While working on our May issue of New Hampshire Magazine (featuring Best Places in NH) we invited readers to submit their own suggestions for places that bring them joy. What follows is a curated list of a selection of submissions. What we kept includes many spots that shouldn’t be missed but also offers some secrets and insider knowledge that will provide clues for summer adventurers. Use at your own risk, as we’ve only done the basic diligence of checking on business names and towns and sometimes things change before memories do.
Northern New Hampshire
The picnic area at this beautiful landmark, Beaver Brook Falls in Colebrook is my favorite place, it is serene and peaceful, and incredibly beautiful year-round.
— Sandi Duval
If you aren’t looking at the Nash Stream Forest (in Stark), you ought to. It’s New Hampshire’s best-kept secret. Wild land set aside for multi-purposes, including recreation. When I get tired of people it’s where I head.
We love going to Tall Timber Lodge in Pittsburg. It is the best!!! We go every summer! It’s so wonderful to live in cabins and have wonderful meals in the lodge dining room. There are boats and kayaks, etc.
— Judi Lundh
You may want to consider the Mill City Park at Franklin Falls in Franklin. It is getting a lot of attention from kayakers. And just down the street is the new Waterhorse Irish Pub that just opened in January and is knocking it out of the park.
— Mary Brown
My favorite places: Center Harbor – great pier for boating in the summer, the marvelous Gusto Italian Café and truly different Osteria Poggio, Rubbin’ Butts BBQ that takes me back to Texas and a handful of fun shops. All right on the most incredible lake in the state – Winnipesaukee.
Bristol/Newfound Lake – the best Mexican restaurant hands down, Cielito Mexican, Kathleen’s Irish Pub, Imagine Clothing (one of the loveliest women’s boutiques and I’ve seen a lot of them), and a charming town village along the Pemigewasset River. So lovely in the summer. Just to the north is the stunning Newfound Lake and a restaurant I want to check out: Ledge Water Steakhouse. Newfound Lake Inn is a wonderful venue on the lake for weddings — especially sunset weddings.
Gilmanton’s Year-Round Library: Patrons moved a gorgeous barn from several miles away and renovated it. Restoring the very large building into one of the most unique libraries in the state. The library offers adult and children’s programs and will be hosting a murder mystery in the Summer.
— Lou Ann Harris
I mainly enjoy kayaking around are Lakes Region and rivers and play a lot of paintball out of AG Paintball in Weare. I’m actually part of a nonprofit organization called Paint the World New England that helps get the youth into the sport (fun fact the first ever paintball game was played here in NH). OSG paintball in Barnstead is well known for big games and the community is absolutely amazing. Best place to eat has to be Vibes Gourmet Burgers out of Concord — everything has explosive flavor.
— Matt Wright
My wife and I are quite fond of the Lakes Region, Center Harbor in particular. That is why we moved here from NYC 10 years ago. We love living with lakes and mountains all around us. Some of our favorite places are Lemongrass Restaurant and Sake Bar, Gusto Italian Café, The Edge Tie Dye, Bohemian Home, Canoe Restaurant, and Bayswater Books.
— Bill Ricciardi of Center Harbor
I’m a big hiker, so of course some of my favorite places are in the Lakes and White Mountains regions of NH. Specifically, this summer I was able to hike Cannon Mountain and experience Lonesome Lake in all its splendor. I mean, this place is magical; with the sun shining and the mountains in the background it looks like it could only be seen in a movie! It’s a great little hike to the lake and hut to experience NH at its finest. That’s just my two cents.
— Amy Rousseau
I love the quieter part of the Lakes Region, which I consider to be the Tuftonboro/Melvin Village/Moultonborough/Sandwich region, with beautiful beaches, quiet roads, protected islands and lands, calm waters for kayaking and canoeing, country stores, farm stands, maple sugar shacks, dirt roads through notches, fairs, swimming holes, waterfalls, a castle, many unique hikes and vistas, plus so much more. There’s something for every age in this part of the Lakes Region. The Abenaki Tower is a very special place in this area. It was built by the local people, at the intersection of Abenaki trails. Its purpose: simply to provide a stunning view for the enjoyment of everyone. This town treasure, maintained by community volunteers and members of the Abenaki Tower and Trail Association, is celebrating its centennial this year and next. Everyone is invited to enjoy the festivities and the tower. (A parking area and trailhead are located on Rt. 109 in Tuftonboro.)
— Karen Burnett-Kurie
Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee Region
Best ice cream around is Sanctuary Dairy Farm Ice Cream in Sunapee, NH. They are pet friendly, kid friendly, have farm animals, great service and lots of things to do, hiking, volleyball, tether ball, etc.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my favorite New Hampshire places. One of them is Saint Gaudens National Historical Park in Cornish. The spectacular views of Mt. Ascutney, the lovely gardens, and the amazing sculptures and artwork are good for the soul. It’s my favorite place to recharge and appreciate the beauty of our world. The other is the view from the fire tower atop Mt. Prospect in Lancaster in the fall. It offers a 360-degree view of the White Mountains and the Connecticut River that, as far as I’m concerned, is one of the best in the state. Many, many more favorite places, but those are my top two. I’ve lived in New Hampshire all of my life (so far) and just turned 70. (How did that happen so fast?)
— Mary Hildreth, Acworth
The Danbury Country Store is a fantastic country store with a sit-down deli, NH-themed foods and goods, and a small-town atmosphere. I live on Long Island, NY these days, but every summer as we head from my dad’s house in Bradford to our annual July vacation in Bartlett (Attitash) I always stop by and pick up something to remind me of “home.” What I like best about the store is it has lots of non-typical NH knick-knacks — things you won’t find at most tourist spots.
— Aaron Clow, Farmingville, NY
White Mountains Region
We held our 50th wedding anniversary celebration at the Omni Mount Washington Resort during four days in August of 2018. Everyone had a great time – swimming, horseback riding, biking, zip-lining, riding the Cog Railway to the top of Mount Washington, wonderful dining. The weather in the Mount Washington Valley in August 2018 was idyllic.
— Don Hallenbeck
My wife and I had visited Waterville Valley for several years and even purchased a timeshare in the ‘80s. Then, during the pandemic, we were driving up Rte. 49 into the valley; we both knew and could feel we needed to live there. We ran away from the organized state of Massachusetts like so many others. What we found in the Valley at the end of the road was a great mix of good people. All hard-working and caring, and enjoy the 360 views of the White Mountains. This open-container town offers so much to enjoy at a relaxing pace. It’s not super 5-star flashy, just family-friendly. It provides the beautiful outdoors and a pleasant walking environment in unison with the National Forest. Yes, we still have snow, a lot of snow. Waterville Valley is in the heart of the White Mountains, New Hampshire.
— Jeff Copeland
We love spending time in the Littleton/Bethlehem area, regardless of the season. Typically spend time and money in several shops. Everything from the WREN gallery to the Lonesome Woods shop to a maple tour at The Rocks in Bethlehem, with a stop at Rek’•lis Brewing Company somewhere in there. Then onto Littleton – for the required stop at Schilling Beer Company (pizza AND a firepit!) along with stellar beer. Shops we love include Shaun Terhune photography – gifts and amazing photos that he’ll frame for you right there. Recently had dinner at Tim-bir Alley — small but outstanding menu. Our go-to for lodging the past few years is Adair Country Inn & Restaurant. We’re gradually working our way through all the rooms! The breakfast popovers, and great dinners, keep us coming back. Their staff is stellar — Stacy is the manager, Diana bartends and waitresses, with another gentleman (whose name I can never remember) has been there for years and we see him at breakfast. ALWAYS so helpful! This weekend we snowshoed around the property.
— Christina McKillop
We travel all over NH and elsewhere in our motorhome and my very favorite place to go is North Conway for so many reasons! We make a point to go every year. North Conway has everything at your fingertips, outlet shopping, terrific restaurants, beautiful mountain views, the Cog Railway and plenty of activities that can be enjoyed all year. I should also include how fun the downtown shops are as well! Zebs — need I say more? One of my favorite things about North Conway is how dog friendly they are! From the outlets to many restaurants, since we travel and stay in our motorhome, a dog-friendly community is a great addition for us! There are also many great campgrounds in North Conway as well! Some other specific places we love are: Saco Family Campgrounds, Black Cap Grille, May Kelly’s Cottage and North Country Hard Cider Company.
— Anne Ormond
After a fabulous breakfast at Polly’s Pancake Parlor in Sugar Hill, Magdalena (from Czech Republic) and Ana (from Brazil), enjoyed a nearby hike and found “The Dog” in the woods, complete with collar and name tag! Clue for seekers: The Dog can be found near the Snake in Sugar Hill.
Jackson and Mt. Washington Valley are places where my husband and I have gone cross country skiing and snowshoeing for 40 years. There is natural beauty there in all seasons. The ski touring center and trails are some of the best in the east. The views from the Eagle Mountain and Great Glen areas are superb. Trips up the mountain on the snow coach are a must. In all seasons there is hiking or snowshoeing to beautiful waterfalls like Jackson Falls, Arethusa Falls and Diana’s Baths. One can just sit and take in the beautiful scenery from places like the Eagle Mountain House porch. There are great area restaurants like the Wildcat Inn and Tavern, and Wentworth Inn. For a memorable breakfast there’s Sarah’s Yesterday’s. In the summer, there’s golf at Wentworth Golf Club or Eagle Mountain House and Golf Club, with beautiful views to be enjoyed while you play. The hotels and inns are inviting with great hospitality and amenities like pools and hot tubs to be enjoyed year-round.
— Carol Markowitz, Monmouth Junction, NJ
Riverwalk Resort in Lincoln has it all! Great lodging with laundry rooms on each floor, Seven Birches Winery, La Vista Italian Restaurant, ski lockers, spa, indoor/outdoor heated pool, winter ice skating and many other resources in the area!
— John Kocak, Portsmouth
Merrimack Valley Region
Pulpit Rock Conservation Area in Bedford has plenty of trails with interesting rock formations and old machinery lying around too.
— Kevin Mcmahon
There’s interesting history in New Boston, including the Molly Stark Cannon, Revere Bell, Gravity Center, and of course, J.R. Whipple & the Valley View Farm operation that supplied Whipple’s Boston hotels, including the Parker House, which in turn fed the cows, pigs, and chickens back on the farm; and there are traditions like their 4th of July Celebration, Ghost Train, Hillsborough County Fair, Winter Carnival; a phenomenal elementary school (with its own town-centric traditions), farmer’s market, summer concerts, hiking trails, fishing, the Piscataquog River, Joe English, the Cider Press, and some pretty great people… it is simply a NH gem.
— Lisa Cramb
The Cathedral of the Pines in Rindge for: a special ceremony, a Memorial Day (5/30) or Veterans Day (11/11) service, a hike in the woods, a meeting, an opportunity to see wildlife, a spectacular view of the Grand Monadnock, a walk through the gardens, a time of peace and reflection.
— Gretchen Ziegler
Two of my favorite spots in NH are in different parts of the state but offer a similar experience – fresh air, a moderate hike, and a view of the natural world. The Basin is located within Franconia Notch State Park. Andres Institute of Art in Brookline has an added bonus because 80 man-made creations are scattered throughout the hike.
— Jane Watson
I have spent many days with Eastman’s Docks, based in Seabrook. As a longtime fisherman, I have taken my grandchildren many times on a summertime four-hour expedition typically out to The Isles of Shoals to catch lots of mackerel followed by an early supper at their seafood restaurant right at the pier. Alone or with friends, I’ve often gone out on one of their large boats for eight hours of fun fishing for and catching haddock that that the crew filets to take home for many tasty dinners. I’ve also chartered one of their six-fishermen boats for special occasions to fish for several types of fighting groundfish out on Jeffries Ledge with dinner at their restaurant to round out an enjoyable day. I know Eastman’s offers several different types of trips including summertime fireworks evening off of Hampton Beach, evening bluefish & striper fishing, special whale watching excursions, and other fishing and family oriented ocean related activities.
— Don McGinley, New Boston
Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth is a living history museum spanning 18th century to 20th century. Many activities all season from music, architecture, lectures and actors playing parts in history. Jimmy’s Jazz and Blues Club in Portsmouth for top national entertainment. (Portsmouth‘s 400th anniversary celebration is this year!)
— John Kocak, Portsmouth
The best surf break in New Hampshire: Rye on the Rocks/Bass Beach on the Rye-North Hampton town line. When the surf is up, the break offers easy access and consistent lefts and rights with an occasional tube. This winter has seen days of 4-to-6-feet surf and even a few hours with waves well overhead.
— Neil Herring
There are already too many non-New Hampshire people at our favorites and they are ruining the places. Of course, being non-natives ourselves we do see the irony in our position, but nonetheless, we aren’t telling where our favorite places are and we’re hoping on one else talks either!
(Of course you may use my comment as long as there is an emphasis on irony and amusement. Ken Sheldon’s work as Fred Marple comes to mind.)
— Deb Sampson