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.

2251 White Mountain Hwy (Route 16) North Conway, NH, 03860 Phone: 603-356-5411 Toll-Free: 800-RJACKET

No drought about it - cool and refreshing water fun

Let go, be excited and terrified (OK, a little scared) at this tropical indoor paradise. Year round it’s always 82 degrees and 102 degrees in the cozy hot tub and cool and refreshing everywhere else. Located at the Red Jacket Mountain View Resort in North Conway, NH, you’ll have much to choose from for a day of wet fun. The 3-story slide tower twists and turns into a 43,000-gallon pool while the Wiki Wave Pool features crossing waves and two waterfalls to negotiate. There are water cannons, rope bridges and a giant 175-gallon tipping bucket. When sufficiently waterlogged, shoot some hoops at Kahuna Court or try your luck in the Aloha Arcade. The Tiki Tide Café has great snacks and popular lunch and beverage items.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Caves Are Cool; Access Is Easy

The Polar Caves off on Route 25 in Rumney were formed about 50,000 years ago as the third continental glacier retreated across New Hampshire’s White Mountains. When glacier left behind a series of caves and passageways. Polar Caves Park has build boardwalks through the caves and among the boulders, creating an intriguing self-guided walks. To get to the caves, visitors walk through a pine forest, where they can learn about the local Indian tribes who spent summers on the Baker River. Behind the maple sugar house are more trails and a gazebo, which is a great place to carry in and carry out a picnic lunch. Phone: 603-536-1888.

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

Cottage Gardens Are Pure Delight

Fuller Gardens , at 10 Willow Avenue in North Hampton is a public display garden, located on the ocean, with 1,700 rose bushes, formal English perennial borders, a Japanese garden and Koi pond, and a tropical and desert conservatory, all designed in the Colonial Revival style. In May there is an extensive tulip display; perennials, annuals, and roses, bloom through October. Hours: Mid-May to mid-October, daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. There is an admission fee. Phone: 603-964-5414.

Art Gallery in Prescott Park

Between the Piscataqua River, the downtown, and its own gardens, Prescott Park in Portsmouth provides a multitude of sources of beauty. In summer, there’s one more: the New Hampshire Art Association's Sheafe Warehouse Gallery located in the park, The gallery is open daily starting at noon all summer and features a variety of work from artists across New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts. All work is for sale. Take a piece of Portsmouth beauty home with you!

Altar of the Nation

Cathedral of the Pines at 10 Hale Hill Road in Rindge is a simple, inspiring monument to patriotic sacrifice. Two hundred acres of pine forests and formal gardens give way to panoramic views of neighboring mountains. Sibyl and Douglas Sloane founded the Cathedral of the Pines in 1945 as a memorial to men and women who had sacrificed their lives in World War II. They envisioned that their cathedral without walls would welcome people of every faith in a spirit of unity and mutual respect. Within this property is the Altar of the Nation, built with stones from all 50 states, the Parthenon in Athens, the Coliseum in Rome, and some American battlefields. Open daily from May through October for tours and private meditation. Phone: 603-899-3300.

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.

Arethusa Falls Near Bartlett

Arethusa Falls, near Bartlett, is the highest single drop in New Hampshire and by far the most spectacular. Bemis Brook makes a leap of 176 feet down an orange ledge of granite, capping a 1.5-mile hike along Bemis Brook. As you approach the falls, you'll see tantalizing glimpses of white falling water high through the treetops. To find it: Arethusa Falls is a well-signed side road off of Route 302 about halfway between Bartlett and the Gates of the Notch. Park in the lot and the falls are about two miles and 900 vertical feet away. Shortly after you leave the parking log, you'll see a trail junction leading towards Bemis Brook. The Arethusa Falls trail is a very steep climb over root ladders and erosion.

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.

Disc Golf Is Fun in a Group

Cheaper, easier and more family oriented the golf; Disc Golf is the outdoor game of the future, available today. The Woods at Beauty Hill Disc Golf at 557 Beauty Hill Road in Barnstead offers a wide array of playing fields with hay fields, woodlots, and tree-lined lanes. With five different courses based on skill level, it is guaranteed fun for all ages. Disc golf is similar to golf except it uses a Frisbee-like disc and raised baskets. Open to the public all day, seven days a week. Hours: Public can play anytime. Phone: 603-724-4027.

Artist Gifts by Juried Experts

Located on Route 3 in Holderness, Squam Lakes Artisans offers gifts and fine art made by juried artists from central New Hampshire. Come and browse the art works in many mediua: landscape photography, quilts, watercolors, prints, oil paintings, hand-made paper; embroidered clothing; knitted items; baskets; heirloom furniture; pottery; stained glass; cards; silver, beaded, glass and ceramic jewelry, and more. Season is Memorial Day through Columbus Day; hours vary before and after Labor Day. Phone: 603-968-9525

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

Cascading Waters at Beaver Brook Falls

Beaver Brook Falls fans out over a sliding cascade, then broadens and drops about 30 to 40 feet over a sheer and jagged cliff face before collecting itself and cascading about 25 to 30 feet more to the base. The terrain is very steep, and the dirt is slick. Unless you're very comfortable with strenuous and treacherous terrain, stay on the lower level. The falls are the centerpiece of a small park, just north of Colebrook. The parking area overlooks a well maintained expanse of lawn, with picnic tables and restroom facilities. To find it: From Colebrook, take Route 145 east for 2.5 miles. The well marked recreation area and parking lot are on your right.

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.

Portsmouth Harbour Trail Displays 400 Years of Colorful History

Portsmouth boasts 400 years of history, culture, architecture, and scenic beauty. All are on display Portsmouth Harbour Trail guided tours. Join a guided walking tour and see the historic homes, tugboats and working waterfront, vibrant Market Square, Prescott Park, and more. You'll hear stories about the rich and famous, merchants and madams, brewers and politicians, fishermen and boat builders, writers, editors, and publishers that made Portsmouth the talk of the nation in their day. Tours offered late June to early October, Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday. Depart from Market Square information kiosk. Phone: 603-610-5510.

Combine Bike Work and Relaxation in the Whites

If you enjoy bicycling and luxury, plant a three-day bike tour, with overnights at three delightful bed-and-breakfasts in the White Mountains. Bike the Whites offers the bike-and-rest tours from Tuesdays to Fridays, May through October. Starting at the 1785 Inn in North Conway, you will travel to the Inn at Crystal Lake in a Eaton Center, and the Darby Field Inn in Albany, and then returning to the 1785 Inn. Tours are self-guided with route maps provided by the innkeepers. Each route is 25 miles per day of easy to moderate terrain. The package includes three nights of lodging, two dinners, three breakfasts, transportation of luggage, maps, route planning, and road service as needed. Bike rentals are provided for an additional fee. Phone: 603-356-9025

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.

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.

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

Blooms Abound at this Rhododendron Park

Come of southern New Hampshire in June and July for rhododendron delight. At Rhododendron State Park at 424 Rockwood Pond Road (Route 119W) near Fitzwilliam, wildflowers and glorious rhodies bloom throughout the 2,723-acre park from early spring to the first frost. A wildflower trail winds through the forest. The park also is home to a 16-acre grove of Rhododendron Maximum, which bloom in mid-July. Phone: 603-532-8862

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).

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.

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.

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.

Paddle On

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail is a long-distance paddling trail connecting the major watersheds across northern New England. The trail links 79 bodies of water, 45 communities, three wildlife refuges, and passes through hills and mountains, forests, farmlands and village centers. Canoeists and kayakers from novice to expert can take part. The route includes flat and whitewater paddling, poling, and portaging. It’s ok to plan just a short jaunt! Phone: 802-496-2285.

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.

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

Frontier Days at the Fort at No. 4

The Fort at No. 4 Living History Museum at 267 Springfield Road (Route 11) in Charlestown offers a glimpse of what life was like when this valley was a frontier in the mid-1700s. Originally a log enclosure surrounding dwellings, the fort is now represented by a reconstructed log museum near an Abenaki village. Re-enactments and historic programs take place during warm weather. Hours: May through early November, Wednesdays though Sundays. Phone: 603-826-5700. http://www.fortat4.org/

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

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.

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

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.

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.

Get Lost at the Gorge

The story of the Lost River in North Woodstock began many millions of years ago, with the formation of mountains of igneous rock in present-day New Hampshire. A thick ice sheet of 150,000 to 25,000 years ago ground down the mountains and tumbled the rocks, creating the Lost River Gorge and partly burying its river. Today, you can visit the Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves at 1712 Lost River Road (Route 112W), walk the three-quarter-mile boardwalk into and through the gorge, explore the caves, and climb up the Dilly Cliff. Lantern tours offered at night, Kids enjoy the Lost River Mining Sluice, which replicates the work of sifting for gems. Open early May to mid October. Phone: 603-745-8031.

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.

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

Every Mountain Needs Its Own Castle

This delightful Arts and Crafts mansion known as Castle in the Clouds on Old Mountain Road in the town of Moultonborough sits high in the Ossipee Mountain range and offers breathtaking views of Lake Winnipesaukee. Today, families enjoy tours of the 93-year-old wood and stone mansion and carriage house, a museum and gift shop, hiking trails, and waterfalls. Even if your visit to the Lakes is short, the Castle should be part of it. Hours: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; May 9-31, weekends only; June 6-October 25; open daily.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Art in Wrought Iron, Celebrating Nature

Don’t come shopping at Earthly Treasures, on Lake Street in Bristol, for clichéd housewares and knick-knacks you could find elsewhere. The backbone of this family-owned business is Iron Horse Metal Works, producing nature-inspired wrought iron designs for the home. Iron Horse was founded by artists Vic & Elaine MacAdam and it is the foundation of the entire Earthly Treasures store (expanded over the years to a 4,000-square-foot showroom). Every Iron Horse work is a functional piece of art featuring designs in grapevine, cattail, wheat, tree, and scroll. The entire store offers original work by 350 American artisans. Now including upholstered furniture. Each piece is a gift to savor. Open daily. Phone: 800-480-0380

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

Boating Fun on Squam

Squam Lake, northwest of Lake Winnipesaukee, is a crystal-blue wonderland. Experience Squam on 859 US Route 3 in Holderness offers private boating excursions tailored to the tastes of the company. Boaters may choose to zoom or putter along, anchor in quiet coves, jump off infamous Jumping Rock, tour historic Church Island or sites where “On Golden Pond” was filmed. Phone: 603-968-3990 http://www.experiencesquam.com/

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.

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.

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.

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.

Come Back to the Farm!

The olden days of farm living fascinate many of us – maybe children in particular – and the history of those times is preserved in many corners of New England. The New Hampshire Farm Museum at 1305 White Mountain Hwy. in Milton is a place for visitors to learn about three centuries of farm life in New Hampshire. Adults and kids can tour a farm house and tavern; explore a three-story barn filled with tools, wagons, and sleighs; visit an apple cider exhibit; meet farm animals, crack corn and feed the chickens; explore acres of fields, forests, and wildlife; hike an easy trail to the old family cemetery. Open May through early November. Phone: 603-652-7840.

Vroom Vroom at NH Motor Speedway

Notice to Dixie: You don’t own NASCAR. The New Hampshire Motor Speedway at 1122 Route 106 North in Loudon welcomes about 500,000 visitors every season, most of them for two NASCAR weekends in July and September. Also, every month, the Loudon Road Race Series and Granite State Legends Cars arrive for a race weekend. The two series provide some of the premier racing at NHMS outside of NASCAR weekends. The pinnacle of their season is the Loudon Classic, which runs in June as a wrap-up for Laconia Motorcycle Week. Phone: 603-783-4931

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Daniel Webster’s Home Is a Glimpse at Colonial History

Daniel Webster birthplace, off Route 127 in West Franklin, affords a view of the early years of Daniel Webster, the great man of letters, and it also provides a glimpse of 1700s farm life in the infant years of the United States. The house, associated with Webster's childhood, provides an intimate snapshot of frontier life during the country's earliest years. Furnishings such as the flax spinning wheel and kitchen utensils are typical of a rustic farm of the period. Other items on display belonged to Daniel Webster. Hours: Late May through mid-October; weekends, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Phone: 603-934-5057 or 603-485-2034.

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.

Writer’s Famous Garden Prevails on Isles of Shoals

Celia Laighton Thaxter (1835-1894) grew up on the Isles of Shoals, off of the Maine and New Hampshire coastlines, where her father was the lighthouse keeper on White Island. She became a popular writer of stories and poetry, and, in middle age, was the hostess of her father's hotel, the Appledore House, on Appledore Island. Today, Appledore is an operating station of the Shoals Marine Laboratory, and it is most uninhabited, but tours are offered to see Celia’s famous gardens. Boat tours are offered on specific dates from mid-June to early August via the R/V Gulf Challenger. Tours depart from 29 Wentworth Road in New Castle, NH. Reserve early!

Wholesome Living With the Shakers

A fascinating day of history and fine dining awaits the curious visitor at the Canterbury Shaker Village and Shaker Table Restaurant at 288 Shaker Road in Canterbury. This National Historic Landmark preserves 200 years of Shaker life on 694 acres, 25 original buildings, gardens, and trails. Known for its tranquil beauty, the village offers tours, exhibits, workshops, family programs, hiking trails, unique shopping and dining. There is a great museum store, and the Shaker Table Restaurant features Shaker-inspired cooking using fresh ingredients. Hours: Open daily, May 16-October 24; weekends in November for guided tours only. Phone: 603-783-9511

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.

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