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A History Buff’s Perfect Lakes Region Weekend

The Lakes Region boasts a history as vast as Lake Winnipesaukee itself. Head back in time and go beyond the conventional trail of museums with this list of unique historical spots around the Lakes Region.

Day One

12 p.m. | Laconia
A Tale of Industry

The Belknap Mill may be the oldest unaltered brick textile mill in the United States today, but its historical significance and community value are timeless. That’s because it was the business that the city of Laconia rose around. Today, the 1823 building is now a museum, transporting visitors back to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution with permanent and changing exhibits on art and history (and even several working machines that still create socks for the on-site gift shop). After, meander along the abutting Winnipesaukee Riverwalk with a brochure guide that traces the settlement of Laconia. 

2 p.m. | Laconia
Memento of the Massachusetts Bay Colony

What could possibly be so special about a rock? In the case of Endicott Rock, which is enclosed in a granite canopy just a few miles from downtown Laconia and the principal attraction of the surrounding state park, it’s proof of the earliest European settlers’ arrival to the area, who marked the rock with several inscriptions in the mid-1600s, including that from John Endicott, Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony. Marking the northern boundary of the colony, it is today believed to be the oldest public monument in New England.

4 p.m. | Weirs Beach
Wander the Weirs Beach Boardwalk

Rebuilt in 2010, the Weirs Beach Boardwalk now begins at Lakeside Avenue and spans the length of the beach and adjacent docks. While the scene today features vacationing families en route to the numerous arcades, bumper cars, and even the local drive-in theater, back in 8000 BC, this site was populated by Native Americans, who, in the summer season, used it as a home base for hunting and fishing. ​

5:30 p.m. | Laconia
Sweet History

Kellerhaus, just inland of Weirs Beach off Daniel Webster Highway, is the place to go if you’re craving something sweet and chocolate-covered. Resembling a European chalet plucked from a quaint  eighteenth-century Bavarian village with its dark wood trim and deep overhangs, it is the oldest candy and ice cream maker in the state, dating back to 1906 – making it not just a mecca for sweet-tooths, but also for history lovers. 

Day Two

8 a.m. | Meredith
Morning Coffee Fix

Mellow Moose may look to be an assuming stand-alone coffee shop off Route 3 just south of downtown Meredith, but it is home to some of the best coffee concoctions in the Lakes Region. We’re talking espressos, Americanos, macchiatos, lattes, cappuccinos, even cold brew and nitro coffees. Add to that made-to-order breakfast sandwiches featuring in-house made English muffins and locally smoked bacon, and you have the makings of a favorite vacation breakfast stop – adorned in moose-themed décor, to boot.

10 a.m. | Moultonborough
The Mansion above the Lake

An estate built by industry tycoon Tom Plant in the early twentieth century now stands as a 16-room ode to the Arts and Crafts architectural movement. The Lucknow Mansion, which sits on 6,300 acres atop the Ossipee Mountains as part of the Castle in the Clouds property, was built with native materials like Maine white oak and designed to harmonize with its surroundings. While the property offers a variety of activities – including horseback riding, hiking, birding, and dining – for the historically minded visitor, a tour of the mansion and basement are the main attractions. 

2 p.m. | Wolfeboro
Trolley through Time

Any tour in the Lakes Region can offer scenic lake vistas or a street-view tour of the waterfront homes that attract the attention of visitors from far and wide. But only Molly the Trolley can take you on a 45-minute tour of historic Wolfeboro in an iconic red and green turn-of-the-century-style trolley bus, equipped with oak seats, brass rails, and etched windows. The narrated tour departs from the town docks on Lake Winnipesaukee, on the hour from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and details the colonial history of the “oldest summer resort in America.” 

3 p.m. | Wolfeboro
A Dedication to Service

When you hear about the sacrifice of World War II-era Americans, tales of battlefield plights and conflicts on foreign soil are often told. In the early 1990s, David Wright had a vision of telling the story of those not only on the front lines of the second great war but on the home front as well. That dream was actualized in 1994, when he opened the Wright Museum of World War II. Housed in an all-brick building on Center Street with a M3A1 Stuart tank “busting” through its facade, the museum holds 14,000 items and memorabilia on display in its various exhibit halls. 

Day Three

11 a.m. | Canterbury
A Light Bite

The Creamery Café is the spot for a quick bite on your way into the Canterbury Shaker Village for a day of immersive learning. The on-site café sources its collection of small bites from a local market, and its fresh baked goods come daily from local bakeries – you will not regret indulging in the orange-poppy seed coffeecake. 

12 p.m. | Canterbury
Step into a Different World

For 50 years, the Canterbury Shaker Village has been shining a light on the 200-year history of Shakers in the Lakes Region. Indoor and outdoor exhibits provide a 360-degree view of life for these religious expats, while regular workshops still house relics of the supremely self-sufficient community’s commercial ventures, like baskets, brooms, and other goods they manufactured by hand to sell or barter outside the village.