Take a Tour While in the Lakes Region this Season.
Viewed from New Hampshire’s Ellacoya State Park, the sun sets over Lake Winnipesaukee. Photo by Jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
Circumnavigating Lake Winnipesaukee, the state’s largest lake, this 97-mile byway offers recreational opportunities galore, especially along the west side. With its Victorian-era buildings and a boardwalk that’s home to a penny arcade, Weirs Beach harkens to another era.
Stop in Gilford and enjoy the expansive sandy beach at Ellacoya State Park. Whether you swim or picnic, you’ll delight in the views of the Ossipee and Sandwich mountains across the water. Also in Gilford, your entire family can enjoy Beans and Greens Farm. Its ever-changing activities range from making a home for a gnome using natural materials and wandering an easy-to-get-lost-in corn maze in the fall.
Stunning Lakes of the Lakes Region:
Newfound Lake, New Hampshire
Glacial, spring-fed Newfound Lake, with 22 miles of scenic shoreline, is considered one of the state’s most pristine. Wellington State Park has a long stretch of shorefront for beachgoers and picnickers, easy hiking trails, and nearby nature preserves such as the Newfound Audubon Center. Don’t miss the nearby Sculptured Rocks Natural Area, where water has carved shapes into the granite bedrock that look as though they were chiseled by an artist, rather than nature, and quaint towns like Bristol, which has “authentic New Hampshire charm,” says Kris Neilsen, communications manager for New Hampshire’s Division of Travel and Tourism Development.
Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire
Mount Washington Cruises boat on Lake Winnipesaukee.
Photo by Ingunn Gardner/Mount Washington Cruises
Lake Winnipesaukee is a true all-season playground. It hosts to an annual motorcycle rally in June and ice-fishing derby in February. In summer and fall, Weirs Beach’s boardwalk, beach, restaurants, and nightlife bustle with visitors.
But if you seek quiet and solitude, head around the lake to Wolfeboro. “The oldest summer resort in America” has attracted summering city slickers since the 1700s and is “really that picture-perfect small town.” says Neilsen. Boating is popular here (in fact, you’ll find the New Hampshire Boat Museum), but don’t worry if you lack your own craft. On guided tours with Mount Washington Cruises, passengers can sail aboard the historic M/S Mount Washington or aboard the country’s oldest floating post office while it delivers mail to residents of some of the lake’s 258 islands.
Ossipee Lake, New Hampshire
Local families favor Ossipee Lake; their lakeshore summertime camps go back generations. The lake is within the Ossipee Mountains, which are the remnants of ancient volcanos. When you’re in the area, don’t miss the covered bridges, such as Whittier Bridge in Ossipee and Durgin Bridge in Sandwich. Once you’ve had enough hiking and fishing, head into Tamworth, where you’ll find the Remick Country Doctor Museum and Farm, and the Barnstormers Theatre, one of the oldest ongoing professional summer theaters in the United States.
Squam Lake, New Hampshire
The Oscar-winning On Golden Pond was filmed here, but Squam Lake offers more than Hollywood bona fides. The two connected lakes—Squam and Little Squam—boast unspoiled waters and about 30 islands. Climb the nearby East Rattlesnake Trail in Holderness for beautiful lake views. Despite the trail’s name, you needn’t worry about running into a rattler here: According to New Hampshire Fish and Game department, the state’s only species of rattler, the timber rattlesnake, is endangered and extremely rare. Then, get up close with wildlife at the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, where visitors can explore animal exhibit trails, gardens, and even take a lake cruise, like the naturalist-led Bald Eagle Adventure Cruise.