Your Town, Our Picks

Figures and statistics are invaluable when picking the best place to live, however they don’t really capture a town’s personality. Before settling down to start a long-term commitment with a place, take the time and get to know it. Do you have a lot in common? How will you get along? If you’re new to the area, here’s an introduction. We’ve listed our top towns for six personality types. And if you and your town are old friends, have some fun rating the accuracy of this compatibility test.


You: Cultural variety is the spice of life. Your favorite place to be is out on the town, living it up.

Our Pick: Portsmouth

Once a bustling center for colonial trade, Portsmouth today harbors a cultural amalgam of music, theatre, history, art and food. The small, strollable downtown is a shopper’s delight, bursting with specialty boutiques. Annual music celebrations include The Seacoast Jazz Festival (July), the Folk and Acoustic Festival (August) and the Portsmouth Blues Fest (late August). The colorfully landscaped shore-side Prescott Park is host to several events, as well as Main Stage theatre productions in the summer. On Marcy Street costumed interpreters re-enact Portsmouth’s history amid the restored neighborhood of Strawbery Banke. On Islington Street the artists of Pontine Movement Theatre blend traditional theatre with abstract elements in original productions. And you’ll always find something happening at The Music Hall. The performing arts venue offers music, theatre and even film, hosting the annual New Hampshire Film Expo and Telluride by the Sea events. Portsmouth also offers rich culinary experiences. A few selections include The Stockpot for traditional New England fare, Pesce Blue for seafood entrées and The Blue Mermaid for a fusion of exotic and familiar ingredients.

Crunchy Granola

You: Environmentally sound, lover of the outdoors.

Our Pick: Peterborough
If arts, the outdoors and waste reduction are among your priorities, Peterborough has
a healthy dose of each. Since 1907 artists such as Leonard Bernstein, Alice Walker and Thornton Wilder have retreated to Peterborough and the inspiring grounds of The MacDowell Colony. The town is also home to the region’s only professional producing theatre, The Peterborough Players, one of the oldest summer stock companies in the country. Active outdoors people will make use of Miller State Park, the state’s oldest, where hikers can climb to Pack Monadnock’s 2,290-foot summit. The town is also in close proximity to Mount Monadnock, the second most climbed mountain in the world. Peterborough has had remarkable success taking on the challenge of waste reduction and recycling initiatives. Tons of baled cans, cardboard and paper are sold for revenue by their model facility. Add that to the benefit of not piling that garbage up in a landfill and thousands of dollars are saved each month.

Quaint Corner

You: Wish you could live in the “good old days,” but don’t want to lose touch with the modern world.

Our Pick: Littleton
Tucked in the northwest corner of the state’s White Mountain Region, Littleton is a time capsule, preserving several eras of American history. A winner in the national Great American Main Street competition in 2003, the celebrated avenue is lined with historic and nostalgic treasures. Take in the marble-fronted Georgian Revival U.S. Post Office and Courthouse, built in 1933, and the grand pillared Greek Revival Thayer Inn, built in 1850. Stop by the Littleton Diner for breakfast all day. The Sterling Diner was installed in 1940, but the restaurant originally opened its doors in 1930. Or catch a film at Jax Jr. Cinemas, built on the site where Bette Davis’ film “The Great Lie” premiered in 1941. Sweet tooths can’t miss Chutters General Store — it’s noted in the Guinness Book of World Records for the world’s longest continuous candy counter. The Littleton Grist Mill, along the shores of the Ammonoosuc River, is a working museum where you can buy products made right on the premises. But don’t let these quaint surroundings fool you — the city is the largest in the region and a center for business, healthcare and more.

Techie Town

You: Cutting edge. You want to be in the company of industry leaders and high tech firsts.

Our Pick: Lebanon
Lebanon isn’t new to hosting innovative firsts. Home to the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, it served as the birthplace for the first diagnostic x-ray in 1896 and the first intensive care unit in 1955. Today the center continues to be a leader in medical technology research. The city is also home to high-tech manufacturing and software companies, including Red River Computer Co. Inc., one of the state’s leading high-tech firms, and Timken Aerospace, a manufacturer of super precision bearings. In West Lebanon you will find Centricut, a subsidiary of Hypertherm, a Hanover-based leader in plasma cutting technology.

Upwardly Mobile

You: Need to be in the center of it all, with easy access to everything from entertainment to industry.

Our Pick: Manchester
The conveniences offered by the largest city in the state are hard to match. The Manchester Airport connects the region to the rest of the country, and there’s easy highway access to Nashua, Boston and beyond. Large brick mills line the river, a reminder of the city’s former textile industry of the 1830s. Some of the city’s largest employers include Elliot Hospital, Catholic Medical Center, Verizon, Osram Sylvania, Frudenberg NOK and Velcro USA. Downtown Manchester offers a thriving nightlife, arts and food scene with bistros, boutiques, clubs and more lining Elm Street. The Verizon Wireless Arena has emerged as a world-class venue, with performers such as Aerosmith, Green Day and Elton John now including Manchester on their tour stops. The Manchester Monarchs hockey team calls the arena home, as does the Manchester Wolves Arena Football team. The New Hampshire Fisher Cats, a Toronto Blue Jays AA Eastern League Affiliate, play at a newly constructed ballpark.

Family Friendly

You: Seek a fun and enriching environment for all ages.
Our Pick: Concord
Have a little youthful curiosity to satisfy? Concord will launch you into a world of discovery. Take a “Mission to Mars” at the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium, see “New Hampshire Through Many Eyes” at the New Hampshire Historical Society’s ongoing exhibition or peek under the government’s hood at the Statehouse. Educational entertainment is just one way for families to enjoy the state’s picturesque capital. Warm weather brings family walks and biking excursions, and there’s always something to explore downtown. There you’ll find kid-friendly spots such as Starbellies for clothing, and Imagination Village, an educational toy store. Many venues and performance groups call Concord home, including the highly successful Capitol Center for the Arts. There you’ll catch world-class acts, local stars, and kids can participate in the Center’s Education program to experience artists from around the world. Though kid-friendly, Concord is still very grown up, being the state’s political center and offering a busy legal and financial division.