Best of NH 2014 Fun and Adventure

Up for some thrills this summer? Why not try a white water rafting trip, canopy tour or take aerial classes while suspended by silks.

Editor's Picks from left: The Soulfest, rafting adventure with ELC Outdoors and performers suspended from silks at Go Ninja. Courtesy photos.


Aerial Classes: Take your workout to new heights with aerial maneuvers created by the certified instructors at Bare Knuckle Murphy’s Fisticuffs boxing gymnasium in Manchester (see more below). The sky is the limit when fitness, pilates, yoga and circus act classes are held on a trapeze and with colorful silks suspended from 20-foot ceilings. Go Ninja mimics circus and acrobatic performance techniques and is a dramatic and beautiful but challenging form of exercise promoting grace, balance, flexibility, strength and confidence. There is even a Go Ninja summer camp for kids of all ages who dream of running off and joining Cirque du Soleil.

Fight Club: So there probably aren’t actually any mustachioed, shirtless, old-timey gents fighting with actual bared knuckles, but it kind of feels like they might appear any moment at Bare Knuckle Murphy’s Fisticuffs in Manchester. Open since 1978 when fighting sports weren’t so commonplace and no one had ever heard of Ultimate Fighting, they now offer lessons and training for just about anything you can imagine from boxing and kickboxing to mixed martial arts and pilates. Want to check out aerial lessons? Check out the related Go Ninja.

Aquatic Timeshare: Love the idea of sailing around Lake Winnipesaukee on a blue-sky summer day? Who doesn’t, but how many of us can afford the cost or want the hassle of taking care of it? Now there’s a way to do it — a timeshare. For just $400 (NH residents), you can use a sleek 24-foot keelboat 10 times this summer. The timeshare is a joint project between the NH Boat Museum, the Wolfeboro Parks & Rec. Dept. and Brewster Academy.

Art Attack: Art Escape in Laconia is like a working beehive; it buzzes with creativity for all ages and all art levels. You can have fabulous fun by painting canvas, throwing clay on a wheel, fusing glass, painting ceramics and more at this beautifully designed creative studio. Special events, paint and wine nights, birthday parties, and private parties fill the calendar. Want more? Check out their summer camp.

Canopy Tour: It can be scary to be suspended 165 feet in the air, flying over tree tops on the faith of a few wires and carefully placed carabiners, but  staffers at the Bretton Woods Canopy Tour make it easy. You learn the basics on a less challenging double wire — think backyard clothes line. From there you gradually progress to longer and higher zips — nine in all for a well-paced morning or afternoon of speed-driven suspension. Several platform stops are built into tall pine trees for a bird’s eye view of skiing glades, the green froth of spring, the summer forest or the beauty of autumn foliage. You can zip year-round here, just dress appropriately.

Cycling Challenge: The Rockingham Raid is ridiculous fun and a must-attend event if you love bike riding. The 100K (62-mile course) offers bikers a personal challenge ride with some hill climbing and packed gravel road sections. Starts in downtown Newmarket and ends at the Stone Church. Incredible food, swag, tees, pint glasses and plenty of cold Smuttynose beer. Sweet.

Extreme Museum Makeover: How great would it be to experience the extreme winter weather at the top of Mount Washington without having to actually be there in the winter? Now you can. The folks at the Mount Washington Observatory have created a snazzy new museum (actually updated an old one), calling it Extreme Mount Washington. With high-tech, hands-on exhibits, you can traverse up and down digital slopes, operate a snowcat simulator and see a panoramic view of the mountains, no matter the weather. 

Good Clean Fun: Alleluia! You can go to a three- day (August 7-9) music festival and bring the kids. The Soulfest is New England’s annual premier “Social Justice & Christian Music Festival.” Based at Gunstock Mountain in Gilford, the event brings together more than 80 national (Tobymac, Switchfoot, Third Day) and regional artists and speakers on four stages. On-site camping is available. Expect prayer, inspiration and wholesome family fun.

Grand Adventure: The great escape can be had in the North Country's wilderness on this weekend adventure when ELC Outdoors in Berlin transports you by float plane from the top of the New Hampshire/Maine border to the historic Lakewood Camps on the remote shores of Lower Richardson Lake near Middle Dam. You and your certified guide will be transferred to white water rafts to navigate down the Class IV Rapid River and through the Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge to Lake Umbagog. The float plane will pick you up in the lake and return to your point or origin, but not before you shared this inimitable weekend with moose, eagles, osprey and other wildlife met along the way.

Healthy Horror: Run for your life! For some “healthy” horror, join in the fun and sign up this year (Sept. 27) for the “Night Terrors 5k and Ghoullog Bash” at Cranmore Mountain Resort, Conway. This night race will shock your socks off.  Runners of all levels dress up in their best “Halloween costume” (a month early) and scream their way to the finish line. The racecourse is haunted by ghosts, monsters, chainsaw killers, headless bodies, and other ghoulish greeters.

New Trails: The lovely 300-acre Albany Town Forest is now home to about four miles of multi-use trails that are maintained by the White Mountains chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association under the eye of the Albany Conservation Commission. Depending on the season and your particular passions, you can bike, snowshoe, hike, run or cross-country ski on these trails that range from beginner to intermediate terrain. There’s a trailhead with a parking lot and kiosk on the Kancamagus Highway about seven-tenths of a mile west of the Rte. 16 traffic lights in Conway. The network runs behind the Kennett Middle School with another kiosk adjacent to Hubbell Memorial Field.

New Way to Learn How to Ski: Forget the “snow plow” or “pizza wedge.” Cranmore Mountain Resort in North Conway now offers Terrain Based Learning, which is a fancy way of saying unintimidating elements such as rollers, mini-pipes and bank turns are incorporated into first-time lessons. The idea is to teach someone new to skiing or snowboarding various sensations of sliding on snow. The end result is better balance, more confidence and reduced falls. It also sounds way more fun than endless bunny trail runs.  

Pirate Adventure: The Northeast Buccaneers are invading New Hampshire. Actually, most of them, including leader Captain Jay Tucci, a Dover High graduate, are originally from here, but to see this motley crew of barnacle-bottomed bilge swillers, you’d think they just stepped off the high seas from parts unknown. They appear at local Make A Wish Foundation events, greet the Tall Ships as they arrive in Portsmouth each year and ride the SS Thomas Laighton on cruises to the Isles of Shoals, so make it a point to see them this year. Be beware of being shanghaied and waking up in a puddle of grog when the ship sets sail the next day.

Recreational Partnership: All Aboard! This Hobo Railroad excursion in a restored, vintage coach showcases New Hampshire’s scenic beauty and ecological diversity as it travels through the woods and along the banks of the Pemigewasset River. Passengers in the “rolling classroom” learn about the wildlife and vegetation along the route from Squam Lakes Natural Science Center instructors, who treat you to a live animal presentation in the Choo-Choo Theater at the railroad station in Lincoln following the one-hour, 20-minute tour. Nature By Rail classes are in session July 19, 26 and August 2, 9, and 23. 

Unique Trophy: Now in its second year at the Grappone Center in Concord, the NE Meat Conference has been making a deep impression on the region’s agricultural community by focusing on local meat production, packing and delivery. Appropriately enough, the conference’s official trophy is a beautiful, if somewhat dangerous-looking, meat cleaver with the winner’s name engraved on the side.

Vaudeville: The Shaskeen pub in Manchester might seem like an odd venue for a vaudeville show, but nevertheless, the monthly Sunday Stomp variety show calls it home. It’s got a little bit of everything, including comedy, music, poetry, film, interviews with local authors and even exhibits of local art. Families are welcome to attend, have a bite to eat and enjoy the performances. Feel like dancing? After the show wraps up, R&B band the RiverBirds take the stage with their high-energy music.

Categories: Best of NH Winners