Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee

A mountain-view estate graced with works by one of America's most celebrated sculptors … A lake-view estate enlivened by fairy houses children build with nature's wonders … A cut-your-own-flowers farm … A sleboganning park … A mineral-filled mine where treasure is yours for the digging … A boutique hotel on an Ivy League campus when your getaway calls for sublime dining … A rustic rental cabin on the shores of a pristine lake, when the world doesn't need to know your whereabouts. The Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee Region is a place to unwind and to make rare finds.

Since 1769, bright minds have ventured to this rural New Hampshire region to seek higher education at Dartmouth, the tiniest Ivy. And since 1871, when the first train reached Lake Sunapee, tourists have sought refuge from city life in and on the sparkling waters of this narrow mountain lake.

Skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, picnicking, hiking, biking, fishing, boating, swimming: The Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee Region is a one-stop, four-season vacationland for travelers who consider outdoor recreation integral to their time off. Even antiquing is an action sport here: You could spend hours exploring Prospect Hill Antiques in the village of Georges Mills. This three-story horse barn–turned–showroom for one-of-a-kind furnishings and collectibles is a must—even if you're merely curious.

Artists have always felt at home in these glorious environs. When sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens relocated to Cornish in the late 19th century, an entire colony of artists followed. New Hampshire's only national park  preserves his home and studio, surrounded by casts of his landmark works. Bring a sketchbook, an easel, or a camera to capture Saint-Gaudens' view of Mount Ascutney. You'll also want to draw, paint, or shoot America's second-longest wooden covered bridge: the Cornish-Windsor Bridge, spanning the Connecticut River and linking New Hampshire with our Vermont neighbors.

Artistic inspiration also awaits at the nation's oldest annual craft festival; the League of NH Craftsmen's Fair runs for nine days each August at Mount Sunapee Resort. Permanent and changing exhibitions at the Hood Museum of Art on Dartmouth's historic Hanover campus will spark your imagination, too. With all the energy and intellectual flair of a distinguished college town, Hanover is the regional hub for dining, shopping, and cultural events.

Perhaps you'll take in a show at the Hopkins Center for the Arts. Or maybe you'll retire early to a cute cottage on Lake Sunapee, with a growler of Farnum Hill’s strictly-for-adults cider. Or, if you’re in the mood for outdoor adventure, hike to the summit of Mount Kearsarge from the trailhead in Rollins State Park. In this New Hampshire hideaway, you're free to make your own rules.