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Upper Connecticut River Valley, New Hampshire
The Upper Valley, as this area is known locally, consists of the west-central portion of New Hampshire stretching from Claremont and the Lake Sunapee region in the south to the Lebanon and Hanover region in the north.
>> Claremont Lodging Suggestions
The Goddard Mansion, 25 Hillstead Road, Claremont. (603) 543-0603 or (800) 736-0603.
Fort at Number Four Living History Museum, Route 11, Charlestown.
Depicting a forgotten chapter in New England history, this is a replica of the 1743 fort and stockaded village from the French and Indian War. The fort that once stood on the site of Charlestown's present Main Street withstood repeated French and Native American attacks during the turbulent frontier period. The reconstruction includes the Great Hall, stockade, watchtower, two barns and twelve other buildings. Furnishings and demonstrations by costumed interpreters depict pre-Revolutionary frontier life and periodic battle reenactments.
(603) 826-5700 or (888) 367-8284. www.fortat4.com. Open late May to late October, daily 10 to 4:30. Adults $8, children $4.50.
Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, off Route 12A, Cornish.
The Irish-born sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens lived and worked here in an elegant white mansion and studio from 1885 until his death in 1907. The sculptor's work in bronze was part of an American renaissance taking place in this small village known as the Cornish Colony, whose residents included artist Maxfield Parrish. Besides the house with its furnishings, the 150-acre site includes a barn studio, sculpture court and art gallery, all set amid formal gardens with Vermont's Mount Ascutney as a backdrop across the Connecticut River. Full-size copies of Saint-Gaudens sculptures include the well-known bust of Abraham Lincoln. Visitors may hike the sculptor's favorite Ravine Trail and others paths to the Blow-Me-Down natural area.
(603) 675-2175. www.sgnhs.org. Open Memorial Day through October, daily 9 to 4:30. Adults, $4.
>> Plainfield Lodging and Dining Suggestions
Home Hill French Inn & Restaurant, 703 River Road, Plainfield. (603) 675-6165.
>> Lebanon Dining Suggestions
Sweet Tomatoes Trattoria, 1 Court St., Lebanon. (603) 448-1711.
Monsoon, 18 Centarra Pkwy., Lebanon. (603) 643-9227.
Enfield Shaker Museum, State Route 4A, Enfield.
Established in 1793 in their "Chosen Vale" between Mascoma Lake and Mount Assurance, this restored village was the ninth of eighteen Shaker communities established in this country. Striving to create a heaven on earth, the 330 Shakers in Enfield built more than 200 structures (including the Great Stone Dwelling, the largest Shaker dwelling ever built), farmed 3,000 acres, educated their children in model schools, and followed the Shaker way of worship. The community, which reached its height in the mid-19th century, declined and the last ten members moved to the Canterbury society in 1923. Besides the Great Stone Dwelling (now an inn), thirteen buildings survive. The museum, founded in 1986, owns 28 acres, eight buildings and a growing collection of artifacts. A self-guiding walking tour takes in the West Brethren Shop, the Stone Mill, a couple of barns, the laundry and dairy complex, the Shaker cemetery and an herb garden. A museum displays Shaker artifacts and artisans demonstrate crafts.
(603) 632-4346. www.shakermuseum.org. Open Monday-Saturday 10 to 5, Sunday noon to 5, Memorial Day through Halloween; Saturday 10 to 4 and Sunday noon to 4, rest of year. Adults $7, children $3.
>> Enfield Lodging and Dining Suggestions
The Shaker Inn at the Great Stone Dwelling, 447 Route 4A, Enfield. (603) 632-7810 or (888) 707-4257.
Founded in 1769, Dartmouth College is the nation's ninth oldest and the northernmost of the eight Ivy League institutions. The famed Dartmouth Row along the east side of the green consists of four long, Georgian-style whitewashed classroom buildings, the oldest dating to 1784. The college's Baker Memorial Library, a 1928 Georgian structure with clock and bell tower resembling Philadelphia's Independence Hall, faces the north end of the green. It contains nearly two million volumes as well as famed murals depicting the story of American civilization by Mexican artist José Clemente Orozco. The Hood Museum of Art on the south side of the green is one of the nation's oldest and largest college museums. Numbering nearly 60,000 objects, its collection is encyclopedic in scope. The 1985 building is a work of art itself.
>> Hanover Lodging and Dining Suggestions
The Hanover Inn and restaurants Daniel Webster Room and Zins Wine Bistro, Main Street, Box 151, Hanover. (603) 643-4300 or (800) 443-7024.
>> Hanover Lodging Suggestions
The Trumbull House, 40 Etna Road, Hanover. (603) 643-2370 or (800) 651-5141.
>> Hanover Dining Suggestions
Café Buon Gustaio, 72 South Main St., Hanover. (603) 643-5711.
>> Lyme Lodging and Dining Suggestions
Alden Country Inn, 1 Market St., Village Common, Lyme. (603) 795-2222 or (800) 794-2296.
>> Orford Dining Suggestions
Peyton Place Restaurant at the Mann Tavern, Route 10, Orford. (603) 353-9100.
Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire's third largest, and its neighbors, Little Sunapee and Pleasant Lake, provide all kinds of water pleasures within view of Mount Kearsarge, central New Hampshire's highest peak, and Mount Sunapee.
Mount Sunapee State Park has a 700-foot-long beach beside Lake Sunapee. Across the road is the 2,700-foot high Mount Sunapee, crisscrossed with hiking, mountain biking and ski trails. The formerly state-run ski area has been leased to the owners of Okemo Mountain Co. in Vermont and is being upgraded as a year-round resort. Also undergoing a renaissance lately is Sunapee Harbor, which fell on hard times after being the center of resort activity early in the 20th century. Flowerbeds brighten a waterfront park, and a large bandstand on the site of the last of the grand local hotels is the scene of summer concerts and performances. Tour boats leave the harbor for cruises on Lake Sunapee. Another way to view the lake is to drive the Scenic Three-Mile Loop around Sunapee Harbor.
The Fells at the John Hay National Wildlife Refuge, Route 103-A, Newbury.
Three generations of diplomat John Hay's family have enjoyed the rugged landscape and cultivated gardens they developed along nearly 1,000 hillside acres above Lake Sunapee since 1891. Now the public also can enjoy a rare combination of nature preserve, botanical garden, library, historic house and landscape in a single location. The Fells Estate is maintained as a state historic site, and the gardens were replanted in 1994 by the national Garden Conservancy as a regional center for horticultural education. The property includes the 163-acre John Hay National Wildlife Refuge. Depending on season, masses of mountain laurel, rhododendrons, azaleas, blueberries, perennial borders, a rose terrace, a rock garden, an old walled garden and more can be seen.
(603) 763-4789. www.thefells.org. House open weekends and holidays 10 to 5, Memorial Day through Columbus Day; adults $3. Grounds open daily, dawn to dusk.
>> Sunapee Region Lodging Suggestions
Dexter's Inn, 258 Stagecoach Road, Sunapee. (603) 763-5571 or (800) 232-5571.
Situated on a ridge, primly manicured New London is the largest village in the region (year-round population, 3,200, but swelled by second-home residents, tourists and students at Colby-Sawyer College). Legend has it that the song made famous by Kate Smith, "When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain," was written by a Colby-Sawyer student as she watched it rise above Mount Kearsarge. The New London Barn Playhouse, founded in 1933, is New Hampshire's longest operating summer theater.
>> New London Lodging and Dining Suggestions
The Inn at Pleasant Lake, 125 Pleasant St., New London. (603) 526-6271 or (800) 626-4907.
Colonial Farm Inn, Route 11, Box 1053, New London. (603) 526-6121 or (800) 805-8504.
>> New London Dining Suggestions
La Meridiana, Route 11 at Old Winslow Road, Wilmot. (603) 526-2033.
Hide-Away Inn, Twin Lake Villa Road, New London. (603) 526-4861 or (800) 457-0589.
Muster Field Farm Museum, Harvey Road, North Sutton.
Atop a hill off a dirt road out in the middle of nowhere is this working farm museum, a 240-acre National Trust property where knowing locals buy their farm produce. Twenty farm buildings have been saved from destruction and moved to the militia muster field across from the 1784 Matthew Harvey Homestead. They include barns, an icehouse, blacksmith shops, corncribs and an 1810 schoolhouse, spread out plantation style in clusters. Visitors can obtain produce and enjoy the setting a quite idyllic spot on self-guided tours during the week. A better time to visit and get a sense of the low-key evolving place is Sunday when the homestead is open for tours and guides help trace the evolution of early farming in New Hampshire. The best time is special weekends when coopers, quilters, a beekeeper, farrier and occasionally some of the militia demonstrate activities of days long gone.
(603) 927-4276 or 927-4616. Farm stand open seasonally, Wednesday-Sunday 10 to 6. House tours, July-September, Sunday 1 to 4. Grounds open daily, 10 to 5. Free.
>> North Sutton Lodging Suggestions
Follansbee Inn on Kezar Lake, Route 114, Box 92, North Sutton. (603) 927-4221 or (800) 626-4221.
>> Bradford Lodging Suggestions
The Rosewood Country Inn, 67 Pleasant View Road, Bradford. (603) 938-5253 or (800) 938-5273.
This content is excerpted from New England's Best, by Nancy and Richard Woodworth, copyright 2002, published by Wood Pond Press.