Best of New England: New Hampshire

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Inn : Lakefront
One doesn’t normally expect such elegance in central New Hampshire, the land of Jet Skis, mini golf, and arcades. Yet this Adirondack-style inn on Lake Winnipesaukee is posh in every way, from its upscale rustic décor to the cozy library fireplace. Sip coffee on your private balcony, head down for a mineral-shell massage, and then take a dip in the indoor-outdoor pool. // 281 Daniel Webster Hwy, Meredith, 800-622-6455,  

Inn : General Excellence
Located in a Federal-period country house, Home Hill spoils its guests with every conceivable luxury, including marble baths, in-room fireplaces, farm-to-table dining, and aromatherapy massages. It’s a shame that there are only 11 rooms to go around. On the other hand, bigger crowds just might mess with the magic. // 703 River Rd., Plainfield, 603-675-6165,

Inn : For Gourmands
The breakfast comes in three courses, complete with homemade popovers; chef Orlo Coots hosts regular cooking classes and themed dinners that cover Irish, Japanese, Cajun, and Provençal cuisine. And for epicures on the go, innkeepers Ilja and Brad Chapman are happy to pack a picnic basket full of gourmet pasta salad and pastries, and send you off with a list of romantic spots. // 80 Guider Ln., Bethlehem, 888-444-2600,

Inn : Romantic
Between the lush gardens, secluded location, Arts and Crafts–style architecture (the parlor was designed by Gustav Stickley himself), and in-room fireplaces — not to mention the “leave it to us” approach of innkeepers Ed Butler and Les Schoof — you’ll probably find your thoughts turning to romance. No wonder it’s such a popular destination for weddings and vow renewals. // 2 Morey Rd. (Rte. 302), Hart’s Location, 800-866-6131,

Resort : General Excellence
A recent $60 million facelift did wonders for this grande dame of the White Mountains, preserving all its charms (the views, the excellent dining, the cruise ship–worthy list of activities) while spiffing up its guest rooms and impressive common areas. Meanwhile, newer offerings, such as the longest canopy zipline tour in New England, make this even more of a year-round destination…and the state’s absolute favorite. // Route 302, Bretton Woods, 603-278-1000,

Resort : Oceanfront
Between the waterfront island setting and the grand Victorian architecture, the Wentworth looks like a set for a belle époque period drama. Thanks to a 2003 renovation, however, it’s a thoroughly modern getaway, complete with updated rooms, indoor-outdoor pools, a full-service spa, three dining options, and golf and tennis at the adjacent country club. // 588 Wentworth Rd., New Castle, 603-422-7322,

Resort : Classic
This former retreat for the Mellons and DuPonts still retains an air of dignified luxury — from the formal dining room to the white-glove service to the red-clay tennis courts and generous sprinkling of Adirondack chairs. Once you check in, you really don’t need to leave the 8,000-acre estate until your departure day. Most rooms are classic New England country, but the Tillotson Suite is an unexpected midcentury modern gem; in amenities and in style, there’s something to make everyone comfortable. // 1000 Cold Spring Rd., Dixville Notch, 800-255-0600,

Village Inn in the “Big City”
Portsmouth may not quite be a village, but it’s so charming and walkable that it can certainly feel that way. And right in the heart of it is the Governor’s House, once home to New Hampshire Governor Charles Dale. This petite bed-and-breakfast still feels like a private residence, with just four guest rooms decked out with soft queen beds and Frette linens. Borrow the hotel’s bikes, beach chairs, and towels for off-site fun. // 32 Miller Ave., Portsmouth, 603-427-5140,

Hotel with a Sense of Humor
We like to think of it as the Disneyland of accommodations: 16 themed rooms ranging from the kid-oriented Tree House, with a tree swing and loft; to the Cave, with stalactites and a waterfall shower; to the Show Time, with a 10-foot projection screen and commercial popcorn popper. It’s all in keeping with the hotel’s motto, “Life should be one adventure after another,” and it’s hard to imagine a more enjoyable place to, say, hole up and pretend to be a caveman on holiday. // 3440 White Mountain Hwy., North Conway, 603-356-9744,

The restored farmhouse is charming, the rooms are prettily appointed, and the egg-laying chickens are a breakfast bonus, but the real thrill of Bishop Farm lies in the way the Salter family treats every guest like a newly met cousin. Some people are just made for this business, we suppose. Every arrival is met with a smile, no request is a bother, and after one taste of Maggie’s breakfasts, you may ask to be adopted. // 33 Bishop Cutoff, Lisbon, 888-838-2474,



New Restaurant
It’s a little New Orleans, a little New England. This cozy bistro has French Quarter flavor and pan-southern influences: fried oysters with house-pickled veggies, a napoleon of Maine crabmeat and fried green tomatoes, and excellent braised short ribs basted with barbecue sauce. // 106 Penhallow St., Portsmouth, 603-319-8178,

Here’s just a sampling of the goods made at this working farm near the Vermont border: ice cream, mozzarella, cream cheese, gingerbread, sticky buns, doughnuts, and pumpkin marmalade. Bruce Balch (a Culinary Institute grad) and his wife, Chris, turn all these products and other local items into sumptuous three-course dinners Friday and Saturday in the winter and Thursday to Saturday the rest of the year. Don’t miss the terrific Sunday brunch, either. // 1322 Route 10, Orford, 603-353-9252,

Open 24 hours, this Manchester institution is the go-to place for political candidates to meet with average Joes every four years, and for everyone else to dig into tasty plates of pancakes, hash browns, meatloaf, and mac and cheese year-round. While the Red Arrow isn’t exactly a secret, its menu is so packed with delicious oddities — a chili omelet, a turkey-salad BLT — you’ll discover something new with every visit. Don’t miss the brownie cream pie. // 61 Lowell St., Manchester, 603-626-1118,

It’s not romantic in the white-linens-and-flowers sense, but this cozy former ship’s chandlery has beautiful water views and plenty of candlelight to create an intimate vibe. Chef Evan Mallett and his wife, Denise, own and operate the restaurant, and their work reveals a love of seasonal ingredients — a romance in itself. Mallett’s eclectic menu includes everything from chestnut-and-ricotta ravioli with carrot purée to crispy duck breast with rye-berry risotto, cipollini onions, and date-orange molasses (pictured above). // 29 Ceres St., Portsmouth, 603-431-0887,  

French native Verlaine Daeron opened this bakery in 2001 in a most unlikely location: Rural, blue-collar Colebrook was no food-lover’s mecca. But this northernmost town embraced her baguettes and boules, croissants and madeleines — so much so that when the U.S. government refused to renew her visa, the town rallied to keep their beloved boulangerie alive. Just sample the goods at Rendez Vous and you’ll understand why. // 121 Main St., Colebrook, 603-237-5150. 

Get breakfast, lunch, or dinner any time of day at this rock ’n’ roll diner. Filled with ’50s dinette sets, retro light fixtures, and the odd mannequin or two, the Toast’s ambiance is as fun as its quirky menu. On weekends, patrons line up outside, salivating over the thought of pumpkin pancakes, breakfast burritos, and seasoned home fries — and always finding that it’s worth the wait. // 113 Congress St., Portsmouth, 603-430-2154,

Brunch : Upscale
It’s hard to beat the allure of a grand hotel brunch buffet: the vast displays of food, the free-flowing champagne, the pastry table, the omelet and carving stations! Wentworth does it up in style with a “Bubbles and Jazz” theme, ushering guests into a dining room with sweeping views of the water and music to liven up the mood. At about $35 per person, it’s a relative bargain for those with a good appetite. // 588 Wentworth Rd., New Castle, 603-422-7322,

Ice Cream
Grape-nut, Indian pudding, ginger — this is an ice cream shop that knows its audience. No wonder the lines get so long on hot days. These classic New England flavors are just a handful of dozens that rotate through the menu here. Another excellent choice: the dark chocolate “Bishop’s Bash,” loaded with chocolate chips, nuts, and brownie chunks. Rounding out the offerings are “Bish-Burger” ice cream sandwiches, frappes, sundaes, and sorbet. For New Hampshire natives, it’s the taste of summer. // 183 Cottage St., Littleton, 603-444-6039,

Italian : Upscale
Nicola’s is a special-occasion restaurant that serves up creative twists on regional Italian cuisine in an intimate, candlelit setting. The menu starts with saltimbocca — breaded veal stuffed with mozzarella and sautéed in white wine and olive oil — and only gets better from there. Expert service (overseen by chef Nicola’s wife, Cheryl) and an open kitchen add to the trattoria’s perfect date-night ambiance. // 51 railroad st., Keene, 603-355-5242. 

The team behind those adorable chocolate mice and the best hot cocoa on the planet also turns out wonderful savory dishes with a French accent. Start with duck confit and house-made charcuterie, then move on to mussels meunière or steak frites. Save room for dessert at the chocolate shop next door. // 47 Main St., Walpole, 603-756-9058,   

For 15 years Michael Timothy’s was a magnet for fine dining in Nashua. Recently Michael and Sarah Buckley decided to redecorate, reconceive, and reopen as MT’s — a more-casual concept with a gastropubby menu and many entrées priced under $20. Fortunately, the excellent pizza remains: wood-grilled and lightly topped with San Marzano tomatoes, basil, and four cheeses; or caramelized onion, bacon, and chicken. // 212 Main St., Nashua, 603-595-9334,


Country Store
In this sprawling shop devoted to New England specialty products, the shelves are filled to groaning with more than 5,000 items, from knickknacks and candles to soaps and condiments, including Bee Tree Farm honey and Stonewall Kitchen jams. Thankfully, the staffers turn what could be chaos into what they call “organized clutter.” It’s not a standard country store — there’s no fertilizer or tools to be found — but it’s a shopper’s (and grazer’s) paradise. // 2675 Main St., North Conway Village, 603-356- 9294,

This is just the kind of neighborhood bookstore you wish you had in your own neighborhood. Not only are the shelves stocked with thousands of titles, but RiverRun also recruits impressive authors for its events (Ken Burns, Dan Brown, John Updike, Alan Alda, and Anita Diamant have all made appearances). Staffers are always eager to recommend a title, but are also happy to leave you alone to read. // 20 Congress St., Portsmouth, 603-431-2100,

Tiny Peterborough has become something of a design magnet, first with the now-defunct Red Chair and now with Bowerbird. Most of the items in this lovely store perched over the Nubanusit River are decorative: La Rochère glassware, serving pieces from Fishs Eddy, assorted cake stands, antiques, and candelabras. There’s a “potting shed” area that sells unusual houseplants and topiaries, as well as bath and beauty products from Olivina. Our advice: Before you go, make a list of everyone you need to buy a gift for this year, and get it all done in advance. // 16 Depot Sq., Peterborough, 603-924-2550.

Home Accessories : Bargain
Company C’s signature style of vibrant rugs, linens, and furniture puts a fresh, modern spin on New England décor. And this location, also the site of the corporate headquarters, boasts a back room with incredible deals on floor models, designer samples, and discontinued merchandise — all 40 to 70 percent off original retail prices. // 102 Old Turnpike rd., Concord, 800-818-8288,

If you ever contemplate what to put on your bucket list, be sure to add “Taste Burdick’s hot chocolate.” More like a warm pudding than a cocoa, this rich nectar captures everything that is wonderful about chocolate and then heightens it. Prefer to nibble? Individual treats — particularly the signature chocolate mice, penguins, and bunnies, are some of the most charming bonbons around. // 47 Main St., Walpole, 603-756-2882,


Family Amusement Park
Harking back to a quieter, less-corporate era of amusement parks, Canobie has more than 85 rides, games, live entertainment, and attractions, including the splashy Boston Tea Party ride. The grounds are immaculately clean — none of the honky-tonk clutter you’ll find at so many other small parks — and there are plenty of options for everyone from toddlers to teens. // 85 N. Policy St., Salem, 603-893-3506,

Hidden Museum
Most people are surprised to learn New Hampshire boasts a genuine Frank Lloyd Wright–designed house. The Zimmerman was built in 1950 for a local doctor, and is now owned by the Currier Museum of Art. It perfectly expresses Wright’s design principles, specifically in the diminutive entrance that opens to a dramatic main room, and in the easy blend of indoor and outdoor space. Tours leave from the Currier. //  150 Ash St., Manchester, 603-669-6144,

Spot for Art Lovers (and Gardeners)
The 100-plus creations by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens aren’t the only works of art here. The terraced garden sports countless peonies, delphiniums, and asters, while displays of water plants decorate an outdoor atrium and pool. The views are stunning, and special events include outdoor concerts on Sundays and sculpture workshops from the artist in residence. // 139 Saint-Gaudens Rd., Cornish, 603-675-2175,

Natural Wonder
Nestled among the peaks of the Whites, Franconia Notch State Park offers something for all levels of outdoorsiness, whether you’re a rugged backwoods type or a reluctant dabbler. Experienced hikers can take on the Lincoln-Lafayette Loop, which has nearly nine miles of woodland terrain and great views. Newbies should check out the New England Ski Museum as well as the Flume Gorge at the base of Mount Liberty, a natural wonder with 70- to 90-foot-high walls of granite that hug the fast-flowing Pemigewasset River. // I-93, Exit 34A, Franconia, 603-823-8800,

Spot for Tots
A New England childhood isn’t complete without a trip to Story Land. Nursery school favorites jump off the page at this classic amusement park: Cinderella’s Pumpkin Coach, the Huff Puff and Whistle Railroad, Bamboo Chutes water coaster, Alice’s Tea Cups…. Go ahead, roll your eyes; we know you’re secretly craving the chance to take a voyage on the Buccaneer Pirate Ship. // 850 Route 16, Glen, 603-383-4186,

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