A boat tour of the Androscoggin River

On a tour down the Androscoggin River.

Photo by Courtney Hoppe

I think it's fair to say that Berlin, NH, isn't one of those places that immediately comes to mind for a night out on the town. In fact, when I first moved to NH and was actively dating online, I automatically counted out any suitors from Berlin simply due to their proximity from where I lived in southern NH. But this northernmost town did represent the majority of online NH daters in my unscientific poll, so clearly there had to be life up there (even if they were all men). However, the question remained: What was up there for them to do?

I have been wanting to answer this question for years and, thankfully, this column gave me the push I needed to do so. I can now shout from the mountaintops that there is stuff to do in Berlin! The highlight being the activity I built this outing around: a boat tour of the Androscoggin River, operated by the Northern Forest Heritage Park.

Leaving every Tuesday through Saturday at 6 p.m. through October, this $15 tour is not only relaxing and beautiful, it's packed with information about one of the most historic towns in the state - it claims the inventors of Polaroid and is home to the now-defunct Olympic ski jump and new low-security prison, which my fellow passengers were abuzz about.

Since it took about three hours to get to Berlin from the Manchester area, a picturesque drive was subbed in for cocktail hour. However, my date and I wisely packed a cooler and were able to pop open a bottle of prosecco during the tour, which lasted about two hours. By the time we departed the pontoon boat, we were starving and zoomed into the neighboring town to Libby's Bistro, hoping that we had time to order dinner before the kitchen closed. Unfortunately, the main dining room was in too much of a tizzy over a large party to accommodate us, but we were able to grab seats in the bustling pub side, which features a menu of grown-up pizzas, sandwiches, nachos, burgers and salads.

The highlight here was definitely the Cucumber Gin & Tonic from the cocktail menu. A traditional vodka drinker, I have been incorporating more gin into my repertoire and the cucumber in this concoction helped bring out the best from this spirit. For our next visit, it was suggested we make reservations.

From there we headed back into the center of town to Fagin's Pub (603-752-3744), which features a decent draft selection, live music and an even livelier crowd. With a three-hour drive looming we could only stay for a couple of songs, but it was enough to spark a Grooveshark singalong on the ride home.

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