I sure do love living in the city as a young lady. Bustling with energy, career opportunity, and constant stimulation from the variety of people, restaurants, things to do and neighborhoods to explore: NYC has it all! But for those of you who grind it out in NYC all week, you can understand that it’s often necessary to “escape” and get some fresh air (literally) from the subway tunnels. My most recent sweet escape involved jetting off to the New England countryside by car. Just 4 hours north of the concrete jungle, you can find yourself at peace with nature. Up in the states of New Hampshire and Vermont you can enjoy streaming rivers, rolling green mountains and quaint historic towns worth touring. In just a short weekend, I was able to hit a few awesome spots in the countryside and top it all off with an INCREDIBLE wedding celebration. Follow along on my must see spots for an easy and fun weekend trip away from the city’s hustle and bustle…
First Stop – Quechee, Vermont
Quechee Gorge, known as “Vermont’s Little Grand Canyon,” is one of New England’s most popular natural wonders. Over 200,000 yearly visitors enjoy the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, fishing and canoeing the river, hiking trails, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. I started my day by exploring the adorable downtown and made sure to checkout the legendary Simon Pearce headquarter shop and signature restaurant! Simon Pearce designs stylish and elegant glassware, tableware, lighting, and home decor all handcrafted by American artisans. I have had several lady friends request Simon Pearce products in their gift registries — the classic style of his handcrafted glassware is timeless and makes any table setting spectacular!
The Simon Pearce House is not only great for shopping, but offers a true “taste of Vermont” menu of local farm to table favorites. Enjoy their mouthwatering quiche du jour served with a side green salad. Floor to ceiling glass windows throughout the space overlook exquisite greenery and water leading down to the gorge. You can park on the side streets and hike down along the stream to get an up-close tour of the gorge. If you are a bit of a diva in need of some rest and relaxation after your hike around the gorge, head over to the Strong House Spa for massages and even beauty services — because what lady doesn’t want a blowout after a back rub?
Other Ladyhattan recommendations for a visit to Quechee include:
- The Parker House Inn and Restaurant
- Vermont Antique Mall
- The Balloon Festival held annually in June
Onward To Woodstock, Vermont We Go
Just about a short 20 minute scenic drive from the village of Quechee, we discovered another New England treasure in the town of Woodstock, Vermont.
Named the “quintessential New England village,” the town of Woodstock is chock full of charming Americana, including a covered bridge smack in the center of town and a village green surrounded by restored Georgian, Federal Style and Greek Revival homes. Spend a day wandering under the shade of 400-year-old hemlock trees at the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park and then revitalize yourself at Sugarbush Farm, where you can taste maple syrup or 14 varieties of cheese for free.
Some highlights of our brief overnight stay in Woodstock included a leisurely walk through historic downtown where we enjoyed sidewalk sales, old fashioned shops and lunch at the village butcher’s deli – yum! We made sure to stock up on our maple syrup and I snapped a few photographs (see below) of the surrounding natural beauty + charm.
At the end of our relaxing afternoon in Woodstock, we kicked up our feet by the fireside and enjoyed the luxuries of renown hotel – The Woodstock Inn. Nestled in Vermont’s Green Mountains, the Woodstock Inn & Resort is a four-season gateway to New England’s heritage and personalized hospitality. Established by Laurence and Mary Rockefeller, the Inn features fine craftsmanship accented with elegant, artisanal amenities that reflect authentic Vermont style and service. What sold me on this cozy accommodation was the fact that nearly all guestrooms are equipped with wood burning fireplaces. For the summer months this hotel offers a gorgeous outdoor pool area, and voila, an indoor heated pool (and Jacuzzi) for the cold winter nights to come! This hotel is a the perfect luxury oasis for a weekend getaway from Manhattan.
A Wedding Finale in Hanover
The next day, we crossed the Connecticut River from Vermont and headed over to Hanover, New Hampshire. Just a 30 minute drive from Woodstock, we arrived in Hanover with plenty of time to checkout the Dartmouth College campus and grab a scoop of ice cream at the local Ben & Jerry’s. Most guests of the wedding stayed at the Hanover Inn, located directly across from the church ceremony. Being that the Hanover Inn was completely sold-out, we opted for the Norwich Inn – a family owned bed and breakfast with a brewery on site! The service, hotel charm, and brews were all fantastic – a big thank you to our new friends at the Norwich for such a warm welcome. The Norwich Inn offers hot country breakfast each morning and historic delights with all the modern amenities you could possibly need (wifi, parking, gym).
And wow, what a grand finale to my weekend “getaway” trip… the wedding of the summer! One of my close friends from Harvard married his high school sweetheart, a beautiful girl whose family lives in Hanover, NH. The bride’s family hosted the stunning summer wedding in no better place than their very own backyard! I have never been to a wedding at someone’s home before, and only dreamed of this opportunity after countless viewings of Father of the Bride. After a ceremony at a downtown Hanover Church, guests were ushered to the family home. The backyard was illuminated with the color green from the lawn of grass and private golf course in the backdrop. The evening starting with a fabulous cocktail hour throughout the lawn. Some of my favorite details included a champagne bar set up with old fashioned “Gatsby” champagne glasses, a giant cheese display, and a pop-up lounge space set with vintage decor pieces (complete with an oriental rug, swanky couch and chairs).
Then onward to dinner and dancing…. A giant mounted tent welcomed guests into an enchanted space of meticulously designed tablescapes. Highlights of the decor elements included Spanish moss draping from the tent, dripping Candelabras and custom green linens. A friend of the couple, and vineyard owner, created specialty wines for the bride & groom that were carefully placed on all the tables (the wine label even had a logo made just for the couple). Signature cocktails included a fig infused vodka or a jalapeno infused tequila – both delicious! As the sun set over the greenery, the tent became filled with some good old fashioned singing, dancing and toasts throughout the night! The amount of details at this wedding blew my mind! As soon as my feet started to hurt from those 4 inch heels, I spotted a basket of flipflops for female guests. Additionally, a firepit outside of the tent was setup with blankets, chairs and of course – s’mores under the stars! It was truly a magical wedding experience for everyone involved and I wish the absolute best for the lovely bride and groom! Thank you for such a memorable evening of love, laughter and celebration, V&B! I would lastly like to give kudos to the brilliant wedding planner and designer – Randy Addison Sandlin – for putting together such a breathtaking scene.
What a lovely lady escape – just a few hours away from one of the craziest cities in the world! I look forward to returning to these charming little spots during the winter months to enjoy some skiing and fireside hot coco. Until the next sweet escape…