Ahhh Vermont must be beautiful this time of year – all that snow! I grew up outside of Boston and learned to ski as a child in Vermont’s mountains, specifically at Okemo, Killington, and Sugarbush. We’d often book a little ski-in-ski-out condo on the slopes, spending the days enjoying the fresh powder (or ice!) and nights cooking in and watching movies with fresh popcorn in hand by the fire. As a result, Vermont has always been synonymous with ski vacations for me, even when the weather dipped into the single digits. On this trip I wanted to see more of Vermont’s picture-perfect towns and winding mountain roads. We crossed the state line and found ourselves in a winter wonderland, perfectly timing our trip with the height of Vermont’s holiday festivities.
While there are many sweet little inns scattered around Manchester, few were accompanied with as much breathless praise as Hill Farm Inn, which I had filed away after it was recommended by two of my favorite New England bloggers, Abby and Brianna. Pulling up the drive the red barns and white farmhouses came into view, as well as the inquiring eyes of five curious alpacas. In short: this place is absolutely perfect. From the smartly appointed bedrooms to the living room organized around a massive hearth, to a charming tree swing and honesty bar with local brews on tap, the inn is a perfect spot to hibernate. Even if you can’t spend the night, it’s worth reserving a table for breakfast if you’re passing through. The homemade granola, beyond perfect creme biscuits, and basil omelette were all memorable.
You may already know how much I love alpacas from this post, so I was thrilled when the innkeeper, Kate, asked me if I’d like to feed them a few apples. To say I’m obsessed with these whimsical creatures is an understatement and I love the silly expressions they made while chewing. Oh to have an alpaca farm in Vermont – that is the life!
In addition to skiing, the Manchester area has lots of fun activities. We went for a walk around Equinox Pond as flurries drifted through the trees (so beautiful), stopping to greet the occasional dog and his owner on the trail. Orvis’s Flagship Store is in the center of town and I’d love to return for fly fishing lessons and to try the Land Rover terrain course in warmer weather. Neighboring small towns include Dorset, Grafton and Peru, each centered around their own darling country stores. I loved Mercantile in Grafton, full of gorgeous antiques and Simon Pierce glassware, and while you can buy everything from socks to wine to wrapping paper at J.J.Hapgoods, their eatery is what makes this tiny outpost stand out. David and I both raved about our sandwiches to each other, savoring each bite and gathering up meats, cheeses and other provisions to enjoy by the fire at our inn that night. If there’s one thing Vermonters seem to understand it’s food – simple, gloriously delicious food and J.J.Hapgoods served up one of our favorite meals of the trip.