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Meredith, N.H.: A Beloved Lake and Mountain Vacation Town on Lake Winnipesaukee

Meredith NH in the winter

A walk along Lake Winnipesaukee in Meredith.

by Eric Hurwitz. Article updated on 11/20/16

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Meredith remains, after many years -- and perhaps forever -- at the forefront of our wonderful New Hampshire travel and vacation memories as the nicest New Hampshire lake and mountain town.

Meredith offers classic New Hampshire lake appeal, with the fortune of being beautifully situated on the western shores of Lake Winnepeusakee in the popular Lakes Region. Despite busy Route 3 dividing the lake and the unpretentious, small business district, Meredith feels like the epitome of a small town once you experience either side of the highway. The lake has so many negative ions (that great smell by a body of water or after a thunderstorm) that you'll laugh yourself silly the next time one of those television ads promotes air purifers with "mountain fresh air." The smell of the water and air in Meredith have a true mountain feel, which leaves you no choice but to relax.

Meredith is truly a place for walking, boating, shopping and dining. The myriad paths along the lake are so pleasant that it's easy to forget about Route 3. The small-town scenery, the not-too-distant mountains and wide body of water make boating a summertime joy for many vacationers looking to find the perfect spot at well-known Lake Winnepeusakee. Shopping begins across the street from the lake at the
Mills Falls Marketplace, offering its own shopping, lodging and dining identity instead of being just another generic, unctuous tourist destination.

Mills Falls Marketplace, Meredith NH
Mills Falls Inn connects to the Mills Falls Marketplace in Meredith

Here's the scene at the Mills Falls Marketplace: several shops and restaurants, brick walkways and flowers gardens, a 40 ft. waterfall and great views of Lake Winnepesaukee. What could have been another low moment in the trend of commercial developers creating shopping destinations as  sterile as possible happily bucks the trend by offering something you will experience nowhere else. Nothing smug and pretentious exists here,  just a lot of rustic New Hampshire charm and the spirit of small, local business owners making things so warm, interesting and inviting.

Given the heartwarming appeal of Mills Falls Marketplace, you'd never know that this former linen mill
Inn at Mills Falls  waterfall, and Giuseppe's restaurant that dates back to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution was sadly deteriorating in the early 1980s. Too bad back then for Meredith, one of New England's great lake vacation towns.

Happily, the Marketplace's 1984 opening instantly brought back tremendous energy to Meredith's downtown district no matter what time of the year. The summer is wonderful for its walker friendly environs and outdoor dining, fall as a complement to Meredith's wonderful foliage, and winter as a place to Christmas shop and get cozy within a warm building that features some very nice shops. For those that want to stay over, the Inn at Mill Falls is connected to the building and features many amenities like an indoor pool and free WiFi. Within walking distance is the waterfront Chase House with 23 rooms, Camp restaurant (nostalgic feel, lighter fare) Lady of the Lake women's clothing store. Church Landing at Mills Falls, a few minute's walk from Mills Falls Marketplace, features 59 rooms and suites, a ballroom, the Cascade Spa and casually upscale Lake House Bar and Grille restaurant. The Baypoint at Mills Falls offers additional lodging with 24 more rooms and Lago Costa Cucina Italian restaurant.

Clothing, jewelry and gifts comprise the majority of shopping at Mills Falls Marketplace, but I prefer to start at Lee's Candy with the largest candy bar in the Lakes Region with  125 jars of Gummies, Sours and novelties, homemade fudge, fine chocolates, hand made truffles, maple products, gift baskets and gourmet food products. It's hard to know where to start here!

The Country Carriage sells country gifts and decorative accessories, while Cozy Cabin Rustics features rustic and handcrafted furniture. Great Northern Trading Company has a nice mix of casual clothing, home decor items and a Christmas Corner. The Guest House, a Creative Studio is a jewelry and beading studio American handcrafted gifts in the theme at Oglethorpe Fine Arts and Crafts. Unique jewelry, accessories and apparel can be found at Adornment and Creative Clothing Company. The Innisfree Bookshop is perhaps my second favorite shop here, as the spirit of a darn good independent bookstore shines in an inviting, cozy setting.

Other Mills Falls Marketplace restaurants include  Giuseppe's Pizzeria and Ristorante specializing in Italian cuisine, pizza and entertainment, and The Waterfall Cafe offering breakfast and lunch in a cozy cafe and porch overlooking the waterfall and Lake Winnepesaukee. For ice cream lovers, Ben and Jerry's has a storefront here!

At the "gateway" to Meredith is Hart's Turkey Farm, a favorite amongst virtually everyone, but with a special appeal to an older crowd. Hart's has been around since 1954 and has never let its quality slip, according to many New Englanders. To no one's surprise the specialty of the house is turkey and it's very tasty. Hart's claims that on a busy day they serve over one ton of turkey; 40 gallons of gravy; 1,000 pounds of fresh potatoes; 4,000 dinner rolls and over 100 pies. We might have filled the turkey and pie quota all by ourselves the last time we ate at this legendary restaurant.

Meredith is ideal to visit any time of the year. The summer is an obvious choice with its lakeside opportunities and nearby Weirs Beach for sunning, swimming and amusements. Falls brings about spectacular foliage scenery. The winter is a fine time to visit, too, as it is close to the White Mountain National Forest with its excellent skiing offerings, particularly Waterville Valley. Spring is a bit muddy, but more quiet than the summer and with a chance to walk the lake on warm days.

Don't go to Meredith expecting great things. Meredith doesn't ask a lot of its tourists and those visitors shouldn't ask too much of a small town -- just let those great things happen naturally once you arrive. It's all part of the plan to relax and unwind in one of New Hampsire's great lakeside towns.

View of Lake Winnipesaukee from downtown Meredith NH

Lake views from high above in downtown Meredith.

Book a room in Meredith and get a great rate

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