Six miles northwest of Manchester along VT 30, Dorset is a pristinely beautiful Vermont village, originally settled in 1768, with a stately inn (the oldest in Vermont), a lofty church and a village green. The sidewalks and many other buildings are made of creamy marble from the nearby quarry, about a mile south of the village center on VT 30. Dorset supplied much of the marble for the grand New York Public Library building and numerous other public edifices. These days the quarry is filled with water and makes a lovely place to picnic.
Dorset is best known as a summer playground for well-to-do city folks (a role it has played for over a century) and the home of a renowned theatre, the Dorset Playhouse, which draws a sophisticated audience for the annual Dorset Theatre Festival. On Fridays and Saturdays in summer, the playhouse features tapas and music in the Gallery Café from 6:30pm until showtime; the cafe also hosts art exhibitions throughout the summer season – check the website for details.
Vermont's oldest continuously operating inn (in business since 1796), the Dorset Inn is still going strong. Just off VT 30 facing the village green, this traditional but plush inn has 35 guest rooms and suites, some with fireplaces and Jacuzzis. The front-porch rockers provide a nice setting for watching the comings and goings of this sleepy Vermont town. The on-site restaurant, serving bistro food and locally sourced items (mains $15-29), is highly regarded, or pop into the spa for some pampering.
Innkeepers Jean and Jim Kingston greet travelers at the tidy 1800s Dovetail Inn which faces the village green. Breakfast is served in the comfort of the 11 well-kept guest rooms in two houses.
Dorset Union Store sells all manner of edible Vermont items, especially high-end gourmet goodies and picnic fixings, including cheese (of course); it also has a well-stocked wine room, a deli and a freezer full of gourmet take-and-bake treats, including its award-winning mac-and-cheese.