The centerpiece of the Merrimack region is Manchester, the state’s largest city. A thriving mill town more than 100 years ago, the “Queen City” went into decline, but is now enjoying a revival, fueled by fine arts, new performing arts venues, interesting museums, and restored textile mills. The Millyard Museum describes 11,000 years of Manchester history beginning with Native Americans through to the mill workers of the 19th and 20th centuries. In the same building as the Millyard is the See Science Center, a hands-on museum where children can experiment with gyroscopes, robots, periscopes, and other scientific exhibits.
Manchester also offers national-caliber entertainment and sports events at the 10,000-seat Verizon Arena. The 864-seat Palace Theater presents Broadway productions, live concerts, comedy, and theatrical works for children. The Currier Museum of Art in Manchester is an internationally renowned art museum featuring European and American paintings, decorative arts, and sculptures. The museum also hosts tours of the Zimmerman House, the only residence in New England designed by the architect Frank Lloyd Wright and open to the public.
Also in the Merrimack is the state capital of Concord, a delightfully walkable small city. For astronomy buffs, Concord has the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium, named in honor of the schoolteacher who died in the space shuttle Challenger. Also in the city is the Capitol Center for the Arts, a venue for music, opera, theater and dance. Leaving Concord, just a short distance to the north is the Canterbury Shaker Village, a community founded more than 200 years ago by Shakers and now a living history museum with several buildings, indoor and outdoor exhibits, costumed interpreters, and many interesting programs for children. Also near Concord is Bear Brook State Park, offering hiking, bicycling, picnicking, swimming, and a great natural history museum.