Dorset, Vermont consists of Dorset, Dorset Village and East Dorset. The town is often cited as one of the most beautiful towns in all of Vermont and directly adjacent to the commercial hub of Manchester.
One of the Most Picturesque Towns in Vermont
Dorset, Vermont is a picturesque New England town situated amongst the rolling hills of the Green Mountains. Dorset has a rich history that is celebrated throughout the town. Dorset is consistently named one of the top most beautiful towns in the state, which is not surprising considering Dorset’s beautiful clapboard homes, lush town green, and breathtaking mountain views. Dorset offers residents a quiet community with unique, locally owned shops, fantastic restaurants, limitless recreation opportunities, and great schools.
The Birth of a Nation and State
During the revolutionary war, patriot soldiers who fought a delaying action during Burgoyne’s march to Saratoga escaped through Dorset and found refuge on the way to Bennington, where the battle that helped set up the British defeat at Saratoga played out. Just prior to that, in 1775 and 1776, the town played host to the Dorset Conventions, which established the foundation for the establishment of the Republic of Vermont (and later the state of Vermont) in 1777. Many of the homes and establishments that housed these historic events are an integral part of the architecture in Dorset Village.
Stately and Historic Inns
Visitors on overnight and extended stays in Dorset have been coming for over two centuries to the Dorset Inn. Established in 1796, the inn is situated on the town green in Dorset Village, and is the longest continually operated inn in the state of Vermont. In the vicinity, you will find the Barrow’s House, a hotel that began serving guests in 1900 as a summer escape destination for vacationers from New York City. Travel across town to East Dorset and visit the famous Wilson House, a hotel built in 1852 and where Bill Wilson, author of the Twelve Steps was born, now owned by a non-profit and operated by volunteers and where regular Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are held to this day.
Home of Historic General Stores
In 1816 the Dorset Union Store was opened across the town green from the Dorset Inn. A charming store and a must visit, it is a great spot to grab an on-the-go meals and sundries. Head south from the village and you will find the ever-so-charming HN Williams General Store, the longest continually operated general store in Vermont. Family owned and operated since 1840, the store is a true “general” store in every sense of the word. And just a bit further south visit J.K. Adams, a retailer and manufacturer of authentic Vermont-made wooden kitchen items that was founded in 1944 and whose products are sold across the world via major catalogs and online stores.
The Nation’s First Marble Quarry
When you see the marble that lines that sidewalks in Dorset Village, used in architecture and public places throughout the town, or the people swimming in the Dorset Quarry, it is a clue that something unique is going on with marble in Dorset. In 1785, Isaac Underhill excavated the nation’s first marble quarry, and along with subsequent quarries, is the source of marble that is found in the New York Public Library, the library at Brown University, the Memorial Continental Hall of the Daughters of the American Revolution and many other important early American structures. Today, these quarries are beautiful reminders of an important industrial past, and a source of outdoor activity from hiking to swimming. To wit, the Dorset Quarry is considered one of the top swimming holes in the entire country.
A Mecca of Cultural and Social Activity
During the summer months, you won’t want to miss the Dorset Theater Festival. These productions are world class and draw in the talents of some of the country’s best playwrights, directors, and actors. The intimate theater is in two pre-revolutionary barns and has been hosting everything from classic dramas to modern comedies since opening its doors in 1929. In winter, the Dorset Theater is home to the Dorset Players, whose productions feature regional stars and whose plays are eagerly anticipated by residents and visitors alike.
If you’re a horse lover, and even if you aren’t, you will definitely want to check out the Vermont Summer Festival that is held in East Dorset during July and August. Horse enthusiasts from around the country descend on the area to compete, be part of the crowd and enjoy. Spend the day watching the sports best athletes compete with their gorgeous horses, while grabbing a drink and a bite to eat, and shopping the onsite boutiques.
Immediately proximate or just a short ride from Dorset, one can take in a play or concert at the world-famous Weston Playhouse, see fabulous works of art at the Southern Vermont Art Center, enjoy classical music and pops from the Manchester Music Festival or the Taconic Chamber Music Concerts, and take in the many special concerts and events that the Manchester and Dorset area provide year round.
Three Active Outdoor Seasons
Residents of Dorset can leverage three amazing and active outdoor seasons. Winter brings skiing and snowboarding (Bromley Mountain is 20 minutes, Stratton and Magic Mountain are just 10 minutes more), as well as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Summer brings opportunities to golf or play tennis at the nation’s oldest golf club – the Dorset Field Club, swim or fish at Emerald Lake State Park, and hike beautiful mountain trails with amazing views. Fall is an enchanted time with amazing foliage, the quality of which can’t be experienced anywhere else in the world.
Dorset is bordered by both the Green Mountain National Forest and the Taconic Mountain range. Both ranges are minutes away and provide amazing recreational opportunities and fabulous views
Plenty of Traditional and Modern Dining
Dorset is home to some of the best restaurants in the area. The aforementioned Dorset Inn and Barrows House are fabulous, but so is the Inn at West View Farm and the Marble West Inn. Enjoy freshly prepared meals with wholesome ingredients harvested from our area and prepared by chefs who are committed to Vermont-style cooking and flavors. A delicious breakfast or lunch can be found at Dorset Rising, where fresh baked breads, pastries and desserts are the hero. Just five minutes away in Manchester you can also experience some of the best meals you’ve ever had, and because the area supports tens of thousands of visitors and needs enough restaurant capacity to handle it, Manchester has so many restaurants that even residents have a tough time trying every one of them.
Excellent Public and Private Schools
Want school choice? Dorset offers school choice for high school and boasts one of the best elementary and middle schools in the state.
Dorset Area Elementary and Middle Schools
The Dorset School: The highly-rated Dorset School is a K-8 public school that prides itself on academic excellence. With small average class size and committed teachers, Dorset provides it’s students an excellent environment for teaching and learning.
Private: Maple Street School (Manchester), The Mountain School (Manchester), Stratton Mountain School (starts grade 7, Londonderry), Long Trail School (starts grade 6, Dorset), The Downtown School (Manchester).
Dorset Area High Schools
Burr and Burton Academy (Manchester): Perhaps one of the best all-around independent high schools in Vermont, students from Dorset can choose this highly-regarded and resource-rich high school and is free to Dorset residents.
The Long Trail School (Dorset): Another top private high school in Vermont, The Long Trail School is a smaller high school than Burr and Burton and is located right in Dorset. The school offers Vermont’s only International Baccalaureate degree. Dorset students can attend tuition free.
Stratton Mountain School (Londonderry): A highly-lauded college preparatory private school that specializes in educating students who want to pursue Alpine and Nordic skiing excellence. Partial tuition assistance is provided by the state.
Getting Here and There
Dorset is one of the closest regions of Vermont to the major metropolitan centers of the Northeast. About a 4-hour drive from New York, Northern New Jersey, and Montreal, while about 3 hours from Boston.
The area is served by train in Albany, New York (1.5 hours away), providing easy and reliable access to New York City. The closest major international airport is also in Albany, but there are regional airports close by in Rutland, Vermont, and West Lebanon, New Hampshire with daily service to Boston and other major cities in the Northeast.