Best of NH 2012 Fun and Adventure

Looking for something fun to do? Why not take a cooking class, sign up for an adventure race, soar above the ground on a zip line or plan a romantic getaway to a country inn?
The very adventerous can stay at the summit of Mt. Washington.
Photo by Ed O'Malley

Readers' Poll
*Editor's Pick

*Adventure Race: (a New Hampshire Magazine sister company) recently created the Adventure 5K series. These 3.1 mile runs are much more than foot races – participants must complete a challenging set of obstacles that include crawling through mud, scaling walls and squeezing through tight places all in the name of fitness and charity. Proceeds from the October 13 race at Liquid Planet Water Park in Candia will benefit Moore*Mart.

Cooking Classes: Portsmouth's Attrezzi is much more than a kitchen store – head upstairs to find a fairly large wine shop and kitchen area where you can participate in hands-on culinary classes taught by Seacoast chefs and authors.

*Cross-Country Ski Deal: With a community-run trail network that has more than 30km of groomed skate and set track trails (and more than 15 ungroomed backcountry trails) Abenaki-Sewall Woods in Wolfeboro leads the pack with family friendly, affordable and beautiful cross-country skiing. Warm up in the rustic warming hut, complete with honor-system snacks after a long day on the trails. Single season passes are available at The Nordic Skier in town for $69 ($59 before December 1) or get your family out there with you for $170 ($140 before December 1). Kids under 12 and seniors over 75 ski free.

*Extreme Segway: OK, we'll admit that Segways don't exactly scream "adventure," but the Off-Road Segway Tours at Gunstock Mountain in Gilford might change your mind. Gunstock's specially equipped Segways are designed to take you off the pavement and onto the beautiful cross-country ski trails that wind around the resort. Once you have a small taste of living on the edge, satisfy your need for an adrenaline rush with the mountain's zipline tours or the Aerial Treetop Adventures.

Family Friendly Resort: Parents will love the golf course and great dining while kids will never want to leave New England's first indoor water park at the Red Jacket Mountain View Resort in North Conway. Pet-friendly rooms mean the whole family really can vacation together.

*Golf Hot Spot: Die-hard golfers, rejoice! Mother Nature finds herself thwarted at the Sagamore Golf Center in North Hampton. With 16 covered and heated stations at the center's driving range, you can practice your swing year-round. Sagamore boasts an expansive range ball inventory of nearly 150,000, meaning they have plenty of ammunition to kee you hitting buckets of balls no matter how high the snow piles up. With a nine-time placement on Golf Range Magazine's "America's Top 100 Golf Ranges," this welcoming and open-to-the-public facility is a great place to visit in the warmer months too.

Grand Hotel: The Wentworth by the Sea Hotel and Spa in New Castle is truly a treasure. The meticulously restored grand hotel practically glows with the glamour of a bygone era and offers breathtaking views of the ocean.

*Historical Event: Portsmouth's Gundalow Company brings a local addition to the annual Sail Portsmouth Tall Ships event from July 12-15 with its brand-new gundalow (the early-1800s shipping equivalent of today's tractor-trailer rigs), the Piscataqua. This reproduction of an 1812-era topsail schooner privateer will join another similar reproduction, the Pride of Baltimore II. Both the Piscataqua and the Pride of Baltimore II (1812) and the Providence (1776), both historic war ships will participate in the beautiful Parade of Sails that enters Portsmouth Harbor on July 13. During this four-day event you can sail on one of the visiting ships, be a passenger during the parade, explore the decks, dine with the captains or just sit and view these graceful vessels as they sail by.

Independent Movie Theater: Red River Theatres in Concord offers thought-provoking documentaries, small indie films, fun events like "Big Lebowski" nights and audience participation screenings of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and more.

Karaoke Spot: The Woodstock Inn Station & Brewery in North Woodstock is known for its great beer, but the locals will tell you that the Karaoke Night is the best time to visit and enjoy a brew.

*Multicultural Celebration: New Hampshire gets a bad rap for being homogenous, when in fact the Granite State is home to a growing number of cultures and ethnicities that help make it a diverse, interesting place to live. The annual Laconia Multicultural Market Day celebrates that fact with a day-long festival filled with art, crafts, cuisines from cultures around the world (including more than 35 types of different ethnic food tables), dancing and musical groups, workshops, demonstrations and more. The list of represented countries is long and includes Turkey, Sudan, Mexico, Bosnia, Bhutan, China, Thailand, Argentina, Spain, Cuba and many more. The 11th annual event is scheduled for September 8 in Laconia, which happens to be home to political refugees and immigrants from more than 35 countries.

Music Venue (Large): The Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester regularly brings top-tier performers to the Granite State such as this year's Cirque du Soleil, James Taylor, Carrie Underwood, ZZ Top and more.

Music Venue (Small): It doesn't get much better than listening to great music at the intimate Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry. Their weekly open mic and comedy nights are always a great time as well.

NH Sports Team: Sure, we're close to Fenway, but you can see great baseball at affordable prices for the whole family by attending a Fisher Cats game at the Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester.

At the New Hampshire Renaissance Faire.

*Renaissance Faire: Enter a fantastical land of kings, queens, knights and ladies each May at Kingston's annual New Hampshire Renaissance Faire. This fun and educational event will delight your entire family with historical crafts, food and events. Test your wits at the live chess match that uses people as pieces, take tea with the queen, place your bid at the Wench and Lad Auction (with proceeds benefiting charity), shop handmade works by local artisans, learn about the era's weaponry and customs and listen to Celtic music.

Romantic Country Inn: There's a reason the Bedford Village Inn is a well-known wedding venue and has likely witnessed more proposals than any other New Hampshire location. A multi-million dollar renovation transformed this 1810 farm into an elegant and romantic destination.

*Seacoast Running Loop: Park your car on a side street in Portsmouth and head east on Rte. 1B towards New Castle. To your left, Pierce Island and the state of Maine, to your right pretty New Hampshire coastline dotted with rocky islands. Farther on you'll move through the quaint village of New Castle, pass Fort Constitution, three lighthouses, Great Island Commons and the beauty of Wentworth by the Sea. After Witches Cove, turn right onto 1A, past lobster boats and the hauntingly beautiful South Street Cemetery. Recover from your adventure in one of Portsmouth's coffee shops or pubs and consider yourself lucky to be right where you are.

*Silent Film Revival: Local journalist, composer and performer Jeff Rapsis is keeping silent films relevant even in the age of high tech and CGI-laden Hollywood blockbusters. Various venues around New Hampshire host these events where Rapsis stages these classic movies with his own live musical accompaniment. A full schedule can be found at his blog.

Tattoo Parlor: Trust the staff and artists at SpiderBite in Manchester to bring your dream tattoo to life. This high-end tattoo studio also offers piercings and a salon, all in a clean, safe and friendly environment.

Theater/Performing Arts Venue: The Palace Theatre in Manchester provides a great mix of local and national theatre plus concerts, comedians, musicals, youth and teen theatre and special events like its annual Kitchen Tour.

*Ultimate Sleep Over: The Mount Washington Observatory offers enthusiastic hikers a chance to not only visit the summit weather station, but to stay over for the night. These all-inclusive trips feature an in-depth exploration of this mostly untouched portion of Mount Washington, transportation to and from the base, accommodations at the famous summit weather station and a home-cooked meal. For the truly hardcore, try one of the winter overnights.

Zip Line: Alpine Adventures in Lincoln provides a unique tour of the White Mountains. Strap in and soar above the ground with the Tree-top Canopy Tour or the Sky Rider with side-by-side racing zips and longer, higher lines.

Categories: Best of NH Winners