The Lakes & Mountains of New Hampshire
It’s a region I’ve been close to all my life and yet have so much left to explore. It’s a destination with a down-to-earth style, where the mountains are meant to be climbed, and the pristine lakes enjoyed… all so that the significance of nature is never taken for granted. It’s a place that reminds us of how things used to be. Main streets thrive, candy counters are taken seriously and video games played religiously. It’s where the people don’t brag, but have plenty to brag about. I’m back home, exploring the Mountain and Lakes region of New Hampshire.
PLACES AND STORIES TO LOVE
Can you spell Lake Winnipesaukee?
Though I still can’t spell it for the life of me, it doesn’t get much more New Hampshire than a voyage on Lake Winnipesaukee. For more than 140 years, the M/S Mount Washington has offered scenic tours and dinner cruises on Lake Winnipesaukee, the state’s largest lake. Located at the foothills of the White Mountains, this historic ship navigates more than 300 islands and 44,000 acres of crystal clear water. In his 40 years of working with Mount Washington Cruises, co-owner Captain Jim Morash knows this lake better than almost anyone. His passion for the lake’s many states—from glass-calm waters, to shimmering, white-capped waves on a windy day—is absolutely infectious. The ship operates May through October, offering Daytime Scenic, Evening Dinner/Dance and Special Theme cruises
IF YOU GO
The S.S. Mount Washington dates back to 1872, however the ship was destroyed in a fire in 1939. Its replacement (which is what’s used today) was launched August 15, 1940 with a length of 205 feet.
Mount Washington Cruises
211 Lakeside Ave. Weirs Beach
Laconia, NH 03246
Check out my high score
Next to the state’s largest lake, you’ll find the world’s largest arcade. Funspot has over six hundred coin-operated games, including three hundred classic video games that make up The American Classic Arcade Museum. And it’s been owned by one man for over sixty-five years. Bob Lawton started with a small mini-golf course, and grew Funspot to be an entertainment center, now boasting 20 lane ten pin and candlepin bowling center, cash bingo, indoor mini-golf, a restaurant, a tavern and more! Bob still works here every day, dedicated to providing entertainment in an atmosphere right for the whole family.
If you go
Bob is most proud of is his “Landmarks of New Hampshire” miniature golf course, with many of the course’s elements dating back the 1950s. It’s historical in and of itself!
579 Endicott Street North
Laconia, NH 03246
Think Globally, Eat Locally
Local Eatery owns its name by crafting menus based upon the availability of fresh produce, meats, fish, and cheese from local farms. The team works closely with select farms and farmers to deliver meals that you will remember. As the region’s exclusive farm-to-table restaurant, Local Eatery works tirelessly to maintain relationships with farmers. All the meat on the menu comes directly from the restaurant’s own butcher shop, just down the street.
Good to Know
Did you know that each food item in a typical US meal has travelled 1,500 miles? None of the food at Local Eatery has travelled more than 138 miles!
21 Veterans Square
It’s loon, not a duck
I’ll admit it: I’d never seen a loon before this trip. And that’s one of the reasons the Squam Lake Natural Science Center exists. This organization aims to foster an understanding of the ecology of the Granite State—and that means introducing people to its flora and fauna. Captain and guide Dale Lary brought me on their Loon Cruise, focused specifically on common loon conservation, biology, and monitoring the only species of loon that breeds as far south as New Hampshire. From their iconic call to their grooming habits and ability to dive swiftly into the water (did you know they’re related to penguins?!), not much is common about the common loon (see what I did there?).
GOOD TO KNOW
Squam Lake isn’t just famous for its birds – the famous movie On Golden Pond was filmed on location here.
Squam Lake Natural Science Center
23 Science Center Rd
Holderness, New Hampshire 03245
I want candy
If you’re anywhere Littleton, New Hampshire, a visit to Chutter’s is a must. Here, you’ll find the World’s Longest Candy Counter (Guinness Book of World Records, baby!), an impressive 112 feet of gleaming glass jars filled with brightly colored candy. Experiences like this really take me back to a simpler time, heading to the candy store with a few dollars in my pocket and so many choices to make. Do I get the Swedish Fish or Gobstoppers? Sour gummies or Coke bottle gummies? If only these were still life’s toughest decisions!
IF YOU GO
Chutter’s also specializes in homemade fudge. From raspberry cheesecake fudge to traditional chocolate walnut fudge, they have something for every sweet tooth.
43 Main Street
Enjoy Northern Lights in the middle of the day
With over 40 years in music retail, you can feel the love Dan and Moocho Salamon have for guitar the moment you enter Northern Lights Music. You’ll find everything from American-made acoustic guitars and vintage Stratocasters (there’s one from 1956 valued at a whopping $24,000!) to ukuleles starting at just $40. Anyone who loves playing music can easily spend an hour marveling at the impressive selection in the unassuming space on Main Street.
A Taste of Europe in New Hampshire
After a day shopping on Littleton’s Main Street, a refreshing beer is in order. Located in a converted 18th-century grist mill on the Ammonoosuc River, you’ll find Schilling Beer Company. Open since 2013, this brewery is the embodiment of a dream that three brothers, their father, and best friend conceived over 15 years ago: to spend their days crafting word-class European-inspired beers. Grab a table in their taproom, outdoor beer garden or riverfront deck and enjoy a taste of Germany (or the Czech Republic, or Belgium… you get the picture) in scenic New Hampshire.
Good to Know
I love a taproom that also serves food! Order a rustic, handmade Neapolitan-style pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven, topped with local meats and cheeses.
Schilling Beer Co.
18 Mill Street
Littleton, NH 03561
Live like royalty (with a view of the Presidential Range)
If Littleton, New Hampshire is considered the gateway to the White Mountains, then this marks that you have arrived – the storied beauty known as the Mount Washington Resort of Breton Woods. Fabled for its elegance and grandeur, the historic hotel offers grand amenities and views of the majestic Presidential Range.
But it’s not all about the great outdoors—what’s inside is just as fabulous. Enjoy a massage in their soothing spa; afternoon tea in the decadent Princess Room; and an evening cocktail in the Cave, a prohibition-era speakeasy encased in stone.
If you go
With its Donald Ross-designed golf course, signature spa, decadent dining, nine high-flying zip lines, and New Hampshire’s largest ski area, you’ll run out of things to do!
Omni Mount Washington Resort
310 Mount Washington Hotel Rd
Bretton Woods, NH 03575
The First of Its Kind
As the highest peak in the northeastern United State, the summit of Mount Washington is something many visitors wish to see. You could hike (10 hours round-trip), drive, or hop aboard the Mount Washington Cog Railway. Easy choice for me! Believe it or not, this is the world’s first mountain cog railway, dating back to 1868.
The 3-hour-round trip experience features narration on the way, and an hour to explore the summit. Atop the mountain, you’ll find hiking trails, the Extreme Mount Washington Weather Museum, Tip Top House (one of the first lodging establishments on the summit, built in 1853), and the Adams Visitor Center, featuring a 360° views of the surrounding areas including up to 5 states, Canada and the Atlantic Ocean.
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If you go
What is a cog railway? Glad you asked! It’s a steep grade railway featuring a toothed rack rail. The trains are fitted with one or more cog wheels that mesh with this rack rail, allowing it to operate on mountains and steep inclines.
The Mount Washington Cog Railway
3168 Base Station Road
Mount Washington, NH 03589