We spoke with National Geographic Traveler Magazine editor-in-chief Keith Bellows about what makes a great beach town, and he gave us some idea locations all across the country. This inspired us to make a list of New Hampshire summer spots, with particular attention to one of the state’s specialties – lakes. We’ve also squeezed a couple rivers in here as well. Though many favorite spots can be found on secluded corners of New Hampshire’s 959 recorded lakes, here are some of the most popular getaways, good for a weekend or afternoon escape.
The largest lake in New Hampshire, the third largest in all of New England, Lake Winnipesaukee has played host to families and visitors for generations. It contains around 258 islands and has a total shoreline of 288 miles – plenty of room to share. The lake is surrounded by 8 towns, including Wolfeboro which claims to be the oldest summer resort in America. Some notable attractions include Weirs Beach (a mecca during Bike Week), Meredith (arguably the heart of Common Man country), and Moultonborough (if you tear yourself away from the lake, you can visit Castle in the Clouds).
Squam Lake is best recognized as the filming location of On Golden Pond. All that fame hasn’t gone to its head though. The lake is known as one of the most pristine in the state and is home to many species of wildlife. Bald Eagles and Great Blue Herons often make their home on the lake and it is a nesting site for the Common Loon, a favorite New Hampshire bird and a protected species. Public access can be difficult to find for beach-goers who don’t live in surrounding towns, but hiking is plentiful and boat access can be found at the Squam Lakes Association in Holderness.
This park contains the largest freshwater swimming beach of any New Hampshire State Park, which is a big win for public access. There are full park accommodations here, from hiking, to camping, to (most importantly) swimming, and it sits on Newfound Lake, in the middle of the Lakes Region.
“It rules!” “It has rocky outcroppings you can jump off of!” “You can definitely swim there!” All good things to hear about a state park. Located in Chesterfield, Pisgah State Park advertises their year round trails for hiking, biking, and snowmobiling, but it was access to several bodies of water that got the Word of Mouth team talking. The park is unstaffed and remains open year-round, which means that the several ponds located in park grounds are open to the public, though any beaches are uncharted. All that means you have just a good a chance as anyone to find a super-secret swimming spot.
Okay, this one isn’t a lake, but it’s still one of the most popular natural attractions during the summer months. You can find kayakers, river waders, and people lodged amongst the rocks all along the river. A favorite stretch of the Saco is the Swift River, a tributary that runs parallel to the Kancamagus Highway. You’ll find the highway lined with cars on the hottest days of the summer when people flock to the icy water. For those looking for a less rocky option, the river is also home to sandbars and beaches, many of which allow camping.
Another river spot, the hike out to the falls is also located along the Kancamagus. Trail access is located about 5 miles in from exit 32 off I-93, and the falls are located about 3 miles in from there. But our sources tell us the walk is worth it, especially since parts of the falls are flat and broad enough to allow the more adventurous to coast down them.
Those are just a few of the many spots in New Hampshire that are perfect for a quick summer getaway. Do you have a favorite lakeside spot that doesn’t appear on this list? Comment below or on our Facebook page, or Tweet at us.