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and I always
look for a
he would be happy living like a hermit
in the most remote wooded region
he could find, while I still enjoy things
like breakfast at a local diner, wandering
between the shelves at decades-old
bookstores, and having a good meal and a
drink or two at a great restaurant or bar.
For that reason, we usually try to pick
places that have a combination of both
the nature and quiet that he loves, and
enough culture and small-town kitsch
to keep me happy.
On a recent long weekend, we decided
to head north through New York state
and into the south-western region
of Vermont. Our destination was
Manchester, a sweet and vibrant town
nestled within the Green Mountain
Driving out of New York City, it’s
amazing how quickly the skyscrapers
vanish in the rear-view mirror; within
one hour of leaving Manhattan, the
greenery goes from non-existent, to
sparse, and then to thick and lush.
Before you know it, you’re already
forgetting what the crazy rush of the
city feels like.
Nature is fairly quick to affect your
mentality. Your shoulders drop a little,
you hum and tap out a drumbeat on the
steering wheel. You start to point out
things like cute cottages, sheep in fields,
the shape of clouds. Before you know
it, you’re stopping at a farm gate buying
jam and eggs, and anticipating the walks
through the forest that you’re going to
take. Forget organic food, chemical-free
toothpaste that turns your teeth yellow,
and no filters; natural to me means trees,
greenery and sunshine. And in that case,
Vermont is more natural than any place
I’ve seen recently.
By the time we crossed the border
between New York and Vermont, I
realized that I was more relaxed than
I’d been in a long time.
When we arrived in Manchester,
we decided to spend the afternoon
exploring the town. My husband was
happy with this—possibly because he
knew that the next day had been set
aside for nature, or possibly because he
knew that after a walk around the town
would come a drink at the pub.
Manchester is a popular ski village
during the winter months. Because of
this, the town center has undergone
some development, but the beauty and
grace of the original township, which
was established in 1761, is still front
and center. That’s what makes a visit
here so special.
Manchester is small but perfectly
formed. Architecture from the town’s
history is on proud display, restaurants
serve locally sourced produce in their
dishes, natural features enhance the
man-made, and the air is fresh and crisp.
There are numerous designer
boutiques in town, which were
established to please moneyed
vacationers, and although many of
these stores didn’t interest us much,
I did stop in just quickly for a taste
of Marimekko’s awesome prints and
patterns. Even if you’re not a shopper,
the outlets are lovely to look at; all
of them occupy restored Manchester
buildings, so they add to the quaint
aesthetic of the town.
Manchester is an easily walkable
place, with a small town center, and
plenty of pubs and restaurants within
skipping distance from one another.
As we ambled along, we noticed that
the sidewalks were a little different to
those in New York. Okay, a lot different!
Rather than battered concrete desecrated
by all manner of soiling, many of the
sidewalks in Manchester are made of
marble. The first marble sidewalk was
laid there in 1850, and the town now
has four miles of sidewalks that could be
dug up to build bathrooms in the houses
of the rich and famous.
During our walk, Manchester managed
to delight me in a lot of ways: there’s
Northshire Bookstore, which has such
a quintessential “cozy bookstore”
vibe that I would have stayed there
forever if possible; there’s Mill Pond,
right in the center of town, which
is surrounded by lovely Vermont
architecture; and there’s The Crooked
Ram, a craft beer store at the top of
Main Street that sells small-batch beer
that you’re unlikely to find anywhere
else—particularly around here.
Once we’d walked enough to see what
felt like all of Manchester, we finished
our day with a quick meal at Mulligan’s
Pub. This tavern has a laid-back bar
where you can order pub food and a
pint, and surround yourselves with
locals swapping stories. It’s not fancy,
but neither are we, so it was a great way
for us to fill up after all that walking.
The next day, it was time for us to head
out of town for some nature therapy.
Because it’s in the Green Mountain
National Forest, Manchester provides
Opposite: Lye Brook Falls are worth the
short walk to reach them.
Next Page: Manchester’s marble sidewalks,
laid in 1850, add a touch of luxury to the
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