New Hampshire

Best of New Hampshire | 2017 Editors’ Choice Awards

Looking for dining, lodging, and top-notch attractions in the Granite State? Here are more than 30 of our editors’ picks for the best of New Hampshire.

By Yankee Magazine

Apr 10 2017


Best New Hampshire Beaches | Wallis Sands State Park

Photo Credit : Aimee Tucker
Need a reason to travel this summer? From dining and lodging to attractions that are well worth the drive, here are more than 30 of our editors’ picks for the best of New Hampshire.
Best of New Hampshire
Wallis Sands State Beach | Best of New Hampshire
Photo Credit : Aimee Tucker


ART GARDEN: Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site

Art and nature find a magnificent harmony at sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s former country estate, Aspet. More than 100 of his works are gathered here—including a version of the Shaw Memorial, his tribute to the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment—and many are scattered throughout the gardens. Tour the house and studio, drink in the views of Mount Ascutney, and wander the painterly landscape. Aspiring artists can take classes from a sculptor in residence, and all park visitors are invited to the concerts held on Sundays afternoons during the summer months. 139 Saint-Gaudens Road, Cornish. 603-675-2175;

ART STUDIO: Hot Glass Art Center

In a former Marlborough gas station that’s been transformed like a phoenix into an art studio, molten glass takes shape right before visitors’ eyes. Enroll in one of the classes or workshops offered here, and you can harness the power of hot air under the expert eye of Jordana Korsen, a fiery force in her own right, whose 20-plus years of artistry and teaching guides all levels of students through the process. Shop for art glass, too, in full view of the maker. 99 Main St., Marlborough, 603-876-9474;

ARTISAN JEWELRY: The Kalled Gallery

Walls glow with incandescent paintings and blown-glass vases rise up from pedestals like flames at the namesake gallery of Wolfeboro native Jennifer Kalled. Approximately 200 artisans and a range of media are represented here, but the jewelry is the real showstopper—including Kalled’s own bold creations, which incorporate otherworldly stones such as lace agate and boulder opals. 33 N. Main St., Wolfeboro. 603-569-3994;

BOOKSTORE: Gibson’s Bookstore

An independent establishment since 1898, Gibson’s does everything right—from its thoughtfully curated staff picks to its roster of more than 100 author events each year—in a space that practically demands that you claim a nook with a stuffed chair, while its displays pull you in like a friend with an armload of books. In 2013, Gibson’s relocated to a bigger space, becoming northern New England’s largest indie bookstore; its 10,000 square feet encompass the local independent toy store that it bought and folded into its layout, as well as a True Brew Café outlet. 45 S. Main St., Concord. 603-224-0562;

CHILDREN’S MUSEUM: Children’s Museum of New Hampshire

It’s not the quietest museum (“No screaming,” one dad reminds his 4-year-old in the popular creative-play space called the Thinkering Lab), but it’s surely a successful one. Situated in one of the state’s fastest-growing cities, the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire keeps kids entertained for hours with two floors of interactive exhibits. Who wouldn’t want to steer a submarine? Create music by touching a giant interactive sound sculpture? Laughter and curiosity are given free rein among experiments in progress and future inventors at work. 6 Washington St., Dover. 603-742-2002;

FAMILY BEACH: Wallis Sands State Beach

The small-town-yet-universal feel of this curving stretch of sand makes its appeal undeniable. Framed by rock jetties, with views of the Isles of Shoals and skimming sailboats, this is quintessential New Hampshire and the best of what the state’s coast has to offer (for a spectacular overview, check out the pull-off overlooking the beach). Picnic tables, good. Bathhouse with hot and cold showers, nice touch. Parking for 500, thank you. Combined, it all gives us terrific access to that churning, gloriously blue Atlantic. 1050 Ocean Blvd., Rye. 603-436-9404;

FARM VISIT: Muster Field Farm Museum

Graced by broad fields dotted with weathered farm buildings, flower patches, and the pristine 1787 Matthew Harvey Homestead, this nonprofit treasure inspires visitors with artistic inclinations; meanwhile, cooks can’t help but be transported by the seasonal bounty of this working farm. The Harvey homestead is also part historic preservation, surrounded by 250 acres of woods and fields (not to mention one of the longest woodpiles we’ve ever seen—for sale). Adults will marvel at the outbuildings, from blacksmith shop to ice house to corncribs, and even an 1898 octagonal ticket booth from the Bradford Newbury Fair. Children can enjoy rope swings, treats from the farm stand, and fun seasonal events like Farm Days. Harvey Road, North Sutton. 603-927-4276;


Travel back in time at the Fort at No. 4, surely the least descriptive name for a fort constructed of outsize Lincoln logs and bearing the weight of almost three centuries of history. Once the northernmost fort in the Connecticut River Valley, it was built in 1744 to protect an English settlement. Three years later it was attacked by a large force of French and Indians, and its 31-man garrison fought for three days before finally beating them back. As today’s visitors turn off a quick suburban stretch of road, the reconstructed village at the bottom of the hill immerses them in pre–Revolutionary War life, from crops to crafts, in the blink of an eye. 267 Springfield Road (Rte. 11), Charlestown. 603-826-5700;

KAYAKING SPOT: Little Lake Sunapee

Just a few miles from the center of New London, the blacktop strokes a curve around Little Lake Sunapee, once a favored spot for 19th-century vacationers to build their summer homes. Bucklin Beach is still beloved today, with its water beckoning visitors to launch a boat and set off for the Colby Point peninsula. You can rent a kayak at Village Sports in New London, where owner John Kiernan will confirm the worthiness of your destination. “There’s so much water around—lakes and streams and bogs—and there are secret places,” he says. “Even so, my wife’s favorite place to kayak is still Little Sunapee.” 91 Little Sunapee Road, New London. 603-526-8032

LAKE CRUISE: Mount Washington Cruises

If you don’t own a boat, now you can pretend you have three: $175 buys an unlimited daytime season pass on the 230-foot Mount Washington, the 68-foot Doris E., and the Sophie C. mail boat, all cruising Lake Winnipesaukee, the state’s largest lake. Mountain ranges encircle the 71-square-mile expanse that’s yours to explore; with the option of hopping on or off at five different ports, you’re free to choose your lakeside escape. Family and guest passes are also available. Home port at 211 Lakeside Ave., Weirs Beach, Laconia. 603-366-5531;

MOVIE THEATER: Red River Theatres

Celebrating its first decade this year, this award-winning Concord nonprofit is as likely to show silent classics as it is to screen fringe offerings for audiences hungry for first-run art films. But what really makes Red River Theatres special is community support: A seven-year real-life “hey-kids-let’s-put-on-a-show” volunteer effort brought forth this three-screen state-of-the-art cinema, which also hosts workshops, Q&As with actors and directors, sing-along movies, and offbeat programs like the BYOB (Bring Your Own Baby) series. Plus, there’s top-notch refreshment at the Indie Café, which serves wine, beer, sandwiches, and local chocolates alongside popcorn and soda. 11 S. Main St., Concord. 603-224-4600;
Fall Visit to Downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire
The Hotel Portsmouth | Best of New Hampshire
Photo Credit : Aimee Tucker


BOUTIQUE HOTEL: The Hotel Portsmouth

When boutique specialist Lark Hotels acquired the Hotel Portsmouth in 2015, it may have seemed there was little room for improvement. Ideally located a few blocks from Market Square, the 1881 Queen Anne mansion had been renovated and reopened just the year before, its 32 guest rooms smartly overhauled to blend Victorian courtliness with modern crispness, and its common areas (including a cozy parlor with gas fireplace and a cheerful sunroom decked out in witty parakeet wallpaper) made freshly inviting. Yet to all this, Lark has managed to give us further reasons to return, from its signature curated small-plates breakfasts to a staff that acts more like a whole team of concierges. 40 Court St., Portsmouth. 603-433-1200;

CITY B&B: Ash Street Inn

Located a block from Manchester’s impressive Currier Museum of Art, this 1885 bed-and-breakfast has its Victorian act in order: pretty stained glass, exposed brick, and period flourishes. But there are hidden perks, too. “We work a lot with the museum,” says Rob Wezwick, the friendly innkeeper who runs the five-room establishment with his wife, Margit. When booking a stay, guests can opt for a package that includes admission to the Currier and a tour of the Zimmerman House, the only Frank Lloyd Wright house in New England that’s open to the public (seasonal availability). 118 Ash St., Manchester. 603-668-9908;

COUNTRY HOTEL: The Wentworth

Built in 1869, the Wentworth sits in the heart of Jackson Village, surveying the scene, just a short drive from major ski resorts like Wildcat and Cranmore. Its rooms are divided among the elegant main building and a number of neighboring cottages that offer sleigh beds, hot tubs with mountain views, and fireplaces. Guests can dip into the hotel’s heated outdoor pool or sign up for a relaxing spa session; golfers tee up next door at the 18-hole Wentworth Golf Club. The award-winning dining room is the icing on the cake. 1 Carter Notch Road, Jackson Village. 603-383-9700;

HISTORIC B&B: The Ballard House Inn

For the record, Newton is not the official innkeeper, but the bouncing golden retriever’s enthusiastic welcome is certainly in line with the vibe at this beautifully restored 1784 boardinghouse. While owners Brian and Lynn Krautz can’t take credit for the outstanding lake and mountain views from the back-porch swing, they get full marks for homemade country breakfasts and complimentary coffee, wine, and beer. Located minutes from Lake Winnipesaukee, the Ballard House Inn offers six rooms and two suites, and easy access to hiking trails from the backyard. 53 Parade Road, Meredith. 603-279-3434;


It’s only fitting that Exeter, founded in 1638 and home to Phillips Exeter Academy (alma mater of Dan Brown and Mark Zuckerberg), should have an inn that lives up to its historical character. This stately Georgian-style inn has 43 guest rooms, three suites, an elegant restaurant, and enough Wine Spectator awards to please any sommelier. Plus, it’s only a 10-minute walk from the American Independence Museum, where you can check out one of the first printings of the Declaration of Independence and a draft of the Constitution. 90 Front St., Exeter. 603-772-5901;

LAKESIDE INN: The Wolfeboro Inn

A short walk from the town center, the historic Wolfeboro Inn (c. 1812) comes with its own private beach on Lake Winnipesaukee and a replica 19th-century paddleboat, the Winnipesaukee Belle, that offers seasonal daytime cruises. The inn’s pub, Wolfe’s Tavern, serves New England comfort food alongside upscale options, and has an extensive beer list (Mug Club members must sample 100 varieties … but just two per visit, please). Oh, and there are rooms, too—44 of them, including suites with lake views. 90 N. Main St., Wolfeboro. 603-569-3016;


Up to 10 guests can relax in this 4,000-square-foot, four-bedroom retreat, located near pristine Purity Lake and King Pine Ski Area. There’s access to the amenities at neighboring Purity Spring Resort, including waterskiing, tennis, a pool, and a fitness center, plus the lodge has its own 20-foot vaulted-ceiling great room, playroom with wet bar, and nine-seat home theater with 150-inch projection screen (where better to binge-watch your current TV addiction if the rain rolls in?). 70 Horseleg Hill Road, East Madison. 818-694-2722;

OCEANSIDE RESORT: Wentworth by the Sea

Few sights are more impressive than New Hampshire’s remaining turn-of-the-century “grand hotels,” especially the glorious oceanside giant known as the Wentworth. Dating back to 1874, it boasts three massive mansard-roofed towers that were part of the original structure. And who wouldn’t want to have their very own Turret Suite overlooking the Atlantic? In these two-level suites, with 600 to 725 square feet (and 360-degree views from the central turret), guests can lounge like true Victorian gentlefolk. 588 Wentworth Road, New Castle. 603-422-7322;
Dogs love Annabelle's ice cream, too.
Annabelle’s Ice Cream | Best of New Hampshire
Photo Credit : Annie Graves


ASIAN CUISINE: You You Japanese Bistro

Can’t decide where to begin? Here’s plan A: Start with a simple salad with the tastiest Asian dressing around; savor fresh sashimi, sushi, and maki, including the basic-but-has-it-all Boston roll; then splurge with an entrée of chicken and shrimp pad Thai or chicken Dijon. Even simpler is plan B: Tuck into a brimming bowl of Korean comfort food, like ok dol bi bim bab, in which marinated beef plays a starring role. Or, given the loyal crowd this 20-year standby has attracted, you can always fall back on plan C: Ask what the regular sitting next to you at the bar is having. 150 Broad St., Nashua. 603-882-8337;

BAR FOOD: Tavern 27

At this 1781 farmhouse converted into a cozy bar and restaurant, the emphasis is on sourcing—especially from its own garden. Among the menu standouts are the pinchos, or small bites, presented on skewers, including one with chicken wrapped around dates stuffed with chèvre, local bacon, and almonds. Reservations are taken even for bar seats, so calling ahead is a smart move. 2075 Parade Road, Laconia. 603-528-3057;

BREWPUB: Throwback Brewery

While Hank’s Pale Ale, Dippity Do American Brown, and other year-round favorites are usually on tap here, check out the half-dozen seasonals, too, like Rhubarb Wit, made with as many local products as possible. All are brewed in the same historic white barn in which you’ll find the rustic dining space, with its huge bar, communal high-top tables, and lively atmosphere. Among the menu’s eclectic options are an Asian steamed bun, kale and couscous salad, and a bowl of house-made chorizo and rice with such tasty touches as avocado and poblano goat-cheese yogurt. In summer, enjoy the farm-field view from the outdoor tables, along with fritters made from squash grown in that same field. 7 Hobbs Road, North Hampton. 603-379-2317;

BRUNCH: Sonny’s Tavern

If you believe Sundays should start with a great bloody mary, this is the place for you: The à la carte brunch menu is supplemented with a list of delicious craft cocktails. Build your own Benedict with house-cured ham, bacon, or salmon topped with traditional hollandaise (there’s an avocado version for vegans). Croissants are served with mixed-berry compote—or try fresh biscuits stacked with house-made breakfast sausage. 328 Central Ave., Dover. 603-343-4332;

COFFEE: Flight Coffee Co. Café

Owner Claudia Barrett and her team roast their beans to bring out the most delicate flavors that can be extracted from the coffee berry (think kiwi, blackberry, and sweet red wine). At the pour-over bar, freshly ground coffee and filtered water are carefully measured for the perfect cup. Sip slowly, and enjoy pastries and breakfast sandwiches in the light-filled rustic-chic space. There’s Garrison City beer on tap, too. 478 Central Ave., Dover. 603-842-5325;

DINER: Four Aces Diner

Travel back to the ’50s in this Worcester Lunch Car Company diner decked out with original wood booths and chrome details. There’s enough memorabilia—from Elvis tchotchkes to midcentury ads claiming the virtues of Coke—to keep your head turning as you tuck into a hearty breakfast of cinnamon roll pancakes, savory mushroom and garlic confit omelets, or creative Benedicts with North Country Smokehouse sausage. There’s even authentic poutine. 23 Bridge St., West Lebanon. 603-298-5515;

DISTILLERY: Tamworth Distilling

Yes, Pennsylvania transplant Steven Grasse bought a large chunk of the village, but in return he’s built a gorgeous distillery producing artisanal spirits made from locally grown or foraged ingredients. It’s more than worth the trip for the Apiary Gin and the inventive flavored vodkas (chicory root, sweet potato, et al.), plus an array of infused cordials—all delivered in beautifully designed bottles. You can even pick up the ingredients for your own special blend: the Good Reverend’s Universal Spirit and packets of herbals, which are available in the shop.15 Cleveland Hill Road, Tamworth. 603-323-7196;


Devoted to all things local, chef Kevin Halligan takes seafood, beef, and lamb from nearby providers and turns them into entrées accented with beautiful salads and interesting appetizers. His “local burger”—topped with cheddar, bacon, and a fried egg—is legendary; he also runs a bakery and a meat market in town to keep the supply chain strong. 21 Veterans Sq., Laconia. 603-527-8007;


A multimillion-dollar project with roof deck, garden walls, and art collections, Cabonnay is designed to wow. The focus on excellence is consistent, from the wine collection to the locally sourced food to the striking decor. Menu items offered may include a seared scallop with spiced watermelon or a dry-aged rib eye with Brie and potato tortellini. Save room for dessert: The pastry chef is from a Michelin-rated French restaurant. 55 Bridge St., Manchester. 844-946-3473;

ICE CREAM: Annabelle’s Natural Ice Cream

Thirty-five years after making its debut on Ceres Street, down by the waterfront in the heart of Portsmouth, this tucked-away gem is still scooping strong. Standbys like Mint Summer’s Night Dream and Peanut Butter Fantasy can be counted on to wow the taste buds, as can seasonal treats like Caribbean Coconut and Pumpkin Pie. (In our opinion, however, nothing beats the punch of New Hampshire Pure Maple Walnut.) Though Annabelle’s can be found at other locations in New Hampshire and even Maine, the flagship is still our favorite. 49 Ceres St., Portsmouth. 603-436-3400;


In Portsmouth, the state’s most restaurant-rich city, you could pretty much point to a random address on a local map and find yourself near a good meal. But it’s worth seeking out the excellent fare at Louie’s, thanks in part to an ambitious kitchen turning out homemade pasta and salumi, and a chef, Brett Cavanna, whose résumé includes stints at FIG in Charleston, South Carolina, and Café Boulud in Palm Beach. Cavanna’s passion for local ingredients makes the rustic-Italian conceit work—letting each flavor shine, never gilding lilies, but working in surprises (benne seeds in one dish, parsnip chips in another). 86 Pleasant St, Portsmouth. 603-294-0989;


Owners Ibrahim Bilgin and John Kalem, two cousins from Turkey, offer warm hospitality and authentic cuisine in a we-did-it-ourselves atmosphere. Puffy lavas bread makes an excellent base for a meze platter of tender stuffed grape leaves, hummus, smoky baba ghanoush, and a tomato salsa ripe with herbs, olive oil, and garlic. Marinated kebabs are the mainstay of the entrée menu. Finish up with a pungent Turkish coffee and a sweet slice of baklava. 24 Henniker St., Hillsborough. 603-680-4319;

PIZZA: Pig Tale

Fresh local ingredients top Pig Tale’s wood-fired pizzas, each kissed with a bit of char. The savory mushroom with creamy spinach and fontina melds woodland flavors, while the Sophia, inspired by chef Rob Jean’s daughter, brings together chicken, pesto, and potatoes. Pig Tale’s prowess goes beyond pies, though: The dry-rubbed chicken wings are not to be missed. 449 Amherst St., Nashua. 603-864-8740;

SANDWICHES: The Sunrise Shack

Burgers topped with bratwurst or applewood-smoked bacon, chopped peanuts, and chipotle fluff—the lunch specials here are the work of a mad genius. Just bear in mind that they change daily, as do the Sunrise Shack’s must-have tater tots, which are tossed with everything from barbecue sauce and blue cheese to honey and truffle oil. All of the above washes down nicely with the thoughtfully chosen beer selection. 644 White Mountain Hwy., Glen. 603-383-7169

SEE MORE: Best New England Summer Events in 2017Best of New England | 2017 Editors’ Choice Awards