I spent a couple of weeks last month in New Hampshire, where my parents reside on a lake during summers in the tiny town of Washington, which is well enough off the beaten path that even many lifelong Granite State residents have never passed through. A quirky new indie film called 3 Days of Normal was filmed almost entirely in Washington and has been receiving some attention at film festivals around the country - the movie trailer provides a nice look at this quintessentially charming town, and why New Hampshire is such a popular draw in September and October, when fall foliage is peaking.
With leaf-peeping season coming up soon, here are a few recommendations of things to see and do in New Hampshire, based on my most recent visit.
Drive around Lake Winnipesaukee: Home to the venerable lakeside resort community of Wolfeboro, where none other than GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney keeps a summer house, this largest lake in the state has a beautiful shoreline. A friend and I set aside our disdain for Mitt and lunched in Wolfeboro at Garwoods, overlooking the lake, enjoying a pretty terrific lobster roll. Farther north along the lakeshore, we stopped in the gentrified mill town of Meredith. The town is home to the handsome new Boathouse and Birch Lodge hotels at Church Landing, which opened this past June.
Grab a beer at Flying Goose in New London: This brewpub serves some of the best craft beer in the state, including the wonderfully hoppy, slightly toasty Mikey's Vyce Black IPA. The food here is decent - of the usual pub variety (burgers, nachos, salads), but the beer really stands out. It's a great spot for dinner after catching a play at New London's renowned Barn Playhouse, or driving around Lake Sunapee, which is far less developed and no less scenic than Winnipesaukee, and a fantastic spot to watch the leaves turn.
Stroll around Hanover and the classic New England campus of Dartmouth College: I made a couple of trips this summer to the dapper town of Hanover (population 11,260), which is home to Dartmouth and has the lively student vibe and cultural heft you'd expect of an Ivy League college town. On campus, you can visit the excellent Hood Museum of Art, and it's just a 30-minute drive south to tour the beautiful Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, where you can explore the former home, studios, and expansive grounds of arguably the foremost sculptor in U.S. history. I had drinks with a friend in Hanover at Canoe Club, a lively bar and restaurant near campus that's a favorite for drinks among gay and lesbian students and faculty at Dartmouth. And I sampled the best meal of my trip in Hanover at the relatively new Market Table, which sources locally (and often organically) in creating memorable breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. The town's venerable 108-room Hanover Inn has just completed an ambitious (and much-needed) renovation - it's my favorite hotel in town, but beware that it fills up quickly on weekends during fall foliage season.
New Hampshire is easy to reach from Boston, which lies just 100 miles south of Wolfeboro and 125 southeast of Hanover.