I recently had the opportunity to explore through places I’ve visited once or twice before, but with the company of guests from England. I had 5 days to show them around the area of Lake Winnepesaukee and expanded north into Franconia Notch for a few trips.
Franconia Notch is only about an hour from Meredith, and the drive is really beautiful. Part of it goes along the Franconia Notch Parkway, and through the valley of the mountains. It’ll provide you with lots of gorgeous scenery to look at along the way and the sites are well worth the drive.
Around Lake Winnepesaukee
There are dozens of towns on the lake to visit and various spots to spend a weekend. I’m particularly fond of Meredith because it has a quaint town feel while still having lots of amenities (like a supermarket, pharmacy, etc.). The “Loop” and “Art Walk” in town are a lovely way to explore Meredith.
Local Towns on the Lake
Small and quaint New England town that has a small public park on the lake featuring unique pieces of art, which get swapped out over time. There are a set of public docks in down as well if you want a place to tie up your boat.
Some of the highlights of Meredith:
- Mill’s Falls is a great little shopping area between the lake and Main St, with a beautiful old water fall that used to power the local mill. The mill building itself was converted to shop fronts and a restaurant.
- Meredith Sculpture Walk is a short walking path that snakes around the lake from the Docks to the Mills Falls Hotel. It’s dotted with various art sculptures that rotate out annually and has some of the most beautiful views of Meredith Bay, especially at sunset.
- The Loop is a self guided walking tour that takes you through the heart of Meredith, past Mill’s Falls, through the Sculpture Walk and shows you the best of what Meredith has to offer downtown.
- Hermit Woods Winery offers great wine tasting as well, and is a perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon (something I learned first hand). They are all locally produced fruit based wines, and a really great experience.
Weir’s Beach is a less quaint than Meredith but has a lot more going on within the town and the surrounding area. It’s a vibrant destination with a lot of motels and holiday homes. And it has a long sandy beach that is open to the public.
Some of the highlights of Weir’s Beach:
- The Beach at Weir’s Beach is a great destination and offers a great sandy public beach to enjoy.
- The Boardwalk at Weir’s Beach is just above where the sandy beach is and offers a great variety of shops and restaurants to visit. It also has several arcades (great for those rainy days).
- M/S Mount Washington leaves from Weir’s Beach and can give you a great tour of Lake Winnepesaukee. It connects through to both Meredith and Wolfeboro as well, connecting the largest towns on the lake together.
- Motorcycle Week comes through Weir’s Beach and brings it’s own distinct flavour to the lakeside town, so it’s become well known for it’s involvement in the event.
- Variety of Activities are available throughout the town of Weir’s Beach and not just restricted to the Boardwalk. Some of these include: mini golf, go karts, water parks, theaters, arcades, bumper boats, bowling, escape rooms, etc.
- Fireworks are set off from Weir’s Beach every Saturday night in the summer months, weather permitting.
Wolfeboro has similar charm to Meredith – a lake side town that is wonderfully quaint and lovely to visit. It’s a tad more picturesque than Meredith (but not by much in my opinion) and offers a different perspective and accesses to the very large Lake.
Some of the highlights of Wolfeboro:
- Quaint Downtown and a Main Street that has lake front views.
- Outdoor Activities including hiking, bicycle trails and swimming.
- Several Museums are in Wolfeborow including the Wright Museum of WWII, NH Boat Museum, Clark House Museum.
- Several Sandy Beaches in Wolfeboro are great places for swimming including: Allen Albee Beach, Carry Beach.
There’s a ton to see and do around Lake Winnepesaukee, and on the Lake as well. This is a true vacation destination and has been for many years.
- Lake Winnepesaukee Scenic Railway is a lovely scenic trip that connects Meredith with Weir’s Beach and gives a view of the lake along the way while traveling on a vintage train. There are options for how long you spend and how far you go with the train but it’s a charming little ride.
- M/S Mount Washington Cruises on Lake Winnepesaukee is another way to see the lake, and it connects several of the towns on the Lake together (Meredith, Weir’s Beach, Wolfeboro). They have a variety of cruises so you can choose one that best suites your interests and time.
- Funspot is the largest arcade in the world, but it’s not just all arcade games. They also offer bowling and mini golf. If you enjoy a good arcade games definitely take the chance to visit here, especially if you love classic pinball games.
Franconia Notch & the White Mountains
The beauty of the location of Lake Winnepesauke is that it’s very close to the White Mountains, and makes for a great launching point to explore the natural beauties that the mountains have to offer.
Franconia Notch is a state park with some beautiful woodland walks and hikes. One of the main highways in New Hampshire runs through the center of Franconia Notch providing a spectacular view of the Appalachian mountains.
- The Flume Gorge is a naturally made gorge carved out over time and provides a beautiful walk up towards the Gorge and through it as well. There are stairs on the walk and some uphill, though there is a van that can take you past some of the worst of the uphill. There’s also a gorgeous covered bridge (really spectacular in winter when covered by snow).
- The Basin is another natural wonder within Franconia Notch and is a waterfall that falls into a basin pool, and involves a walk to get to the beautiful work of nature.
- Cannon Mountain’s Aerial Tram is a cable car that can carry you to the top of Cannon Mountain, and is accessible right off the main highway (I-93). The views are absolutely gorgeous at the top and there is a short loop hike (over rocky terrain) to a viewing platform to see some truly breathtaking views of Franconia Notch and the White Mountains. From the top you can see 5 States and Canada on a clear day.
- Loon’s Gondola is another way to take a cable car to the top of a famous ski mountain in the White Mountains. While I personally prefer Cannon’s Aerial Tram the Loon Gondola is highly popular and has more around it. Loon is a tourist town so there will be hotels and restaurants nearby.
- Kancamangus Highway is a gorgeous scenic drive through New Hampshire covering about 35 miles of stunning scenery. The best time to drive this would be in the autumn but it can be equally beautiful in summer as well.