On the Road to Charming Manchester, Vermont
Something about living on the northeast and being in the car for family vacations go hand-in-hand. I’m not saying that people in other parts of the country don’t road trip, I’m just saying we do a lot! As a kid my family vacations always consisted of piling into a car no matter what season it was to get to our destination. What happens as soon as you get in the car for a long journey with a kid or two or more… A few things I can think of consisting of their little voices bellowing out "I’m hungry," "I have to go to the bathroom" (again) & that joyful phrase in repeat of "ARE WE THERE YET!!!??"
I’ve faced the fact that being on the road solo vs. with child means two totally separate things and that idea of just getting to your destination as quickly as possible isn’t always the best choice. Sometimes if we are traveling longer than a couple of hours I like to plan a midday stop, lunch and some easy activities. Since I am mostly blogging about Vermont these days I’d like to share one of my favorite stopping points in Southern Vermont – Manchester Center!
Manchester is famously known for SHOPPING, outlet shopping to be exact. What sets apart Manchester from your typical outlet mall is that the shops are nestled in this pretty Vermont town instead of a concrete mall structure. The town is filled with great activities for everyone plus a bunch of really delicious restaurants and of course a seasonal Ben & Jerry’s stand! Besides the plethora of shopping choices (Jcrew, Gap, Coach, Ralph Lauren, Kate Spade, New Balance, Gymboree to name a tiny few!!) we also have some other key stops to make in town.
Northshire Book Store is a good old school indie book shop. Northshire is a ginourmous free-standing multi-level structure with NO chain store affiliation. The children’s section spans the entire top level, with plenty of touch me items, toys and books to browse. Don’t forget to end your visit with a snack and a hot chocolate from their café.
Dana L Thompson Memorial Park is located just off the main drag in Manchester. Such a fun park and a perfect break from a long car trip. Featuring two big playgrounds for kids of all ages, lots of green space, a walking trail, skate park, tennis courts and a picnic area (not to mention a public pool for the hot summer days).
Riley Rink is always a great stop for a little ice time on the road! Chances are if your family likes snow sports, someone likes to ice skate. Riley is a great choice for open skate time and has a large concession stand, skate rentals and a warm room with WIFI if mama isn’t in the mood to tackle the ice.
Hildene – the historic Lincoln Family home for a little culture and a maybe peek at Abe Lincoln’s top hat--this is such a treasure stop! This estate was built by Robert Lincoln the only son of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln in the early 1900s. It is open almost every day to the public and you can tour Robert and Mary's home, Hildene Farm (goats to name a few friends who habitate here), flower gardens, 8 miles of walking trails and some antique cars. Hildene also offers great programs for kids, including week-long summer camps; Travis attended “bug” camp last summer and spent a week being one with insects of all kinds... a boy's dream!
I can really go on and on about Manchester, there is so much more to this little town. Not to mention it’s filled with tons of clean and affordable lodging options... so stay the night and spend an extra day there (#protip you can also stay in Manchester and easily get to Stratton, Bromely, Okemo or Mount Snow for some family Ski/Snowboard time too!)
Keep riding forward xx Jen
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