Best of NH 2018 Fun & Adventure
New Hampshire is a fun place, and these winners prove it. Relax at the spa, visit one of the state's best summer attractions, go glamping, eat and drink at summer festivals or take a local craft beer tour.
The whole family will love the rustic charm — and all of the fun things to do — at Rockywold Deephaven Camps on Squam Lake. Photo by Cindy Jones
Beer Events: Last year, we told you about Nashua’s Flight Center, a craft beer lounge and bottle shop that offers one of the best selections of local beer in the state. For those looking to dive a little bit deeper, they also offer a number of special events throughout the year, including the Brewery of the Month series. Each month, you’ll find a number of the chosen brewery’s beers on tap, and it always kicks off with a beer pairing dinner. During these evenings the courses are paired to the beers and the brewer is on hand to answer questions. Keep an eye on the website or Facebook page for event announcements.
Bowling Bar: You don’t find a lot of candlepin bowling north of the notches, but a couple of years ago a young entrepreneur decided to change that by lovingly restoring six century-old lanes in Woodsville and attaching a pub bar and grill. Now named Room 111 at Victory Lanes (in honor of the owner’s freshman dorm room number and the original name of the alley), the establishment provides a warm welcome to locals and North Country tourists, and has even revived an interest in weekly bowling league nights.
Charming Rustic Resort: Since 1897, Rockywold Deephaven Camps has hosted families on the shores of Squam Lake. This all-inclusive resort is steeped in vintage, rustic charm, and it invites you to unplug from your busy life for a truly relaxing summer vacation. Cottages have a private dock, fireplace, a screened-in porch and an old-fashioned icebox. Forget about tablets, phones and TVs — among many other activities, you can rent kayaks, canoes or paddle boats, take a yoga class, hike, swim, play in a tennis tournament or learn about the world around you on a guided nature walk. Take a step back in time and experience this beautiful piece of New Hampshire history.
Family Basecamp: The most user-friendly of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s huts is tucked into Pinkham Notch and surrounded by the state’s greatest natural treasures. Still, the rustic vibe at Joe Dodge Lodge and the hearty dinner and breakfast (included with a night’s stay) set the mood perfectly should you just want to hit a trail at your own pace and breathe in the splendor of the White Mountain National Forest.
Farm-to-Table Dinners: The folks behind Alnoba in Kensington dream big. Their slogan “where inspirations meets action” brings powerful thoughts to reality. One of their ideals is to promote the power of local food. To that end, acres of produce have been planted, 11 greenhouses raised and animals brought to pasture. Their monthly farm-to-table dinners are a model of action for bringing health and sensibility to our food chain. Executive Chef Dan Dumont leads with a guest chef on board for this series, running about once a month and held in their beautiful timber frame building. For an everyday taste of Alnoba’s local foods, have lunch at Eastman’s Corner and shop their market.
Food and Drink Festival: Summer and fall are filled with brewfests, but if you have to choose one, this combo of fiery bites and local brews is well worth the ticket. Exeter’s Powder Keg Beer & Chili Festival takes place on October 6 at Swasey Parkway, and offers live music, plenty of chili from local restaurants and, of course, huge tents housing some of the best local beer from New Hampshire and beyond. Taste the chili, vote for your favorite and wash it all down with delicious craft beer.
Glamping: Huttopia, which offers a top-of-the-line glamping experience, premiered its White Mountains locations last summer. Picture a camping trip where somebody else pitches the tent and unpacks the gear. One with a real bed, fridge and running water. Huttopia’s safari-style tents are like little canvas cabins, with floors and electricity; the biggest of them have indoor loos and mini kitchens with French-press coffee pots and real wine glasses. The best part? There’s a food trailer with espresso and crêpes for breakfast.
Historic Dinners: Colonial merriment survives in the historic William Pitt Tavern at Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth when the folks from Pickwick’s Mercantile take over the space in full Colonial costume and music of the era. Near Christmas time, carolers stroll through the rooms, along with a fiddler and guitarist, bringing holiday cheer to the guests enjoying a four-course hearty dinner with authentic utensils of pewter. It’s all washed down with pitchers of local beer. Glad tidings to all!
Indoor Firing Range: Gun ownership may be controversial, but gun safety training is more needed than ever with the surge in purchases over the past decade. The biggest and best place in the state to learn how to handle a firearm is Manchester Firing Line. They provide classes in safety and gun use, rentals for the curious and group rates for corporate events, birthday and wedding or “just because.”
Laser Tag: This sport has been around since the early days of electronic gaming, and the technology keeps improving. The brand-new Laser Tag Arena at White Lake Speedway in Tamworth is state of the art (featuring 100 percent DMX game-controlled LED lighting) and offers the perfect indoor fun for tourists and locals alike.
“Misuse” of Machinery: As soon as the internal combustion engine was invented, there were people thinking of ways to have some terrifying (but hopefully safe) fun with it. The ultimate result of that ambition can be witnessed at the NH Grass Drags and Watercross in Fremont. Ever wondered what your snow machine could do on a dirt track with a monster jump at the end? Or why do you have to wait for a pond to freeze to drive over it at high speed? Maybe you’d like to enter your souped-up riding mower in a 60 mph race. Or, better yet, just watch someone else do it. It’s all there at NH Snowmobile Association’s annual October event.
New Beer Tour: Manchester-area beer enthusiasts need no longer look to the Seacoast with envy. In the last few years, a number of excellent breweries opened in the Queen City, Londonderry, Derry, Concord, Nashua and other surrounding towns. With a wealth of great beer comes a problem — how to get safely from place to place. Enter the new Manchvegas Brew Bus, which debuted in April. Created by local residents Alli and Bill Seney (Alli, a musician, performs as Alli Beaudry and Bill is one half of the popular local trivia duo Trivia Night With Bill & Cody), they offer a number of fun tours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
New Wine Event: Last fall, Fulchino Vineyard in Hollis debuted the New Hampshire Grape Festival, a fundraiser for Symphony NH (20 percent of wine sales benefited the symphony). The day included Old World food and fun, including gelato, Italian ice, samples of table grapes, wine tasting and, to cap it all off, a chance to toss your shoes and hop in a barrel for some grape stomping. Look for this year’s festival on September 16.
Overlooked Grand Hotel: Wentworth by the Sea, Omni Mount Washington Resort and Mountain View Grand Resort are often collectively cited as New Hampshire’s grand hotels, which overlooks the historic Wentworth Inn in Jackson — you could call it the “baby grand.” While it may not be as sprawling as the other three, the Wentworth Inn nevertheless exudes that same historic charm. Its history goes back some 125 years, and even today, you can feel the echoes of European and turn-of-the-century traditions.
Romantic Getaway: The Inn at Pleasant Lake in New London has entered another chapter in its storied history. Now under new ownership, this bed and breakfast, which dates back to 1790, offers gorgeous rooms and a number of resort amenities including watercraft rentals, bocce, tennis and volleyball courts, beach chairs and more. Perhaps the two best arguments for staying here though are the stunning views of Pleasant Lake and the gourmet dining. The Oak & Grain restaurant — which overlooks the lake — serves locally sourced dishes created with an eye to New England history. It’s fine dining at its best, with menus that change daily in order to take advantage of produce from local farms.
Wine Dinners: Executive Chef Justin Dain at Pine in Hanover has a way with food, to say the least. His mettle was tested this past year by preparing a meal at the famous James Beard dinner in New York City that offered everything from hamachi crudo with coconut emulsion and duck breast with foie gras to short ribs with bone marrow and a warm local cornmeal cake with a chestnut mousse. In addition, each course was perfectly paired with wine. A few months later, he recreated the experience in Hanover. It was a success, and now monthly wine dinners are on the slate. Additionally, Chef Dain is showcasing his creativity in weekly three-course, wine-paired menus as a prix-fixe or à la carte options.