New England Day Trips Part V: Manchester, Vermont


Patrick Sweeney, News Editor

This is the last in a series of articles highlighting one town in each New England state. You will find tips on how to enjoy yourself for the day without the fear of spreading the coronavirus. This article will focus on the town of Manchester, Vermont and the surrounding area. For more information on the area, events and to view COVID-19 updates and information, please visit 

The weather is getting warmer in New England. We are still in the midst of a global pandemic that has cost over 500,000 lives in the United States. However, we have the opportunity to enjoy the warm weather by going on day trips with immediate family members. The small town of Manchester, Vermont, will provide a wonderful day trip for families. There are many wonderful places to shop, from outlet stores to the ever famous Vermont Country Store. There are also many dining options, from pizza places to sandwich shops. Lastly, families will also enjoy walking and hiking in the surrounding area. When in Manchester, families will be able to escape from everyday life and enjoy the secluded surroundings and friendly people.

It is a relatively simple drive from Holyoke to Manchester. The drive begins on Interstate 91 North from Holyoke, which is very quiet. There is only a fraction of the traffic on the northbound side as there is on the southbound side of the Interstate. Families should be looking for the exit after Brattleboro in order to begin their journey driving to Vermont. Families will drive through the small town of Brattleboro and then proceed to travel on many back roads. Be sure to bring your GPS along with you for the ride as some of the back roads might be tricky to navigate. Families will pass through many small towns on the way into Manchester, which features small shops and restaurants. Some towns are so small that they only feature a few quaint buildings as their center of town! Upon getting closer to Manchester, families will enjoy admiring Stratton Mountain Resort. This massive complex features a newly renovated hotel, places to eat and beautiful mountains. In the winter, there is usually a flurry of activity on the mountain with skiers navigating the slopes. Just before reaching Manchester, families should be on the lookout for a side road that leads to the small town of Weston, which is the next town over. Keep in mind that the roads in Vermont are extremely well-marked making your visit easier. 

Once families reach Weston, they should be on the lookout for the ever popular Vermont Country Store. Located in the heart of downtown, the Country Store is a shopper’s dream. Families can park to the right of the actual store in a dirt parking lot. There is a restaurant on site – The Bryant House, which opens for lunch and dinner. This restaurant is popular for its soups and sandwiches, so be sure to check it out. Families who have never been to the Vermont Country Store will be amazed at the variety of goods sold here. The store sells everything from clothing to home products spread throughout the large store. Children will enjoy browsing the shelves of toys, games and books, as well as White Mountain puzzles, which are manufactured in nearby Jackson, New Hampshire. Parents will be excited at the opportunity to show their children games of the past since the Vermont Country Store sells reproductions of vintage games. Moms will enjoy looking at the health and beauty area, which features everything from hand soaps and lotions to other bath products. Fathers will flock to the men’s section, where they will be admiring the nice variety of clothing as well as bathrobes. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to pick something out for dad and put it away for Father’s Day! The Vermont Country Store also has a large candy and chocolate area located in the far left corner of the store, where everything from Cream Drops to gummy bears are sold. Refrigerators filled with soda, maple syrup and Vermont cheeses are also available. Be sure to inquire about COVID-19 precautions in this particular section to keep yourself and others safe. After finishing at the Vermont Country Store, families can cross the street and visit two more excellent shops – the Weston General Store and Weston Village Christmas Shop. The General Store features hundreds of puzzles as well as souvenirs from Vermont, toys and games. Keep in mind that the Weston General Store also has an online store where you can purchase puzzles and a wide variety of other items and have them shipped to your house. The Weston Village Christmas Shop features a wonderful selection of Christmas ornaments and décor that is guaranteed to impress. 

Once back on the road, families should look for signs directing them into the town of Manchester. Once in the small town, they will be charmed at the sense of community and the nice shops and restaurants. Right on the main road is Zoe’s Double Hex, which is a wonderful lunch option for families. Located in a beautiful building, this restaurant gets very busy during lunch hours, so be sure to snag a table right away. As you walk in the door, you might be inspired to pick up a free edition of Manchester Life, a local magazine that is published right in town, and some other visitors’ guides and maps. The local weather is usually displayed on a small screen at the entrance, so be sure to check it out in order to plan the remainder of your trip. Once seated, families will enjoy choosing from the wide variety of entrees offered here, from burgers to salads and sandwiches. Ask for a table by the window and you will have a great view of the main road leading into Manchester! If there are no tables left, consider looking into Zoey’s Deli, which is a sister restaurant to the Double Hex and is located right in downtown Manchester. Once done eating lunch, families can begin exploring the town of Manchester. There are many wonderful shops, from cooking stores to outlets. On the way in is an outlet store of Vineyard Vines, the ever-popular clothing store begun on Martha’s Vineyard. Families will also get enjoyment out of browsing the shelves at Manchester Woodcraft, which is a fantastic wood shop. Everything is made on-site and the shelves are filled with everything from wooden letters and signage to wooden spoons. Be sure to go upstairs for an even wider variety of wood products, with some Vermont souvenirs mixed in. Across the street from Manchester Woodcraft is Above All Vermont General Store. Families with young children will enjoy perusing the shelves filled with penny candy, puzzles, games and Vermont accessories to take home as a souvenir from the wonderful trip. Moving up the street takes families into the heart of the Manchester Designer Outlets, which feature many excellent stores and great deals. Popular names like Eddie Bauer and Gap are among the stores here. There is also a wonderful kitchen store nearby – Vermont Kitchen Supply, which is a dream for home cooks. This store has a wonderful variety of cooking utensils and gadgets for the home. Tired after a few hours of shopping? Be sure to stop at Mother Myrick’s Confectionery, which is located down the street from Vermont Kitchen Supply in a small strip mall. As soon as families walk into the shop, they will smell the beautiful aromas of homemade treats. Be sure to buy some of Mother Myrick’s famous buttercrunch before you leave. The pastry shop also sells everything from raspberry heart-shaped cookies to small “Lemon Lulus” which are mini lemon Bundt cakes with confectioner’s sugar on top. The staff at Mother Myrick’s is always cheerful and ready to help you place your order. Once families have their treats, they can drive back to the Manchester Outlets. Behind the Gap outlet is a well-maintained park that is open to the public. Grab a bench and sit down to enjoy your treats! The park is dedicated to U.S. war veterans and features a beautiful waterfall and stream. This is a great opportunity for families to sit back and relax after a nice day of shopping and eating. 

Once done at the park, families can explore the other side of downtown Manchester. There are various other stores to explore, with Northshire Bookstore among the most popular. This bookstore, which features a wide variety of topics, genres and authors, is located in a rambling old home with a sprawling front porch. Be sure to walk through the porch, which is filled with discount books and other items on a regular basis. Once inside, families will enjoy looking at the books and magazines offered at the store. There is a small café located inside the bookstore. Grab a coffee and settle in with a book of your choice! The children’s section is located upstairs and features a great variety of books. Northshire also has many book signings and other events, so you might want to check out the event schedule for more information. Down the road is a series of shops that house Native American goods and trinkets to explore. Families will enjoy the opportunity to weave a history lesson into a shopping trip. If families finish shopping in Manchester early in the afternoon, they can venture to some other destinations nearby, such as Hildene, which is President Lincoln’s family home. Tours are offered, but things look different because of the pandemic, so be sure to inquire before making any plans. On the same road is the Orvis outlet, which is perfect for anyone with a love for the outdoors and fly fishing, as well as the Equinox resort. The resort features a golf course, so be sure to bring some clubs if you are interested. There are many wonderful attractions for families to enjoy in Manchester and there is something for everyone.

Before heading home for the night, families might be looking for a good restaurant to cap off a wonderful day trip. Manchester has a wide variety of restaurants. One great restaurant is Christo’s Pizza. This joint is extremely family friendly and the chefs make fantastic pizzas as well as salads, pasta dishes and calzones. Another option is Manchester House of Pizza, which is very close to Manchester Woodcraft. Either pizza place is guaranteed to satisfy. Lastly, another option for families is Mulligan’s, which serves everything from soups to sandwiches and a nice children’s menu. No matter where you choose to dine in Manchester, you will have a pleasant experience and excellent food. 

Manchester, Vermont is a beautiful town with many great attractions. Families will enjoy the pleasant ride from Holyoke to Manchester since it involves many back roads and not a lot of traffic. Families have many options to shop in Manchester and the surrounding area, from the Vermont Country Store in nearby Weston to the Designer Outlets in Manchester. There are historical sites like Hildene and many great restaurants that will satisfy any appetite. Traveling to Manchester in the spring or summer months always provides for a fun experience with the people you love.