A comic book store seems pretty niche, but the birth of Double Midnight Comics in Manchester 20 years ago (this year) just happened to coincide with the rise of the humble comic book to become one of the most significant contributors to America’s pop-culture wealth. Their shops in Manchester and Concord sell comics, games and such, but the galvanizing effect of purposefully drawing the state’s fan community together has boosted our creative economy in ways large and small. Collaborations that have grown out of Double Midnight Comics include the New Hampshire Film Festival (back in session this year after a Covid hiatus) and Granite State Comicon, not to mention the countless partnerships and business plans spawned over a session of Magic the Gathering or Pokemon or after an in-depth discussion about the relative strengths of the Marvel-universe metals vibranium and adamantium.
Glamping lovers and adventure seekers need to know about Alpine Garden Camping Village & Winery in Bartlett. Their collection of pods, cabins and a treehouse has everything you need, including full bathrooms, queen-size beds, combined AC and heat units, a fire pit, a standing charcoal grill, linens and sheets, and mini bar stocked with their own wine and cider. The location is minutes away from an abundance of shopping, restaurants and miles of hiking, and their property is adjacent to other local attractions like Crawford Notch and Story Land.
Epicurean Virtual Golf
Portsmouth’s Tour is much more than a haven for virtual golfers who enjoy their favorite craft beer and teeing off into a digital golf course vista. It is also a fine-dining restaurant and eclectic sports bar that combines the fun of a round of golf with a menu that includes everything from brick oven pizza and a full array of specialty burgers to entrées like grilled Scottish salmon, baked cod and beef filet medallions. Tour is located in the former Tuscan Kitchen restaurant on Lafayette Road and opened last winter. Reservations are required to book one of the five virtual golf bays. Reservations are not needed for the adjacent dining room.
Inn and Craft Brewery
New Hampshire is blessed with a plethora of craft breweries that also offer great food. But not many can claim that they also provide exquisite lodging in the White Mountains. The Woodstock Inn Brewery in North Woodstock is a craft-beer lover’s dream, a casual outdoor dining venue, a mecca for live music, and a memorable space for wedding receptions and other events. This longtime favorite stop for New Hampshire residents and visitors has everything one envisions for a White Mountains destination — great beer and fabulous fare loaded with rustic charm.
Kids’ Cooking Classes
At the Culinary Playground in Derry, food is fun. And tasty. Since 2008, they’ve been teaching kids and grownups that cooking isn’t daunting, really taking that mission to heart with some tougher-than-average sounding classes. Here, kids can try their hands at making — from scratch — things like ravioli, pierogi, and even the notoriously fussy French macarons. Cooking projects are broken down into easily digestible steps, taught by instructors skilled in explaining them to kids on their level without talking down to them. There are options for kids ages 6 and older, the
dinner club for those over 8 (your kid will come home with dinner and dessert for four), teen bootcamp and more, plus classes for adults.
This year, the Seacoast Science Center is celebrating 30 years of educating Granite Staters about the Blue Ocean, and we want to celebrate alongside them. The heart of the Seacoast Science Center beats to spark curiosity, enhance understanding, and inspire the conservation of our Blue Planet, all of which are infused into their events, educational programs and workshops. Get up close and personal with the fascinating creatures that live just outside their doors in any of their exhibits, spend a day doing your own Odiorne State Park Adventure, or go on a guided wildlife kayak tour of Little Harbor and its estuarine waters.
Native American Celebration
Long before the first European settlers came to New Hampshire, the Granite State was home to several indigenous Native American tribes. One of the best ways to learn about New Hampshire’s Native American heritage and culture is to attend the Laconia Indian Historical Association Pow Wows in Sanbornton. Learners Weekend on July 30 and 31 features free admission and gives visitors the opportunity to visit with Native American New Hampshire residents and appreciate the intricate craft of bead making, dancing and drums. The state’s largest pow wow takes place on Labor Day weekend. Beginning on September 2, Sanbornton becomes the center of the New Hampshire Native American universe. Drums, dancers, flutists, storytelling, artisans, craftsmen, sweet treats and more will be featured at this three-day event. Reservations are required to book any available sites.
Quintessential Horseback Riding
Families who have always wanted to experience a trail ride on horseback in the Lakes Region cannot miss with High Meadows Farms in Wolfeboro. Riders of all levels, from toddlers to well-seasoned, are welcome to experience horseback riding. Owner and lead trainer Sue Ballantine and her staff pride themselves on giving every one of their visitors the outing they seek. Some of the most important members of their team are the four-legged steeds: Tinkerbell, Marshmallow, Harry Potter, Jelly Bean, Tarzan, et al. Trail rides are offered in summer and winter. The summer location provides spectacular views of the White Mountains and rolling grass pastures from the middle of June through Columbus Day weekend. The winter barn contains endless trails into the woods, past small streams, over bridges, and through acres of beautiful scenery. All trails are wide and well maintained and can be accessed throughout most of the year. Reservations are required. They also hold a horse show on the first Sunday in August that features all of Ballantine’s students. This event is open and free to the public.
Unique Boating Experience
When many people think about how they would like to spend a day out on the water, the Piscataqua docked at Portsmouth’s Prescott Park may not be the first option that comes to mind. But upon further review, this historic replica gundalow provides one of the most unique, enjoyable and educational ways to enjoy Portsmouth Harbor and the Piscataqua River. The 11/2-hour day cruises allow passengers to learn about the history of the Seacoast and includes sights such as the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard across the river in Kittery, Fort Constitution and Portsmouth Harbor Light in nearby New Castle, and the beautiful Portsmouth waterfront. The gundalow is a large-scale barge with one main sail that was extensively used to haul timber, granite blocks and other supplies from Portsmouth to several ports in the Great Bay Estuary communities of Dover, Durham, Exeter and South Berwick, Maine, via the Salmon Falls River.
The Piscataqua gundalow was constructed at Strawbery Banke by a legion of volunteers using the same materials and techniques employed by shipwrights more than three centuries ago. The Gundalow Company also offers evening sails that include live music and educational cruises for students and teachers.
Vintage Hotel Experience
With its Greek Revival architecture and commanding position on Main Street Littleton, the Thayer’s Inn just oozes authentic downtown hotel grandeur. Indeed, the hotel maintains a long history of hosting notable dignitaries, ranging from Presidents Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin Pierce, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush to celebrities like P.T. Barnum, arctic explorer Cdr. Robert E. Peary, movie star Bette Davis and author Michael Blake (“Dances with Wolves”). With a reputation for clean rooms and comforting hospitality in all the ways that matter, the hotel owners happily admit that “slanted doors and crooked floors add character to the building and is testament to its heritage and post-and-beam construction.”
Where Old Machines Enjoy New Life
Anyone who grew up playing pinball games in the 1970s and pre-internet video games, like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, in the 1980s probably wonders where all those games have gone. Look no further than the American Classic Arcade Museum in Laconia. Founder Gary Vincent has lovingly collected and restored 250 games that anyone can play. At the museum, located on the third floor of Funspot in the Weirs, Vincent says people can use Funspot game tokens to relive childhood and teen memories or discover what the world of gaming was like between the dawn of Pong and pinball games that sported themes from “Star Trek,” famous rock bands and classic TV shows. Some of Vincent’s personal favorites are Alpine Ski, Crazy Climber and Omega Race. Chances are you will rediscover a vintage video game or pinball game that will bring you back to a time before the world went online.
Readers’ Poll Winners
Bed and Breakfast
The Inn at Valley Farms
The Wingate Salon & Spa
The Inn at East Hill Farm
NH Sports Team
The New Hampshire Fisher Cats
Omni Mount Washington Resort
Summer Outdoor Attraction Overall
Canobie Lake Park
Summer Outdoor Attraction Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee Region
John Hay Estate at The Fells
Summer Outdoor Attraction Great North Woods
Bear Rock Adventures
Summer Outdoor Attraction Lakes Region
Squam Lakes Natural Science Center
Summer Outdoor Attraction Manchester Area
Mel’s Funway Park
Summer Outdoor Attraction Monadnock Region
The Inn at East Hill Farm
Summer Outdoor Attraction Seacoast Region
Summer Outdoor Attraction White Mountains Region