A tall stack of pancakes topped with sweet syrup coaxed from surrounding maples … A calorie-melting climb up America's most hiked mountain … A marketplace filled with New Hampshire–made keepsakes … A misunderstood president's hometown … A dash through the snow in a horse-drawn sleigh … A cottage on an organic farm when you're traveling with animal-loving kids … An antiques-filled 1800s farmhouse B&B when you've left them with the grandparents. New Hampshire’s Monadnock Region is your place to breathe deeply again.

Mount Monadnock isn't just reputedly the nation's most popular uphill hike; it's a gentle yet dramatic peak that has inspired poets to pick up their pens and artists to commit stirring images to canvas. And remember all those classic New England scenes you saw in books or on the Web that sparked your New Hampshire dreaming? They're all here—in 3D reality—as you meander through the 40 picturesque towns that encircle the Monadnock Region's conspicuous bump in the landscape.

The structures that New Hampshirites have built here complement Mother Nature's handiwork in this photogenic corner of the state. In Swanzey, four covered bridges span the Ashuelot River. In Hillsborough, five stone bridges defy time, their graceful arches—built without mortar—surviving thanks to our 19th-century stonecutters' precision. The fire tower atop Pitcher Mountain in Stoddard affords panoramic views. The easy hike up is even more fulfilling when wild raspberries and blueberries are ready for the picking—and they'll make a splendid dessert course for your picnic on the grounds of Edward MacDowell Dam in Peterborough. First, pop into the Peterboro Basket Co.'s factory outlet store to purchase a made–in–New Hampshire picnic basket, then order freshly prepared sandwiches at Aesop's Tables, and your al fresco afternoon meal is guaranteed bliss.

Don't overlook the Monadnock Region's sole town that technically qualifies for city status: Keene offers a lively vibe thanks to its population of students attending Keene State College. Downtown cafés and shops will tempt you to while away the hours, but don't miss popular Keene attractions like the on-campus Thorne–Sagendorph Art Gallery. Then bike to Stonewall Farm along the Cheshire Rail Trail, and you'll earn the farm-made cheese and ice cream you'll be helpless to resist.

The Monadnock Region also hosts some of New Hampshire's most colorful annual events. Rhododendron State Park in Fitzwilliam erupts in pink blooms in July, and the Hillsborough Balloon Festival and Fair colors the skies. In February, the Keene Ice and Snow Festival transforms the college town into a wonderland of sculptures.

Whenever you're ready for a breather, the Monadnock Region's attractions will entice you to climb out of your routine.