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Southern Vermont Guide

Unspoiled villages, graceful country inns, small livable towns, excellent museums, important historic sites, and plenty of Vermont's abundant natural beauty are yours in Bennington, Brattleboro, Dorset, Grafton, Manchester, Marlboro, Newfane, Weston, West Dover, Wilmington.

Old First Church, Bennington, Vermont
Old First Church in Bennington VT. Poet Robert Frost (1874-1963) is buried in its churchyard.

Southern Vermont is beautiful, historic, welcoming, and the closest part of Vermont to Albany, Boston, Hartford and New York City.

In summer, the Green Mountain National Forest attracts hikers and campers, some of whom follow the Appalachian Trail. In winter, Mount Snow is a ski destination.

Transportation

Car

Manchester VT, a prime destination in Southern Vermont, is 168 miles (270 km, 3-1/2 hours) northwest of Boston, 209 miles (336 km, 4 hours by car) north of New York City, 100 miles (161 km, 2 hours) south of Burlington VT, and 61 miles (98 km, 1-1/2 hours) northeast of Albany NY.

Bus

Vermont Translines runs regular bus service 365 days a year on the route from Albany International Airport to Albany, Albany-Rensselaer Amtrak station, and then along US Route 7 to these Vermont towns: Bennington, Manchester Center, Wallingford, Rutland, Brandon, Middlebury, Ferrisberg/Vergennes, South Burlington (for Burlington International Airport), Burlington and Colchester.

Green Mountain Express provides links in Bennington from Vermont Translines and Amtrak stations to some other Southern Vermont towns.

The Vermont Agency of Transportation has more information on local services.

From Williamstown MA, you can connect to Peter Pan buses to Boston, and Berkshire Regional Transit Authority buses to other towns in the Massachusetts Berkshire Hills.

Train

Amtrak's Adirondack and Ethan Allen express trains serve stations in Albany-Rensselaer, Schenectady, Saratoga Springs and Fort Edward NY not far from southern Vermont towns. The Vermonter stops at Brattleboro and Bellows Falls VT, and Claremont NH.

Plane

Albany International Airport is the closest to Southern Vermont, with bus connections (see above) to Vermont towns.

Cape Air flies between Boston and Rutland-Southern Vermont Regional Airport (RUT), providing a quicker way (just over one hour) to reach Rutland and the towns of southern and central Vermont.

Where to Stay

Use this handy Hotel Map with Prices to find the lodgings you want in Southern Vermont:

 

Bennington

The graceful lady of southern Vermont, Bennington is home to renowned Bennington College, the Bennington Battle Mounment, and the notable Bennington Museum, with its fine collection of paintings by Grandma Moses—not to mention the classic cars displayed by Hemmings Motor News.

Bennington Monument, Bennington VT
Bennington Monument & statue of Colonel Seth Warner, Bennington VT
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Bennington, Vermont, 38 miles (61 km) northeast of Albany NY and 14 miles (23 km) north of Williamstown MA (map), is Vermont's most historic area because the Revolutionary War's Battle of Bennington was fought near here in 1777.

The grand Bennington Battle Monument commemorates the decisive American victory over British troops.

Today Bennington is an attractive, bustling town, the "anchor" of the southwestern corner of Vermont, with two major roads (US Route 7 and VT Route 9) crossing in the town center and connecting it to Albany in nearby New York state to the west, and Williamstown and North Adams to the south in neighboring Massachusetts.

Old Bennington, up on the hill to the west of Bennington proper, is the historic center, where you'll find the Bennington Battle Monument, the Bennington Museum, and the Old First Church with the grave of Robert Frost.

Where to Stay in Bennington VT

Bennington has nearly a dozen hotels, motels and inns from which to choose.

The 77-room Paradise Inn, right in the center of town and walking distance to everything, has a fine outdoor swimming pool, a tennis court, and laundry facilities for guests. More...

The 2-star Bennington Motor Inn's 16 comfortable rooms are also in the town center, a convenient location. More...

The 1-star, 17-room Catamount Motel is a good budget choice, its comfortable rooms equipped with free Wifi, satellite TV, mini-fridge and coffee-maker. More...

Bennington History

As for the Battle of Bennington, it is looked upon as a turning point in the Revolutionary War.

The British forces expected to encounter little resistance at Bennington, but Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys put up quite a fight.

The British were forced to retreat after having lost a good number of casualties and prisoners to the Revolutionaries. These losses weakened the British force to a disadvantage at the later Battle of Saratoga. Forced to surrender, the British soldiers thus gave the Americans their first great victory of the Revolutionary War.

What to See & Do

"Vermont's most historic area" is how the citizens of Bennington describe their town. The Battle of Bennington, Grandma Moses's paintings, the grave of Robert Frost, and Bennington College make it so.

Bennington Battle Monument

More than 306 feet (93 meters) tall, the Bennington Battle Monument at 15 Monument Circle in Old Bennington is the tallest structure in Vermont. It commemorates the Revolutionary War's Battle of Bennington fought near here in 1777.

It took four years (1887-91) to build the monument, and when it was finished one could walk to the top by means of an interior staircase. Today the staircase is closed and an elevator hums up and down.

Though you wouldn't recognize it, you can look west to where the battle actually took place, less than 6 miles away.

For a closer view, follow "Bennington Battlefield" signs from the monument through a covered bridge to North Bennington, then west on Route 67 to the Bennington Battlefield Historic Site near Walloomsac NY. Plaques describe the battle, and shaded picnic tables provide a good place for a rest and a snack.

His supplies depleted by the action at Fort Ticonderoga, "Gentleman Johnny" Burgoyne sent two of his units toward Bennington to capture the Revolutionaries' arms stores. But General Burgoyne misjudged the size of the rebel force, and was unaware that General John Stark, who had fought at Bunker Hill and under Washington at Trenton and Princeton, commanded the Americans.

Stark cleverly headed off the British advance at Walloomsac (New York), 6 miles west of the arsenal. Stark is said to have exclaimed, "There are the Redcoats! They will be ours tonight or Molly Stark sleeps a widow."

The pitched battle on August 16, 1777, lasted 2 hours, and when the smoke cleared, the American forces were victorious.

On the way back to Bennington, Stark's troops were surprised by British reinforcements, but Colonel Seth Warner and his Green Mountain Boys arrived in time to save the day for the Americans.

The losses at Bennington and lack of supplies weakened the British force, and Burgoyne surrendered his entire command in October following the Battle of Saratoga.

Bennington Museum

Known for its excellent collection of Americana, the Bennington Museum has one of the finest displays of primitivist paintings of Anna Mary ("Grandma") Moses.

Bennington Museum, Bennington VT

Located at 75 Main Street (VT Route 9) just downhill from Old Bennington, the Bennington Battle Monument and Robert Frost's grave, the Bennington Museum has some exceptional exhibits.

The Bennington pottery, for instance, is more like china with its gold or colored trim; it was made here for wealthy customers for over 100 years.

Of the paintings, the most fascinating are the ones in the Grandma Moses collection. Anna Mary Robertson Moses (1860-1961) was a farm girl in nearby New York State, and later as a farmer's wife she did all the heavy, hard work that life on a farm demands, bore 10 children (of whom five lived beyond infancy), yet still found time to paint.

After she was 70 years old and could no longer keep up with the heavy farm work, her paintings took on such a charming and primitive character, and such spirit, that one of her paintings now hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and many others are here in the Bennington Museum.

At the age of 100 she was still at work, and she died at 101.

You can look back into what life was like for her in the exhibit called "And Life Is What You Make It" in the Grandma Moses Schoolhouse Museum, also in the Bennington Museum.

More art? Don't miss the wonderful Clark Art Istitute in Williamstown MA, 15 miles/24 km south of Bennington, and North Adams's amazing Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA), six miles (10 km) east of the Clark.

Old First Church & Robert Frost Grave

The burial ground of the Old First Church (1762) in Old Bennington, holds the grave of poet Robert Frost, a place of pilgrimage for American poetry lovers.

Robert Frost's gravestone, Bennington VT

Just downhill from the Bennington Battle Monument in Old Bennington, the burial ground next to the historic Old First Church (founded in 1762) is the site of poet Robert Frost's grave.

Wander downhill through the churchyard and turn right at the first side path, then left at the next, and eventually on the right you'll see several large gray rectangular granite monuments laid on the earth.

Robert Lee Frost

One bears a familiar name—the name of America's most beloved New England poet. Robert Lee Frost, it reads, Mar. 26, 1874—Jan. 29, 1963.

I had a lover's quarrel with the world.

Though born in San Francisco in 1874 (of New England stock), Robert Frost moved to New England at the age of 10; and though he moved to England (1912) to pursue his literary ambitions, Robert Frost could only have been a New Englander.

He tried to be a farmer but, by his own admission, had little success. As a poet of natural beauty, wonder, and the understated, he was an all-time master.

His silent grave in the churchyard of Old First Church is now a place of pilgrimage for Americans who have been touched by his art—among them, me.

Other Frost Sites

Other Frost pilgrimages are to the various New England farms that Frost owned and worked over the years: The Frost Place in Franconia NH and The Frost Farm in Derry NH.

Bennington College

This small New England liberal arts college on a beautiful campus stresses the arts, but also how to work in the real world.

While you're here in North Bennington, drive or walk tto 1 College Drive and hrough the campus of Bennington College, the unique loosely-structured four-year college, which stresses artistic creation, acquaintance with nature, and work in the real world—all over the world.

The location and situation of the college campus is particularly beautiful and is well adapted for the creative efforts of the students.

But the beautiful campus is not the only place where students pursue a Bennington education. In each of undergraduates' four years at Bennington, they must pursue a 7-weekoff-camups winter Field Work Term in their chosen area of study. The students seek out real internships and jobs in the real world, anywhere in the world, and work to enhance their academic learning experience.

Founded in 1932 as a women's college, Bennington opened its doors to men as well in 1969. total enrollment of the college is about 738 students (620 undrgraduates, and 118 graduate students studying mostly for Master of Fine Arts degrees in Writing, Performing Arts, and Teaching English as a Second Language).

Park McCullough House Museum

Built in 1864-1865, this is one of the grandest, finest, and best-preserved Victorian mansions in New England.

The Park-McCullough House, 1 Park Street, just off VT Route 67A at the corner of West and Park streets in North Bennington, is among the finest mid-19th-century Victorian mansions in New England.

Besides the house, still stuffed with period furnishings and personal effects, there's a pint-size "manor" for a children's playhouse and a cupola-topped carriagehouse complete with century-old carriages.

Brattleboro

Brattleboro, Vermont, on the Connecticut River at the confluence of the West River, 105 miles (169 km) northwest of Boston and 58 miles (93 km) north of Springfield MA (map), is one of Vermont's larger towns, with a population around 12,000 occupied in printing and manufacture of books, furniture and optical products.

Brattleboro Museum, Vermont
Brattleboro Museum, formerly the train station.

Vermont's oldest town (1724) is now a thriving farm, transport and commercial center with a distinct 1960s alternative-lifestyle feel to it. My great aunt once operated a dry goods store in one of its many red brick buildings.

Brattleboro has a substantial arts colony: painters, sculptors, weavers, photographers, musicians, even circus arts.

Stroll along Main Street for a look at the craft boutiques, studios, and antique arts and clothing shops.

Then wander down to the south end of Main Street, past the historic Latchis Theater, to the former railroad station, now the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center.

Brattleboro History

In 1724 a small fort was built at the spot now marked by a granite commemoration stone, and named Fort Dummer.

There had been European settlers in the area before that, but the fort became the focal point of a community as well as its principal defense against the indigenous Abenaki Sokoki peoples, who did not welcome the settlers moving into their land.

As for famous sons, the great Mormon leader Brigham Young was born (1801) nearby in Windham County, and Rudyard Kipling married a Brattleboro woman in 1892, and they lived near the town for some time.

And a bit of family history: my great aunt once operated a dry goods store in Brattleboro, and lived on a farm nearby.

Where to Stay

Brattleboro, Vermont historic Art Deco hotel in the town center is the artsy Latchis Hotel, in the Latchis Theatre building on Main Street right in the center. It's the favorite for artists, musicians and theater-goers attending events at the Latchis Theatre. More...

Brattleboro also has numerous good modern motels located mostly about 3 miles (5 km) north of the town on US Route 5 (Putney Road) toward Putney VT.

With an indoor swimming pool, exercise room, free Wifi and free breakfast buffet, the 3-star, 73-room Hampton Inn Brattleboro may be Brattleboro's most comfortable place to stay. More...

The 3-star, 98-room Quality Inn Brattleboro has indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a gym, sauna, two restaurants, and rooms equipped with coffee-makers, hair dryers and small refrigerators. More...

The 3-star, 67-room Colonial Motel & Spa has—as its name indicates—American colonial decor, two large fireplaces, an indoor swimming pool, restaurant, and guest rooms equipped with microwave ovens, small refrigerators, and coffe-makers. More...

Nearby communities have charming country inns, like The Inn at Saw Mill Farm in West Dover VT, 26 miles (42 km) to the northwest. More...

What to See & Do

Hemmed in by the hills forming the Connecticut River Valley, Brattleboro seems more congested and urban than its population would suggest. Though this slows the traffic on the six US and Vermont highways that go through the town, it makes it easier for pedestrians to see the sights.

Brattleboro Museum & Art Center

Formerly Brattleboro's train station, the "BMAC" (Brattleboro Museum & Art Center) is the reference point for the arts in the town. Galleries, exhibits, musical and circus performances, and special events are all in its schedule. More...

Art Galleries

Brattleboro is known for its art and craft galleries. The lineup changes over time, but the arts are admired and well received here.

New England Center for Circus Arts

Founded by Cirque de Soleil professionals, Brattleboro's New England Center for Circus Arts provides classes, professional training, and circus arts events, some of which are open to the public. More...

Latchis Theatre

The historic Latchis Theatre in the center of Brattleboro offers cinema, music, circus arts (including from the aforementioned New England Center for Circus Arts) and other live performances in a "Greco-Deco" (Greek-influenced Art Deco) building that is a Brattleboro landmark at 50 Main Street. More...

Creamery Covered Bridge

Creamery Covered Bridge, Brattleboro VT

The Creamery Covered Bridge, 1.6 miles (2.6 km) west of the town center along VT Route 9, was built in 1879, is kept in good condition, and is still in use—a fun feature to visit whether on a walk from town or when you're on your way to Marlboro, Wilmington, VT Route 100, or Bennington.

Rudyard Kipling's Naulakha Estate

British novelist and poet Rudyard Kipling married Caroline Balestier, a lady with Brattleboro roots, and lived in and near Brattleboro from 1892 to 1896. He had a large Shingle Style house built four miles north of the center of Brattleboro at what is now 481 Kipling Road, Dummerston VT.

He called it Naulakha, after his early novel.

At Naulakha, Kipling wrote many poems and five of his most famous books: the two Jungle Books, Captains Courageous, The Seven Seas, and The Day's Work.

Naulakha is now private property and is not open to the public except by rental. (Yes, you can rent Naulakha if you like.)

Dorset

A quaint Vermont village with creamy marble streets, a good summer theater, and lots of historic charm. Settled in 1768, Dorset is one of the many villages in New England that is older than the American republic.

In Dorset the sidewalks are marble, and so is the United Church (1784), a simple structure with Gothic touches just off the town green.

Marble Church, Dorest VT
The marble United Church (1784).

Dorset, Vermont is a gem of a village, having kept its rural spirit and fine buildings intact over the centuries, and any new structures were required to add to the harmony of the village and its setting.

For a number of years Dorset, 7 miles (11 km) northwest of Manchester VT along VT Route 30, was an artists' and writers' summer resort, but these days it is usually only the successful in those fields who can afford to stay in one of Dorset's few charming old inns, and who shop in its old general store on the village green.

Dorset Inn, Dorset VT
The Dorset Inn, facing the village green in Dorset.

Rather, the village now caters to those who have become successful in the city, and who need to get away to the peace of the countryside for a few days or weeks.

The oldest marble quarry in the USA (1785) is about a mile south of the village green: look for the historical marker and large blocks of marble on the northeast side of the road. Besides supplying the soft, easily cut stone for a myriad of uses in Dorset, the quarry supplied most of the marble for the New York Public Library building.

On the way to the quarry you'll pass the J K Adams Company Factory Store, on Route 30 a mile south of town. J K Adams makes fine wood products—carving boards, butcher blocks, kitchen worktables, even kitchen organizers like a spice block that holds 16 glass jars and revolves on a lazy susan.

All the items are available at a reduced price, and the "seconds" are sold at prices up to 40% off the norm.

Dorset Playhouse

Opened in 1929, the Dorset Playhouse is a year-round venue for theater, music and other productions, drawing audiences from Vermont and well beyond.

Summer Theater

The highly-regarded professional Dorset Theatre Festival occupies the Playhouse each summer from June through September to stage five main-stage plays and numerous other entertainments, some designed specifically for families, some with big-name actors and performers.

The Festival is known for its premiers of new works, some of which go on to Broadway and to win top awards.

Winter Theater

The Dorset Players community theater company lights up the Playhouse from September through May with its engaging performances.

Grafton

Grafton, Vermont, 12 miles (19 km) northwest of Bellows Falls VT (map), is a piece of old New England—the best of old New England.

There is a beauty and nobility about this town— something like Woodstock VT— that makes it special.

Grafton VT

Carefully preserved houses and public buildings from a century or two ago are joined unobtrusively by more modern structures on the outskirts. The whole is truly a living museum, in more than appearance.

A Bit of History

A century and a half ago, Grafton was a thriving town on the Boston-Albany post road that made its living from sheepherding, woollen manufacturing, tanning, quarrying soapstone for stoves, cheese-making, sawmills and grist mills.

But with the coming of the 20th century, the center of sheepherding moved west, many of the old-fashioned mills became obsolete, and noble Grafton suffered serious decline.

Enter Mr Dean Mathey and the Windham Foundation. Mr Mathey, a successful investment banker with longtime ties to Grafton, set up and funded the foundation in 1963 to restore and preserve Grafton in all its beauty.

The Foundation owns about half of the historic buildings in the village center, including the Grafton Inn, the Sumner-Mead House (now the Grafton Historical Society), the Grafton Village Cheese Company, and Gallery North Star. So Grafton today is living history, but also a real Vermont village with 600 residents and several thriving businesses.

When to Visit

Among the best times to visit Grafton is early spring when they're "sugaring off," and see town children tap the maple trees along village streets for maple syrup.

Come in summer and enjoy a visit to the town's historical museum. Then explore for yard and antiques sales.

Come in autumn for the blazing fall foliage color and a visit to the local cheese company to sample their many varieties of cheddar. Or come in winter to hide away in the historic Grafton Inn and dine each night from a superb menu.

Summer or winter, Grafton is a place bewitching in its beauty.

Stop for a cup of coffee, a drink or a meal, or even for overnight. Be careful, though—one overnight easily leads to weeklong stays here. If that's what you want, the Windham Foundation owns several small houses in the village that are available for short-term rental. Contact the Grafton Inn for details.

Grafton Museums

Little Grafton, Vermont has three museums worth a visit, depending on your interests:

Grafton History Museum

Grafton memorabilia, old photographs, historical and genealogical files housed on a historic building on Main Street trace the town's 250+ years of existence. More...

The Nature Museum

Grafton's Nature Museum is rich with hands-on and let's-do-it exhibits especially appealing to children, but they can also teach adults about the flora and fauna of the region. Nature, by the way, is right outside along the walking trails in the Grafton Village Park behind the museum. More...

Vermont Museum of Mining and Minerals

Rocks? Interesting enough, but when they're gems and the stuff of great buildings, they're even more interesting. This museum is of greater appeal to adults, although the chidren will also marvel at the glittering specimens and the special kids' exhibits. More...

Grafton Village Cheese Company

The Grafton Village Cheese Company, 400 Linden Street, makes a variety of cheddar cheeses just as they have been made in the village of Grafton since 1892.

Aged from 1 to 4 years, each cheddar has a different flavor, and the flavor changes from year to year along with the flavor of the raw milk and the aging conditions.

The young, maple-smoked cheddar, the smoked chili cheddar, and seasonal garlic- and sage-flavored cheeses offer different taste experiences.

Grafton's cave-aged cheeses include a clothbound cheddar, a rich, buttery Vermont Leyden, and an ever expanding variety of sheeps' milk cheeses from firm to runny, mild to strong.

The company's Specialty Cheese and Wine Shop in Grafton village next to the Grafton Inn at 56 Townshend Road sells its cheeses, Vermont wines, and other fine Vermont artisanal products. In the shop, they can tell you the schedule for visits to the cheesemaking factory a half-mile (800 meters) south at 533 Townshend Road next to the McWilliams covered bridge over the Saxtons River (map).

Like the Grafton Inn, the Grafton Village Cheese Company is owned by the Windham Foundation, the nonprofit organization responsible for the restoration of many historic buildings in Grafton, and known for its philanthropic and educational efforts in support of Vermont's villages.

Where to Stay

The Grafton Inn is the obvious choice, and one of the few lodgings in town; but there are others in neighboring towns. The center of Grafton's social life since it was built in 1801 as a way station on the stagecoach road, the 3-star, 45-room Grafton Inn is also a town landmark.

Grafton Inn, Grafton VT
Grafton Inn, the "Old Tavern."

In its long history as a place to stay the night, the Old Tavern has played host to General Grant, Woodrow Wilson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Theodore Roosevelt, and even woodsman-philosopher Henry David Thoreau. Poet Rudyard Kipling came to the Grafton Inn for his honeymoon in 1892.

The Grafton Inn isn't really "quaint" or old-fashioned—its rooms have private baths and modern conveniences—but the ambience is still old New England. It is an authentic landmark, charming, hospitable, and comfortable, owned and operated by The Windham Foundation that has so successfully restored and preserved the center of Grafton village.

Facilities include a pond for swimming, two tennis courts, a game room, and the Grafton Ponds Recreation Center.

You have a choice of two eateries for dinner: the more formal Old Tavern Restaurant, and the informal Phelps Barn Pub.

Birdhouse at the Grafton Inn, Grafton VT
Lodging for the Grafton Inn's feathered guests.

The Grafton Inn can also arrange vacation rental homes in and around Grafton.

Manchester

Settled before the Revolution, Manchester VT was and is a summer resort, with a wide main street and handsome houses that retain the charm of the early Federal period. Now Manchester is also a popular ski destination. Graceful, tranquil old Manchester Village and vibrant, bustling, commercial Manchester Center happily coexist as one of Central Vermont's most popular resort destinations.

Old Manchester Village, Vermont
Bennington County Courthouse in Old Manchester Village, VT.

Manchester, Vermont (pop. 4,400), 26 miles (42 km) northeast of Bennington and 32 miles (51 km) south of Rutland (map), is a county seat ("shire town") of Bennington County.

Surrounded by the Green Mountain National Forest, Manchester is actually two places: the small, historic, incorporated Manchester Village laid out in 1784, with its village green, county courthouse, commemorative statue; and, a five-minute walk to the north along VT Route 7A, the more modern, bustling, commercial Manchester Center with its shops, inns and restaurants.

To the west, Mount Equinox (3,850 feet/1173 meters), highest peak in the Taconic Range, looms next to the town, drawing hikers in summer and skiers in winter. To the east across the valley is Vermont's Green Mountain range.

The sprawling Equinox Hotel, right in the center of historic Manchester Village, testifies to Manchester's popularity as a summer resort in the 19th century. President Abraham Lincoln had reservations here when he was assasinated, and his son Robert Todd Lincoln built a grand family estate called Hildene here. (see below).

What to See & Do

In summer, scenic walks, hikes and drives, boating and fishing are the mainstays. Fly fishers will recognize the name Orvis, a family business founded here in 1856, now the oldest mail-order retailer in the USA. Hildene has its own artisanal cheesemaker.

Manchester can also be used as a base for visits to beautiful nearby towns such as Dorset, Londonderry and Chester.

In winter, you ski: Bromley, Mount Snow, Magic Mountain, Stratton Mountain, and numerous ski-touring centers are located within a few miles of Manchester Center, including the one at Hildene.

Hildene

Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln had four sons, but only one of them lived to adulthood: Robert Todd Lincoln. He built this grand Gilded Age estate at 1005 Hildene Road in Manchester, Vermont.

When President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, Robert Todd Lincoln 1843-1926), was an officer serving on the staff of General Grant in the Union Army. Later a lawyer, Secretary of War in the administration of Presidents James Garfield and Chester A Arthur, US Minister (Ambassador) to the Court of St James's (Great Britain), and businessman, he came to Manchester in 1902, bought 412 acres of land, and began construction of Hildene. The mansion was completed in 1904, and Lincoln spent the summers there until his death in 1926.

Robert Todd Lincoln's Hildene, the mansion in winter
Robert Todd Lincoln's Hildene, the mansion in winter
.

The estate was inherited by his wife, and then his granddaughter, who left it to the Church of Christ, Scientist, in 1975. It's now owned and maintained by a nonprofit group, the Friends of Hildene.

Hildene's 22 buildings include a dairy barn, horse barn, sugar house, greenhouse, even a small observatory.

Pullman Palace Car

In 1897, Robert Todd Lincoln became president of the Pullman Palace Car Company, America's most prominent maker of railroad passenger cars and trolleys, in 1897. The luxurious private Pullman Palace Car Sunbeam, built in 1888, was reconfigured and refurnished in 1903 for Lincoln's use. With its fine wood paneling, brasswork and stained-glass window accents, Sunbeam looks good as new, and certainly palatial:

Pullman Palace Car Sunbeam at Hildene Estate, Manchester VT

You can roam the grounds and gardens, tour the 22-room Georgian Revival mansion and inspect Lincoln family heirlooms on your own or as part of a guided tour from 9:30am to 4:30pm any day of the year except Thanksgiving, December 24, 25, 26 and Easter. There is an admission charge.

The Rowland Agricultural Center at Hildene makes its own artisanal cheeses, including fresh, small-batch goat cheese.

To find Hildene, from the main crossroads in Manchester Center (the intersection of VT Route 11/30 and US Route 7A), go south along US 7A to the estate.

Where to Stay in Manchester VT

Manchester is well supplied with country inns, B&Bs, and modern hotels. Use the handy Hotel Map with Prices to find the one for you.

Marlboro

Marlboro VT is a rural village: drive to the dot on the map and you'll find a church, a small town office, and a few houses, but also, in summer, the world-famous Marlboro Music School and Festival in the midst of southern Vermont's beautiful countryside.

Dozens of country inns and restaurants in the area, however, provide well for travelers year round, as well as for festival visitors.

Marlboro Music School & Festival

Co-founded by Rudolf Serkin more than a half-century ago, the Marlboro Music School and Festival, directed by Mitsuko Uchida and Jonathan Biss, brings together 75 of the most talented musicians in the country, some famous and some soon to be famous, for two months' practice, consultation, and tutorial.

Musicians at Play sign, Marlboro, Vermont
Musical sense of humor....

On weekends from mid-July to mid-August the school is opened to concert audiences, most of whom have ordered their tickets weeks or months in advance and have also made early lodging reservations.

The auditorium at Marlboro College (map) seats fewer than 700 people, and to keep the spirit of the chamber music, directors and performers resist demands for a larger hall.

Where to Stay

When you've got your tickets, make a hotel reservation either in Marlboro, or nearby Brattleboro, Wilmington, or West Dover, Newfane, or Putney.

There are more than 25 country inns, motels and hotels within a half-our drive of Marlboro College. You can even stay in Bennington—that city is only a pretty 45-minute drive west through the forests of southern Vermont.

Use this handy Hotel Map with Prices to find the lodgings you want in Southern Vermont:

 

Newfane

Newfane, 12 miles (19 km) north of Brattleboro and 15 miles (24 km) south of Grafton, is the shire town (county seat) of Windham County, Vermont, another picture-perfect Vermont village, boasting several fine old inns, a classic Main Street lined with sugar maple trees, and many antique shops.

Windham County Courthouse, Newfane VT
Windham County Courthouse
, Newfane VT.

History

Chartered in 1761, it prospered during the 1800s by producing lumber, leather, linseed oil, flour, and well-built carriages.

This prosperity permitted the townspeople to erect a concert of handsome Federal, Greek Revival and Victorian buildings, including three fine churches, two classic New England inns, numerous fine houses, and the Windham County Courthouse, most painted in traditional New England white with black accents.

What to See & Do

What to do? Stroll around and enjoy its pristine beauty. Drop in at the Newfane Country Store for a snack or picnic materials, and don't neglect to check out the outdoor bulletin board crowded with announcements of local goings-on—the Vermont village "Internet."

Look for the Williamsville covered bridge (1870) taking Dover Road across the Rock River 4.4 miles (7 km) southwest of the center of Newfane.

Where to Stay

This is country inn country, with several dozen fine inns and other lodgings in and a short drive from Newfane. Use this handy Hotel Map with Prices to find the one that's right for you:

 

West Dover

The village of West Dover is the postal address for dozens of inns and hotels serving the Mount Snow ski resort, southern Vermont's most popular, served by a number of good inns.

Mt Snow Ski Resort, West Dover VT
With Somerset Reservoir—the lake to the left—providing water for snowmaking, skiers at Mount Snow Ski Resort are guaranteed good snowpack.

Dover, Vermont, and more specifically the hamlet of West Dover, is the home of the Mount Snow, the most popular ski resort in southern Vermont.

With a population of only 1,410, Dover is tiny, but looms large in the minds of skiers from New England and New York.

Summer Visitors

Settled in 1779, Dover was a farming community that began receiving summer visitors during the 1800s—so travel and vacation has always been important here. City families would come to southern Vermont by way of Wilmington and Brattleboro to escape the city heat, then make their way to Dover to stay with farm families for several weeks or months and enjoy Vermont's healthful summer climate and rural life.

Mount Snow Ski Resort

In 1953, an investor bought a large local farm and created the Mount Snow Ski Resort, which reoriented Dover's focus on winter rather than summer.

With the large Somerset Reservoir right next to the mountain, Mount Snow has lots of water for snowmaking, guaranteeing good ski conditions even if nature doesn't provide the hoped-for precipitation.

Where to Stay

Because of Mount Snow Ski Resort, West Dover in particular has lots of hotel and inn rooms available both winter and summer. Use this handy Hotel Map with Prices to find rates and availability for the ones you want:

 

Weston

On VT Route 100 in the midst of Green Mountain National Forest, Weston is a classic Vermont village with the Vermont Country Store and Weston Theater Company and lots of art...and shopping.

Vermont Country Store, Weston VT

More people have heard of the Vermont Country Store than have heard of its hometown of Weston, Vermont (population 600).

Weston has been here on the West River since the 1700s. The store has been in business only since 1946, but its mail-order catalog and branch stores have now made it nationally—even internationally—famous.

You needn't visit Weston to partronize the store, but you must come if you want to attend a performance aby the Weston Theater Company, Vermont's oldest professional theater company (founded in 1937).

In summer, there's music in the air as students and faculty of the Kinhaven Music School perform in the Church on the Hill.

In October, during foliage season, the Weston Antiques Show and Weston Craft Show bring shoppers as well as leaf-peepers to Weston.

The history of Weston is visible at the Farrar-Mansur House and Old Mill Museums (1785-1795) on the Village Green: period furnishings, clothing, toys, tools and more.

Where to Stay

The village has a few places for meals, including the Bryant House Restaurant, attached to the Vermont Country Store, the Cafe at the Falls, The Inn at Weston, Brandmeyers Mountainside Lodge, and Colonial House Inn & Motel.

Wilmington

An important highway crossroads town popular for shopping and for the nearby Mount Snow ski area.

Wilmington VT
The pretty town of Wilmington VT.

Traveling along the east-west Molly Stark Trail (VT Route 9) between Brattleboro (21 miles/34 km east) and Bennington, (20 miles/32 km west), you'll come to Wilmington in the Deerfield River valley at the junction with VT Route 100, the state's principal north-south highway (map).

Wilmington VT is a good place to stop for a snack, a meal, a bed, or for a browse in its boutiques and antique shops.

In winter, Wilmington is busy with visitors to the Mount Snow and Haystack ski areas just to the north along VT Route 100. In summer, these areas host golf, mountain biking and other outdoor activities.

  Molly Stark Statue, Wilmington VT
 

Molly Stark

VT Route 9 is Wilmington's Main Street. On the west side of the bridge over the river is a small park with a statue of Molly Stark (1737-1814), wife of General John Stark, the hero of the Battle of Bennington. On the eve of the battle, General Stark told his troops "The enemy are ours or this night Molly Stark sleeps a widow." After his victory, General Stark is thought to have returned home to Molly along what is now Route 9, the Molly Stark Trail.

Where to Stay

A number of motels and inns are located in or near Wilmington, including the Vermont House Inn right on Main Street (Route 9) west of the bridge.