NH’s Seacoast in the Off-Season

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View along Route 1A in Rye

If you’ve visited New Hampshire’s Seacoast during the summer, you may be familiar with scenic Route 1A, the stretch of road that hugs the state’s petite coastline, from Portsmouth to Seabrook.  The views along this stretch are, in a word, stunning.  As summer is an incredibly popular time to visit this part of the state, the roads, as you might imagine can get a bit crowded.  Why not treat yourself to some of that spectacular scenery, during the off-season.  That’s just what I did, and I discovered winter is a wonderful time to take a leisurely drive and enjoy the picture perfect scenery, but with a little less congestion.

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Sure, it is a little bit colder during the winter months, but the scenery is still picture perfect. I started my trek in Portsmouth.  I didn’t go to far without making my first stop.  Yup, a cup of coffee at The Golden Egg, a popular breakfast and lunch spot among the locals (and they had my favorite blend: flavored coffee)!

The Golden Egg Coffee Cup
The Golden Egg Coffee

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You can access 1A right when you leave the Golden Egg.  Head south toward Odiorne Point State Park in Rye.  If it’s a chilly day, grab your mittens, hat and warm coat, and take some time to see the park. It’s a great place to explore.  There are a number of paths around the park and there are spots where you can walk along the rocky shoreline.

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View out into the Atlantic at Odiorne Point State Park

 

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Odiorne Point State Park
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Odiorne Point State Park

After you’ve gotten a good dose of sea air, head back out on the road.  You won’t go too far though without making another stop.  The next place I stopped to admire the view was Wallis Sands State Beach.  I pretty much had the beach to myself, except for seeing an occasional seagull or two, which is another bonus to visiting during this time of year.

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Not far from Wallis Sands, is Petey’s. A hot place for seafood in the summer, but super popular in the off-season too.  The day I stopped by the parking lot was packed.  There are some really cool spots here for photo opps.  So even if you’re not hungry it’s worth the stop!

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Back on the route, wind your way down Ocean Boulevard (1A) through Rye, onto Rye Harbor State Park, and North Hampton.  Find a place to  pull off and park your car.  Then meander along Little Boar’s Head Scenic Walk.  You’ll have a fantastic view out to the Atlantic and will also be walking right nearby some of the beautiful mansions that line this stretch of the road.

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Route 1A in Rye
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Rye Harbor State Park
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Rye Harbor

One of the cool things to see along New Hampshire’s coast during the winter time is the surf scene.  New Hampshire has a vibrant four-season surfing scene, with winter providing some pretty awesome swells!  While the ocean was fairly calm the day I visited, it’s something to be watching for as your traveling through!

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Summer Sessions Surf Shop
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North Hampton
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North Hampton – Little Boar’s Head Scenic Walk
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Along Little Boar’s Head Scenic Walk
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Hampton Beach State Park

After enjoying the peaceful calm of ocean waves crashing on the rocks, head south again to Hampton and Hampton Beach State Park. This is another great place to stop and enjoy a walk on the beach.  Take a look around, how often is it that you have this place to yourself!

Wrap up your drive by heading south to Seabrook.  If you’ve worked up an appetite from all that sightseeing and ocean air, Brown’s and Markey’s both in Seabrook are open this time of year! Consider stopping in for a bite to eat.

So, while the weather can be a bit brisk in winter, bundle up and enjoy the sights.  After all, beach days aren’t just reserved for the summertime!

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Ice Castles – A Winter Wonderland in New Hampshire

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To say the Ice Castles in Lincoln is ‘cool’ would be, well, a well-intended pun!   This is the fourth winter that the White Mountains town of Lincoln has been home to the Ice Castles, an icy mansion that takes shape from 3 key ingredients:  icicles, cold weather, and a whole lot of creativity.  Step inside this acre-sized structure, walk around the massive glacial pillars of ice and you can’t help but get whisked away to a magical wintry wonderland.

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It’s an awesome sight during the day, and even more spectacular at night when all the lights illuminate the ice.  We stopped by as the team was putting the finishing touches on this year’s creation.  Here’s a sneak-peek at what visitors can expect this year.

It takes thousands and thousands of icicles to make the magnificent structure.  The building started early in December and as you can imagine the whole process relies heavily on cooperation from mother nature.  Tyler Christensen, who leads the effort in Lincoln gives us a behind the scenes look at the making of this Ice Castle.

 

 

The Lincoln site is one of just four locations in the U.S., and the only one on the East Coast handcrafted by the Utah based Ice Castles, LLC.  The other locations include: Midway, Utah; Stillwater, Minnesota; and Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin and there is one in Edmonton, Alberta. If you’re planning to experience the Ice Castles, here a few suggestions to help make the most of your trip.  Be sure to dress for the weather.   Keep in mind, this is a structure built entirely of ice and the floor is made of crushed ice, so winter boots, jackets, hats, mittens and scarves are all highly recommended.  It’s suggested that you buy your tickets in advance online.  When you do, you pick an arrival time and the folks at the Ice Castles suggest you arrive within your 30 minute time frame.  One other note, if you are visiting the Ice Castles with small children bring a small sled to pull them in, instead of a stroller as it’s difficult to push a stroller along the icy floor.  And one final note, be sure to take lots of pictures.  Here are a few of my favorites.

 

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Seasonal sights: Holiday lights!

Dazzling displays of twinkling lights

It’s a magical way to brighten the holiday season.  Holiday lights! The seasonal sights transform the dark nights by adding a festive feel to the air.   Take a drive around the Granite State and you will find light displays of just about every shape and size. If you’re driving along Route 106 in Loudon,  The Gift of Lights is sure to catch your eye.  And with good reason, there are millions of lights that transform the New Hampshire Motor Speedway into a brilliant display of twinkling lights.  Go ahead, take a look in this sneak peek!

 

Holiday festivals and events in New Hampshire

There are so many ways to experience the magic of the season here in New Hampshire.  And, there are still a few days left to do so!  With that in mind, here’s a few sugguestions.  The Lighted Winter Wonderland at Charmingfare Farm in Candia will whisk you away on a horse-drawn ride through thousands of lights on your way to the North Pole.  Or, if trains are more your style, hop aboard  Santa’s Holiday Express and head out for some holiday fun riding the rails on the Conway Scenic Railroad in North Conway.  Head to the Upper Valley and make a stop at the Hanover Inn Dartmouth to see what the chefs there have been up to this holiday season, hint: a ginormous gingerbread house!  And before I let you go, here’s a few suggestions of how to ring in the New Year in New Hampshire  with family and friends!

Happy holidays all!

 

 

“Tie” up your holiday sweets with New Hampshire Made Ribbon Candy

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Ribbon candy. 

A sweet delicate treat you can pretty much only find around during the holiday season.  There aren’t too many candy shops that make ribbon candy, and there are even fewer that make it by hand.  I’m happy to tell you the tradition is alive and well in New Hampshire! I visited with the folks at the Kellerhaus in Weirs Beach this week, where they’ve been hand crafting ribbon candy for about a century.   The current owners, Mary Ellen and Dave Dutton are proud to be carrying on this time-honored tradition.  They’ve been doing it for about 14 years now.  Mary Ellen says they consider the process “a work of art.  Every time we make it I say to myself, how many people in the world on this day are actually making ribbon candy with an 1886 crimper that is still working.”  I’d venture a guess to say…not very many.

 

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Ribbon Candy Crimping Machine

 

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The Science of Making Ribbon Candy

The list of ingredients is quite simple – there’s only 3:  sugar, water, and seasoning oil  (4 if the candy has color in it).  Once you get beyond the list of ingredients though the process becomes a bit more complex, in fact you might even say it’s a bit scientific! For starters, you have to watch the weather, as this delicate treat can only be made on cool, dry days.  The sugar and water are boiled in the big copper kettle (a.k.a. the candy vacuum) until just the right temperature, then all of the water is sucked out.  After that, it’s time for the “pour.”  That’s when the candy, in hot gooey form, is turned out onto a hot table where the flavor and color is added.

They work in the flavor and color all while removing the air.  Keep in mind the candy is a tad bit hot, 300 degrees or so.  After all that the real magic starts to happen.  The candy is stretched and pulled into a long thin ribbon and then fed into the crimping machine.  Take a look!

They make this last step of the process look pretty easy.  But, with so many variables, such as making sure it stays a very specific width and height, it’s really not easy at all.  But the end result is oh so beautiful and delicious I might add!

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Tons of Ribbon Candy

Well, tons might be a slight exaggeration.  But the Dutton’s do make a lot. On average, each holiday season they’ll make about 1,000 boxes.  How much is that exactly? Glad you asked, that equals 6,200 strips, 3,658 feet or 43,900 inches of ribbon candy.  And just like the ‘hot’ toy of the season, so is their ribbon candy, they sell out every year.  But this sweet shop has a whole host of other homemade deliciousness to stock their shelves.  Just step inside and you’ll be greeted with a magnificent aroma wafting through the air and you can see all the wonderful sweets.  Sugar mints, turtles, peanut brittle, buttercrunch, fudge, chocolate trees and the list goes on and on.  One word:  yum!

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Dave Dutton, owner, making wintergreen sugar mints

 

Kellerhaus is located in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, and even though it’s the off-season, it’s a beautiful time to visit to take in all the scenic beauty and there’s no crowds!

New Hampshire Made Chocolates and Candies

New Hampshire is home to a number of amazing chocolate and candy makers so you can pretty much guarantee that whereever you’re traveling in the Granite State you can find a place to satisfy your sweet tooth. Here’s a few suggestions:  the Bavarian Chocolate Haus in North Conway; My brigadeiro in Hanover; Ava Marie Handmade Chocolates in Peterborough; KRM Chocolates in Salem; Van Otis Chocolates in Manchester; Granite State Candy Shoppe in Concord and Sanborn’s Fine Candies in Hampton.  If you have a favorite please feel free to let me know!

Until next time – savor the delicious flavors of this holiday season!

 

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Hot Glass Blowing: Cool idea for a holiday gift!

The holidays are such a special time of year, what with all the lights and decorations, gathering together with family and friends.  But if you’re one of those people who struggle with finding the perfect gift for people on your list, the holidays can be stressful.  Here’s a suggestion. Why not give the gift of glass-blowing?

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Jordana Korsen from Hot Glass Art Center

The art of glass-blowing has always intrigued me, so I headed to the Monadnock Region and the Hot Glass Art Center  in Marlborough to see what it was all about.

Glassblowing is truly a fun and unique experience.  And right about now, you might be asking yourself the question, do I need any past experience to try this?  The answer is simple, no.  All you need is a desire to try something new.  After all just look at what you can create!

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‘Tis the season for snowmen!

 

It’s great for all ages.  Jordana tells me that kids, adults and all ages in between can try this. Consider getting family and friends together to make it a group event.  If you don’t have time before the holidays, schedule it in the New Year.  (See below for Jordana’s full demo on this project).

A number of New Hampshire artisans offer glassblowing workshops or opportunities to see them in their working studios.  Here are a few suggestions:  Terrapin Glassblowing Studio in Jaffrey;  Ridabock Glass Studio and Gallery in East Kingston; and Macomber Glass Studio in Conway.  If you’re not sure glassblowing is for you, no problem!  The League of NH Craftsmen  offers classes, workshops, and demonstrations in things such as pottery, painting, jewelry and metals for people of all ages and skill levels.  Of course, if you are simply looking for some ideas for uniquely New Hampshire gifts this holiday, no problem!   And, of course New Hampshire Made can certainly help you ‘wrap’ up your holiday gift list as they have an extensive list of local artisans.  I stopped by the Hannah Grimes Marketplace while walking around downtown Keene and found a great selection of items made right here in the Granite State.

Keene is such a great city to explore be sure to check it out next time you’re there!

Looking forward to sharing the magic of the holiday season in New Hampshire with you in the weeks ahead!
Before I let you go, here’s Jordana’s full demonstration of making a snowman.

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With winter on its way, get the scoop on savings at New Hampshire’s Resorts!

Hello again!

In case you missed my recent news, I’m excited to share with you, that as the leaves fall from the trees, and New Hampshire transitions from fall to winter, the Leaf it to Kris blogs and videos will make a transition too.  My adventures around the Granite State will continue with Live Free with Kris. I had so much fun traveling around New Hampshire sharing the seasonal sights, and the reality is New Hampshire has some pretty amazing scenery year round! Not to mention the state is packed with outdoor adventures, cool culinary offerings, a whole lot of history, awesome artisans — and I could go on and on! My mission is to share these things with you. So, as they say, out with the old and in with the new.

Speaking of new, let’s talk about the new season ahead: winter!  It officially arrives this month, and I’m hoping it comes with lots of snow! (Mother Nature was a little stingy last year).  More snow means more ways to get outside and explore all the things that make New Hampshire the perfect backdrop for everything winter.

One really popular winter activity in the Granite State is skiing.  (FYI it’s the official state sport).  And whether you want to ski or snowboard, go tubing, try a mountain coaster or zipline, New Hampshire resorts offer a whole host of winter fun…a little something for everyone!

There are 19 alpine resorts – located around the state.  With miles and miles of trails you’ll find terrain for all ages and abilities, from family friendly to beginner, expert and everything in between.  With some of the best snow making capabilities in the Northeast – many are open right now!  Check the trail report for the most up-to-date conditions.

While it’s still early in the season, it’s never too early to start saving!  Since I tend to get a bit overwhelmed trying to find the best deal, especially when there are so many places to choose from, I thought I’d put these highlights all in one spot. I got the scoop on ways to save on the slopes this season when I caught up with reps from the state’s resorts at the recent Boston Ski & Snowboard Expo.

Attitash: Every Sunday, (non-holidays), ski or ride for $30 after 12 PM.

Black Mountain: Family passport deal:  2 adult & 2 junior lift tickets for $129 midweek or $159 on Saturdays and Sundays.

Bretton Woods: $25 powder & pasta deal: ski or ride from 4-8 on Friday and Saturday nights and enjoy a pasta dinner from Dec 30 – March 11 ( and nightly during holiday periods!)

Cannon Mountain: On Tuesdays & Thursdays (non-holiday) tickets are 2 for $75 or 1 for $49.

Cranmore: For $79 get a ticket for a day of skiing, plus $20 off all subsequent tickets, no restrictions, plus get a free lift ticket after every 7th visit.

Crotched Mountain: Ski and ride on Sundays from 1-5 PM for $29.

Dartmouth Skiway: Adult midweek, non-holiday tickets are $31 and juniors are $26.

Granite Gorge: Get the Saturday Night Gold Pass for $39 and get unlimited skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and rentals, on Saturday nights from 3-8.

Gunstock Mountain Resort: Try the new Flex Pass: for $50 Flex Pass holders get 50% off your purchase of a regularly priced primetime or night ticket.

King Pine Purity Springs Resort: Skiing or snowboarding for four people any Saturday night (or holiday night) from 4-9 PM, for $66.

Loon Moutain:  Buy tickets on line, prior to arrival for significant savings!

McIntyre Ski Area :  Skiing, Tubing & Snowboarding for $34 per person Saturday nights from 3:30 – 9:00 PM, rentals included.

Mount Sunapee Resort: Every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday (non-holiday periods) ski and ride for 50% off.

Pats Peak : Pay one price under the lights on Saturday nights: skiing, snowboarding, tubing, rentals, lessons and entertainment $49 beginning Dec 31 through the end of the season.

Ragged Mountain : Learn to ski for free: skiers and snowboarders 7 and up: 3 lessons, lower mountain lift ticket, and rental equipment.

Waterville Valley Resort : Frequent Skier Card: buy the card and your first lift ticket is free, all future lift tickets are $15 off.

Whaleback : Family Pass: a family of up to 5 can ski for $1,050 (2 adults max), plus receive 50% off tickets at Mount Sunapee and Ragged Mountain.

Wildcat Mountain: Every Sunday, (non-holidays), ski or ride for $30 after 12 PM.

There are certainly many other specials happening at different times throughout the season, just click on the links to each indivdual resort for additional insight.

I’m looking forward to sharing other winter activities in the coming weeks and months.  Since it’s the holiday season – how about checking out some New Hampshire made holiday gifts? Coming soon: Hot Glass Blowing and how you can do it too!  Follow along on Facebook and Instagram too for cool things to see and do.

Don’t want to let you go without introducing you to the folks who are looking forward to welcoming you at their resorts this season.  Snapped a few, okay a lot of selfies, while at the Ski & Snowboard Expo.

 

 

 

 

 

Out with the Old, in with the new: Live Free With Kris!

Hi everyone!

I have some great news!   I’m excited to share that as the leaves fall from the trees, and New Hampshire transitions from fall to winter, the Leaf it to Kris blog will make a transformation too!  The adventures will continue with “Live Free with Kris”.  It truly was a lot of fun being able to travel around New Hampshire to share the beautiful foliage with you.  But the reality is, New Hampshire offers amazing scenery and opportunities for adventure every month of the year.  So, as they say, out with the old and in with the new.

Be on the look out in the coming weeks and months for videos and blogs that will highlight cool things to see, do and experience in your travels around this amazing state!  Be sure to follow Live Free with Kris on Facebook and Instagram too!

Stay tuned!

 

Savor fall in the season to come with DIY leaf projects!

Red, yellow, orange, crimson, peach, maroon, and how about a little green too!  I think I collected leaves in just about every shade possible this fall.  How about you?  As I’ve mentioned before, I’m always sad to see the leaves fall so I like to preserve them to decorate my home for the season ahead.

In this week’s video blog we share a few ways for you to do the same.  Take a look.

While the video walks you through each project, I thought it might be helpful for to provide a list for the items you’ll need for each DIY craft.

To preserve your leaves you need only a few basic items:  leaves, wax paper, paper towels, an iron, and of course a flat surface to iron on.

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The leaf wall hanging requires the following:  a canvas, brown or gray acrylic paint, paintbrush, leaves (preferably ones that you have just preserved), Mod Podge (gloss or matte finish – I used gloss), and a foam brush.

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And here’s what you need to make the Mason jar candle holders:  leaves (not yet preserved), Mason jars, Mod Podge (gloss finish), candleless votive holders, foam paintbrush, and twine.

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Finally, for the framed leaf: small, inexpensive frame, piece of burlap, and a preserved leaf!

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I hope with these projects you’ll enjoy fall around your home long after autumn has gone!  Be sure to tune in, in the coming weeks as we share winter adventures around the Granite State!

 

 

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An amazing autumn in New Hampshire!

Hello friends!

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year so it’s always hard for me to see the leaves falling from the trees.  But we are indeed putting the wraps on another foliage season in New Hampshire. And what a season it was!  What a treat it was for me to see the transformation of the season each week as we traveled from region to region to capture the breathtakingly beautiful scenery.  I must give props to Mother Nature though – she sure did put on one amazing show!!

This video blog highlights the sights and sounds we found in our travels around the Granite State this fall.  Hope you enjoyed it as much as we did!

Here’s a photo gallery I put together for you that captures all our adventures.  And a heads up for you…want to be sure you check back here in the coming weeks as we share more videos of how you can experience the joys and fun of a New Hampshire winter!

 

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Foliage Fun!!

Hello again!

Though I might be just a bit biased, I would have to say the fall colors this year in New Hampshire were (in a word or three), awesome, amazing, and astounding!  It truly was a lot of fun sharing the seasonal sights with you.

This week’s video takes a look at some of the bloopers that happened along the way.  Hope you enjoy and have a laugh or two along with me!  🙂

If you’re anything like me, you may have collected a few leaves in your travels this fall.  Next week we’ll share a video that highlights a couple of DIY projects that will help you enjoy your leaves a little longer!  Stay tuned!