Once you visit Lake Sunapee in the summer — you will count down the days until it’s time to return. At least that’s what Ashlee Rowley, the Member & Visitor Services Coordinator at the Lake Sunapee Region Chamber of Commerce says about the multi-generational appeal of this beautiful area.
It’s long been a weekend getaway and second-home destination for New Englanders and New Yorkers, who seek a reprise from the clamor of busy streets and train stations. And while many know of the fun snow peaks of Mt. Sunapee, it’s also a destination for hikers, water babies, families, and travelers who want to bask in the sun. If you’re looking for a place to recreate the nostalgia of summer camps many moons ago, here’s why Lake Sunapee and its surrounding areas deserve your consideration.
Travel to any area of the state easily.
Unlike Mt. Washington further north, Lake Sunapee is centrally located in the state, making it easier to access from Massachusetts or Connecticut. You’re only an hour-and-a-half from Boston, forty minutes from the capital of Concord and thirty minutes to the heart of Merrimack Valley near Woodland Park. Though you may be hard-pressed to leave the comfort of your cabin, if you have a longer vacation in New Hampshire, Lake Sunapee is a great home base to explore other regions without too much driving.
A quick 40-minute drive from Lake Sunapee, Hanover has topped many of the “best places to live” lists for years. It’s easy to see why: not only is it home to Dartmouth College, embedding art and knowledge to the streets, but the Appalachian Trail crosses the town, attracting travelers globally. In the summer, you can spend a Saturday wandering through the Hanover farmer’s market on the green and then catch a show at the newly-renovated Hopkins Center for Performing Arts. Foodies will appreciate the inventive menu at Pine, located in the 250-year-old Hanover Inn. Executive Chef Justin Dain sources every ingredient locally — from vegetables to meat — creating a truly fresh experience for your taste buds. For those looking for more adventure, there are a variety of day hikes in the Upper Valley — from Smarts and Cardigan Mountain to Moose Mountain.
Find one-of-a-kind pieces at the largest craft fair in the state.
No matter what you collect on your travels or in your home, there’s a solid chance you’ll find a keepsake at the Annual League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Fair held at the base of Mount Sunapee Resort. Every summer, more than 300 artisans gather to showcase their creations — from pottery to paintings and beyond — attracting many from miles away. During this week in August, you can also attend live demonstrations or workshops to engage your own artistic soul.
Hike to the top of Mt. Kearsarge.
If you attended Colby-Sawyer College or know someone who did, they’ll talk lovingly about Mountain Day. It’s what students and faculty look forward to each September when the bells ring to dismiss class before it starts, alerting everyone to head to the hills— or more specifically, nearby Mt. Kearsarge for a day of hiking as a community. Summer is a special season since the green below will take your breath away. There are two trails — one that’s long and easy; the other that's short and steep — making it ideal for any fitness level.
Flow through a yoga class.
Channel your zen and get into that summer mindset by signing up for a yoga class with a view. You can either hike to the summit of Mt. Sunapee or take the express chair every Wednesday and Saturday morning for an outdoor yoga class. As you flow through Vinyasa, you will inhale the fresh mountain air, admire the green treetops below and stare up at forever-blue skies as you finish in Savasana.
Go ziplining, kayaking and hiking.
Though the slopes are closed for the season — Mt. Sunapee doesn’t rest in the summer. With canopy tours, ziplining adventures, kayaks for rent, hiking trails to trek and more heart-racing offerings, the theme of this peak is adventure. Whether you’re vacationing with kids or traveling with friends, you can find the right activity for your interest, speed and budget. Not to mention the right photo opportunity for your #livefreenh Instagram.
Have your fill of strawberries — right off the vine.
If apples are the star of fall, strawberries take the center stage of summer — and there’s no better place to snack on these red beauties than Lake Sunapee. The whole state — and friendly neighbors that follow their borders — flocks to the Strawberry Festival every year. You can take home bushels of your own for snacking and baking or let local chefs do the work for you by purchasing desserts, sauces, and other goods. After a cookout in the backyard under the stars and surrounded by lightning bugs, a slice of strawberry pie will definitely hit the spot.
Shop local at Market on the Green.
There are numerous locations to stay near Lake Sunapee. Whether you book a lodge, hotel, or a rental home, many travelers will stay for a week at a time and some prefer having a kitchen and home of their own to prepare meals. If a rental home is your preferred lodging, make sure to stop by Market on the Green in New London, the main hub for Lake Sunapee. It’s an expansive farmer’s market that takes place on Wednesdays and Thursdays, where you can buy fresh produce, wild-caught seafood, homemade dressings and jams — and more.
Dine where Steven Tyler and Joe Perry once did.
Of Lake Sunapee’s fans, Steven Tyler may be the most famous. This legendary musician spent every summer here — fishing, swimming and experiencing what he called “magic” to Oprah. It also introduced him to guitarist Joe Perry, who worked at The Anchorage. Legend has it Tyler was a fan of the french fries and Perry worked as the chef, so fate — and their taste buds — brought them together. The menu has changed since the 1960s, but the nostalgia for Tyler — and others who grew up in this town — has not.