Friday, August 14, 2009

Lake Winnipesaukee Favorites

I am up at Lake Winnipesaukee, NH, with my family on vacation. We love coming up here in the summer time for a week (or more if work allows). This is the first time we've been back in 3 years, and it's the first time we've been here since I started blogging. I look forward to writing about our adventures here over the next week.

As sort of an inventory for my own reference of places we would like to see or do or go while we are here, I thought I should write a Lake Winnipesaukee Favorites list like my other favorites posts.

I'm sure as soon as I click "publish post," I will think of someplace else I forgot to mention, or one of my family members will write in the comments, "How could you forget _______?!?!" So, like my other "favorites" posts, I will come back an update this post as I discover new places or remember places I had forgotten about (it has been 3 years since I was last here at the lake).


The Woodshed. This is by far used to be our favorite restaurant in the region. We normally try to go there once every time we visit.  Summer 2010 Update:  My MIL says they changed hands and raised prices and it might not be worth the drive out there anymore. It's in an old barn / farmhouse. It's off the beaten path and you'd never know it was back there if you weren't looking for it. The food is exquisite and the service is top notch.

Canoe. Three words: Lobster Macaroni & Cheese. Canoe is a nice place here in Center Harbor. It's kind of a fancy restaurant that tries to appear rustic and antique, but the immaculate cleanliness, crispness of the checkered cloth napkins, and polished little details let you know it's a very professional and well-run establishment. It's great for either a family meal (they have kids menus) or just for me and my wife on date night. They have a wide price-range of items on the menu from sandwiches and burgers in the $8 range to lobster dishes in the $20 range.

Lago. This place used to be one of our favorite places on the lake back when it was The Boathouse Grill. It's still really good, but lost "our favorite" status when the Boathouse Grill closed. It's still a very nice place to drive your boat out to dinner and tie up at the dock next to the restaurant.

Coe House. (Disclaimer: This review is dated. We haven't been back in a few years, and I hear it has changed hands of ownership a few times since then.) Can't miss it - it's the place with the cupola on top of the building. In fact, for a chunk-O-change, you can dine up in that little cupola for a special occasion like an anniversary or a birthday. It's a pretty fancy place, very nice ambiance and very good food. Not at all kid friendly. They discouraged us from bringing our kids in and didn't have any kids menus or high chairs or anything like that. But it's a nice place if you're looking for a nice, fancy restaurant to celebrate something special.

Village Kitchen. This is our favorite breakfast place in the area. It's a homey, simple kind of place with all your favorite breakfast items from waffles to eggs to biscuits & gravy.

Red Hill Dari.   We love going to Red Hill Dari for lobster rolls and/or for ice cream.  It's a little shack on the side of the road in Meredith.  Sometimes we will go by boat, tie up at the town docks, and walk across the street.  Other times, Red Hill is a convenient stop along the way to just about anyplace else we need to go by car. 

Kellerhaus. Ice cream sundae bar. Choose your size. Choose your flavors. Choose your toppings. Dig in. (You might need someone to roll you out to the car when you're done).

Tamarack's Drive In. This place seems like pretty beat-up shack, and the likes of something you'd find in any tourist-trap type of beach town that has a very seasonal following. Their lobster rolls are AWESOME though, and worth the drive over to the other side of the lake.

Things to Do

In General / Not location specific:

Boating. It's a lake. This is kind of a no-brainer.
Ahhh, to be out on the boat...

Swimming. Ditto.

Geocaching is very popular around the lake. I'm also happy to report that there are a lot of cool cryptogram puzzle caches, too. As it stands now, there are 5 geocaches that I know of that require a boat to get to: one is on Stonedam Island, one, two, three on Bear Island, and one on Ragged Island.
One of my favorite pictures of the boys:
Here they are with the geocache on Stonedam Island.

We always bring our bicycles up here to get some exercise and enjoy the scenery riding around. One of my favorite spots is there is a paved bike path over the old railroad tracks that end in Wolfeboro. You can ride it for miles. Oh, and there are like a dozen or more geocaches along the bike path.

Wolfeboro. Over on the eastern side of the lake is a wonderful little town called Wolfeboro. I would love to retire someday and live in a place like Wolfeboro, but I'm not sure how I could make a living if I lived there now. It's sort of an upscale, nicer side of the lake in comparison with some of the more spring-break-party-town places over on the other side. There are very nice shops and art galleries and decent restaurants. As I mentioned above, there is a nice paved bike path over the top of the old railroad that used to end at Wolfeboro. There are two other specific attractions that draw me and my boys to Wolfeboro:

Klickety Klack Model Railroad Museum. My boys love model railroads and model trains. We visit every model railroad museum we find. We've been to many, and this little place in Wolfeboro, NH, is a hidden gem and TOTALLY worth the price of admission. For more details, please read my review on Yelp!

The boys watching the trains in Wolfeboro.

Wright Museum (WWII Museum). It didn't take much to convince my boys to go here. I mean, there is a Sherman Tank crashing through the bricks and rubble on the side of the museum. It's a fairly decent mid-size museum inside. I think my favorite exhibit was seeing their collection of WWII aircraft nose-art, but... uh... it's not exactly an exhibit you want to take young children to (especially children who can read. "Daddy, what does it mean "Give it to her?" Daddy, why is she standing like that? Daddy, why are her clothes so tight?").

Weirs Beach. This is just about opposite Wolfeboro in many respects. First, there's the simple geographic opposite side of the lake. Whereas Wolfeboro is the nice, quiet, and sort of upscale lake town, Weirs Beach is the loud, overcrowded tourist trap full of obnoxious people. In spite of the crowds and the touristy atmosphere, I generally take the boys over to that side of the lake for a few things:
Mini-Golf. They have a mini-golf place there with a pretend volcano and an airplane crashed into the side of the volcano. This was actually the first place I ever took ES to play mini-golf.

Me and ES playing mini-golf at Weirs Beach.
You can see the volcano in the background
and one of the waterslides going over our heads.

Waterslides. Same place as the mini-golf is also waterslides. We haven't actually been on the waterslides there as of yet, but I thought it was worth mentioning as something to do.
Arcades. There are a few large video game arcades along near the waterfront.
Train. The Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad stops here in Weirs Beach.
Mt. Washington. This historic ferry boat does tours around the lake. ES wants to go sometime, but I have procrastinated so far because it seems a little expensive to me.

Rainy day? Check out the Meredith Children's Museum. It's not very fancy or high tech, but it has several rooms of scenes for kids to act out and play things (like a grocery store, a castle, etc). It's not something that I would go out of my way to see, but if you find yourself locked indoors by a day or two of perpetual rain (as we did one summer), then it's a nice way to get out of the house and do something. (Pictures below show the castle jungle gym / slide, the grocery store, and the train table.)

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