White Mountains | New HampshirePhoto Credit : Brian Yurasits/Unsplash
With an eye on what’s new for 2023, Yankee’s editors round up the best attractions, eateries, and hotels in top New Hampshire travel destinations. Headed to the city? Check out our spotlight guide to Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Bakery, Bread | Fire Dog Breads, Keene
What began as a farmers’ market cult favorite in 2017 has grown into a brick-and-mortar bakery helping to anchor Keene’s emerging artisan-food hub, Emerald Street. Yet Fire Dog still maintains a hand-crafted, home-kitchen feel as it turns out superlative crusty rustic loaves made with house-milled grains, including wheat, rye, and corn from farms right here in New England.
Coffee Roaster | Blue Harbor Coffee Co., Hampton
Coffee mastery runs in the family for Istanbul native Coskun Yazgan, a third-generation roaster whose brother and sister-in-law just happen to run Portsmouth’s Caffe Kilim, now in its 30th year. Yazgan struck out on his own java journey in 2019, opening a café-roastery that showcases coffees sourced from boutique farms in nearly 20 countries and roasted to perfection in small batches. For a can’t-miss eye-opener, try the Orca dark-roast blend with a shot of espresso.
Destination Brewery | Throwback Brewery, North Hampton
Outlandishly flavorful IPAs, imperial stouts, and other brews made with ingredients largely sourced from within 200 miles are the main draw at Annette Lee and Nicole Carrier’s brewery, but there are so many reasons to linger: the charming 1860s barn and beer garden, cute farm animals, fresh-from-the-field cooking at the on-site restaurant, and an events calendar sprinkled with trivia and open-mic nights, yoga classes, and more.
Historic Restaurant | Three Chimneys Inn, Durham
Housed in a 1649 homestead, one of New Hampshire’s oldest buildings, the Three Chimneys gives a village inn feel and a menu that runs generally Continental, with New England flourishes like fried calamari, clam chowder, and prime rib. Ask for a table on the wisteria-shaded terrace or, in winter, a spot by the fireplace.
New Restaurant | Ansanm, Milford
What began as a pop-up sensation at chef Chris Viaud’s acclaimed fine-dining restaurant, Greenleaf, came into its own last fall when this Haitian eatery opened in a South Street storefront whose small size belies the big flavors within. Viaud’s family—including his Haitian-born parents, Myrlene and Yves—all help steer the Caribbean comfort-food menu of griot (marinated fried pork), savory pastries called patés, and yes, superlative jerk chicken wings.
Pizza | 900 Degrees, Manchester
In reaching its 15th anniversary last year, 900 Degrees could have gotten by just on the strength of its pies, gourmet Neapolitan creations pulled from wood-fired brick ovens at, yes, the perfect temperature. But add an atmosphere suitable for date nights as well as family get-togethers, a generous selection of wines and cocktails (plus 12 tap lines), and a deck for al fresco dining, and it’s truly a slice of heaven.
Seafood Shack | Brown’s Lobster Pound, Seabrook
In a competitive field, Brown’s edges past other seafood shacks for its freshness, its fried clams (strips or whole), four kinds of chowder (clam, fish, lobster, corn), ample parking, and water views. It’s BYOB and cash only, though, so come prepared.
Wine Bar | Vino e Vivo, Exeter
Despite its downtown location, Vino e Vivo feels seductively off-the-beaten-path, sitting below street level in a brick-lined alley. Subdued lighting gleams off reclaimed wood and copper; an eye-catching wall of bottles behind the bar is an invitation to explore both crowd-pleasing cabernets and sauvignon blancs as well as lesser-known grapes and regions. But the food deserves just as much attention as the wine here, thanks to the presence of James Beard Award semifinalist Paul Callahan in the kitchen.
Campground | Bear Brook State Park, Allenstown
New Hampshire’s largest state park encompasses more than 10,000 acres of scenic wilderness. Overnight at one of the park’s 101 campsites or hunker down at a cabin at Bear Hill Pond. Then fill your days with archery, swimming, biking, or exploring some of the 40 miles of hiking trails that course through the property. Motorheads should be sure not to miss the New Hampshire Snowmobile Museum.
Glamping | Lumen Nature Retreat,Woodstock
At this White Mountains luxury escape, campers can scrap the sleeping pads and tight spaces in favor of comfort and rejuvenation. All of Lumen’s A-frame tents and more spacious “safari” quarters feature high-end beds and linens, access to a climate-controlled bathhouse, and other savvy touches (battery chargers, kitchen kits) that can make anyone go wild for the woods.
Green Hotel | The Glen House, Gorham
The fifth iteration of this 68-room hotel at the base of Mount Washington honor its environment inside and out, including using carbon-free power systems and installing “dark sky compliant” outdoor lighting. An outdoor deck gives guests a front-row seat to the surrounding natural beauty, as does the lounge, whose windows offer a Presidential Range panorama.
Hotel Restaurant | Pavilion, Wolfeboro
Come hungry to Pavilion, the dining arm of Pickering House Inn, one of the top resort hotels in the country. Here, chef-owner Chris Viaud dishes up an ambitious menu that draws on local, seasonal ingredients. The delicious mix includes sharable plates such as Brussels sprouts with cider vinaigrette and pickled red onion, as well as entrées like local mushroom risotto and pan-roasted duck breast with sunchoke, leek, and apple. Rye and vodka from nearby Tamworth Distilling infuse the cocktail list.
Hotel Spa | Omni Mount Washington Hotel, Bretton Woods
Adhering to the notion that a grand hotel deserves a grand spa, this 25,000-square-foot retreat features rooms with views of the surrounding peaks and a long menu of indulgent facials, wraps, massages, and other treatments—including the enlightening Espresso Mud Wrap, which uses crushed coffee beans and volcanic pumice to awaken the senses.
Luxury Suite | Overlook Suite at Mill Falls at the Lake, Meredith
Climb stairs to your own lodge-style retreat looking out over soothing lake water. The luxury here is being able to launch your kayak or paddleboard right onto Lake Winnipesaukee. It’s having exclusive access to a stone-rimmed plunge pool for two on sticky summer days. It’s tucking kids into their own beds, then sitting out on the deck or screened porch, listening for loons. Then, when the air temperature cools, lighting a roaring fire in the floor-to-ceiling fieldstone fireplace.
New Hotel | The Inn at Rye Place, Rye
Not that different from your frugal parents, who chose motels a few miles from the beach to save a buck? You’ll love this reasonably priced boutique hotel, celebrating its second summer. New owners utterly transformed the property without diminishing its retro cred. Rooms—some of which are dog- or even double-dog-friendly—are spacious, and so is the backyard, where games and firepits are just the kind of no-cost entertainment that’d tickle your ancestors (as would free breakfast).
Romantic Overnight | The Inn at Thorn Hill,Jackson
The bar for luxury is set high at this inn, but if you want a true heart-to-heart escape, book a stay at one of the rustic cottages on the property. These two tiny homes are private and peaceful, yet mere steps from the main lodge, and both feature gas fireplaces, screened-in porches, and private baths, including a two-person spa hot tub in the aptly named Trailside cottage.
Stay & Play | Loon Mountain Resort, Lincoln
It’s all about the “peak experience” at this family-forward resort. Glacial cave scrambles, gondola rides, biking, mountaintop yoga, and hiking (of course) are all in Loon’s backyard. So is a lineup of dining options and a range of spa treatments when you’re ready to chill out from all that action.
Factory Outlet | Barbour, Milford
Secreted away in a nondescript office park, this old-school outlet can give your wardrobe a royal upgrade at prices that are a bit friendlier to the common people. Featuring the high-end British clothing line favored by the House of Windsor since the 1970s—most notably the signature waxed cotton jackets that co-starred in seasons four and five of The Crown—the outlet has nice discounts on overstock and can-you-believe-it deals on irregulars and returns, such as a pristine Orinsay puffer coat (retail $450) for under $100.
General Store | Zeb’s General Store, North Conway
Named after an early 1900s schooner boat captain, Zebulun Northrop Tilton, Zeb’s is a multifloor tour of nostalgia and homegrown fare. Amid the store’s antique fixtures, discover an array of penny candy, Moxie soda, and more—including the largest collection of New England–made specialty foods—at this White Mountains bucket-list stop in the heart of downtown North Conway.
Mountain Biking Spot | Highland Mountain Bike Park, Northfield
Fifteen miles of varied trails anchor the riding scene at this one-time ski hill. Highland’s chairlift will you get atop the hill, while fun cruisers including Cat Scratch Fever and the double-black-diamond Lunch Lady will get you down it again. Adrenaline junkies gravitate to the Skill and Jump Park Zone, while newbies can take advantage of Highland’s “Find Your Program,” a one-day ticket that includes lift pass, bike rental, and one-hour training session.
New Attraction | Nashua Center for the Arts, Nashua
If you’d see more concerts, comedy acts, and theater productions if it didn’t mean driving into Boston, then you belong in the audience at Nashua’s spanking new Broadway-style theater. Already an arts hub, the city’s about to feel livelier as this inaugural season brings diverse entertainment to the stage. You’ll feel drawn right into performances by the likes of jazz legend Pat Metheny from any roost in the 750-seat house.
Stargazing Spot | McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center, Concord
Reach for the stars—or at least get an unparalleled look at them—at this museum. The recently renovated planetarium puts the edge of the known universe on full display with 10K projectors; it’s one of only three institutions in North America with this state-of-the-art technology. Stargazers of every stripe, meanwhile, gravitate to the monthly Skywatch and telescope clinic, a fun primer for wannabe astronomers on what to look for and how to get the most out of their own equipment.
Stay-All-Day Beach | Hampton Beach, Hampton
Part seaside resort and part old-time carnival, Hampton is not so much the diamond of New Hampshire’s coast as its honky-tonk rhinestone. Walk “the strip,” where T-shirt and souvenir vendors vie for your attention, amid a bevy of fried dough stands, ice cream vendors, candy shops, arcades, and entertainment venues. The beach often gets crowded, but the water is sparkling clean and the people-watching is unsurpassed (see for yourself via the webcams at hamptonbeach.org).
Used Bookstore | Avenue Victor Hugo Books, Lee
In a red post-and-beam barn, just up a country road from Flag Hill Distillery & Winery, Vincent McCaffrey is seven years into his comeback chapter. The rare-book shop he launched from a pushcart, then nurtured on Boston’s Newbury Street for 29 years, is reincarnated here, and narrow aisles are a magnet for those who love turning pages that transcend time. Thoughtful gifts lurk on loaded shelves and in bins of antique sheet music and magazines.
Check out our full 2023 Best of New England Summer Travel Guide to find our current editors’ picks in all six New England states.