Lake Winnipesaukee Travel Guide

Lake Winnipesaukee provides a beautiful picturesque lake vacation in the splendor of New Hampshire. Enjoy the four distinct seasons of the region for distinct vacation experiences. With over 15 communities surrounding the lake area, there are uncountable activities, dining experiences and shopping excursions for the whole family right at your fingertips.

What to Do in Lake Winnipesaukee

lake winnipesaukee lake vacation

Lake Cruises and Tours

Several area businesses provide cruises and boat tours of Lake Winnipesaukee. The M/S Mount Washington offers both day and evening cruises with various themes and activities from Weirs Beach, Wolfeboro, Alton Bay, Center Harbor and Meredith. The M/V Winnipesaukee Belle, a replica of a 70-foot turn-of-the-century paddle boat, also offers day and evening cruises around the lake.

Winnipesaukee Pier at Weirs Beach

Rent a SeaDoo or boat to explore the lake. Enjoy the arcade or a round of miniature golf. Relax on the dock or the beach overlooking Winnipesaukee lake. You can even check out the gift shops, grab a bite to eat and then indulge at the candy store or ice cream parlor. There is fun for the whole family at Winnipesaukee Pier.

Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad

Take a scenic tour of the lake from Meredith to Lakeport, with a stop at Weirs Beach. You can see the lake from every spot on the rail. The railroad line was built in 1849 before any development came to Lake Winnipesaukee and now the track goes right through many resort properties in the area. There is an ice cream and food service car available at the north end of the train, famous for the Hobo Picnic Lunch. The caboose is a popular party car, great for group rentals.

lake winnipesaukee car

New Hampshire Motor Speedway

The only super speedway in the New England area, the New Hampshire Motor Speedway is host to several NASCAR racing competitions throughout the summer and fall months as well as the Loudon Classic, a three day motorcycle racing event.

Outdoor Recreation

Lake Winnipesaukee fishing is a favorite pastime in the area. Trout is a popular catch, with prime fishing season in the lake being from January 1 to September 30. You can fish for landlocked salmon from April 1 to September 30. Large and smallmouth bass are available to fish all year round at the lake, with May 15 to June 15 being catch and release only.

Water sports of all kinds are popular on Lake Winnipesaukee. Ekal Excursions near Merrimack offers lessons and activities in water skiing, wake boarding, knee boarding, wake skating, wake surfing and tubing as well as lake cruises, including snorkeling trips.

Don’t forget about winter sports, such as snowmobiling (one of the most popular area activities when snow is on the ground), dog sledding and snow shoeing. There are also several walking and biking trails available around the lake.

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What to See in Lake Winnipesaukee

lake winnipesaukee sightseeing

Covered Bridges

There are nearly 15 old-fashioned covered bridges in the Lake Winnipesaukee area, each with its own unique style and picturesque scene. At 292 feet long, the Blair Covered Bridge in Campton is the longest available. The Albany Covered Bridge in Albany is the oldest in the area, built in 1858. Other bridges in the area include Bump Covered Bridge in Campton, Clark’s Trading Post Covered Bridge and Flume Covered Bridge in Lincoln, Durgin Covered Bridge in Sandwich, Swift River Covered Bridge in Conway and Whittier Covered Bridge in Ossipee.

Polar Caves Park

It is believed that the Polar Caves formed approximately 50,000 years ago when the third continental glacier slowly moved over the White Mountains of New Hampshire. What remains is a large network of spectacular caves for you to enjoy on a self-guided tour. A rock garden and nature trails are also available.

Remick Country Doctor Museum and Farm

The Remick Country Doctor Museum and Farm celebrates over 200 years of self-sustained living. The farm’s purpose is to “preserve the agricultural way of life in New Hampshire.” Among the sites to see are various farm animals, a cattle barn and historic English barn, a milk house, a maple sugar house and a stable. Edwin Crafts Remick was a country doctor in the late 18th century, and the Museum Farm House preserves his way of life and the tradition that still continues on the farm today.

Canterbury Shaker Village

Explore 25 original shaker buildings at the Canterbury Shaker Village in Canterbury, New Hampshire. The 694 acres of beautiful late 18th-century and early 19th-century architecture includes the only 18th-century Shaker Meeting House (church) in existence, the Dwelling House, infirmary, carriage house, creamery, school house and much more. Demonstrations of the Shaker life and work are available periodically as well as tours and exhibits that change daily. Be sure to have lunch at Greenwood’s restaurant and shop at the museum store before you leave.

Castle in the Clouds

From the top of the Castle in the Clouds in Moultonboro you get a spectacular 270-degree view of Lake Winnipesaukee and the New Hampshire mountains. Built in 1914, the castle is a 16 room mansion in the Arts and Crafts Style. The 45 miles of trail on the 5500 acres around the castle includes beautiful gardens and waterfalls. You can tour the mansion corridors as well.

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Where to Shop and Eat in Lake Winnipesaukee

lake winnipesaukee shoppingYou will find every possible type of store and restaurant in the Lake Winnipesaukee area. There is no shortage of things to choose from including over 100 restaurants and more than 100 stores, so, instead of listing everything available, this Lake Winnipesaukee travel guide covers the most unique options.

Beans and Greens Farm

For a change of pace from your typical dining and shopping experience, visit Beans and Greens Farm. Peruse the fresh produce available directly from the fields to the farm marketplace and enjoy all the fruits, vegetables and herbs that spring, summer and fall have to offer, like zucchini, corn, melons and peppers, to name a few. You can purchase annual and perennial plants and flowers, visit the barnyard animals, and enjoy the corn maze and pumpkin patch in the fall. Be sure to grab a sandwich at the deli and top the day off with a tasty treat from the bakery.

Animaland at Winni’s Woods

Take your kids to Animaland at Winni’s Woods to create their own stuffed souvenir for your Lake Winnipesaukee vacation that they will cherish for years to come. A similar experience to the Build-a-Bear company, but with one distinguishing factor, Animaland has over 50 animals and clothing options for patrons to choose from.

Center Sandwich League of NH Craftsmen

A collection of work from only local artists and craftsmen, New Hampshire Magazine named the Center Sandwich League of NH Craftsmen (in Center Sandwich, New Hampshire) “Best Crafty Legend” in 2009. Not only does the Center Sandwich League offer a great selection of beautiful art work and craftsmanship, featured artists often visit and demonstrate their work at the facility. There are also art and craft classes available for all ages.

Hackleboro Orchards

The whole family can pick their own apples starting at $3 from August to Thanksgiving at Hackleboro Orchards in Canterbury, New Hampshire. There are also several varieties of apples and winter squash available for purchase, in addition to bakery items and maple and honey products. Your camera is a recommendation because the views are great and there is plenty to walk around and see.

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When to Visit Lake Winnipesaukee

While you can’t really go wrong with a visit to Lake Winnipesaukee at any time of the year, you will find that most activities and the best scenery occur during spring, summer and fall months. Spring brings the beauty of lake side country in bloom, summer gives way to fantastic lake activities and fall places the lake in a sea of vibrant fall foliage colors.

Ice-Out

Generally speaking, your best opportunity to get the most out of Lake Winnipesaukee vacations is to visit after the declaration of “Ice-Out.” A small plane circles the lake on a daily basis and, when the ice that covers the lake in late December and early January melts enough that the M/S Mount Washington can start offering cruises of the lake again, “Ice-Out” is declared. Traditionally, “Ice-Out” starts the spring season at Lake Winnipesaukee. The year 2010 brought the earliest “Ice-Out” declaration to date, on March 24. Typically, “Ice-Out” occurs between April and May of each year.

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What to Bring to Lake Winnipesaukee

It’s important to pack clothing according to the season you plan your visit to Lake Winnipesaukee. In the spring and fall months it is best to bring both cool and warm clothes since the temperatures can change quickly. Otherwise, pack for warmer weather in the warmer months and cooler weather in the cooler months. Remember that its downright cold in the winter, since the lake can freeze up to 18 inches thick.

Also, be sure to bring your camera with you and, if it’s not digital, plenty of film. The scenic views on and around the lake are spectacular no matter what time of year you visit, and you definitely want to capture those views to share with your family and friends when you return. Other recommendations include hiking or walking shoes, a jacket and an umbrella (just in case).

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Local Services in Lake Winnipesaukee

Since boating on Lake Winniepesaukee is a favorite pastime for locals and visitors throughout most of the year, there are several boating services available in the area, including boat cleaning, boat supplies and boat storage, if you choose to keep your vessel there and return again next year.

Approximately 15 communities surround Lake Winnipesaukee, offering you many opportunities to find the services you need. Bus and taxi services are available. If you bring your trusted four-legged companion along for your Lake Winnipesaukee vacation, there are several kennels, pet sitters, dog walkers, groomers and other pet services in the area. Of course, each Lake Winnipesaukee community has an active police and fire department ready to serve you. In case of an emergency, Huggins Hospital is available in Wolfeboro.

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Getting to Lake Winnipesaukee

By Car

From the North take Route 93 Southbound to exit 20 for Tilton, NH. Turn left and take Route 3 eastward, followed by Route 11 west. From the South, take Route 93 North-bound to exit 20. If driving in from the West, go eastbound on Route 4 and make a left on Route 11 East, followed by a left onto Route 3 East. Take a right to the bypass, followed by another right onto Route 11 West. Traveling East, you should take Route 4 West to Route 16 (Spaulding Turnpike) and get off at exit 15. Turn right on Route 11 until you reach Weirs Road.

By Plane

Flights to the area will arrive at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT). Airlines that provided services to and from MHT include Continental, Delta, Northwest, Southwest, United and US Airways. Another option is to fly into Logan International Airport (BOS) located in Boston, Massachusetts, but that is a two hour drive from the lake. There is also a small airport in Laconia, one of the lake communities, but it services only private planes and chartered flights.

By Bus

Take a Greyhound to Concord, New Hampshire and then take the Concord Trailways in to Lake Winnipesaukee.

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Why Lake Winnipesaukee vacation rentals?

Why squander your vacation money on a dinky hotel or resort when you can stay in a Lake Winnipesaukee vacation rental and feel all the comforts of home. Many of the cabins along the lake offer private kitchens, a washer and dryer, internet access and comfortable accommodations for several traveling companions all under the same roof. Staying in a vacation rental on the lake truly makes for the best Lake Winnipesaukee vacations experiences.

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