How to Hampshire
For most people, Boston has it all. There’s shopping, activities, brownstones and nightlife, but what a lot of new residents to the city don’t realize is that there’s even more to do just an hour north in the great state of New Hampshire. New Hampshire is often overlooked when compared to the rocky oceans of Maine or the thick forests of Vermont, but In reality, it is home to these features and more all in one place, and it’s especially beautiful with winter approaching. Do you want to go shopping in quaint downtowns? Do you want to eat at cozy local restaurants? Do you want a breath of real, chilly fresh air? Do you need an escape from the closed-in city? If you answered yes to any of these, here are some suggestions on how to enjoy yourself in a whole new state.
Though New Hampshire is full of different regions, from the beautiful summers in the Lakes Region to the snowmobiling adventures you can have in the Great North Woods, areas like the Seacoast and the White Mountains are quite easy to reach as a Boston resident. There are three good options to get from Boston to New Hampshire. Being able to take your time and enjoy the winding backroads that connect most of the state is one of the best ways to see New Hampshire, but if you don’t have the means to access either a Zipcar or your own vehicle, buses and trains regularly run routes up north as well. The bus terminal at South Station is an easy walk from campus, and both the C&J and the Concord Coach Lines can take you from Boston to cities on the seacoast (Portsmouth, Dover, Hampton), or up further north (Conway, Meredith, Lincoln). For those of you more inclined to travel by rail, Amtrak trains from North Station can take you straight into UNH’s campus in Durham, the heart of Dover, and then further north into Maine. No matter how you choose to get there, you can generally budget 1.5-2 hours to get to southern destinations in the seacoast, and then double that for destinations in the White Mountains. Once you arrive, local Seacoast busses or Ubers are the easiest way to go from there, but be careful to stay in areas that Ubers can come get you—not every town has Uber service!
In terms of things to do once you get there, the seacoast area cities of Dover and Portsmouth are a great start and are easy to navigate. Dover, the smaller of the two, has plenty of large commercial businesses, but also features a quaint, independent downtown, where you’ll find two establishments I’ve never been able to rival in Boston: Adelle’s and La Festa. A 20-seat café nestled on a side street near city hall, Adelle’s has some of the best atmosphere, employees and drinks you can enjoy in a coffee shop, including the Apple Pie milkshake, a drink that tastes exactly like apple pie in a cup, topped with homemade whipped cream. They also feature handcrafted espresso and tea drinks, and if you can, get a seat by the window so you can stay warm inside and watch the winter weather outside. Down the street sits La Festa, a cozy, wood-fired pizza joint. A favorite of locals, they specialize in pizzas with a mishmash of toppings and sauces, as well as their popular garlic knots. Though there’s not a lot of activities or shopping in Dover, the food there is unparalleled, and it’s an easy move to Portsmouth from there.
In Portsmouth, most everyone can agree that there’s no better place to celebrate the holidays than downtown. Small local shops line the streets, and whether you’re looking for preppy clothes or cool hippie gifts, Portsmouth can take care of it. The string lights at night make for a beautiful scene, and a huge Christmas tree sits right in the main square. If you find yourself staying for dinner, restaurants like The Portsmouth Brewery or Flatbread Company are great for table service, while the more casual Popovers or Dos Amigos Burritos can get you soup, sandwiches, or Mexican fast. Grab dessert at the café Breaking New Grounds, and take time to sit back and people watch. Portsmouth also boasts harbor views, so romantic walks by the water or through Prescott Park are perfect year-round.
Further north from the seacoast sits the small town of North Conway. This popular vacation town is dotted with small hotels and resorts, as well as plenty of choices for outlet shopping. Those looking for a more authentic northern New Hampshire experience should head straight to Zeb’s General Store, a North Conway staple. This locally sourced, nostalgic, penny-candy store is chock full of jams, homemade fudge, and pickles in a barrel. It’s surrounded by many other small local stores including ski shops, chocolatiers, and crafts, as well as Cranmore Mountain, a ski and snowboard park where you can hit the slopes or fly down the mountain on a tube or zip line. Warm up afterward at the house-turned-restaurant Peaches, which is always bustling with all day fresh-cooked breakfast to warm you up after skiing. For those of you with a car, the Kancamagus Highway, just south of town, runs west through the White Mountains and features amazing mountain vistas, river views, hairpin turns, and an overall fun drive. There are plenty of places to get out and hike, and during the warmer months, the river is a refreshing way to go for a swim in clean, mountain runoff.
New Hampshire is a beautiful state, and whether you’re looking for some time by the water, a scenic hike, or just an escape from the city, it’s the perfect place to get a breath of fresh air, and open space away from the highrises. Though it’s usually overlooked, you won’t find a place that feels more like a home away from home than Massachusetts’ neighbor to the north, so when classwork leaves you down, take a day for a road (or rail) trip and unwind in the great outdoors of New Hampshire--you won’t find anywhere else like it.
Art by: Helen Ren
Photography by: Laura Canahan