There is no doubt that fall is my favorite season. Spending the days picking apples, exploring pumpkin patches, enjoying the sugar rush that comes with fresh-baked cider donuts before curling up in front of a roaring fire and watching college football or sipping a pumpkin beer outside. Luckily, just a few hours from New York City we have been able to enjoy these things for the past two weekends. Manchester, Vermont is a perfect destination for Fall adventures as it provides something for everyone whether you’re a single girl looking for a weekend filled with Instagram moments, shopping and relaxation at the spa or a family of five trying to please children of different ages.
Breakfast: My favorite spots for breakfast are Up for Breakfast and Little Rooster Cafe. Up for Breakfast has been a Manchester favorite for years, attracting locals and tourists alike with their comfort food and friendly service. They don’t take reservations and during peak season the lines can get long, but the relaxed atmosphere and amazing breakfast will quickly make you forget. I recommend getting there early, especially if you are a family looking for extra seats. Little Rooster Cafe, located less than five minutes away from Up for Breakfast is a great spot if you want something a bit more refined and don’t want to deal with crowds.
Lunch: If you need a break from shopping or hiking, my three favorite spots in the area are Ponce Bistro, Zoey’s and JJ Hapgoods. Ponce Bistro is located near the outlets and many of the local attractions so it makes a perfect place to relax. They offer both indoor and outdoor seating, depending on the weather, and their lunches are delicious – whether you’re craving a warm bowl of soup or a sandwich. Everything, even the lunch meat, is prepared in house and made to order. They are not open for lunch on Sunday and Monday, so make sure to take this into account when making your plans. The owner hails from Brooklyn and his mother is Puerto Rican, and both factors heavily influence the delicious food. Zoey’s Deli has the best sandwiches in the area, often so large that Bo and I are able to share one! We stop here when we want a quick bite or need lunch for the drive back to Brooklyn. Save room for the homemade chips that come with each sandwich and possibly, if you have a sweet tooth, their freshly baked cookies that are the size of your face! A new favorite of ours, which we only discovered last weekend, is JJ Hapgoods General Store. Located in Peru, just 10 minutes from the center of Manchester, this restored general store has outdoor and indoor seating, which accomodates everyone, even your dog! Their food is hands down our favorite lunch in the area and the fried chicken sandwich is the best the Southern girl has ever tasted! Like many spots, they aren’t open for lunch Sunday through Tuesday, so plan accordingly! While we haven’t been here for breakfast or dinner, they serve both and it has been highly recommended by our friends and family in the area.
Dinner: There are a multitude of dinner options in Manchester but only a few that have survived the test of time and attract locals and tourists alike. The Silver Fork is an intimate, six table dining experience that serves a seasonal menu that can compete with any New York City restaurant. Since it seats so few each night, reservations are highly recommended and often need to be made a month in advance especially during peak season. As mentioned above, JJ Hapgoods is a casual dinner option that serves wood-fired pizzas, local craft beers and more in a relaxed setting complete with white lights and fire pits! If you want a quaint, Vermont experience the Dorset Inn Tavern delivers reliable food, extensive wine menu and a cozy atmosphere that is always decorated for the season.
Drinks: If you’re looking for a happy hour spot or night cap, the Falcon Bar at Equinox Hotel offers a roaring fire pit outside throughout the year where you can sip one of their 50 varieties of wine or a house cocktail and stay warm. They have live music on the weekends which make this the perfect spot to begin or end your evening.
Activities: If you’ve come to Manchester in search of cider doughnuts, pumpkin patches and Fall foliage then spend at least an hour exploring the Equinox Valley Nursery’s famed pumpkin patch. Their fresh, hot cider doughnuts are incredible especially when enjoyed with a side of apple cider. You can explore their pumpkin fields, corn maze and laugh at their many scarecrows before picking the perfect fall decor to take back home. If you are in search of retail therapy, the Manchester Designer Outlets offer more than 40 different stores where you can update your wardrobe and home. My personal favoriets are Yves Delorme, Vineyard Vines, J Crew, Theory, Kate Spade and Tumi. You can also find great things for your kitchen and freezer at the Vermont Butcher and Kitchen Collection and Le Creuset! If you want to stretch your legs and enjoy fall foliage and incredible views, there are many hikes in the area ranging from short out and back hikes to day-long excursions. Over the years we’ve done each of these four hikes and have enjoyed each one! Last but not least, if you want to go home relaxed and rejuvenated, the Spa at Equinox is our favorite spot for facials and massages. Your service also provides you access to their year-round heated pool and fitness center! I can personally recommend their prenatal and deep tissue massages as well as their Vitamin C facial.