Now is the time to get in touch with your inner explorer and drive north to the White Mountain National Forest, where the region’s highest peak, Mt. Washington, is considered the sweet spot of New Hampshire. By foot, hiking anywhere in New Hampshire is considered a sport; in particular, along part of the Appalachian Trail’s undulating hills. Visitors and locals alike take to the trails, so once you’ve worked up an appetite, it’s best to ask a local what they recommend for lunch, a winery, or B&B for an overnight stay.
There is so much to see and do along New Hampshire’s shifting landscape of woodlands and seacoast, and many roads lead to vineyards and fruit orchards worthy of a stop at one of New Hampshire’s 22 wineries, vineyards, mead and cider houses. Whether you plan an itinerary or not, you’ll want to follow your heart and stop when the moment arises. With springtime in mind, here are 3 suggested stops to destinations sure to fuel your wanderlust.
#1 – Seacoast & Southern New Hampshire
Meandering through the walkable seaport of Portsmouth will land you at some of the best seacoast dining and shopping in the state. Its coastal location attributes to an abundance of seafood available, and its proximity to the border of Massachusetts makes it easy for day-trippers to spend an afternoon strolling along Market Square.
Music lovers will want to check out the newest jazz club, Jimmy’s Jazz & Blues, with full dinner service, or stop at The Music Hall, a large venue in Portsmouth that welcomes 90,000 visitors each year. Fun fact: this is the oldest theater in New Hampshire and the 14th oldest theater in America. The Music Hall hosts a mix of musical performances, dramatic, interpretive, or author readers, dance recitals, and cinema exhibits.
Further south, you’ll want to plan time for a visit to Zorvino Vineyards in Sandown. This 80-acre winery is in the middle of a New England hardwood forest and is known for its award-winning post-and-beam event venue. Be sure to check the calendar for upcoming events that include comedy shows and holiday-themed dinners such as an upcoming Cinco de Mayo Margarita Dinner.
Tom Zack of Zorvino Vineyards considers the winery’s patio one of the best in the region. “We have the most popular outdoor patio in New Hampshire with an award winning food menu and monthly rotating wine flights,” he shares.
The most popular wines at Zorvino include a sweet blackberry and red wine blend called Bacca Z, and a crisp, off-dry fruit wine with caramel and white grape finish called Pearz. But there are so many more wines, and according to Tom, they “make over 50 wines, which is the most for any winery in New Hampshire.” He adds that Zorvino is “a destination where you can play bocce or hike on our well-marked trail system.”
#2 – Central New Hampshire & The Lakes
Meredith, a town in Belknap County, is located in the heart of the Lakes Region as it opens to the White Mountains. Lakes Winnipesaukee, Squam, Winnisquam, and Waukewan serve as the centerpiece to the site of Hermit Woods Winery & Deli, where each Saturday at 7pm in The Loft, a musician may be heard tickling the ivories of a Yamaha C3 Grand Piano. Grab a glass of Hermit Woods wine… better yet, a wine flight to taste an array of specialties, including an award-winning Three Honey Wine. This blend of local whole rhubarb is crafted into a lower alcohol, carbonated, easy-drinking session mead. Pair it with a light meal from the Deli and you’ll realize why it was voted in 2021 as Best Sandwiches in the Lakes Region.
In addition to piano nights, Bob Manley of Hermit Woods Winery & Deli shares his excitement with news of a soon-to-launch Listening Room in The Loft. The Listening Room opens in May and will run weekly year-round. With limited seating that holds 60 people, Bob says “guests will experience an intimate setting, outstanding music, fine wine, and food.”
“We have been working for over four years to bring this unique venue to the Lakes Region” he adds. “We intend to offer audiences an up-close and personal opportunity to see world-class musicians perform.”
In between wine tasting and enjoying events on-property at Hermit Woods, nearby Meredith is the place to picnic, hike, or camp at Stonedam Island Natural Area. It’s also the site of the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad where guests can take a scenic train ride or bike the trails.
Did you know Meredith serves as one of the ports of call for the paddle steamer, MS Mount Washington? Narrated scenic tours, sunset dinner cruises, Sunday brunch, U.S. Mailboat cruises (yes, to deliver mail on the islands!) are regular events on this paddler that re-opens to guests in May.
#3 – The White Mountains
New Hampshire’s highest peak, Mt. Washington, is where guests can ride the cog railway up to the summit. Along the way, views of wildlife in its natural habitat will keep your senses on high alert. On ground level, you’ll want to continue to keep your eyes open, especially on a drive to North Conway’s outlet shops along the Kancamagus Highway, where your chances are high in spotting a passing moose or family of black bears crossing the road.
Spring is the perfect time to spend the afternoon strolling through the gardens and public art, and for tax-free shopping at Settlers Green -- with a stop for lunch to recharge for more outlet finds. For the non-shoppers, there’s an outdoor ping pong option, and there may even be live music – but there will always be a perfect mountain view for gazing purposes.
Post-shopping at North Conway, a stop at White Mountain Winery for a glass of Moosepulciano or Beargamais is not to be missed. It’s also the perfect season to take the entire family for a ride on an old-fashioned railroad departing from an 1874 station in North Conway Village. Valley Train Season runs from mid-April through December, while Notch Train Season runs from late June through mid-October.
If you haven’t made a visit to Lincoln in the past 5 years, you’ll want to book a stay at the RiverWalk Resort at Loon Mountain. During shoulder season, also known as mud season, you can secure some of the best prices for lodging, and it’s where walkable shops offer deep discounts. Unlike peak winter and summer months, springtime is when there’s no waiting in long lines at restaurants such as Common Man or Gypsy Café, or for certain activities, such as wine tasting at Seven Birches Winery, located inside the RiverWalk Resort itself.
In fact, this former papermill site is now a full-service resort with ownership options. A roster of relaxing spa services includes a healing Himalayan Salt rock massage at the resort’s Solstice North Day Spa, and dinner at La Vista Restaurant is the place to go for authentic brick-oven pizza. The continued growth of this resort is in process and will soon unveil the expansion of Seven Birches Winery. This popular winery will more than quadruple its current space and production capacity for more of its Rhythm Handcrafted Beverages brand of hard cider, seltzer, and meads. (Note: RiverWalk Resort and Seven Birches Winery will remain fully open and operational during construction - visit the website for updated hours.)
Falling in love with these laid-back, yet productive New Hampshire regions is easy; just show up. But consider yourself warned—the longer you stay and the more folks you meet, the better it gets and more you’ll want to visit time and time again.
In order to experience all of the great wineries located throughout the granite state, check out the article “Travel in the Live Free State of Wine” and also download or pick up the NHWA winery passport, available at each participating winery. If you’re driven to win, bring your passport to each member winery in New Hampshire to collect a special prize for visiting them all.