Il New Hampshire, especially in the hinterland, it is a region where it is nice to wander around without a precise destination, taking some internal roads and letting yourself go to the discovery of what its lush countryside has to offer. Wandering around the less touristy itineraries it is in fact possible to discover one of the most authentic aspects of New England: a series of farms and family businesses where the local product it is the result of tradition and skilled craftsmanship, contrary to the cliché that links the production of the United States exclusively to large-scale distribution chains.
At the same time, doing a tour del New Hampshire, you discover timeless villages and charming towns; in the background dominate the spectacular heights of the White Mountains, interspersed with rolling hills and gleaming lagoons.This is the report of our wandering (mine and my wife's), which led us to numerous surprises, thanks also to the suggestions of the locals: an itinerary in search of authenticity, lifestyle and local production, a trip to New Hampshire off the beaten track.
- New Hampshire Tour: Traveling through Grafton County
- The Main Street of Bethlehem
- Sugar Hill Farms
- Littleton and environs
- To conclude… 0 km dinner!
- And to sleep?
- New Hampshire Tour: Itinerary Map
- Other useful resources
- Online resources
New Hampshire Tour: Traveling through Grafton County
The area in which we will move is Grafton County, the region in the North West of the state, a few kilometers from the borders of the White Mountains National Forest. The itinerary is quite short, it can be done easily in one day (at the bottom you will find the summary map) and you will need a car (have you seen our tips on how to rent a car in the USA?).
The Main Street of Bethlehem
Our starting point will be Bethlehem, a timeless village where we will not stay long, just long enough to walk along Main Street, observe its bizarre period houses, some antique shops and ... at number 2213 the shop more absurd than you could ever find in the countryside: it's called Indian Brook Trading Company, a shop that does not limit itself to producing statues and objects in wood and bronze of the natives of America but seems to have updated: now traditional products are flanked by gigantic metal sculptures of Alien, Transformer and Predator!
Along Main Street you will also find a nice shop where you can buy products from the Sky Heart farm in Sugar Hill, but don't stop there too much because that's where we are going ...
Sugar Hill Farms
We take the state road 18 and continue ours New Hampshire tour South. Along the way you can make a stop at Heath’s Greenhouse and Nursery (750 NH-18, Sugar Hill), a family-run organic nursery (active since 1989) where plants and flowers are grown in a totally natural way. The house specialty is fruit plants (apples, plums, apricots, cherries, peaches, pears, raspberries, blueberries and grapes).
Depending on the time of your visit, you will find various seasonal products, including maple syrup, tomatoes, eggs, vegetables and herbs, as well as some special products such as incense and wild berry oils, baskets and bird houses made in hand, vases and pottery.
Continuing south you will have to take a sharp bend in Streeter Pond Road and suddenly one of those surprises that only New England can offer you: a splendid lagoon (Coffin Pond) immersed in the dense green of the trees, which are reflected in the water, creating an effect of elusive beauty.
A few meters away from the pond you will find Tarrnation Flower Farm (96 Streeter Pond Rd, Sugar Hill), a family run farm specializing in flowers and bouquets that you can check out to admire the craftsmanship of Reggie and Vanessa Tarr.
Continuing a little further on, a large cultivated plain opens up, home to the beautiful farm Sky Heart Farm (392 Streeter Pond Rd, Sugar Hill). Take a tour of the entire property and do not hesitate to enter the shop where, to the rhythm of an evocative country background music, you can taste and buy many local products (I am not making a list, I refer you to the images below, which are certainly more explanatory). The farm also organizes tastings and dinners; on the website you will find the number to contact them and ask for information.
This little glimpse of Sugar Hill (just over a mile, from the Streeter Pond Road entrance to the Ski Heart farm) looks like a little piece of heaven and I highly recommend visiting.
Go back, skirt the Gale River and take Sugar Hill Road on the right, shortly after the rustic charm of the Polly’s Pancake Parlor (672 Route 117 Sugar Hill) will be irresistible. Come in and try one of the best pancakes in the area. But don't get too full! We are about to taste one of the most renowned artisan cheeses in the White Mountains area.
A little more than a mile, on the same road, we will notice a small shop in bicycles-colored wood, it is Harman’s Cheese & Country Store (1400 Route 17 Sugar Hill), the place where "The World's Greatest Cheddar Cheese" is produced. The story of this small family business is very particular: it was in fact in 1955 that Mr. Harman bought his first half ton of cheddar cheese which, for some strange reason, had been "forgotten" for 2 years.
The flavor was so appreciated that from that day the cheese from this country store has always been aged for 2 years, in order to reproduce the first forgotten specimen. Born with a business idea based on shipping, now the shop is always open and sells directly to the public. You will find not only cheese, but also maple syrup, preserves, jams, typical Vermont specialties and much more.
Littleton and environs
A tour of New Hampshire cannot be said to be such if it does not include a typical town. So, after this culinary feast, the time has come to dedicate yourself to the happiest village in the county, you will see it written all over the main road: "Be happy: You're in Littleton!"
The Main Street of the town is quite short but really pleasant to walk: you will find some beautiful buildings and some noteworthy shops, but the numerous pianos that populate the street will surprise you. Everyone in this city can sit at a piano and play it freely, thus giving free rein to their creativity. Each instrument bears the inscription: “Be happy! Make some music! "
The things to see in this little New Hampshire gem do not end there, the city has in fact 3 other reasons of notoriety:
- it is the birthplace of Eleanor H. Porter, the author of Pollyanna, another recurring motif of the country (if you are a fan of the novel, don't miss the statue in front of the elegant public library).
- a Littleton you find Chutters, the sweet shop with the longest candy counter in the world! Every day you can take advantage of some free tastings.
- In town you will find one of the most interesting examples of New Hampshire's craft brewery. Head to the river and stop at Shilling Beer Company (18 Mill Street, Littleton). Nearby you will also be able to observe a characteristic covered bridge, one of the most typical symbols of the New England countryside.
We get back into the car and continue north along the 18. Our next destinations will be 2 other farms, but very particular ...
New Hampshire Pick your own
If there is a characteristic aspect of the New Hampshire farms it is the practice of pick your own, which allows visitors to collect the products of the land on their own (there are often picnic areas to stop and eat). In the surroundings of Littleton there are 2 very interesting ones: the first is McLure’s Honey & Maple Products (46 N. Littleton Rd), which specializes in honey and syrup and maple, the latter is Frost’s Roadside Garden (1590 Littleton Rd), where you'll find plenty of strawberries, vegetables and pumpkins.
As these are family-run farms, before planning this New Hampshire tour, I recommend that you contact the farms to inquire about their schedules, activities and opening hours.
To conclude… 0 km dinner!
If you have not already been into tastings and tastings, I recommend that you try for yourself what a refined chef is able to do with all these fresh products. Go to the charming Adair Country Inn & Restaurant (80 Guider Ln, Bethlehem) and sample Dirk Yeaton's creative dishes, all made with ingredients sourced from the surrounding farms (they suggested some of those on the route!).
And to sleep?
Adair is also one of the best solutions for sleeping in the area, we talked about it here! If the structure is full and you are looking for a low-priced hotel, I recommend that you consult This Page.
New Hampshire Tour: Itinerary Map
Other useful resources
If you are thinking of embarking on a New England itinerary, I would like to point out some resources that may be useful for planning your trip.
- Our guide on how to plan a tour of New England.
- Our tips on Country Inn: the best Bed & Breakfasts in the region.
- All you need to know about Acadia National Park, New England's most fascinating natural park.
- Our advice on the city of Boston, a reference point for visiting the region.
- Our section with all the recommended itineraries in New England.
- Visit Maine
- Discover New England