I love Somerville and the great state of Massachusetts, but I also have a real soft spot for our neighbor to the north, New Hampshire. I was born there, my parents live there and I even got married there last summer. When selecting a place to say our vows, nowhere but tiny little Meredith, on the shores of beautiful Lake Winnipesaukee would do. If you’re looking for a quick weekend getaway this summer, Meredith might be the perfect place. It’s only a two-hour drive (without traffic), has lots of cute shops, restaurants and outdoor activities and constantly astounds you with its stunning scenery.
When To Go
High season is from July 4 through Labor Day, but many people celebrate the beginning of summer on Memorial Day weekend and the area is popular for leaf-peepers in the fall. Beware that motorcycle week, when about 500,000 bikers descend on the area, happens in June, usually around Father’s Day.
When looking for lodging in Meredith, you have a few options depending on your needs and wants. In town, there are a series of hotels under the management of the Inns & Spas at Mill Falls. They are all beautiful, with lovely rooms and views of the lake, but I think the newest, and most luxurious, is Church Landing. Decorated in an upscale rustic lodge style, the common rooms feature big, comfy chairs to sink into, lots of birch details and beautiful local art. Many of the guest rooms have views of the lake, some even have balconies, and each one features a large, cozy bed and gorgeous, modern bathroom. But be prepared to pay up, as all of the Mill Falls hotels will cost you a pretty penny to live the life of luxury.
Another, more casual lodging option, is Oliver Lodge, situated out on Meredith Neck in a quiet cove on Lake Winnipesaukee. The Lodge has family-style sleeping arrangements, meaning that you rent one of the houses on the property, which can each sleep lots of people and have full kitchens, living rooms and more for you to use. The property has grills for guests, a large common room to hang out in and a sandy beach with kayaks and canoes for paddling on the water.
There are also many houses to rent in the area. Many people have second homes on the lake and use them only a few weeks/weekends a year, often renting them out on the off weeks.
The Common Man family of restaurants owns several eateries in Meredith, many of which are in the white hotels that dot the town. Two of my favorites are Lago, in the Inn at Bay Point, the Lakehouse, in Church Landing. Both have stunning views of Lake Winnipesaukee and serve quality meals to hungry diners. Lago is Italian-themed, with crispy flatbread pizzas, inspired, seasonal salads and pasta dishes of all kinds. The restaurant also often features great fish specials, and make sure to save room for the white chocolate and house-made limoncello served at the end of the meal. Sit outside if you can, as the lawn is the perfect place to watch boats cruise around while enjoying a cocktail.
The Lakehouse is the fanciest restaurant in Meredith (and I use the term loosely, as the whole town is very casual). Serving a hearty buffet brunch on the weekends and dinner nightly, the Lakehouse is famous for its lobster corn chowder. The Lakehouse serves lots of great fish and meat dishes, but also has some vegetarian options on the menu, including a tofu dish.
For more casual dining, check out the new Lakeside Deli & Grille, which serves fresh sandwiches and salads as well as yummy desserts right on the shores of the lake. Another fun eatery is the Town Docks, where you can stick your feet on the sand and look out at the lake while chowing down on New England classics like lobster rolls and fried clams.
Sunshine & Pa’s, George’s Diner and the Waterfall Cafe are all excellent breakfast options. Expect typical diner food served in a casual atmosphere. And if you arrive at George’s early enough, you’ll get to see some of the locals gossiping over coffee. Giuseppe’s serves classic, casual Italian fare in a huge restaurant with some outdoor seating. It’s one of the only bar scenes in town, so head there on Friday or Saturday night to listen to live music and let loose.
Summer is the season for ice cream and if you’re in the mood for a cold sweet treat, I recommend heading to Flurries. They have lots of unique and classic flavors, thick frappes and flurries packed with mix-ins!
[Updated 10/28/13: I recently dined at Lemon Grass in nearby Center Harbor and had a lovely meal. A sort of Thai/Japanese/American fusion restaurant, Lemon Grass serves fresh food that’s unlike anything else you’ll find in the area. The fish specials are not to be missed and reservations are recommended in the high season.]
Meredith is dotted with lots of cute antique stores, so spend some time strolling Main Street to take them in. They are full of old treasures and you never know what you might find! The Innisfree Bookshop has a great selection of new releases and a carefully curated collection of staff picks. Bootleggers can supply all of your footwear needs, from casual sandals to cozy slippers and hiking boots to fancy heels. Home cooks will love So Little Thyme, a kitchen-supply shop with everything you need (and want) to prepare delicious meals. Lady of the Lake has beautiful dresses and bags perfect for an upcoming summer wedding or a nice night out on the town.
Slightly further afield, The Glass Knob is my favorite vintage/antique shop in the area. Located a few miles out of town, this well-curated (and well-priced) store housed in a tiny, old cottage is full of treasures that you’ll be dying to take home.
What To Do
One of the best ways to see Lake Winnipesaukee is on a Mount Washington Cruise. With both daytime and sunset rides leaving from various towns around the lake several times a day, the cruises are an excellent way to get out on the water and see the sights. Arcade aficionados will want to stop at Funspot, a huge game center containing lots of the classics. Two theater groups, Interlakes Summer Theater and the Winnipesaukee Playhouse, both provide fun nighttime entertainment through the summer season. Slightly further afield is the Squam Lakes Science Center, which has something for all ages, with lots of information about local wildlife and nature trails to stroll down.
For those looking to get out in nature, there are several great hikes in the area. Rattlesnake is a short hike with incredible views. It’s great option for families looking for a place for a scenic picnic. Red Hill is longer and passes a beautiful stream and foundation of an old home as it winds its way up to a lookout tower that provides stunning views of the surrounding area. Mount Major is even more challenging and also offers fantastic lake views. This route is better suited to more experienced hikers looking for a bit of a challenge.
So if you’re looking for a quick weekend getaway with lots to do, fun shopping, great restaurants and more, check out Meredith, N.H. And if you go or have gone, let me know your favorite thing to do, eat or see there!