Summer Escapes! 2009: The Great(est) Lakes
SUMMER-GETAWAY SNOBS TEND to roll their eyes at Winnipesaukee. (For an example, click here.) "So touristy!" they sniff, as though the 44,586-acre mammoth began and ended with Weirs Beach and its constant thrum of aggressively unpretentious activity. In fact, there’s a lot more to this sapphire-blue giant of New Hampshire’s famed Lakes Region. Its 240-mile shoreline cuts back into myriad inlets and coves, creating mini destinations that offer a variety of scenes and amenities. Feel like rubbing shoulders with world leaders? Head to Wolfeboro, on the eastern shore. Or rub shoulders with absolutely nobody on secluded Cow Island. Booming boardwalks and nature walks, campsite cooking and white-linen cuisine, tents and cottages and gracious resorts—Winnipesaukee’s big enough for it all. - Danielle Jacoby
for epicurean delights
Meredith’s comely Main Street features traditional white clapboard buildings brightened by a bouquet of colorful boutiques and galleries. The real draw, though, is the town’s profusion of restaurants, as exemplified by swank Italian trattoria Abondante and summer-fare specialist Town Docks.
for no-frills r&r
Tucked into an eastern pocket of Winnipesaukee, Cow Island has zero cars and a limited number of rentals. The warble of a shore bird at dusk, the rustle of deer along the shoreline—for urban dwellers in need of respite, they’re the sounds of a great escape.
for nonstop action
Buzzing with penny arcades, miniature golf, go-carts, bowling, and bumper cars, Weirs Beach is the kind of place kids (and certain adults) go wild for. The honky-tonk atmosphere ratchets up during Laconia Motorcycle Week, which this year starts 6/13.
for unmatched scenery
A photographer’s dream, Melvin Village in Tuftonboro comprises winding back roads, historic homesteads, and views of the water and mountains that go from attractive to awe-inspiring as you climb the 80-foot-high Abenaki Tower.
for old-school hobnobbing
We’re not saying the French are finicky, exactly, but having Nicolas Sarkozy opt to spend his summer in Wolfeboro two years ago certainly attests to the savoir-faire of this waterfront village, the oldest summer resort in America. Winsome B&Bs, gourmet eateries, and the long-running Great Waters Music Festival (beginning 7/10) lend the local scene ample verve.
for water-sports adventures
Amid Winnipesaukee’s 72 square miles of water, the placid surface of Alton Bay offers the best staging ground for sports: Sheltered from the lake’s broader, windier expanse, it’s practically custom-made for boating, tubing, water-skiing, and the like. Visiting families rest up for the next day’s activities in lakeside inns and rental cottages.
When in Winnipesaukee…
3. BAY SIDE INN: Smack-dab on Alton Bay, with watercraft rentals to boot. Doubles start at $150; 86 Rte. 11D, Alton Bay, 603-875-5005, bayside-inn.com.
4. LAKE OPECHEE INN & SPA: Historic mill building transformed into a pamper-yourself getaway. Rooms starting at $199; 62 Doris Ray Ct., Lakeport, 603-524-0111, opecheeinn.com.
6. PINE VIEW LODGE: Retro motel, recently renovated. Rooms start at $79; 427 Rte. 109, 603-544-3800, Melvin Village, newhampshirelodging.com.
7. GARWOODS: Reliably yummy pasta and seafood, with seating on the dock. 6 N. Main St., Wolfeboro, 603-569-7788, garwoodsrestaurant.com.
8. LYDIA’S CAFÉ: High-octane espresso and coffee alongside breakfast and lunch fare. 33 N. Main St., Wolfeboro, 603-569-3991.
9. WILLIAM TELL INN: Wiener schnitzel and sauerbraten from family recipes. 1602 Mount Major Hwy. (Rte. 11), Alton Bay, 603-293-8803, thewilliamtellinn.com.
10. SHIBLEY’S AT THE PIER: Amped-up lakeside dining (think seared ahi tuna with wasabi coleslaw). 42 Mount Major Hwy. (Rte. 11), Alton Bay, 603-875-3636, shibleysatthepier.com.
11. DONNA JEAN’S DINER: Friendly purveyor of hearty breakfasts. 1208 Weirs Blvd., Laconia, 603-366-5996.
12. ABONDANTE: Elegant Tuscan-style trattoria with its own bakery. 30 Main St., Meredith, 603-279-7177, abondantenh.com.
15. ANGLING ADVENTURES: Fishing excursions with all the gear plus a seasoned guide. 79 Middleton Rd., Wolfeboro, 603-569-6426, gadaboutgolder.com.
17. COBBLE MOUNTAIN STABLES: Bucolic trail rides 15 minutes from the Weirs Beach bustle. 719 Cherry Valley Rd. (Rte. 11A), Gilford, 603-293-4341, cobblemountainstables.com.
18. KNIGHT’S POND CONSERVATION AREA: Hiker’s and picnicker’s paradise set on 300-plus woodland acres. Rines Road (off Rte. 28), Alton.
19. MOUNT MAJOR: Spectacular views that reward the steep climb to the summit. Trailhead off Route 11, Alton.
20. MEREDITH MARINA: Generous stock of boat rentals, including jet skis and bow-riders. 2 Bayshore Dr., Meredith, 603-279-7921, meredithmarina.com.
21. OAK HILL GOLF COURSE: Semiprivate nine-hole, par-34 course with unlimited-play deals. 159 Pease Rd., Meredith, 603-279-4438, oakhillgc.com.