The Upper Valley – A Well Kept Secret
Before my wife got a job offer from Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, we had never set foot in the upper valley region of New Hampshire and Vermont. During our days living in the Boston area, New Hampshire was always our getaway weekend destination. When we live in Lowell for a while, Nashua, New Hampshire was our tax free shopping destination. Later I worked for a company based in Peterborough, New Hampshire and we always enjoyed The White Mountains region and even owned a weekend place in North Conway for a number of years.
But for some reason the closest we came to the Upper Valley was skiing one weekend at a friend’s parents house in Okemo. That is until we moved from Mount Desert Island to Hanover, New Hampshire.
What a wonderful almost secret spot the Upper Valley region is to explore. Its not a single thing about this region that scream out “attraction” but rather a collection of smaller things that add up to a great way of life. Its swimming holes and farmers markets. Its top medical and educational facilities and small town living. Its cows and bikes and skiing and local food. Its apple picking, fresh milk, museums, craft beer and festivals.
The Upper Valley – A Center for the Arts
When you start adding up the areas attractions you’ll see its not just one single thing but a collection of smaller things that create the Upper Valley experience. For example take art and museums – there is no MoMA here but we have:
- Montshire Museum of Science – which is loved by children of all ages. http://www.montshire.org/
- The Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth which is currently expanding in downtown Hanover (free by the way) http://hoodmuseum.dartmouth.edu/
- American Precision Museum in Windsor, VT which celebrates the manufacturing past of the Connecticut river towns with working displays of products and machinery from the era of precision manufacturing.
- Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site – in Cornish, New Hampshire, USA, preserves the home, gardens, and studios of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, one of America’s foremost sculptors. https://www.nps.gov/saga/index.htm
- AVA Galley in Lebanon, NH for art shows and classes. http://avagallery.org/
- VERMONT INSTITUTE OF NATURAL SCIENCE – VINS offers courses, camps, workshops and activities year-round. Their summer camps are offered at their facility in Quechee, VT, as well as at other locations, such as Hanover, NH and Woodstock, VT. www.vinsweb.org
- Plus more local galleries, at shows and festivals through out the year. This area even has a Cartoon College in White River Junction – http://www.cartoonstudies.org/index.php/tag/cartoon-college/
- Plus plus is the amazing range of performing arts in the area from the Northern Stage in White River Junction to shows and films shows at Dartmouth’s Hopkins Center for the Arts or HOP – https://hop.dartmouth.edu/Online/default.asp to shows at the Lebanon Opera House http://lebanonoperahouse.org/ as well as other smaller more intimate venues around the region.
The Upper Valley is a Foodie’s Paradise
The Upper Valley region is a foodie’s paradise with so much quality local, artisan, fantastic food products to work with, local restaurants incorporate local ingredients and the freshest produce. We have a plethora of craft brewers in the region as well as to larger craft breweries – Harpoon in Windsor and Long Trail in Bridgewater Corners, VT. Both have tours and a pub for lunch.
Downtown Hanover with its population of hungry college students from around the world serves up a eclectic mix of traditional and ethnic restaurants. You can get just about anything from Mexican (Boloco or Margarita’s on the outskirts of town), to steaks (Jesse’s) to Napalese (Base Camp) to crepes at the just opened Skinny Pancake, plus sushi, Asian, Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Indian food as well as fine dining and gastropub fare such as at Murphy’s On the Green or Irish pub far at The Salt Hill Pub or eclectic salads, fire oven pizza and burgers at perennial favorite Molly’s.
There are plenty of great dining spots outside of Hanover, include Carpenter & Maine in Norwich, VT which is just over the Connecticut River from Hanover. Worthy Kitchen in Woodstock, VT serves up some of the most amazing burgers and craft beers in the world. And for that special night out destination dining experience there is the Woodstock Inn and Simon Pearce in the Woodstock area.
If the arts and fine dining haven’t worn you out yet there is always the opportunities to take in some exercise. You can bike around the country lanes, hike the local mountains, ski at Killington, Suicide Six, Dartmouth Skiway, Sunapee Mountain or cross country ski at any of the several local cross country or Nordic ski centers. There is even a skating rink in Hanover as well as golf and tennis through out the region. You can also canoe or kayak on the Connecticut river or in the many ponds and lakes in the region.
Explorers will want to find all of the historic covered bridges that dot the area as well as take in the relaxing rural, country agricultural areas around the Upper Valley. Stop in at a local farmers market or buy eggs or fresh milk direct from the farmers in the region.
In Woodstock you can visit the Billings Farm, Explore one of the finest operating dairy farms in America and a museum of Vermont’s rural past – your gateway to Vermont’s rural heritage. Billings Farm features many aspects of farm work, including care of the Jersey cows and other livestock, milking of the herd, crop rotation, and feed production.
While you are there you can also visit the Marsh-Billings-Rockerfeller Natural Historic Park in Woodstock complete with mansion tour and trails to explore.
Whew! There is so much to see and do in the Upper Valley region of New Hampshire and Vermont. Its a wonder we never found our way here before now.
About The Upper Connecticut River: New Hampshire and Vermont
The Connecticut River rises from the Fourth Connecticut Lake, a small pond that sits 300 yards (270 m) south of the U.S. national border with Chartierville, Quebec, Canada, in the town of Pittsburg, New Hampshire, United States. Beginning at an elevation of 2,670 feet (810 m) above sea level, the Connecticut River flows through the remaining Connecticut Lakes and Lake Francis – for 14-mile (23 km), all within the town of Pittsburg – and then widens as it delineates 255-mile (410 km) of the border between New Hampshire and Vermont. The Connecticut drops more than 2,480 feet (760 m) in elevation as it winds south to the border of Massachusetts, at which point it sits 190 feet (58 m) above sea level.
The region along the river upstream and downstream from Lebanon, New Hampshire and White River Junction, Vermont, is known locally as the “Upper Valley”. The exact definition of the region varies, but it generally is considered to extend south to Windsor, Vermont, and Cornish, New Hampshire, and north to Bradford, Vermont, and Piermont, New Hampshire.