Honeymoon: Destination: Vermont
SUN. SAND. STRAWBERRY daiquiris. For some couples, these are the makings of a perfect honeymoon. And then there are those who’d rather have the Electric Slide as their first dance than spend a lazy week crisping in the sun — couples who don’t want to put their active lives on hold just because they’re newlyweds. If that’s you, then this is your honeymoon: the Equinox Resort in the cozy town of Manchester, Vermont. Here, you’ll while away the first days of your new life together doing the outdoorsy things that brought you together in the first place. From tennis and golf in summer to cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in winter, there’s enough to keep the most active couples on their feet and out of doors — plus some less familiar pursuits (falconry, anyone?), incredible outlet shopping, and all manner of charming cultural attractions: the American Museum of Fly Fishing (who knew?), Robert Todd Lincoln’s Hildene estate, and the Southern Vermont Arts Center. Even better? Equinox’s luxurious accommodations offer prime conditions for some, ahem, indoor activities, too.
[sidebar]BY DAY: Manchester has no shortage of outdoor fun — depending on the time of year, you can canoe, fly-fish, hike, bike, snowboard or ski. More adventurous endeavors also exist: The Equinox Resort (see Where to Stay, below) can arrange for archery lessons or a session at the nearby British School of Falconry, where you’ll handle and fly a gorgeous Harris hawk while learning about this ancient hunting practice. To relieve residual wedding-planning stress, soak up any of the soothing, rejuvenating treatments at the Spa at Equinox (we recommend the River Stone Massage), mere feet away from the hotel’s main building. Or hit the off-roading trails at the Land Rover Experience Driving School for a more adrenaline-fueled sort of release.
BY NIGHT: Sip a nightcap at Equinox’s Falcon Bar; there’s an über-romantic open-air fire pit that looks out onto the Green Mountains, and inside the bar, there’s live entertainment on weekends. From May through October, local theaters stage performances, and the Southern Vermont Arts Center mounts concerts and special events. But after the activity-packed day you’ve had, we can’t imagine you’ll crave much more than a good soak in your private Jacuzzi.
WHAT TO EAT: In town, the Lawyer and the Baker dishes out affordable breakfasts, baked goods and lunchtime fare. For dinner, the Chop House at the Equinox is excellent for à la carte steak and seafood options in a sleek yet warm dining room. And don’t miss a meal at Marsh Tavern, the original hotel and oldest section of the Equinox Resort — when the inventive bread basket arrives, you’ll be tempted to fill up on the near-addictive jalapeño corn muffins, but save room for mains like cider-brined pork chops and spicy Maine lobster spaghetti.
WHERE TO STAY: Manchester’s greatest draw is the Equinox Resort, which first opened in 1769 and recently underwent a multimillion-dollar upgrade. The result: all the charm and tranquility of southern Vermont, plus exactly the luxe accommodations you’ve always envisioned for your honeymoon. All 195 guest rooms are outfitted with 42-inch plasma TVs, Bose radios and wireless Internet; most rooms look out onto the surrounding Green Mountains, and many include special touches like fireplaces, marble Jacuzzis and original artwork. The two outbuildings, the Charles Orvis Inn and the 1811 House, are set apart from the main building, offering slightly more secluded accommodations. Manchester is also home to smaller, charming inns and B&Bs, including the Manchester Highlands Inn and the Barnstead Inn.
WHAT TO PACK: In general, comfortable duds that are well suited for the activities you’ve planned. Otherwise, casual clothes for exploring the town, and some slightly dressy options for dinners (no jacket needed, fellas; ladies, pack a dress or two).
BEST TIMES TO GO: From mild summer temperatures to snowy mountainsides in winter, there’s no time of year when Manchester isn’t lovely and teeming with activities. But the vivid fall foliage in early-to-mid-October is truly breathtaking and unlike anything we get down in Philly. From late October on, you’ll trade cultural activities for outdoor winter sports, and hot cocoa by that fire pit.
NEWLYWED NEWS: At the Equinox, the accommodating staff is happy to arrange a romantic picnic lunch at Equinox Pond, personalized massages, or any other activities suited to your interests. Just ask.
GETTING THERE: The nearest airport and train station to Manchester Village are in Albany. Nonstop flights top out at around an hour and a half; from 30th Street Station, the trip on Amtrak totals about six hours, including the unavoidable layover at Penn Station. Then, Albany’s an hour and a half by car to Manchester — a trip the Equinox’s shuttle drivers gladly provide.