With the help of Visit NH’s Getaway Car, Boston style blogger Kristen Uekermann heads to northern New Hampshire – and discovers it doesn’t take much more than a tank of gas to feel worlds away from the city.
When Visit NH’s Getaway Car shows up at your doorstep – with a gassed-up jeep and a pre-planned itinerary – you go. At least, that’s the perspective Kristen Uekermann, style blogger behind The Boston Fashionista, took this past September when they dropped in at her home in Marblehead, Massachusetts. What followed was an easy and utterly scenic fall day trip to New Hampshire that took her and a friend up I-93, through the cities of Manchester and Concord, and landed the two ladies in the northern half of the state: the White Mountains and Great North Woods. While stops included iconic attractions like the Old Man of the Mountain Profile Plaza in Franconia Notch State Park, Beaver Brook Falls Wayside in Colebrook, and the 45th Parallel marker in Clarksville, the end goal was an exhilarating ATV off-roading adventure in Pittsburg with Bear Rock Adventures. But that’s just scratching the surface of what this uppermost region offers. Here, we highlight a few of the other quick stops along the route to add into your own New Hampshire day trip.
Gypsy Café [117 Main Street, Lincoln]
Just one hour spent at this Main Street establishment – located less than a mile off exit 32 of I-93 – will take you from India and Cuba to Argentina and Mexico. That’s courtesy of two things: a worldly menu and a dining room decorated in masks, urns, tribal statues, and wood carvings brought back from the owner and chef Dan Duris’s international travels. Expect dishes that pay tribute to the seasons, like the fall-themed Navajo pumpkin pasta, featuring farfalle dressed in chipotle pumpkin sauce and goat cheese and topped with roasted pumpkin seeds and breadcrumbs.
The Basin [I-93, Lincoln]
Follow the signs to the Basin Parking Lot right off I-93, then make the easy 10-minute walk, lined with small waterfalls, to this geological phenomenon. Located at the base of a waterfall, the Basin is essentially a massive pothole – 30 feet in diameter and 15 feet deep – that was slowly shaped over thousands of years by tiny stones and sand swirling about in the Pemigewasset River current.
Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa [101 Mountain View Road, Whitefield]
Just barely over the border into the Great North Woods region and less than a mile off Route 3, this grand hotel is a sight to behold – even if it’s for a quick five-minute stop. A member of the Historic Hotels of America, the palatial Revival-Style resort is not only punctuated by dramatic towers, elegant fountains, and English gardens, its 1,700 acres showcase stunning fall views of the Kilkenny Range and Percy Peaks to the north and the Whites to the south. If looking to extend your trip to the Great North Woods, the resort’s 141 remodeled rooms aren’t a shabby place to lay your head for the night.
Fuller’s Sugarhouse Retail Store [267 Main Street, Lancaster]
It may not be maple syrup season, but this country store, located right off Main Street, offers more than just award-winning pure New Hampshire maple syrup made by the Fuller family. Inside the cheerful red store, you’ll find scores of wooden shelves stocked with specialty goods made in New Hampshire, including candles and hand cream by Hollis’s The Barefoot Bee, cheese from Sugar Hill’s Harman’s Cheese, and jams and pickled products from Littleton’s White Mountains Canning Company.
Columbia Covered Bridge [Columbia Bridge Road, Columbia]
A slight detour onto Columbia Bridge Road off Route 3 brings you to one of two remaining highway bridges in New Hampshire built with a Howe truss (the other is Mount Orne Bridge in Lancaster). Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the picturesque bridge is 146 feet in length and spans the Connecticut River, connecting the towns of Columbia, New Hampshire, and Lemington, Vermont.
Lake Francis [439 River Road, Pittsburg]
Located just below First Connecticut Lake, this 2,000-acre lake may be best known for its trout fishing, but there’s also excellent bird watching here. Some 100 different bird species call this spot home, including bald eagles, ospreys, loons, and endangered woodpeckers. Spend a few minutes with binoculars in hand – especially before late fall, when several species of these winged beauties migrate.