What to see and do in Southern Vermont this summer

Stop by Robert Lincoln's former family home, Hildene, in Manchester, Vermont. Photo Credit: Jennifer H. Cunningham

Soak up history, the great outdoors and more in The Shires region.

Stop by Robert Lincoln's former family home, Hildene, in Manchester, Vermont.
Stop by Robert Lincoln’s former family home, Hildene, in Manchester, Vermont. Photo Credit: Li Yakira Cohen

With mountains, valleys and ski slopes galore, Southern Vermont has been a winter getaway for New Yorkers for generations. But the highland region, known as The Shires and located about three-and-a-half hours from Manhattan, is also a great place for visitors searching for family fun in the summer months.

Whether you’re interested in outdoor activities, local history, or getting a taste of small-town life in the mountain communities dotting the region, here are a few reasons why The Shires should be at the top of your list for a long weekend away from the city:

Spend an afternoon on horseback at the Rhythm Hollow Stables (183 Park St., North Bennington, facebook.com/rhythmhollowstables, 973-819-7462). 

Revisit the Shires Revolutionary War past at the Bennington Monument (15 Monument Cir., , 802-447-0550, benningtonbattlemonument.com, $5/Adults, $1/Youth 6 to 14, Free/Children 5 and under). The obelisk commemorates the 1777 Battle of Bennington, when local troops defended the area from invading British forces. The clash is considered a turning point in the Revolutionary War. At 306 feet, it’s the tallest structure in Vermont, and from the top, visitors can see three states in the distance.

After the history lesson, make your way to Fiddlehead at Four Corners (338 Main St. Bennington, 802-447-1000, facebook.com/fiddlehead4corners) a contemporary art gallery and shop stocked with local hand made pottery, paintings and hand blown glass. For more arts and culture, the Bennington Museum (75 Main St., Bennington, 802-447-1571, benningtonmuseum.org) houses the largest collection in the world of artwork from renowned painter Grandma Moses, as well as relics from Vermont’s Colonial times through the Gilded Age.

Drive a few towns over to Manchester, where the family of President Abraham Lincoln’s son, Robert — a lawyer and statesman who later led the Pullman Palace Car Company — spent their summers for decades. Built in 1905, historic Hildene (1005 Hildene Rd., Manchester, 800-578-1788, hildene.org, $23/Adults, $6/Youth 6 to 16, Free/Children under 6) is a mansion set on more than 400 acres, and boasts 12 miles of walking trails, a restored Pullman car, goat dairy and a garden inspired by a stained-glass window.

Head back into town for a meal at Union Underground (4928 Main St., Manchester Center, 802-367-3951, unionundergroundvt.com), a gastropub serving bar food staples like poutine with local cheese curds and beef gravy and burgers made of a house blend of short rib, chuck and brisket topped with pub cheese, bacon and caramelized onion. Pair it with one of the dozens of local beers on tap.

GOOD TO KNOW

Getting there:

The Shires region of Southern Vermont is approximately three and a half-hour trip by car from New York City.

Getting around:

This is a rural area with an almost nonexistent public transportation system. A vehicle is a must.

Where to stay:

Located in the middle of the Green Mountains, Mount Snow’s Grand Summit Resort Hotel and Conference Center (39 Mount Snow Rd., West Dover, 800-245-SNOW, mountsnow.com) has amenities like an on-site golf course, a farm-to-table restaurant, and a spa and fitness center. Explore the property on one of nine hiking and biking trails crisscrossing the mountain — where visitors may come across a fox or lynx scurrying by. Or ride the chairlift to its summit deck at the top, which overlooks the mountain and a lake, and where there’s live music on weekends.

The Lodge at Bromley (4216 VT Route 11, Peru, 802-824-6941, lodgeatbromley.com) is a great base for exploring the quaint small town of Manchester. It’s also next door to the Bromley Mountain Resort and its 3,200-foot mountain, with warm weather activities like scenic gondola rides and an “Alpine Slide,” — which similar to a bobsled.

Jennifer H. Cunningham