70 Great Things to Do in New Hampshire

Find fun activities and all kinds of interesting things to do -- indoors and outdoors -- in all seasons to entertain you and your family on your New Hampshire vacation or getaway. It is smart to phone ahead or check the website of an attraction to confirm hours, especially for activities affected by weather.

79 Hadley Road Jaffrey, NH, 03452 Phone: 603-593-5073

Work with fire, master a craft, at Terrapin Glassblowing Studio

Can you take the heat? If so, then you can learn a new craft at Terrapin Glassblowing Studio in Jeffrey, NH. Our studio offers lessons in the ancient art for both individuals and groups, and welcomes both beginners and those with some experience. We've got all the necessary equipment, including an artisan's furnace that meets all fire safety regulations. Make various decorative items as you master the steps of the craft -- from ornamental flowers and cups to beads and marbles. Classes are taught by resident artist Dominique Caissie, and occasionally guest artists. Visit our gift shop to purchase items made at Terrapin Studio, or to commission items. (Glass memorials are a specialty.) Craft items by other artists are for sale, too. Terrapin Glassblowing Studio is open Wednesday through Sunday.

Off Route 302 Bretton Woods, NH, 03589 Phone: 603-278-5404 Toll-Free: 800-922-8825

Climb to the clouds on New Hampshire's Cog Railway

Step aboard the Cog Railway and get ready to climb to the Northeast's highest summit, New Hampshire's Mount Washington. The three-hour trip is always an adventure. The train travels the steepest railroad tracks in North America, passing through several climate zones before reaching the top. There, on a clear day, you'll see New England spread out before you. On other days you may be above the clouds, as if you're walking about in a fairyland. There's history on the train, too. Construction of the railway was a 19th-century engineering marvel. And you won't find engines like ours anywhere else east of the Rockies. Learn all about it at our Base Station museum, where you'll also find a restaurant and gift shop. Trains run late April through November.

38 Norcross Circle North Conway, NH, 03860 Phone: 603-356-5251 Toll-Free: 800-232-5251

A railroad journey for everyone to enjoy

Enjoy old-fashioned train rides, all departing from the beautiful 1874 Victorian Station in the center of North Conway Village. Whether you choose a Valley route to Conway or Bartlett, or the legendary Crawford Notch excursion, this is a journey back in time the whole family will enjoy. Coach, First Class and First Class Dining Car seating options are available on all routes. Children under four ride FREE in Coach, and well-behaved dogs are always welcome. Schedules vary, so be sure to call 1-800-232-5251 for details, or visit our website.

Route 16, Pinkham Notch Gorham, NH, 03581 Phone: 603-466-3988

Drive to the top of New England

Before Europeans settled the mainland, Mt Washington was known as Agiocochook, or "Home of the Great Spirit.” The first trips up the mountain were made in horse-drawn wagons but now it’s your car or a tour van that makes the roundtrip to the 6,288’ summit of Northeast’s highest peak. Known for its striking dominance in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains and its dramatic history including the registering one of the highest wind speeds ever recorded on earth, the spectacular eight mile drive to the top of New Hampshire offers endless, breathtaking views of three states, Canada and the Atlantic Ocean with nature at its most beautiful and raw. At the summit, indoor interactive Observatory try the hands on high- tech exhibit, the “Extreme Mount Washington” experience and learn more about the "World's Worst Weather."

200 Daniel Webster Highway Nashua, NH, 03060 Phone: 603-888-1940

It’s a big wide fun world out there.

It’s called Fun World for a reason and it’s a year round indoor fun house for all ages. The game room is stocked with over 250 video & redemption games from arcade classics to new rhythm-based dance and multi-player games. Thirty games and rides are specifically designed for young children. There’s a three-story indoor playground with a huge climbing structure, a variety of twisting, winding slides. Best of all is the sitting area for moms and dads. Indoor rides include the beautiful two-story Venetian Carousel imported from Italy, an indoor roller coaster and the exciting Himalaya sure to provide hours of physical fun. The catered parties for birthdays, special events, or group outings are the best value in the area. By a long shot!

341 Route 9 Keene-Roxbury, NH, 03431 Phone: 603-358-5000

Spend more time skiing, not driving

You could spend hours driving high into the mountains to ski, or you could save some of that time & be skiing instead! At Granite Gorge in Roxbury, NH, you'll always find great snow, and we're so close you can ski on weeknights, too. We've got four lifts, 20 trails, and a 525-foot vertical drop. We offer lessons and equipment rentals for novice skiers, and a bunny slope for the kids, so it's fun for the whole family. For something different, try our terrain park, or grab a tube and go snow tubing. On Saturday nights we offer COSMIC snow tubing with a light show and a DJ spinning the hits. In summer months you'll find lots of great outdoor activities at our fun park, including mountain biking and Frisbee golf.

211 Lakeside Avenue Weirs Beach, NH, 03246 Phone: 603-366-5531 Toll-Free: 888-843-6686

Cruise Lake Winnipesaukee Aboard The M/S Mount Washington!

If you're looking for a truly great thing to do and a memorable experience, a cruise on Lake Winnipesaukee aboard the Mount Washington is for you.

The M/S Mount Washington offers one of New England’s most unique and dramatic venues for your family getaway, a romantic weekend or group event. You can enjoy the natural beauty of the lake and all its surroundings during the day, or enjoy a romantic sunset dinner & dancing cruise. Sunday Champagne Brunch Cruises from Weirs Beach and Alton Bay are also a regular event, and popular with couples.

The M/S Mount Washington has plenty of banquet & ballroom space, providing the perfect fit for your wedding party, family reunion or company outing. Late May - Late October.

135 Main Street North Woodstock, NH, 03262 Phone: 603-745-3951 Toll-Free: 800-321-3985

Join us for one of our famous Brew Tours!

Learn about the history of the Woodstock Inn Brewery while you tour this 30-barrel, state-of-the-art solar fed brewery and production facility. Learn how we craft and bottle our delicious award-winning ales—each inspired by the characteristics of the area’s stunning scenery and clear mountain streams. The Woodstock Inn Brewery is located in the heart of New Hampshire's White Mountains. Brewery Tours are offered daily, reserve online. After your tour, take a refreshing dip in adjacent Cascade Park, browse North Woodstock’s charming Main Street and our company store, or visit one of the many nearby attractions.

45 Stewart Young Road Pittsburg, NH, 03592 Phone: 603-538-6659 Toll-Free: 800-538-6659

See moose and hear loons when you stay with us

If you're looking for outdoor adventure, plan a vacation at the Cabins at Lopstick in Pittsburg, NH. Each of our cabins features a fully-equipped kitchen, one, two, or three bedrooms, satellite television, an outdoor grill, and a porch where you can take in the view of surrounding mountains and lakes. We're located at the headwaters of the Connecticut River, where the river forms a chain of cold, deep water lakes teeming with trout and landlocked salmon. Explore the Great North Woods and its waterways by paddling, hiking, birding, or fishing. We offer rowboats and canoes for rent. Head out to nearby "Moose Alley" where the antlered giants are frequently seen from early May to mid-October. In the evening hear loons cry on the moonlit lakes.

288 Shaker Road Canterbury, NH, 03224 Phone: 603-783-9511

Learn about the Shakers and their simpler ways

Come learn about a simpler way of life at Canterbury Shaker Village in Canterbury, NH. Through the 1800s some 300 members of the Shaker sect lived at the site, growing their own food and supporting their community with crafts and trades. Historians consider the Shakers the most successful communitarian society in American history. At our museum, you can find out how they thrived. Our site includes 25 restored original Shaker buildings, an extensive collection of Shaker artifacts and photographs, and almost 700 acres of forests, fields, gardens, and mill ponds. We offer work shops on such Shaker crafts as rug braiding, woodworking, tin-smithing, letterpress printing, cooking, and more. Enjoy lunch at our farmstand, or sit down for a hearty meal three days a week at The Shaker Table Restaurant.

528 Presidential Highway Jefferson, NH, 03583 Phone: 603-586-4445

Pure Joy. Family Style. Every Summer & Christmastime, too.

Enjoy the only New England park named one of the Top 25 Amusement Parks in the USA by TripAdvisor 2014 Travelers’ Choice Awards: Santa’s Village in Jefferson, NH. It’s home to Santa and his reindeer, and dozens of amusement rides and shows and other attractions for families with young children. It’s the joy and excitement of Christmas morning, and every bit as memorable for the entire family. One low admission price covers an entire day of memory-making. For over 60 years and three generations, from our family to yours – oh, what fun it is! Seasons: Open Memorial Day weekend to Christmas.

983 Upton Road Errol, NH, 03579 Phone: 603-215-0002

Go down rivers and up the trees with ELC Outdoors

ELC Outdoors in Errol, NH, offers you the opportunity to explore the Great North Woods. For seven years now we've provided quality outdoor activities and adventures for families, school groups, summer camps, and everyone else. We'll take out down the rivers and up to the treetops. Our rafting and kayaking trips over thrilling rides on the rapids. Our high ropes and zip line tours take you high above the ground. Catch the big ones on a guided fishing trip. Spend a wilderness night in one of our yurts. Hear the loons cry on moonlit water. And if you're lucky, glimpse a moose. We've got a wilderness adventure that will remind you of your primal humanity. And we've got activities for all ages. The roaring rapids are calling!

An Old Fashioned Night at the Movies

People who love movies: do yourselves a favor and get out of those multiplexes that look and feel like a walk through the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. New England has a healthy scattering of proudly small, independent movie theaters that show new releases along with independent films, shorts, and other cinematic art that doesn’t necessarily include exploding helicopter scenes. Among these is the Red River Theatres, at 11 South Main Street in Concord, a non-profit cinema showing current independent and foreign films, classics, documentaries, and cult favorites. With rocker-style, stadium seating, Dolby surround sound and unique concessions - including wine, beer, fresh sandwiches, and local pastries. Phone: 603-224-4697

The Play's the Thing at Winnipesaukee Playhouse

The Winnipesaukee Playhouse at 50 Reservoir Road in Meredith is a family-run theater that provides entertainment and education all year long, including professional productions and community and youth theater. Among the offerings in the 2015 season include “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Red,” “Table Manners,” “Lost in Yonkers,” “The Accidental Death of an Anarchist,” “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” “Spelling Bee,” “Charlie’s Aunt” and more. Phone: 603-279-0333

Beautiful and Unique Crafts From Experts

Three retail galleries in the towns of Center Sandwich, Meredith and Wolfeboro display and see the fine work of potters, woodworkers, fiber artists and more who have achieved the high standards of membership in the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen. The work “crafts” can cover a lot of ground, and the work found in the places is way up o the high ground. Glassware, lamps, home décor, shawls and scarves and more make gifts with staying power in your home or that of family and friends.
Galleries in the Lakes region are the Center Sandwich Retail Gallery, 32 Main Street, Center Sandwich, 603-284-6831 (open May-October); Meredith Retail Gallery, 279 Daniel Webster Highway, Meredith, 603-279-7920; and Wolfeboro Retail Gallery, 15 North Main Street, Wolfeboro, 603-569-3309.

General Store Celebrates Inspired Nonsense

Zeb’s General Store in the mountain village of North Conway is the place to find New England products of all imaginable kinds – and some you might not easily imagine, like Nantucket Sea Clay Soap, Maine Maple Champagne Mustard, or Out on a Limb Blueberry Pie Filling. Some products are eccentric and all are worth a ride home in your shopping satchel. There are plenty of New England specialty foods and classic favorites like penny candy. You can even design your own gift basket from crates, baskets, or boxes (one of them a replica of the store itself), which you then fill with Zeb’s goodies. Phone: 800-676-9294.

Try the Bloody Mary Mix First

In the early days of The Common Man restaurant, an old jelly cabinet at the front desk offered an assortment of coffee mugs, comfy C apparel, white chocolate, and home-made foods. Customers always enjoyed taking home a taste of the Common Man, so The Common Man Company Store was opened at 59 Main Street near the flagship restaurant in Ashland. The store carries New England-made products, unique toys and gifts, and a 20-foot penny candy counter. You'll also find Common Man goodies such as wines, fudge, Bloody Mary mix, clothing, mugs and more. Open daily, hours vary. Phone: 603-968-3559.

Tanks A Lot

Amoskeag Fishways Learning and Visitor Center at 4 Fletcher Street in Manchester is an environmental education center on the Merrimack River. The exhibits focus on the Merrimack River watershed and river wildlife. Visitors can view live turtles, frogs and salmon; play a salmon migration game and generate electricity. In May and June, visitors can watch migrating shad, herring, and sea lamprey through underwater viewing windows that look into a 54-step fish ladder that allows migrating fish to swim around the Amoskeag Dam and up the river. Hours: Year-round, Monday-Friday. Phone: 603-626-FISH.

Up in the Mountains, AMC’s Got Your Back

You don’t need a ton of equipment or know-how to get outdoors -- deep outdoors -- in the mountains of northern New Hampshire. The reason is: because you have the Appalachian Mountain Club in your corner. At two AMC lodgings in the mountains, the club offer shelter along with equipment and easy access to outdoor sports like hiking, climbing, snowshoeing, and skiing. From Highland Center Lodge at Crawford Notch you may nearby peaks or take a quiet stroll around a mountain lake. And at the Joe Dodge Lodge at Pinkham Notch you can get outfitted to hike the trails on foot or skis. In the evening, dinner and bed or bunk will get you fired up for the next day.

Cool to Spare

Women with plenty of chic taste but somewhat less money are plenty jazzed after their first visit to Off the Hanger, a trendy resale boutique at 103 Main Street in Plymouth. O.T.H. addicts return over and over, pulled in by the great prices, brand-name clothes, shoes, accessories, and hip new jewelry. The store was named Best Recycled Chic Boutique by NH Magazine in 2005. Phone: 603-536-9008.

Life on the Old Farm Wasn’t All Picnics and Barn-Raisings

How did farm people get through the demands of life during those chilly, pre-modern days? Many of us wonder. The Remick Country Doctor Museum and Farm in Tamworth is a place to see, close-up, the homes and work places where people raised and cooked food, built and furnished their homes, and gave medical care to themselves and their stock as early as 1790 to the present. The museum and farm operate year-round, showing and teaching about wool spinning, bread making, turkey processing, sausage making and candle making in the old days. Seasonal celebrations are neat. When was the last time you got out with the whole town to chop and store ice for next summer? Phone: 603-323-7591.

Gift Shopping in Hanover

You can almost always rely on a college town for fun shopping for new or consigned items. In Hanover, for instance, fans love the the Pink Alligator consignment shop of South Main, where you can easily find top-shelf brands at reasonable prices. Color-obsessed shoppers will enjoy the store’s arrangement, by color. Gifts? Stop in at The Little Spot of Red, also on South Main, for nice stationery and cards, humorous gifts, and beautiful wall calendars. Also for gifts, be sure to visit Lemon Tree Gifts of Hanover on South Main. Again, there’s no way to characterize the stock: think of baby gifts, candles, lamps, cute serving ware.

Robie's Country Store & Deli

Robie's Country Store & Deli in Hooksett is a historical building, inside and out. This beloved deli cafe and general store combination has charmed countless visitors since 1820 with its broad selection of New-Hampshire-made goods and gifts and New England gems like Cabot cheese. Political memorabilia lines the walls, decorating this country store with precious vintage memories of America's presidential past. The nostalgic, cozy atmosphere of Robie's can be tasted in the cafe's homemade menu of American cuisine. Enjoy a meal made with love at a cafe table and search the walls for photos of politicians who have visited here. Located at 9 Riverside Street, Hooksett. Phone: 603-485-7761

Antique Goods in an Antique Location

The Laconia Antique Center at 601 Main Street in Laconia is appropriately housed in a former Newberry’s Department Store built in the 1950s. What can you find here? Take a breath: vintage books (in a comfortable reading area); furniture, lamps, glass- and dishware, include Depression glass; primitives; estate jewelry; coins; ephemera, and on and on. One last enticement: the store has an ice cream and soda fountain and juke box. Open year round; hours vary by season. Phone: 603-524-9484.

I, Whirlygig

Here’s a chance to get the fun of flying without the fear of flying. SkyVenture , located on Poisson Road in Nashua, is a vertical wind tunnel where visitors can experience the freedom of flight. There is no falling sensation. You just float above the trampoline floor with ease. The indoor vertical wind tunnel is not only used by the world’s best skydivers to train in but it was also designed for the general public to experience the sport of body flight. No experience necessary! Also: indoor rock climbing and water slides.. Open daily. Phone: 603-897-0002.

Hannah’s Here to Help With Creative Shopping

Hannah Grimes Marketplace on Main Street in Keene is a education center and incubator for New Hampshire products, crafts, and artwork. For visitors, the Marketplace is a great place to browse for local foods, including maple syrup, children’s books, and luxuries from fancy shampoos to original art. Think about your gift shopping for the next several months, and go explore what Hannah has to offer. Hours: Store Hours: Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, 11a.m.- p.m. Phone: 603-352-6862.

Warm and Colorful Artwork

The Sharon Arts Center on Grove Street in Peterborough offers fine art galleries, a fine craft store, and even a school of arts and crafts. The craft store is a warm and colorful excursion into beautiful, highbrow textiles, pottery, jewelry, glass art, wooden objects, and more from regional and national craftsmen. Phone: 603-924-2787.

Vintage Furniture Adds Soul to Your Home

There’s always a new, old treasure waiting to be found by you at Twin Elm Farm, located at 133 Wilton Road in Peterborough. Take in the old farmhouse barn atmosphere and let the vintage inspiration flow. Browse hundreds of antiques and vintage items, including furniture and home décor sold by dozens of vendors. Twin Elm Farm’s inventory changes frequently, and the Farm’s hours are every Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Phone: 603-784-5341

Some Spirits With Your Spirits?

The Windham Restaurant, 59 Range Road, in Windham is in a farm house first occupied by the Dinsmore family in 1729. Today, guests can expect “fine dining in a casual, warm and welcoming environment” at Windham. The owners also say guests (and staff) may encounter paranormal activity. In the past, ghosts have played with a waitress’s hair and unclasped her jewelry; moved chairs and table settings; and created playful arrangements of Christmas gifts. The New England Ghost Project identified two of the ghosts as Jacob and William. Yum! Good food in a haunted house. Have you got a date for Halloween? Phone: 603-870-9270

Craftsmen in Merrimack

Founded in 1932, the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen is one of the oldest craft organizations in the country. The League was formed during the Depression to help New Hampshire craftspeople make a living through difficult financial times by building an audience and market for fine handmade craft. The League operates seven retail galleries throughout New Hampshire. The galleries present the work of juried craftspeople, along with demonstrations, exhibits and educational programs.
Galleries in the Merrimack region are Concord Retail Gallery, 36 North Main Street, Concord, 603-228-8171.

Close-Up View of New England Farm Life

If you are curious about New England farming and would love to see farming up close, plan a day-long or overnight visit to D Acres of New Hampshire, a farm and educational homestead at 218 Streeter Woods Road in Dorchester. The farm’s mission is to teach skills of sustainable living and small-scale farming. Its grounds include forests, walking trails, and gardens. Workshops are plentiful, but many visitors come just to hike, tour the gardens, visit the farm animals, paint landscapes, and take nature photography. The farm offers lodging, accommodations, and camping. The farm hosts Farm Feast Breakfasts, Soup Nights, Pizza Nights, Potlucks and other monthly community dining events. Phone: 603-786-2366.

Giddyup the Mountain

What does the Wild West have that we don’t have? Black Mountain Stables , at 373 Black Mountain Road (Route 16B) outside Jackson Village, offers scenic trail rides, pony rides, and trail ride lessons on the mountain, including day rides, overnight rides, and group trips. The base of Black Mountain is at 1250 feet and trail rides venture up to elevation 2,000. The views at this altitude are breathtaking. For the equestrian (or wannabe) who enjoys the mountainous outdoors, this is a best of all possible White Mountains adventures. Phone: 603- 383-4491.

Meadows, Stone Walls, and Songbirds

The Lower Shaker Wildlife Management Area in Enfield provides a beautiful place to walk through lovely fields and woodlands, sit for a picnic, and enjoy wonderful views. Situated on the east side of Route 4A, the property is 70 acres of meadowland that rises 1,100 feet in elevation. The upper fields provide spectacular views of Mascoma Lake and valley. An expansive network of trails extend through the forested portion of the property. Examples of Shaker stonework are found in many stone walls and canals that collected water for powering a stone mill. Resident animals include various songbirds. Phone: 603-271-3421.

The Light of Portsmouth

Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse in New Castle guards Portsmouth Harbor and the mouth of the Piscataqua River. Views from the top, out toward the sea, up the river, and across the towns of Portsmouth, and Kittery, Maine, are some of the most glorious inn all New England. Tours of the lighthouse are offered Sundays from Memorial Day through Columbus Day. No reservations are needed. There are 44 stairs to the watch room and a 7-rung ladder to the lantern room. Feel the thrill of New England seafaring tradition as you rise. Lighthouse boat cruises are offered periodically during the summer and fall. Consult website.

Curiouser and Curiouser at the Curio Shoppe

It’s a funny old word: “Curio.” And it is a perfect fit for the Ravenwood Curio Shoppe on Main Street in Jackson, just a hop, skip, and a jump from the famous Jackson covered bridge. First, the shop and its sinuous garden look a bit like a fairy condominium out in the woods. The place is a hive of all sorts of odd gifts and keepsakes. Save time for a stroll in the garden, a gnome’s park of twisting paths, statues, fountains, and secret nooks. Phone: 603-383-8026

This Marketplace Is Made for Choosy Gift Shoppers

Hand-made. Hand-grown. Hand-selected. These are the tenets of Hannah Grimes Marketplace at 42 Main Street in Keene. For local manufacturers, artists and craftsmen, the Marketplace is a stage for their intimately created works, from maple syrup to kids books to fine shampoos. For visitors, the Marketplace is a fun place to browse and shop for fripperies and fine small luxuries that you will soon not be able to go without. It’s a gift shopping adventure. Phone: 603-352-6862.

Antiques from Near and Far Are Worth Exploring

New Hampshire Antique Co-op at 323 Elm Street in Milford has been family-owned since 1983, a testimony to its quality and professionalism. Two hundred antique dealers from the U.S., England and South America show their wares here. Whether you are an expert or simply passing through and you love beautiful old things, this is a fine place to burrow around for period furniture, fine art, silver, jewelry, books, coins, vintage & collectible wares. Appraisal, consignment and restoration services offered. And -- we like this -- New Hampshire charges no sales tax. Open daily, year-round from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Phone: 603-673-8499

Four Centuries of Daily Life

Strawbery Banke Museum on Hancock Street in Portsmouth is a community composed of restored and furnished houses, exhibits, historic landscapes and gardens, and costumed role players. Together, these elements bring to life the daily activities of New England people from European settlement in the 17th century to the mid-20th century. In addition to ongoing exhibits, lots of special events take place during warm weather. Phone: 603-433-1100.

Sunday is for Antique Shopping in Milford

Milford Antiques Shows will keep your antique shopping fever under control all through the house-bound winter. The show operates every Sunday from October 19, 2014, to March 29, 2015, at the Hampshire Hills Athletic Club, 50 Emerson Road in Milford. Over 80 dealers present a large variety of quality antiques and collectibles at reasonable prices, on indoor tennis courts. Hours are short and sweet: 8:30 to 11 a.m. Admission is $5 for the first hour and free thereafter. Free parking, no sales tax, cafe with baked goods, omelets and good coffee. Phone: 781-329-1192

Stop to Shop

The Seacoast region has wonderful shopping for beautiful and unusual items. The Fox Run Mall in Newington is a place to start for national names, followed by a trip to Boardwalk Strip at Hampton Beach. The cream of the shopping experience has to be Portsmouth's Market Street, crammed with art, toys, home decorations, clothing, hardware, jewelry, flowers, and more. Voted one of New England's Best Shopping Streets by Travel and Leisure Magazine.

Fine Crafts That Cross Over to Fine Art

Members of the Hanover Retail Gallery create crafts of such beauty and uniqueness they just about cross the line into fine art. The League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s retail gallery in Hanover, at 13 Lebanon Street, one of several in the state, offers a stunning collection of jewelry, pottery, baskets, photography, prints, furniture, glass and cloth arts. It is a fabulous way to find a gift that you cannot replicate anywhere else. The Gallery is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays in December. Phone: 603-643-5050.

Come Watch the Loons

It’s hard to exaggerate the fascination inspired by loons and their mournful cries in the early morning and at dusk. To learn about these beautiful birds and to spend time in their habitat, visit the Loon Center at 183 Lees Mill Road in Moultonborough, which offers displays, video, The Loon’s Feather Gift Shop, and plenty of delightful walks along nature trails in a 200-acre sanctuary on Lake Winnipesaukee. Hours: Open daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. from July 1 to Columbus Day and reduced hours during the rest of the year. Phone: 603-476-LOON (5666).

A Tisket, a Tasket

From knitting baskets to bicycle baskets to picnic and pie baskets – and other uses you have never imagined -- Peterborough Basket Company and its factory outlet store on Grove Street in Peterborough are ready to serve your basketry needs. Hand-made Peterborough baskets are made from Appalachian white ash, the same hardwood that baseball bats, snowshoes, and axe handles are made from. The wood is harvested from Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire, and the baskets’ solid brass nails prevent rusting. All of the baskets are made on site at the factory in Peterborough, and the factory store has great bargains and wonderful gift ideas. Factory outlet store hours are Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, 1-5 p.m. Closed most holidays. Phone: 603-371-9020

Hanover Offers Outdoor Fun & Food for the Intellect

The town of Hanover – home to the Ivy League’s Dartmouth College – offers a mix of serene New England beauty and lots of interesting cultural activity and good food, as befits a top-drawer college town. Hanover is in the Upper Valley, a swath along the Connecticut River that includes Hanover and Lebanon in New Hampshire and Norwich and White River Junction in adjacent Vermont. Hanover’s downtown offers shopping, cool restaurants, and attractions like the Hood Museum of Art, a gallery of the formidable League of NH Craftsmen, Storrs Pond Recreation Centre, and for the book lover, Left Bank Books, among many other intellectual hot spots. Outdoor sports and activities are abundant in the region, in all seasons. Find plenty of day hikes and great bike riding.

Awake Your Inner Shooter with Adventure Photography Tours

Professional photographer Ernie Mills and Adventure Photography Tours can inspire the landscape photographer in anyone. Mills offers tours up Mount Washington and other peaks during the day as well as crack-of-dawn sunrise and evening sunset trips. Marvel at the gorgeous vistas; Ernie will help you shoot uniquely beautiful photographs. Rent or bring a camera. This is a 3-hour, 3-mile hike in high altitude terrain; not for children! Be prepared for New England weather! Tours start from the bottom of the Mount Washington Auto Road in Gorham. Reservations: 317-691-7376 or 603-466-3988.

Axe Me About It

Have you ever felt like flinging a 3.5-pound, double-bladed axe? Maybe even not at a computer? Guests of Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa in Whitefield now can do just that, if they take a notion. Bobbi-Sue Baker, director of activities at the resort, will set you up with the axe and a target and even teach you a bit of axe-throwing technique before you let fly. Throwers are welcome to holler a slogan as they launch the thing. Big stress reliever, according to participants. You get a practice throw and three throws that count for points. For ages 15 and older. T-shirts and hats proclaiming “Get Axed!” in the gift shop can establish your bona fides.

Catch That Updraft

The Franconia Soaring Association, located at Franconia Airport, Route 116 Easton Road in Franconia is essentially a club for owners and operators of gliders. But! The club offers glider rides to the general public as a way of introducing the general public to the sport of glider flying. Is your inner Indiana Jones starting to tingle at the very idea? Public flights are offered Saturday, Sundays, and holidays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., weather permitting. No reservations; flights are first come, first served. All introduction to soaring flights are preformed by FAA licensed commercial pilots or FAA certified flight instructors. Rides are $100 or $175. Phone: 603-823-5034.

Little Harbor Loop Trail Wanders Shoreline & Gardens

A really easy and pleasant 1.5-mile Little Harbor Trail now wanders through the the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion grounds, Creek Farm, and Portsmouth Conservation Land. The trail is flat and fine for little ones or elderly people. Views of the Piscataqua River just south of Portsmouth and tidal pools and gardens are delightful. There is free parking & trail access at the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion at Little Harbor Road, Portsmouth. Map. Phone: 603-436-6607

History, Horticulture, and Hiking in One

The Fells at the John Hay National Wildlife Refuge was the summer retreat for Secretary of State John M. Hay, archaeologist Clarence Hay, and nature writer John Hay. The 164-acre estate at 456 Route 103A in Newbury includes historic houses that are open for tours during the summer and hiking trails along Lake Sunapee that are open year-round. The big draw for visitors is the magnificent gardens: a 100-foot perennial border, a formal rose terrace, a Japanese water lily pool, and a walled secret garden. Phone: 603-763-4789.

Bird Watchers Paradise

The Great North Woods of New Hampshire contains five habitats for bird watching. The open lakes, ponds, and rivers of the northern waterways have nesting water birds like the loon. Freshwater marshland supports warblers, olive flycatchers, and rusty blackbirds. Grasslands kept clear by grazing animals or fires have the eastern meadowlark and bobolink. Mixed forestland supports warblers. The Great Northern Boreal Forest is a unique habitat and has rare birds like the spruce grouse and Canada jay. Experts at the North Country Chamber of Commerce in Colebrook are ready to offer advice, referrals, and assistance to bird watchers. Phone: 603- 237-8939.

Beach Life with Glitter at Weirs

Weirs Beach (“Where Lake Winnipesaukee Begins!”) in Laconia offers a wide, sandy beach and lots of summery beach activities for people who aren’t looking for too much serenity. The attached park is landscaped with picnic areas and play areas as well as a jetty for watching an endless parade of boats A real wooden boardwalk jumps with fun: arcades, boat cruises, railroad rides, waterslides, miniature golf, go-carts, balloon flights, a drive-in movie theater, fireworks, live music, and special events. A family favorite for generations.

Sam’s Will Clothe You for Outdoors or Indoors

Founded in Vermont in 1932 as an Army-Navy store, Sam's Outdoor Outfitters at 74 Monadnock Highway, North Swanzey is still owned by its founding family but it now offers a much wider range of goods. Sam’s can outfit you for hiking, hunting, fishing, and camping, but also dress women and kids in comfortable, colorful, high-quality and stylish clothing for just relaxing through all seasons. Sam’s is highly respected for its goods and also its helpful service. Phone: 603-352-6200

Pollyanna Was Here

One of the last classic Main Streets in New England, downtown Littleton is a vibrant community on the bank of the Ammonoosuc River. Downtown offers a nice variety of restaurants, a historic inn, a 100-year old opera house, specialty shops, a majestic post office, a working gristmill, the world’s longest candy counter, and a sculpture of the original “glad girl” herself: Pollyanna.

Unique Beer & Mead Tastings Just Off the Highway

The towns of Derry and Londonderry off I-93 in southern New Hampshire are home to no fewer than four craft breweries and an internationally recognized meadery. Travelers driving between the state’s beautiful lakes region and White Mountains can take a short hop off the highway for a tour or tasting at these small places of large expertise. Rack cards describing the Beer and Mead Tour at nearby welcome centers give locations and more details.
At 603 Brewery in Londonderry, customers can sit right in the brewery to sample the product. From the Barrel Brewery in Londonderry brews small batches of extremely fresh craft beer specializing in hop-forward ales. Kelsen Brewing Company in Derry pushes the limits of classic beer styles with its core beers. Rockingham Brewing Company in Derry offers four styles year-round (including a bacon imperial stout) and four rotating styles. And Moonlight Meadery in Londonderry features in-depth tours and tastings seven days a week. Taste these brilliant concoctions in their homes or take some to warm you up after a day of skiing or hiking in New Hampshire.

Pennies Go a Long Way at This Candy Shop

Every vacation should make a little space for a bit of candy indulgence. In Wolfeboro , the Penny Candy Shop at 15 North Main Street is ready to help you and your kids at that moment. It has a huge selection of old-fashioned penny candy, an antique gumball machine, and plenty of excellent chocolate, fudge, maple candy, pretzels and peanut cups. Oof! Open daily during the summer. Hours change in the off-season. Phone: 603-569-9800.

Cottage in the Forest

The sweet little cottage at Pickity Place on Nutting Hill Road in the town of Mason has stood for more than 200 years (historic note: Pickity is the setting for Little Golden Books’s 1948 version of “Little Red Riding Hood”). These days, the cottage is a place to enjoy peaceful gardens, a greenhouse shop, and elegant gourmet luncheons accented with herbs and edible flowers. Lunch is served every day and the menu changes monthly. Open daily, year-round. Phone: 603-878-1151.

It’s a Truly Great Bay

The Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is a long name for a place where the public can come to simply have fun in close companionship with a marvelously rich and historic water body: the Great Bay estuary. This is a research facility, but everyone is welcome to use the property for hiking, kayaking, bird watching, geocaching, and simply enjoying the beauty of the outdoors. Great Bay Discovery Center is at 89 Depot Road in Greenland. It is open May to September, Wednesday to Sundays, and weekends only in October. The grounds are open year round. Lots of places to hike or to put in a canoe or kayak. All of the information you need to plan a day on the bay is at Passport to Great Bay. Phone: 603-778-0015

Colonial Theatre is a Class Act

The Colonial Theatre is a classy, restored entertainment palace that brightens Main Street, Keene with a bit of historic swagger. The theateer opened in early 1924 and hosted movies, vaudeville, opera and live theater. Guests included opera stars, novelists, and even Amelia Earhart. In the 1990s, when the building wa sin decline, a group of citizens fought back with organization and funding. Since its restorate in 1995, audiences have enjoyed more than 350 live performances. have entertained audiences. Phone: 603-352-2033.

Barns Gave Their Best to These Reproductions

G.R.’s Trading Post at 108 Chester Road in Derry calls itself the number-one source of farmhouse chair and table reproductions. The company uses wood from dismantled barns throughout New England. “The boards are examined and manicured to perfection. We extract the original square head nails and take care to preserve the original knots and wood markings,” the Trading Post website explains. “The selected pieces then make their way to our woodshop where we apply the farm house table base. After the base is completed, the one-of-a-kind antique barn boards are applied to the top of each table.” Each finished piece is beautiful and unique. Phone: 603-434-0220.

Textile History in Brick and Storytelling

For people who are enthralled by the rich history of New England’s textile mill, the Belknap Mill is an excellent day trip. Built in 1823, the Belknap Mill, located along the Winnipesaukee River on Beacon Street East in Laconia, is the oldest, unaltered brick textile mill in America and the Official Meeting House of New Hampshire. The Belknap Mill offers a permanent exhibit on industrial history, changing exhibits on art and history, education programs for adults and children, workshops, lectures, festivals and other events, year-round. Open weekdays, year-round. Phone: 603-524-8813.

Moose? Yeah, We Got Those

Many visitors to northern New Hampshire crave a viewing of the magnificent moose, perhaps the state’s favorite non-human representative. If you want to undertake a moose search of your own, drive the Moose Path Trail, considered to be Route 16 from Gorham to Errol or Route 26 to Dixville Notch to Route 3 to Pittsburg. Moose viewing tours by expert guides are offering in the Great North Woods region. The town of Gorham is host to a Scenic Moose & Wildlife Tour where there is a 95 percent guarantee of spotting some of the Granite State’s unique wildlife.

Antiques From the Potato Barn

Yes, the 7,500-square-foot Potato Barn Antiques at 960 Lancaster Road in Northumberland was, indeed, a barn for potato farming back in the day. Now it houses antique glassware, tools, quilts and textiles, books, furniture, jewelry, prints and pictures, and vintage lamps and shades. An adjunct of the shop, Ladies Slipper Vintage, sells clothing and accessories. Voted Best Rural Antiques Shop in 2009 by New Hampshire Magazine, the shop has a wide collection of friends and fans. Owners Mark and Kellyann are happy to search out special requests. Phone: 603-636-2611

Artistry of Erosion on View at Sculptured Rocks

Sculptured Rocks Natural Area at 251 Sculptured Rocks Road near Groton, is an example of nature's powerful yet delicate artistry. The Cockermouth River carved a canyon in bedrock on its way to Newfound Lake during the last ice age. Nature used grains of sand suspended in the current to carve the canyon into curious shapes and potholes in the bedrock. Make sure your swimming and rock-climbing skills are up to the challenge if you think of wading in. Dogs welcome! Open year-round. Phone: 603-227-8745.

A Bold Display of the Logging Industry

Located in the Androscoggin River Valley in the heart of New Hampshire's Great North Woods, the Northern Forest Heritage Parkat 961 Main Street in Berlin is a wonderful place to see and hear the logging traditions of the Great North Woods of New Hampshire come to life. The park includes a three-acre site with access and walkways along the mighty Androscoggin River, an outdoor amphitheater, a full-size replica logging camp, the Brown Company House Museum, and a gift shop. The park art exhibits, concerts, major cultural festivals, lumberjack competitions, special blacksmith demonstrations and special events. A fascinating and impressive exploration for the whole family. Open year round with limited programming in the winter. Phone: 603-752-7202.