Hildene, a Georgian-style mansion was owned by Abraham Lincoln's family.
When most New Yorkers think of Vermont, they picture quaint New England villages, maple syrup, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and tie-dye-clad hippies.
Manchester, Vt., fits the bill as a picturesque New England village, but there’s so much more — mainly in the form of culture, from classical music to visual art.
At about a four-hour drive from Manhattan, it may be the perfect weekend getaway for city folks looking for an artsy escape.
For history buffs
Built by Robert Todd Lincoln, the only child of Abraham Lincoln to have survived to adult life, Hildene is a Georgian-style mansion that was completed in 1905 and remained in the Lincoln family until 1975. Visitors can catch a glimpse of the President Lincoln’s iconic top hat and stroll in the estate’s majestic garden. Music buffs can catch Vermont Symphony Orchestra concerts on summer nights. ($12.50/adults; $5/children). hildene.org
Forget mega-stores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders. Northshire Book Store is one of the few remaining family-owned bookstores in the country. Located in the center of Manchester, the store holds regular events with local authors and writers. Customers can attend a book reading or participate in a moderated debate with the Armchair Philosophers, a local discussion group that ponders life’s quandaries. 4869 Main Street, 802-362-3565.
For art lovers
True art buffs should head over to Southern Vermont Arts Center, a cultural center that showcases visual and performing arts. Wander through the galleries in Yester House for exhibitions of artists who are also members of the Arts Center, and the Wilson Museum for the permanent collection of fine arts. An outdoor sculpture exhibit is open from May to November. ($8/adults and $3/students). Off West Road, 802-362-1405, svac.org
For the musically inclined
Can some tunes at the Manchester Music Festival, which offers classical music concerts from March to December, with performers ranging from members of the Festival’s young artist program to singers from the Metropolitan Opera. Summertime visitors may want to take the hour drive to Brattleboro for the Marlboro Music Festival, founded by legendary pianist Rudolf Serkin, to hear some of the newest emerging talents in classical music. Jazz fans will also want to check out the Arkell Pavilion at the Southern Vermont Arts Center. Log on to mmfvt.org and svac.org for schedules.
Those wishing to relive the medieval era
The British School of Falconry at the Equinox Resort and Spa teaches students how to handle and fly trained Harris hawks, and experience an era where the “status symbol du jour“ was a leather glove and a huge bird of prey. $112 for a 45-minute lesson. At the Equinox Resort, 3567 Main St. Call 802-362-4780 for an appointment.
The American Museum of Fly-Fishing exhibits gadgets, gear and artwork depicting the sport. Anglers can also head over to the Orvis store and check out their indoor pond, buzzing gnats. 4104 Main St., 810-362-3300. amff.com
When all cultured out…
Savvy shoppers can head over to a collection of designer outlets (think: Versace, Coach, and TSE Cashmere), and nature lovers can hike the trails on Mount Equinox.
WHERE TO STAY
The Equinox Resort and Spa: Here it’s all about luxury pampering, and pets are treated equally as well as guests. Rates start at $299 per night on weekends. 3567 Main St., 800-362-4747. equinoxresort.com
The Reluctant Panther Inn and Restaurant: This plush boutique hotel has only 20 suites — many of which have gorgeous views and more than one fireplace. 30 West Road, 800-822-2331. reluctantpanther.com
The Manchester View: This clean, basic hotel has several offerings: the standard room for the frugal traveler starts at $85 per night; specialty rooms decorated in antique furnishings and fireplaces for $175 per night, and specialty themed suites that accommodate a whole family with spa tubs at $200 per night. 77 High Meadow Way, on Route 7A, 800-548-4141, manchesterview.com
WHERE TO EAT
Up for Breakfast: Get there early for the best blueberry pancakes of your life (full stack: $7.75). 4935 Main Street, 802-362-4204
Depot 62: This Turkish lunch place, found in the middle of an antique furniture store, serves great flat bread pizzas. Try the homemade soups, too. Prices vary for all. 515 Depot St., 802-366-8181
Bean Mexican Eatery and Bar: Standard Mexican fare served in generous portions here. Try the Shrimp Fajitas ($15.95). 4201 Main St., 802-362-0110
Inn at Westview Farm: Here, seasonal American fare is given an Asian twist from the former chef of the New York City’s Jojo restaurant. (prices vary with changing menu) 2928 Route 30, Dorset (about 10 minutes from Manchester), 800-769-4903