When packing at the trailhead make sure to follow all posted signs. Cars have been towed that do not follow the rules. To avoid this get their early to get a parking spot in the small lot.
For those not interested in hiking you can take your car up the Mount Equinox toll road.
Eat at the Ye Olde Tavern
The Ye Olde Tavern is the oldest restaurant in the state, and one of the best restaurants in Manchester, Vermont.
Originally built in 1790 and opened as The Stagecoach Inn this restaurant predates the state of Vermont itself which was found in 1791.
With many changes over the years and even being a stop on the underground railroad the Ye Olde Tavern has stood the test of time.
Dinner their can’t be beat. Every meal starts with cranberry fritters and apple butter and is followed by food that is cooked with care.
Make reservations if you’re in Manchester over a weekend. On occasion they do dinner by candlelight. If you are in town when this is happening, go! It’s a unique opportunity.
Get a Massage with Pathways to Peace and Healing
I recently got a massage from Anna, the owner of Pathways to Peace and Healing. She operates out of a small day spa in a convenient spot right downtown. Anna can also come to your location if that is more convenient.
She offers Swedish, deep tissue, hot stone, reflexology, and aromatherapy massages. I was so relaxed after my massage I felt like a new person.
Visit Northshire Bookstore
Northshire Bookstore, in downtown Manchester, VT, is the best independent bookstore in the entire state. Right in downtown Manchester this is the store I go to for any books I need. (They have an awesome travel section!) On the second floor they have a spectacular children’s section. My Nanny kids love spending time look through books and toys up their.
No matter your opinions on politics, religion, or anything else you can have an opinion on you can find books their. Northshire prides themselves on not censoring things based on their personal opinions. This is one of the reasons I will always buy books from them.
The little cafe connected to the bookstore is also a plus and they have plenty of events each month for adults and kids alike. Here is their event calendar to see if there is something going on during your trip.
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Go Ice Skating at Riley Rink
Riley Rink is one of the best family-friendly things to do in Manchester VT. Located a short drive north on Route 7A from downtown Manchester Riley Rink.
Riley Rink has open skate Tuesday-Sunday. You can view the open skate schedule here. They have on site skate rentals (hockey and figure) and they also rent skate aids to help those learning to skate.
During the summer Riley Rink hosts a variety of events from concerts to races. Visit their website for more information.
Hike to Lye Brook Falls
The hike to Lye Brook Falls is one of the best hikes in the area. With a steady uphill slope I would rate this trail as moderate.
Bring water and a snack on this hike and practice Leave No Trace pack in pack out principals.
Check out the map below to see the trail. To get to the trail from Route 7 in Manchester, travel a quarter of a mile east on Route 11/30 to East Manchester Road. Go down East Manchester Road for about 1.0 miles and turn left onto Glen Road, just before the overpass. Almost immediately after the turn take the fork onto the Lye Brook Access Road. The trailhead is located at the end of the Lye Brook Access Road.
Float down the Battenkill River
This is my favorite summertime activity! The Battenkill River flows through the valley between the Green and Taconic Mountains. Grab a tube and some snacks and spend the day floating down the river. My friends and I do this several times a summer and chances are if we know each other I’ve invited you along for the adventure.
This is totally possible to coordinate yourself, but if you don’t have tubes get in touch with Battenkill Valley Outdoors and they’ll take care of everything for you. They have tubes to rent and a shuttle service.
If you’re really committed you can float all the way to New York State and get out at rest area just over the boarder.
In what seems like another lifetime, I used to work here. Hildene, was built by Robert Todd Lincoln, son of President Abraham Lincoln, and completed in 1905. While the house is the centerpiece of Hildene, over the years it has expanded to be so much more than a historic home.
On the grounds there is a goat dairy that makes the most delicious chevre cheese. If you’re visiting in March and April you might be lucky enough to visit with the baby goats they have that time of year. There is also a restored Pullman train car on property, hiking trails, a restored school house, and various other farm animals to visit.
I recommend, for those visiting during nice weather, to buy some cheese and other delicious goodies at the museum store and have a picnic lunch during your visit.
Take a Glassblowing Class
A few years ago for Christmas Will got both of us a class at Manchester Hot Glass. It was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received!
Located in the Historic Depot area of Manchester, a class with Manchester Hot Glass will be the highlight of a trip for friends and family that love getting creative. The owner, Andrew Weill, is present for majority of the classes and with his 30+ years of experience he’ll assist you in creating something beautiful to take home.
For those interested in taking a class sign up early as spots fill up quickly. Glass blowing classes take place on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Here is the list of classes offered at Manchester Hot Glass.
Learn to Fly Fish at Orvis
Manchester Vermont is the home to fly fishing outfitter, Orvis. In addition to their flagship store they also have a fly fishing school that offers 1 and 2 day classes. During the summer, on specific dates, they offer free fly fishing classes for kids. Inquire at the store for more details.
Go Skiing or Snowboarding
Within 30 minutes of Manchester there are 3 ski resorts all with their own unique personalities.
A short, 15 minute drive from Manchester is Bromley Mountain. The smallest ski area near Manchester, it is perfect for families and those just learning how to ski.
30 Minutes away in Londonderry, Vermont is Magic Mountain. Another favorite of locals, Magic is known as the place where “Skiing has it’s Soul.” The mountain has 30 trails for skiers of all abilities. During the summer there are many different outdoor events here including concerts and races.
The largest ski resort near Manchester VT, with 99 trails, is Stratton Mountain. If you’re looking for a full weekend in one location Stratton is the place. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, they have snow tubing, snowshoeing, a spa, live music, and a fitness center.
Explore Merck Forest & Farmland Center
Merck Forest, located 1 town over from Manchester Vermont in Dorset is a beautifully quiet place to enjoy the amazing nature Vermont has to offer.
Each year Merck has a wide range of events from teaching sheep shearing, to nighttime owl hikes, and my personal favorite, their annual pancake breakfast held every March.
They also rent small wooden cabins for the ultimate Vermont nature getaway.
Experience Bromley Adventure Park
During the winter Bromley is full of skiers and snowboarders, and once the snow melts the real fun starts. The only mountain in the area that has more people at it during the summer than in the winter, Bromley sports the only Adventure Park in the area.
My personal favorite thing Bromley has is the alpine slide. It is actually the oldest alpine slide in the United States, don’t worry they’ve made updates! With 3 different tracks you’re sure you find a thrill!
On top of that they have mini golf, a high adventure course, a zipline type experience called the Sky Rider, a water slide, and more.
Make a Splash at the Dorset Quarry
For even more summer fun head over to the Dorset Quarry and jump on in.
This old Quarry is open to the public thanks to the current owners so please treat the area with respect. Don’t leave your trash behind and be careful when climbing up the rocks to jump in.
If you’re headed to the Quarry keep in mind that it gets VERY busy so get there early to get a parking spot.
This is truly a Vermont experience not to be missed! Just know that the water is very cold, so be prepared for a shock to the system.
Ride the Gondola up Stratton Mountain
During the summer Stratton Mountain is open for various events and concerts. In addition, you can take the Gondola up to the top of the mountain. From there you can hook up with the Appalachian Trail/Long Trail for a great day of hiking. Or you can take the short hike to the Stratton Mountain fire tower to get the most amazing view of the Green Mountains.