Looking for a vacation with a side of culture, a dash of natural beauty, and a touch of timeless family fun? Wind your way through the lakes region of New Hampshire and you'll find exactly that kind of elusive destination. This area has lakeside towns bursting with history and dining, hikes to natural wonders, and, of course, plenty of places to just stretch out and relax while enjoying a view of water with mountains in the background. Take a scenic cruise, explore a Castle in the Clouds, encounter a cave, see a show, and soak in the bucolic setting at a local distillery... there are many ways to experience lakeshore love in this utterly unique region, soaked in enchanting New England vibes.
Located just north of the town of Madison, New Hampshire, the Madison Natural Boulder Area is first up on the adventure. Madison Boulder is an absolutely huge granite rock (we're talking "among the largest in the world" huge) cozily nestled in the woods. Measuring 83 feet long, 23 feet high, and 37 feet wide, this gentle giant weighs 5,000 tons and has been around as long as anyone can remember. Believed to have been moved here from many miles away by a glacier, this beast has been a New Hampshire landmark since 1970. After marveling at the boulder, feel free to take a walk around the 17-acre park and soak in beautiful New Hampshire scenery. This park is pet-friendly, so it can also serve as a quick stop for you and the whole family, Fido included, to stretch your legs.
Next up on the trip is the Remick Country Doctor Museum and Farm. Here you can explore the history of two country doctors and local Tamworth residents, Dr. Edwin Crafts Remick and his father, also named Dr. Edwin Remick. This dynamic duo served the residents of the area by providing medical care for over 99 combined years, which in early times was pretty remarkable. In addition to the deep history of the doctors, feel free to take a stroll through the property's 100-acre homestead, which includes two homes, three barns, and various outbuildings. After leaving the homestead, head to the surrounding meadows to see different and beautiful plants, and if you're lucky, you can participate in the new annual Dandelion Festival. You can even meet the farm animals who live on the property, and round out the visit by stopping at the farm stand, which sells produce grown here.
Is there anything more relaxing than a nice cocktail in a quaint setting? The Tamworth Distillery is an experience you'll remember for years to come. Here you can find in-house distilled liquors, including vodka and whiskey, to quench your thirst after exploring the beautiful New Hampshire landscape. This wonderful distillery, nestled in the wilderness near Mount Osceola and the Hemenway State Forest, also takes pride in using only ingredients from local farms-- to ensure that its products are as natural as can be. When tasting these products on-site, also make sure to swing through the amazing botanical garden that leads to the barrelhouse. Pick up a few bottles to bring home; your friends and family will be impressed as you whip up perfect cocktails for them like a pro!
While this stop is tucked away in a small town, it draws in some of the largest crowds. The Barnstormers Theatre is one of the longest-running professional summer theatres in the country, and many theatre-lovers flock here to see the amazing performances hosted at the venue. Established in 1931 by the son of Grover Cleveland, Francis Cleveland, who wanted to have an equity theater in the New Hampshire area; today, it is one of only three in the state. Productions like "Ghost Train," "Our Town," murder mysteries, and various humorous plays have taken over the focus of the theatre, which is known for high-quality productions with an impressive caliber of talent.
"Castle in the Clouds" might sound like something from a fairytale, but it's located right here in the great state of New Hampshire! Tom and Olive Plant built what they called the Lucknow Estate high in the Ossipee Mountain Range in 1913, with the fortune they earned from shoe manufacturing. When it was opened to the public in 1959, it earned the named Castle in the Clouds. The wonderful staff of the Castle offers tours through the home that explain the history of the property, unique features of the castle, and its fascinating previous owners. It's decorated to appear as though time stopped in the early 1900s, giving it a stately feel. Don't leave without grabbing a bite at the onsite Carriage House Restaurant; the view from its patio is unreal.
Head to the next destination: the town of Wolfeboro. Situated right next to Lake Winnipesaukee, this town of over 6,000 residents has been around since the 1700s; it was named after General Wolfe from the Battle of Quebec. Today, this East Coast gem has plenty to offer those who pass through. Swim in the largest lake that New Hampshire has to offer (Lake Winnipesaukee,) ski in the Abenaki Ski Area, or take a tour through the Wright Museum of World War II, the Libby Museum, or the New Hampshire Boat Museum. Make some time to eat in between adventures-- stop by the Wolfe Trap Restaurant or Wolfe's Tavern to satisfy your hunger and quench your thirst. This tiny historic town offers many memories to make on your trip.
Right on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee resides a unique concert venue. The Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion is a massive amphitheater that has hosted some of the biggest names in music. It's been continuously voted one of the best venues in the country, and while you'll definitely be able to see just about any artist you can think of, country music reigns at this location. The Pavilion even offers camping for those who've come from out of town to catch a show! Kittery Trading Post Campground allows you to pitch a tent either in the woods or right by your car.
Lake Winnipesaukee is not only New Hampshire's biggest lake, but it's surrounded by three mountain ranges. Hop aboard the M/S Mount Washington for a daytime ride, where you'll ride the waves for a few hours and receive brunch, entertainment, and of course, gorgeous views! Select an evening cruise for some nightlife right on the boat, and enjoy music and drinks while feeling the refreshing wind in your hair. For a truly unique kind of fun, take a cruise on the U.S. Mailboat Sophie C., which provides mail service to the islands. Cruising with this ship allows you to navigate through smaller channels, and gets you up close to life on the islands. Each cruise provides a different experience, and you can't go wrong with any, or all of them!
Ready to cool off? Weirs Beach has been the local hotspot for quite some time, and it's truly a neat experience knowing that you're swimming where people have for almost a century. After a public diving raft was built in 1930, people young and old flocked to Weirs Beach to take a dip and socialize. Packing a picnic and spending the day here is never a bad idea during warm summer months. Walk the boardwalk, enjoy one-of-a-kind shopping, and take part in the many events put on throughout the summer, including fireworks and square dancing! Weirs Beach is the perfect getaway for including both water activities and unforgettable mountain views.
Sticking with the theme of this trip, the next stop is rich in history, but also in flavor. Kellerhaus, Inc., was founded in 1906 by Otto G. Keller; his goal was to employ residents in the area to create ice cream to sell. Back in those times, refrigeration technology was nothing like what we have now, but clever Mr. Keller used ice from nearby Lake Winnipesaukee to make his ice cream. Today, the company is still thriving, and has even started crafting chocolates and candies. This location offers an ice cream bar, and also hosts waffle breakfasts. If you begin to feel full, or regret eating so many sweets, you can walk along the lake's edge, or even head to Weirs Community Park to start burning off those pesky calories.
Officially established in 1969, the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center is a hub for family fun. At this destination, you can observe live animal exhibits, participate in natural science education programs, stroll through an informal public garden, and even take part in lake cruises on Squam Lake. Take a ride with a naturalist, hunt for bald eagles, or enjoy a sunset dinner cruise. When strolling through the live animal exhibits, you may see black bears, mountain lions, river otters, bobcats, and other curious creatures in their natural habitats. (Pretty cool, eh?) To round out the visit, head over to Kirkwood Gardens to see beautiful landscapes and flowers on a scenic one-acre parcel founded by "Sunny" Grace Kirkwood. Like many of the stops along this trip, there are many fun and interesting things to do at this one!
If you are seeking an adventure, make the Polar Caves your next stop. Located right off Route 25 near Plymouth, New Hampshire, these caves are an action-packed day trip. Formed during the last Ice Age, the nine granite caves on the property have been around for centuries. Over the last 95 years, visitors have been exploring these ancient caves of granite and limestone, taking advantage of the rare opportunity to slip between cool boulders and explore the underbelly of the Earth. Tight squeezes and dark cavernous rooms even offer the chance to touch the last of winter’s ice in the middle of summer! In addition to the caves, there are some other attractions here; climb the 45-foot glacial wall, purchase the famous fudge from Polar Caves’ shop, and hunt for treasure at the Baker River Mining Sluice.
Life is all about gaining memorable and meaningful experiences that you'll hold near and dear. In New Hampshire, you'll have the opportunity to see some ridiculously cool places and people, all while soaking in the mountains. Whether you're hiking up one, or admiring one from a distance while jamming out to some music, this beautiful state has something for everyone.
With seven distinct regions and so much to see and do, there’s no wrong way to visit New Hampshire. Hike one of our 4,000 footers and inhale crisp mountain air. Take a boat ride on a glassy lake, or a refreshing dip in the Atlantic Ocean.