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Home Travel These Towns In New Hampshire Come Alive In Spring

These Towns In New Hampshire Come Alive In Spring

by Staff

Visiting New Hampshire in spring is like stepping into a watercolor painting. Heritage houses peek out from lush foothills, backdropped by snow-capped mountains, while tulips and lupines blossom in the foreground. As you can imagine, these views cannot be found in congested cities. Rather, they are reserved for rural retreats and shared by tourists who also come for the quaint shops, soulful restaurants, and sprightly spring festivals. Discover places that come alive in spring and trace New Hampshire’s canvas.

Sugar Hill

Drone shot of St Matthew’s Church in Sugar Hill, New Hampshire.

Sugar Hill is as sweet as it sounds. This tiny town turns pink, blue, and purple each spring via countless blooming lupines that are a colorful apéritif for White Mountaineers. Many of these flowers sprout along Sugar Hill Road, which becomes packed with cars in early June as people pine for lupines. But lupine-looking is, for many of those tourists, packaged not just with White Mountain panoramas but pancakes. Flanking the fields are Polly’s Pancake Parlor and Sugar Hill Inn, the latter of which can help tourists sleep off their literal and figurative sugar high.

Sugar Hill’s lupines are so popular they inspired their own festival, Sugar Hill Lupine Festival And Market, which involves tours of flowers in the field and vendors in town. We have not seen any new announcements, so whether there will be a 2024 festival remains up in the fresh mountain air.

Merrimack

A beautiful church building in Merrimack, New Hampshire
A beautiful church building in Merrimack, New Hampshire. Image credit: Ken Gallger via Wikimedia.com.

Home to over 26,000 people, Merrimack is a massive New Hampshire town with a surprising amount of green space. This comprises Wasserman Park, a 46-acre recreation area for swimming, fishing, picnicking, dog running, volleyball, basketball, and baseball; Horse Hill Nature Preserve, a haven for wildlife and wildflowers spanning 563 acres; and Wildcat Falls Conservation Area, whose namesake falls forcefully and beautifully usher in spring.

But arguably, the best way to usher in spring is at the NH Bacon & Beer Festival. Set to occur on June 1 in its eighth year, B&B is hosted by Merrimack’s Anheuser-Busch Brewery and features 200 samples of beer, bacon, and BBQ. The festival also has live music courtesy of Nashua-based The Slakas. Proceeds go to the High Hopes Foundation, which provides life-enhancing support and equipment to children with chronic health conditions.

Meredith

Aerial view of Meredith, New Hampshire.
Aerial view of Meredith, New Hampshire.

A Lakes Region staple straddled by Lake Winnipesaukee and Lake Waukewan, Meredith attracts throngs of tourists in the summer. They come not only for refreshing aquatic plunges but plunges into downtown haunts like Twin Barns Brewing Company, Innisfree Bookshop, and BarnZ’s Meredith Cinema. Such sites do not open only for summer months; they are available for spring breakers wanting a milder Meredith. In addition to fantastic scenery and shopping, spring vacationers can look forward to Meredith’s Memorial Day Weekend Craft Festival, a three-day fair that has been running for more than 30 years.

This year’s festival, set for May 25 to 27 at Mill Falls Marketplace, is expected to have over 85 craftspeople and artisans from across New England. Mill Falls Marketplace is an entertainment hub even outside of Memorial Day Weekend. Along with shops and eateries, Mill Falls contains the EKAL Activity Center, which hosts a slew of spring activities. These include but are not limited to biking, hiking, kayaking, paddleboarding, yoga paddleboarding, and trail walking.

Hancock

Beautiful scenes from Hancock, New Hampshire
A church building in Hancock, New Hampshire.

Although the rest of New Hampshire is a metaphorical painting, Hancock is depicted in an actual oil painting: 1926’s A Snowy Monday by Lilla Cabot Perry. Equally scenic when the snow melts, this 1,700ish-person town has buildings from the 1700s, such as the Hancock Inn (allegedly) and the Rev. Paige House, which are part of a district designated a National Historic Place in 1988. Historic Hancock abuts Norway Pond, a point of interest for the Harris Center for Conservation Education. Beyond its own nature preserve, the Harris Center oversees much of the wilderness in the Monadnock Region and hosts more than 100 events, including dozens of field trips. Coming up are the Spring Tree Identification Walk on March 20, Owl Prowl for Families on March 22, and the 40th Annual Connecticut River Waterfowl Safari on March 24.

Perhaps the Harris Center’s most noble and exciting activity is the shepherding of amphibians as they migrate to spring breeding pools. These “Salamander Crossing Brigades” are composed of nature-loving volunteers and have saved over 75,000 salamanders, toads, and frogs from becoming roadkill. You can follow the frogs to Hancock’s seasonal apex: TulipFête, an early to mid-May celebration of tulips held at The Farm at Wolf Pine Hollow. Some 300,000 of the flowers are expected to be in bloom.

Jackson

The Wentworth Inn, Jackson, New Hampshire
The Wentworth Inn, Jackson, New Hampshire. Image credit: Mike Freedman via Flickr.com.

Another kind of animal migrates through New Hampshire’s woods each spring, only it is a bird and made of plastic. Instead of using real ducks, Jackson, a tiny town in the White Mountain National Forest, sends thousands of rubber duckies down Jackson Falls for the Wildquack Duck Race & Music Festival. Scheduled for Sunday, May 26, in its 34th year, the festival consists of the duck race, live music, kids’ games, food and drink vendors, a parade, and an auction. Prizes have included merchandise for Flossie’s General Store, passes for Wentworth Golf Club, gift certificates to Red Fox Bar and Grille, and nights at The Inn at Thorn Hill. If lucky, the Wildquack Duck Race & Music Festival will be just the beginning of a spring break in Jackson.

Plainfield

Blow-Me-Down Covered Bridge - Plainfield, New Hampshire
Blow-Me-Down Covered Bridge in Plainfield, New Hampshire. Image credit: Doug Kerr via Flickr.com.

Considered the Super Bowl for maple producers, Maple Weekend is a New Hampshire tradition held in the Maple Month of March. During that time, rural sugarhouses open their doors and taps to the public, who learn the maple sugaring process, sample syrup and other maple treats like maple barbecue sauce and maple mustard, and enjoy live maple-themed entertainment. Josh Bouchard of the Spring Harvest Maple Farm in Barrington estimated that Maple Weekend events make up 30 to 40 percent of his annual income. Over in Plainfield, Mac’s Maple does not just do Maple Weekend; it does Maple Weekends.

This year, Mac’s festivities span Saturday and Sunday, March 16 and 17, and Saturday and Sunday, March 23 and 24. Naturally, Plainfield’s maple trees grow in a scenic slice of New Hampshire forest, which contains attractions like the almost 150-year-old Meriden Covered Bridge and the legendary Connecticut River.

We hope you enjoyed this impressionistic stroll through springtime New Hampshire. Now it is time to do the real thing as spring arrives and the state comes alive with flowers, fairs, frogs, festivals, and flavorful maple treats. Start in reverse order at Plainfield to catch March’s Maple Weekends and end in Sugar Hill to watch lupines bloom in June. Let Merrimack, Meredith, Hancock, and Jackson fill in your NH spring vacation.

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