Best of NH 2017 Fun & Adventure

The view from Mt. Willard, our Editor's Pick for "Bang for Your Buck Hike"

Steam-powered Fantasy: The Cog Railway on Mt. Washington, a marvel when it was invented around the time of the Civil War, has become a mecca for the contemporary steampunk movement with Peppersass, the original cog train, becoming something of a holy relic. Steampunkers from all over will once again gather at the base of the mountain for the “Railway to the Moon” Steampunk Festival on August 19, where at least two of the rides up the 3-mile incline will be steam-powered.

Ultimate Scenic Tour: Forget the lazy Sunday drive. C-R Helicopters, based in Nashua, can take one or two passengers for a tour of the area you won’t soon forget. It’s also an excellent way for photographers to get a different perspective. C-R’s pilots can help you get the shot you need, from scenery to specific properties. If you find you’re hooked on flight, check out their flight training services for both private and commercial licenses.

The “It” Festival: The hottest ticket in town isn’t a gala or highbrow wine tasting — it’s the NH Bacon & Beer Festival in Nashua. The inaugural event was a huge success back in 2016, and the 2017 event sold out more than a month in advance. Consider this your warning to get on the ball next spring. Typically held in late May, it’s exactly what the name suggests — a celebration of all things bacon and beer. Local chefs whip up bacon-infused delights, all of which you can wash down with craft beer from local breweries. It’s a match made in festival heaven.

Adult Arts Camp: If nature’s beauty makes you want to burst into song, there’s a camp for that. Voicings Adventure Singing Camp offers weeklong immersion singing experiences for those 18 and older in nature-rich locations across the country, including two in New Hampshire (in August and October). It’s about exploring one’s voice, not showing off one’s vocal chops, so all levels of singing (and hiking) expertise are welcome.

Hip-Hop Dance Troupe: The magic known as the Vibes of Style happens in the basement of director Shamecca Brown’s home in Concord. That’s where the lessons, advice and demonstrations of the art and athleticism of hip-hop dance all come together. The result is a blend of modern, African and Caribbean dance styles that wins big awards and keeps kids coming back to watch and participate.

Fantasy Arts Camp: The Summer Arts Camp at the Kimball Jenkins Estate and School of Art in Concord caters to youthful and contemporary styles of artistry, like manga, fantasy and cosplay, but they include themed weeks on topics like “Animals” and “Great Artists” to round things out, and the whole affair takes place amidst the building and grounds of one of the state’s most overlooked historical jewels.

Indoor Water Fun: Surf’s Up at Nashua’s SkyVenture facility (named for indoor skydiving wind tunnel) is the largest indoor surfing facility in North America, and it can create seven different types of waves so any skill level can enjoy the ride on a real surfboard and an endless wave.

Ski-in and Ski-out Resort: Hotel rooms don’t get any closer to the slopes than those at Purity Spring Resort. Boot-up in your room above the base lodge, then step out the door and into your skis at the bottom of the King Pine slope. Like everything else at this year-round resort, the ski experience is designed for families but equally convenient for everyone.

Christmas Kicks: The holiday season offers plenty of fun (between stressful shopping trips), but if you really want to toss off the wintertime blues, grab a ticket for The Buzz Ball, hosted by Greg Kretschmar (of WHEB’s Greg and the Morning Buzz) and featuring the finest ensemble of local talent imaginable, drawn from the current pool and some old-timers who are still shaking things up. They call it the ultimate holiday rock ‘n’ roll variety show for good reason. Check the schedule at the Capitol Center for the Arts for dates and tickets.

Spa Experience: We all know salt makes food taste better, but did you know that surrounding yourself with it can reduce stress? Salt caves are all the rage in Europe, and the trend has started to appear in upscale spas here in the US. Happily, there’s no need to travel to Boston or New York to give it a try — Salem’s Bien Soigné has created the first salt cave in New Hampshire. Their cave is lined with 18 tons of Himalayan pink salt, which was mined and custom cut for the room. Relax in a free-floating, zero-gravity lounge chair while surrounded by a soft pink glow and feel your cares start to dissolve.

Bang for Your Buck Hike: Rob Burbank of the Appalachian Mountain Club knows his way around New Hampshire peaks and trails and, according to him, the best way to experience the most outstanding views of the state’s scenic splendor with the most moderate effort is to climb Mt. Willard in Crawford Notch.

Cute Creepshow: The Caterpillar Lab in Keene is an eye-opening and, frankly, mind-expanding resource that provides an up-close-and-personal look at some of the creepy critters that exist all around us, but are seldom actually appreciated as the marvels they are. The nonprofit lab is both a museum and a learning center, and is a labor of love of founder Sam Jaffe.

Hiking Event: Raising money for something you love by doing something you love and maybe bringing home some cool prizes sounds like the perfect formula. And for the Mt. Washington Observatory, it is. They refer to their annual Seek the Peak fundraiser as the “nation’s premier hiking event,” which might be a tad over the top, but life on New England’s highest peak while enduring the world’s worst weather tends one towards hyperbole. Seek the Peak allows both hikers and “virtual” hikers to sign up for 10 bucks with a commitment to raise a minimum of $200 in support for their climb up Mt. Washington (or, if they prefer, some less challenging summit). The whole thing begins (July 21) and ends (July 22) with great parties.

Free Golf Course: The first line on the website for the Balsam Hollow golf course reads, “You must have arrived at this website by accident.” That could also be true for anyone who winds up on the course itself, since you almost have to get lost to find it. Balsam Hollow currently offers nine rustic but playable holes on its 40 acres on Buffalo Road in Wentworth. The whole course has the look and feel of someone’s pet project that was fueled by sheer love of the game, and that’s pretty close to the facts. It was mostly forest and ski trails in 2001, when Dave and Sarah Richardson decided to create a wilderness golf course where adventurous enthusiasts could play for free.

New Fundraiser: Full disclosure: New Hampshire Magazine and McLean Communications had a hand in planning On Tap for CASA NH, but since we’re fairly confident that we know how to plan a good time, we feel good about recommending it to you. On Tap debuted this spring at New England’s Tap House Grille in Hooksett, and with about $30,000 raised, we’re going to call this barstool marathon a success. Teams of 4-12 pledged to occupy a stool for a 12-hour period, making sure their seat was never left empty. Teams also competed in a slew of events from a hotly contested lip sync battle to trivia. We’ll see you next March — stay tuned for 2018 details.

Mobile Ice Cream Party: Really take your summer BBQ to the next level with the help of Lix Ice Cream Parlor. This full-service mobile ice cream trailer can hit the road, bringing more than 50 flavors, frappes, sundaes, banana splits and all the toppings to both residences and businesses. Located in Hudson and Litchfield, Lix promises they can cater whatever event you’ve dreamed up. (603) 883-9300 for the Hudson location and (603) 438-4797 for Litchfield

Nostalgic Gaming: It helps that Funspot is situated at Weirs Beach, the honky-tonk Brigadoon that returns to life each spring just in time for Motorcycle Week, but the hundreds of blinking, boinging games on display in the American Classic Arcade Museum section of Funspot even prompted a Boston Globe reviewer to describe it as “the Lourvre of the 8-bit world.”

Northern Pumpkin Event: Yes, there are plenty of festivals that celebrate the official state fruit, but you might be missing out on a worthy pumpkin party. During Littleton’s Harvest Festival (October 28), you’re welcome to add your own carved creation to the Gathering of the Jack-O-Lanterns. Come nightfall, hundreds of carved pumpkins are lit on the banks of the Ammonoosuc River. Other fun includes trick-or-treating and a haunted river walk.

Categories: Best of NH Winners