When farmers and artisans convene on town greens, in country parks, on church lawns or at a historic train depot or fire station, it's not just an opportunity to shop for local products. It's a social event. New Hampshire has dozens of farmers' markets, where live music and lively chatter about growing and cooking are part of the experience. Shop for gourmet delights and fresh-picked fruits and vegetables, sample baked goods, select one-of-a-kind souvenirs: A farmers' market will entertain your entire family.
In the colder months, Winter Farmers' Markets throughout the state keep fresh food on plates and continue the weekly ritual of celebrating abundance and local flavor.
Make a trip to a New Hampshire agricultural fair a family tradition. Each year, rural communities host multi-day, event-filled fairs with enticements for all ages... and once a year food that's worth the wait. Children love the games and rides, of course, but they're also big fans of the animals. Learning about livestock and the land is a fun way to reawaken their brains at the start of a new school year.
Agricultural fairs large and small, like the state fair in Hopkinton and New England's oldest family fair in Deerfield, are held almost every weekend from mid-July through mid-October. And there's not much that tops the old-fashioned excitement of a demolition derby or a women's skillet toss.
Can anything tastes better or linger in memory more than fruits you handpick yourself. It takes patience and diligence to gather crops like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and cherries. It's an exercise your offspring will recall next time they spy their favorite fruits in the supermarket.
As summer yields to fall, New Hampshire's orchards bear peaches, apples and pears, and picking your own bushel or peck is an invigorating way to spend an hour or more. Pack a picnic to enjoy in the shade of a gnarly, fruit-laden tree when your labors are done. Many farms in the NH Fruit Growers' pick-your-own guide offer add-on activities like pumpkin picking and hayrides.
At The Fells Historic Estate & Gardens on Lake Sunapee, families who walk the Wildflower Loop encounter a wondrous Fairy Village, where children can construct petite residences for forest sprites. Each of New Hampshire's more than 100 public gardens and nurseries holds similar surprises. Perhaps you'll stumble upon a performance or a plein air painter... discover new plants perfect for your home's environs... or learn cultivation tips from a gardening pro.
These maps will guide you to the most beautiful gardens to roam and helpful gardening resources region-by-region:
When seafood is boat fresh, greens are still dewy from the fields, eggs are plucked from cage-free family farms, syrup is tapped from local maples, and yogurt and cheese are farm-made with artisan attention to detail, you can anticipate a memorable meal. New Hampshire chefs embrace the farm-to-restaurant philosophy, and “eating local” is what we do.
New Hampshire’s Certified Local program highlights restaurants that are committed to supporting local agriculture so you can enjoy the freshest seasonal ingredients from New Hampshire farmers and food producers. The New York Times calls Cotton in Manchester a "can't miss" experience with a menu tied to the bounty of local farms. In the White Mountains, Margarita Grill’s Southwest-inspired dishes feature the freshest ingredients. Groups trust Courtyard Marriott Grappone Conference Center’s culinary team to customize menus that emphasize local cuisine.
In 1982, ER doctor Peter Oldak planted a half-dozen grapevines and launched an agricultural industry that now lures wine lovers to New Hampshire's countryside. His Jewell Towne Vineyards remains one of the "must" stops on our Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Trails, which showcase beautiful vineyards, rustic farms and sweet pastures. These ready-made itineraries allow you to meet fruit growers and winemakers who have proven New Hampshire can cultivate the grapes needed to formulate exceptional wines.
Along the way, you'll discover New Hampshire also has stellar producers of alcoholic ciders and honey wines. Raise a glass to summer at Moonlight Meadery, where honey meads are named to suit every mood from Dreamy to Frisky.
At Robie Farm beside the Connecticut River, sixth-generation dairyman Mark Robie meticulously selects raw cow's milk for his soft cheeses cave-aged on ash planks. Follow the river south, and you'll discover another mid-seventeenth-century dairy that is pinning its future on cheese. Boggy Meadow Farm specializes in Alpine styles like Baby Swiss.
New Hampshire's Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Trails showcase nearly a dozen artisan cheese makers producing Toma, Swaledale, Jersey Jack, Brie, Gruyere... even award-winning Robiola-style goat cheese and fresh goat feta from pasture-raised dairy goats' milk. A visit to a creamery will inspire you if you're a serious cook or even if cheese is simply your favorite snack.