In our last post, we took you through what a fall road trip on the eastern side of the “The Lake Winni Loop Drive” could look like. Now, we’re tackling the western side of the lake, starting from the scenic shopping-friendly downtown of Meredith down through the farm-dotted stretches of Gilford and Alton Bay.
The Route in a Nutshell: From Moultonborough, head southwest on NH-25 W for approximately 10 miles until you reach the lakeside town of Meredith. From there, head south on US-3 where you will continue for another four miles to the town of Laconia. Then, to head back to Alton Bay, just follow NH’s Route 11 and enjoy the waterside views to your left.
Pit Stop #1: Downtown Meredith [Meredith]
With streets lined with nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century white clapboard buildings, Meredith Village has served as the Lakes Region’s civic, industrial, commercial, and residential epicenter for 150 years. Start with strolling the Meredith Sculpture Walk, a path lined with local sculptures positioned along the bay and into town, followed by some shopping at Mill Falls Marketplace, offering nine distinctive shops set in an old mill building. Lastly, head to Hermit Woods Winery, a small boutique winery located behind the marketplace to sample fruit wine made entirely from New Hampshire–grown ingredients, including kiwi berries, blueberries, peaches, crabapples, and more.
Pit Stop #2: Hart’s Turkey Farm [Meredith]
As you head south toward Laconia, don’t expect an actual farm as the name implies, but rather this sprawling roadside complex near the junction of Routes 104 and 3 that is dedicated to the Thanksgiving staple. Yes, the number-one item here is turkey – as it has been since 1954 – but it goes beyond just your traditional carved interpretation with a menu boasting it in a dozen different forms: as nuggets, croquettes, potstickers, and even tempura.
Pit Stop #3: Kellerhaus [Laconia]
Located in the heart of Laconia, this 110-year-old candy shop looks like it came straight out of Bavaria thanks to a half-timbered architectural style and an interior that gives way to multiple rooms stocked with homemade chocolates, Christmas ornaments, cuckoo clocks, and other trinkets and treasures While it might be a little chilly for indulging in their famous buffet-style sundae bar, there’s plenty of other rooms boasting homemade chocolates and artisan candies.
Pit Stop #4: Prescott Farm Environmental Education Center [Laconia]
While this 160-acre historic farm property holds year-round environmental education programs for all ages, some of the most fun offerings occur in the fall, including foliage walks on the 3.5 miles of well-marked hiking trails and classes dedicated to making décor from pressed autumn flora.
Pit Stop #5: Pepi Herrmann Crystal [Gilford]
Nestled in an unassuming industrial park off Route 11C resides this world-famous gallery and workshop, where Austrian-native and former Gunstock Mountain Resort ski instructor Pepi Herrmann has been cutting crystal since 1974. Since then, he has become renowned for pieces rendered in Brilliant Period style, a turn-of-the-twentieth-century approach defined by deep cuts and intricate patterns. Explore a small collection of rarities like a 2,000-year-old crystal container from Turkey, or pick up an early Christmas gift, like one of his signature champagne flutes to be engraved.
Pit Stop #6: Beans & Greens Farm [Gilford]
Every fall, this family-run farm is home to the largest and most difficult corn maze in New Hampshire, offering miles (yes, you read that right, miles) of loops, turns, dead ends, and open squares, and bridges. Visitors are also invited to meet the farm’s barnyard animals, pick a pumpkin at their pumpkin patch, and devour a freshly baked treat from the on-site bakery.
Pit Stop #7: Mount Major [Alton]
Much less crowded in the fall, this dog-friendly ,1.5-mile route – with a trailhead right off of Route 11 – takes approximately two to three hours to complete and can be enjoyed by both first-time hikers and competent trekkers alike. With only a meager elevation of 1,786 feet, the summit still delivers big-time views of the explosion of fall colors reflected on Lake Winnipesaukee’s Alton Bay.
**Please confirm details with business/attractions prior to visiting due to possible restrictions.