With leaf-peeping season just around the corner, a national travel magazine has included Manchester on a list of its top small-town getaways this fall.
The article from Travel + Leisure magazine calls Manchester a “quintessential autumn destination” and says the area is “perfect for hiking along leafy trails to look for waterfalls and stunning views” when the fall colors peak around mid-October.
The magazine also notes the shops, inns, eateries and historic buildings of Manchester’s downtown, along with scenic country roads outside of town that lead to covered bridges, farms, antique stores and “breathtaking scenery.”
“Classic fairs and festivals add to the appeal of an autumn visit,” the article adds.
The other towns on the list are Cashiers, N.C.; Cape May, N.J.; Bardstown, Ky.; Cambria, Calif.; Gretna, La.; and Torrey, Utah.
Locals agreed that Manchester in fall is worth a visit.
“It’s such a beautiful town, it’s so picturesque,” said Anne Corso, executive director of the Southern Vermont Arts Center. “And I think it has just the perfect blend of activities, culture and nature.”
Corso and others pointed to restaurants and hotels, the arts scene, historic points of interest and, of course, the fall foliage as some of Manchester’s attractions.
According to the town government, Manchester has more than 40 restaurants and over 1,000 hotel and motel beds. Town officials also tout the rebuilt downtown, completed in 2013, which they say improved the traffic flow and streetscape, making it a more attractive place to hang out.
“There’s really something for everybody, whether it’s a family getaway, a girlfriends’ getaway, a couples’ getaway,” Corso said. “You could really configure your trip any way you want.”
Similarly, Ron Mancini, co-owner of Mother Myrick’s Confectionery and a member of the board of the Manchester Business Association, said the combination of “incredible beauty,” activities and sophisticated amenities makes the town so attractive.
He also cited Manchester’s tradition of hospitality stretching back to the 1850s. It works hard to make visitors feel welcome, he said. “We’re a hospitality-oriented community.”
Town Manager John O’Keefe said Manchester is unique in that it has “modern luxuries,” like spas and high-end restaurants practically next door to a federal wilderness area, the Lye Brook Wilderness. “From there, you can walk to downtown Manchester,” he said. “You can walk to Starbuck’s.”
And while you can find spectacular fall foliage all over Vermont, Manchester’s location in a valley ringed by mountains makes it especially visible, O’Keefe said.
“When you’re standing in downtown Manchester, you’ve got basically a 360-degree panoramic view of all this foliage,” he said. “So you can probably see literally a million trees from downtown Manchester.”