An Empty Nester’s Late-Summer Stay

Once the children are raised and off on their own, the Lakes Region of New Hampshire is the ideal place to again relish the freedom and excitement you previously felt on vacation before it was taken over by petting zoos, theme parks, and all-inclusive resorts. Here are the cultural outposts, elevated dining experiences, and lake life indulgences you can’t miss.

Day One

1 p.m. | Canterbury
Witness Austere Innovation at the Canterbury Shaker Village

Although the last Shaker died 25 years ago, the legacy of the unique religious community continues today at their original 1792 site: Canterbury Shaker Village, now a designated National Historic Landmark. Located just 10 miles south of Laconia, the restored village consisting of 25 original buildings – including an infirmary, schoolhouse, and creamery – allows visitors to step back in time to learn skills from modern-day practitioners of the Shakers’ meticulous craftsmanship.

4 p.m. | Tilton
Late-Summer Steals at the Tilton Outlets

Outlet shopping is great any time of year, but late summer is prime time. A short detour while heading north to Laconia brings you to the Tilton Outlet’s 40-plus stores, where the deals on summer staples (which you can still wear for another couple of months, at least) are plentiful. Along with the savings, most stores like Ralph Lauren and Eddie Bauer are rolling out their fall fashions to give you a jump start on next season’s styles.

7 p.m. | Laconia
Classic Italian in an Old Bank Building

Located in an old brick bank building, where you can actually dine in an old bank vault, Fratello’s Italian Grille has been the place for casual Italian-American cuisine in Laconia since 1992. Expect a menu featuring wood-fired brick-oven pizza, choice Black Angus steaks, fresh seafood, and other Italian favorites. We suggest their top-selling entrée, the Seafood Sophia, with mouthwatering lobster, scallops, shrimp, and mussels in a lobster sherry cream sauce.

Day Two

10 a.m. | Wolfeboro
Bike or Walk the Beautiful Cotton Valley Rail Trail

Running from downtown Wolfeboro to the intersection of Cotton Valley Road and Cotton Mountain Road, the aptly named 6.5-mile gravel Cotton Valley Rail Trail offers lake views as well as picturesque woodlands, fields, and wetlands scenes. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, like deer, squirrels, and birds, which are drawn to this natural area.

1 p.m. | Wolfeboro
Stroll Downtown Wolfeboro

A quaint blend of businesses and private residences, downtown Wolfeboro is home to a collection of independent shops and eateries that hug the eastern shore of Lake Winnipesaukee. After checking out iconic antique boats, like The Millie B or Winni Belle, both docked at the Wolfeboro Docks and offering tours, stop into the Wolfeboro Inn for lunch at their on-site New England pub, Wolfe’s Tavern, for a hearty burger or a Cow Island Rueben.

4 p.m. | Wolfeboro
World War History at the Wright Museum

It wouldn’t be a visit to Wolfeboro – or Lake Winnipesaukee for that matter – without a stop at the Wright Museum. This World War II museum specializes in an exhaustive collection of vintage artifacts, including a “Home Front” wing that gives a sense of what life was like in America during the war with exhibits displaying women in the workforce, a soda fountain, and a post office, while the “Military” wing houses real uniforms and weaponry. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see the Sherman Tank “bursting” out of the building’s exterior brick wall on Center Street.

7 p.m. | Moultonborough
A Taste of Thai Culture

Since opening in 2016, Lemon Grass has become one of the most authentic Thai restaurants in the state. That is largely owed to head chef and co-owner Uraiwan Danaisawasdi, affectionately known as just “Ooh” and a native of Southern Thailand, who fell in love with the Lakes Region of New Hampshire while she was an exchange student in high school. Don’t worry: If you’re not feeling adventurous enough to try the larb gai, there are plenty of western-style dishes as well, from braised short ribs to grilled salmon.

Day Three

10 a.m. | Moultonborough
On Top of the World at Castle in the Clouds

Take an eccentric millionaire with money to burn, add in a 1,300-foot-high mountaintop overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee, and you’ve got the right ingredients for a lakeside hideaway built to epic proportions. Castle in the Clouds is an iconic turn-of-the-century stone and wood mansion boasting some impressive modern marvels for the early 1900s, including intercoms built into the house and surround showers. Take a tour of the 16-room estate itself or a horseback ride through the miles of trails snaking across the 5,500-acre property – or just wander the gardens for views of the mountains and beyond.

1 p.m. | Center Ossipee 
Fill a Need for Mead

Mead has made a comeback – especially in New Hampshire and other parts of New England that aren’t suitable for large-scale vineyards. Sap House Meadery is one of the names leading the charge for the sweet honey beverage’s renaissance. Their meads are made entirely from local ingredients and can be sampled at the tasting room or at their on-site pub, which offers free tastings and a selection of light bites.