Celebrate the season for romance with three of New Hampshire’s chocolatiers, a cozy sleigh ride for two, a winery, a walk on the beach and a fireside dinner.Begin in downtown Concord, with a stop at Granite State Candy Shop, family owned since 1927, for a selection of chocolates to savor while traveling.
Continue on Route 27 into Candia Four Corners (3 miles), a pretty village with stone walls, a classic white church and the Fitts Museum, which is unfortunately closed in winter. If you continue straight on past Route 43, you’ll come to Birchwood Plaza (2.5 miles) and Pasquale’s, an Italian restaurant that’s open for lunch Friday through Sunday, or dinner Tuesday through Sunday.
Leave Concord on Route 9, turning right on Pembroke Road at the top of the hill. Follow it through North Pembroke to Route 28, turning right into Allenstown, then left on Bear Brook Road, through a corner of Bear Brook State Park, where it becomes Deerfield Road as it skirts the park’s northern perimeter. As you approach South Deerfield, watch on the right for Point of View Farm. Stop for a romantic sleigh ride for two (prior booking is essential), followed by brunch for two.
Continue through South Deerfield, turning left on Route 107, then right on Parade Road through Deerfield Parade, following Nottingham Road until you meet Route 152 in Nottingham. Follow it right to South Lee, turning right again (south) on Route 125, then sharp left onto Route 155. In about 1/4 mile, Flag Hill Winery is on the right. Stop for a free wine tasting (Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.), and maybe pick up a bottle of North River Port or Marechal Foch for later — either is nice to sip with dark chocolate.
If it’s time to think about romantic dining or a cozy room for the night, follow Route 155 north to Lee, turning right on Route 155A to Durham and Three Chimneys Inn. The 1649 building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as one of the oldest homes in New Hampshire. A number of its 23 guest rooms have fireplaces, as do the dining rooms. The ffrost Sawyer Tavern serves traditional New England comfort foods — a good choice for lunch Tuesday through Saturday — and Maples features candlelight dining in a Georgian setting.
Route 108 leads south to Exeter, and The Chocolatier. Their legendary small-batch chocolates are impeccably fresh and indescribably good, with centers made right there — maple, lemon, orange, raspberry, fudge, coffee — or candied fruits, nuts or marzipan. Figaro truffles have creamy layers of chocolate with hazelnuts.
Follow Route 27 east to Hampton, and when it crosses Route 1, Lafayette Road, turn right and immediately look for Sanborn’s Fine Candies, where they specialize in chocolates, including sugar-free and peanut-free choices. Or if your sweetie prefers non-chocolate sweets, follow Route 1 north to Hutchinson’s Candy, whose fame rests on the original recipes (the family business began in 1904) and the copper kettles the caramel corn, penuche fudge and nut brittles are cooked in.
Continue north a short way to Route 111, turning right to Little Boar’s Head and its row of “cottages” overlooking the ocean. If it’s a pleasant day, stop for a hand-in-mittened-hand walk at any of the several beaches you’ll pass as you follow Route 1A to the left along the shore through Rye. Or stop to explore the trails of 135-acre Odiorne Point State Park on cross-country skis.
Not far north of the park, turn right onto Route 1B to warm up at the spa or with a Seascape Romance package at Wentworth by the Sea, overlooking the ocean and Little Harbor in New Castle. If you’re in the Seacoast area on the big day itself, on Sunday, February 14, The Music Hall in Portsmouth features a Bossa Nova Valentine’s evening show with Brazilian jazz pianist and singer-songwriter, Eliane Elias.