The rolling Green Mountains are rarely out of view when you're traveling through this trio of hamlets. In midsummer, the lush green landscape gives Ireland a good run for its money -- verdant hues can be seen in the forests blanketing the hills, the valley meadows, and even the mosses along the tumbling streams. It soon becomes obvious how these mountains earned their name.
And this string of closely spaced villages is Vermont at its, well, Vermont-est, making them an ideal collective destination for a romantic getaway, aggressive antiquing, or even some serious outlet shopping. Each of the three towns is worth visiting, and each has its own unique charm and vibe.
Arlington has a town center that borders on microscopic. With its auto-body shops, hub-of-town gas station, and redemption center (all remnants of a time when the main highway artery passed right through town), it gleams a bit less than its compatriots just to the north.
Manchester (also known as Manchester Village) and Manchester Center share a blurred town line, yet maintain distinct characters. The more southerly Manchester Village has an old-world, old-money elegance and a prim, campuslike town centered on the resplendently columned Equinox Resort. Just to the north, Manchester Center is the major mercantile hub in these parts, with dozens of outlet stores offering discounts on big-name clothing, accessories, and housewares.
Another worthy detour off the beaten track is Dorset, an exquisitely preserved little village of white clapboard architecture and marble sidewalks. It's a bit farther to the north; to get there, follow Route 30 north out of Manchester Center.