Lakes Region (New Hampshire)
The Lakes Region refers to an area in central New Hampshire in the United States of America. As implied by the name the region is home to numerous lakes, the largest of which, Lake Winnipesaukee, is the sixth largest natural lake in the USA.
- Center Harbor
- Orange - Home of Mt. Cardigan State Park.
- Weirs Beach
There are several lakes throughout the region. Some of the most noteworthy lakes are-
- Lake Winnipesaukee. The sixth largest natural lake in the United States, this lake has over 200 miles of shoreline and 274 islands.
- Lake Winnisquam.
- Squam Lake. Where the movie "On Golden Pond" was filmed.
- Ossipee Lake.
- Newfound Lake.
- Sunapee Lake.
English is by far the predominant language in the region, although it's not unlikely to hear tourists talking in various other languages. There are some New England expressions, such as Frappe (for milkshake) and you'll hear people say expressions such as "so doesn't she", when they really mean "so does she". Locals also say "New Hampsha". In regards to the sandwich name issue, it is called a "Grinder" in New England. "Can't get there from here" is also a popular phrase which is a common response when asking for directions because of the large lakes and mountains and lack of roads which traverse them.
Most tourists arrive by car via Interstate 93. Exits 20-24 serve the Lakes Region Area. From the east you can arrive via I-95 to Portsmouth, NH, and then take NH Rt 16 directly to NH Rt 11 and into the Alton Bay area where you can either take NH Rt 11 around the west side of the Lake or NH Rt 28 around the east side of the Lake.
The simplest way to get around the Lakes Region is by car as there is no real public transportation system. As a result, many towns experience traffic jams during peak tourist seasons, such as summer and fall weekends.
Boat is a very common mode of transportation, particularly on the larger lakes where it is possible to reach many towns via water. Many visitors bring their own boats or keep them year-round in the region, although it is possible to rent boats from the various marinas such as Thurston's Marina in Weirs Beach. In addition, Lake Winnipesaukee can be cruised via the Mount Washington, Doris E, which offer cuises predominantly run from Memorial Day to Labor Day. You can also catch a ride on the Sophie C, a US Mail Boat, as it delivers mail to the various islands.
The Mount Washington Boat offers scenic day and evening cruises from several ports around Lake Winnipesaukee. The main port is through Weirs Beach though stops in Meredith, Center Harbor, and Wolfboro happen on different days of the week (check the schedule online).
There is a dinner cruise available most nights during the summer. This is a sit down dinner with waiters and a menu. Dress is very casual with many guests wearing shorts and a polo shirt or business casual clothing.
Some cruises at night feature special menus. If at all possible, reserve for the later cruise which features the sunset over the lake. Be aware that the weather gets chilly and make sure you pack a sweater.
For a more relaxing time consider the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad which leaves from either Meredith or Weirs Beach on one or two hours tours. Most travelers take the two hour route which consists of a round trip from their boarding station to the end of the line in both directions. The train travels from Meredit to Weirs Beach (30 minutes) on down to Paugus Bay (30 minutes) and then reverses directions for a total round trip time of 2 hours.
There is a Hobo Railroad which is essentially the Winnipesaukee Railroad with an additional fee to ride it during the lunch time. You may purchase a box lunch which consists of sandwiches and a dessert.
If rain is in the forecast during your vacation, you may want to travel north on I93 to the COG Railroad which takes you on a 2+ hour round trip up Mount Washington. The fare for this is expensive (presently $57 for adults and $37 for kids 4 - 12). The trip is a great way to experience the summit of Mount Washington. Be aware that it will be cold when you get to the top - so bring a sweater. Many days on the summit also feature very limited visibility - so check the weather first if an unobstructed summit view of the surrounding area is important to you.
There are numerous restaurants throughout the Lakes Region providing food for all nationalities and tastes.Some restaurants are seasonal, so it may be a wise idea to call ahead.
Lake Winnipesaukee is a big lake. The weather can change quickly and become dangerous. There are boats on the lake that make large wake and also speed boats. A trial of a 45 mph(day)/25 mph(night) speed limit on Lake Winnipesaukee went into Jan 1st 2009 and will last two years. There is a 150-foot separation rule, from boats or the shoreline when going above wake speed. Weekends are the most crowded, and during the week or off-season, the lake is almost empty of boat traffic. If you boat on the lake, you must have a map. There are many rocks close to the surface, and the navigation buoys are not easy to understand unless you are using a chart. Squam lake is similar, in that it is hard to navigate without a chart. Squam has a speed limit of 45, and much less boat traffic, so you may feel safer on that lake. There is very little violent crime in the lakes region, but some people are uncomfortable being around motorcycle bikers during "bike week" in June. 99.99% of these guys are the friendliest people on Earth. Loud parties at night is the most frequent "crime" during the summer months.