New England summer travel in New Hampshire

Whether you want to kayak in the ocean, zip down a mountain, or just cozy up in a rocking chair on a country porch, your vacation is waiting at one of these destinations.

May 15, 2011

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WHY GO Less than two hours from Boston, sleepy Hillsborough packs a lot into its 44 square miles, including numerous lakes and a portion of the Contoocook River that’s known for its Class III and IV rapids. The town is home to five stone-arch masonry bridges, built without mortar by Scotch-Irish immigrants in the mid-19th century, and it offers a peek into the life of the 14th US president at the Franklin Pierce Homestead (603-478-3165, At Caroline A. Fox Research and Demonstration Forest (603-464-3453,, 22 miles of trails wind – sometimes by boardwalk – through a half-dozen habitats, including Mud Pond Bog and a stand of 400-year-old black gum trees.

THE BASICS Tooky Mills (603-464-6700,, with outdoor seating that overlooks the river, does pub food well, while Nonni’s Italian Eatery (603-464-6766,, a three-location New Hampshire chain, is famed for its pastas and pizzas. For pre-hike carbs, head to German John’s Bakery (603-464-5079, and pick up old-world baked goods like leinsamenbrot and bienenstich. If you’re spending the night, Stone Bridge Farm (603-478-0809,; from $150) is decorated in clean lines rather than the too-precious style of many B & Bs. Lilac fans will swoon over the Stonewall Farm B & B (603-478-1947,; from $120), which has more than 100 of the fragrant bushes on its grounds; most years, they bloom into June. An affordable option for families is Oxbow Campground in nearby Deering (603-464-5952,; from $25, book ahead holiday weekends).

DON’T MISS Well worth the trip are annual events like the four-day balloon festival in July, and the Historic Hillsborough living history reenactment weekend in August, and the Schnitzelfest in September.

– Elizabeth Gehrman

North Conway

WHY GO Celebrated by artist Benjamin Champney, who in the 1800s sat in the middle of Main Street to paint regal Mount Washington, North Conway has long been a White Mountain playground. Now also synonymous with factory outlets stretching along the “strip” (Route 16), it remains a place to find relief from summer’s humidity in swimming holes and small cascades. The easy half-mile walk to Diana’s Baths in the White Mountain National Forest is rewarded with waterfalls and smooth basins. Swim from Echo Lake State Park’s sandy beaches in the small lake under the cliffs of Cathedral Ledge. Both are nice picnic spots, too. The popular Saco River sees a flotilla of canoes, kayaks, and inner tubes during summer, with rentals available from many area outfitters. The winding watercourse is a splendid way to see mountains, cliffs, fields, and wildlife (boisterous summer visitors notwithstanding).

THE BASICS Families staying at the 150-room hilltop Red Jacket Mountain View Resort (800-752-2538,; from $129) on Route 16 can splash indoors at the Kahuna Laguna water park. If you’re looking for the other kind of indoor watering hole, head for the bustling Moat Mountain Smoke House & Brewing Co. (603-356-6381, It started canning Iron Mike Pale Ale a few months ago; the light brew tastes great with a citrusy spinach salad, veggie-loaded California Dreamin’ pizza, or brisket and barbecue.

DON’T MISS Cranmore Mountain Resort (800-786-6754, is unveiling Cranmore Mountain Adventure Park (rides and packages from $10 to $65) on Memorial Day weekend. It will have zip lines, a ropes course, and airy bridges. Other outdoor adventures will include a giant swing that seats four across, summer tubing, a bungee trampoline, and a twisting coaster.

– Marty Basch


WHY GO Home of Dartmouth College, the most outdoorsy of the Ivies, Hanover has the trappings of an idyllic New England summer getaway – with diversions, dining, and lodging to suit sophisticated travelers. By day, you can swim or paddle the Connecticut River, hike a section of the Appalachian Trail, and play 18 holes – or send your kid to golf camp – at Hanover Country Club (603-646-2000, At night, you can eat a superb locally sourced meal, watch an indie film, and sleep in urbane comfort.

THE BASICS Book a room at Six South St (603-643-0600,; from $239), Hanover’s new boutique hotel (it opened in February). A far cry from ye olde country inn, it has high-definition TVs, high-speed wireless, and a state-of-the-art fitness room – not that you’ll want to get your workout indoors around here. For a simple yet elegant breakfast, lunch, or dinner, head to the new Market Table (603-676-7996, The Canoe Club (603-643-9660, is a good bet for a casual supper and solid wine and beer lists. Umpleby’s Bakery & Cafe (603-643-3030, offers a selection of literarily named (and tasty) sandwiches – Ayn Rand fans should appreciate the Dominique Francon and the Howard Roark.

DON’T MISS Rent a kayak or canoe from Ledyard Canoe Club (603-643-6709, and paddle away. And the Hopkins Center for the Arts (603-646-2422,, known to locals as “the Hop,” draws big-name speakers and musical acts and screens excellent movies. This summer, Grammy award-winning accordionist Stanley Dural Jr., aka “Buckwheat Zydeco,” will play a Hop-sponsored concert on the Dartmouth Green, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company will perform, and the New York Theatre Workshop will be in residence.

– Christie Matheson

  • May 15, 2011 cover
  • May 15, 2011 cover
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