October 2020 Update - All is still relevant, restaurants are open with spaced tables and mask wearing upon entering and exiting.
September is the best month to vacation in New Hampshire. Peak summer season and the peak leaf-peeping season are when lots and lots of people, both tourists, and summer residents are flooding the state. September is sandwiched between those two seasons. Therefore, the main reason it is the best month for vacationing is that there are much, much, less people visiting the state. Less people equals more breathing room at attractions, on the beaches, and on hiking trails. Also, less (or no) waiting times for getting a table at restaurants. Weather is stellar in September. The average temps are in the mid to upper 70’s. The days are warm, sometimes hot. The nights cool down making it ideal for campfires, and sleeping with open windows for fresh air.
Lodging availability is abundant in September so that gives you the opportunity to choose a very popular lodging option and likely get a room or vacation rental of your choice. When choosing your lodging consider a vacation rental if you want a bit more living space, access to a kitchen, or if you like to travel with dogs.
As a suggestion, you can choose a lodging location in the Lakes Region if you’d like to explore a lot of the state but like the idea of not packing up every day or so. The Lakes Region, specifically Wolfeboro, is perfect central location because you can do day trips that are just over an hour in all directions. For example, an hour to the NH Seacoast, an hour to North Conway Village, an hour to the Tilton Outlets, an hour or so to Kennebunkport or Portland Maine, and an hour to drive around Lake Winnipesaukee.
As an example of what one of your vacation days in NH could look like here is a suggested itinerary for a day driving and exploring all the way around Lake Winnipesaukee:
Start in Alton Bay with breakfast at Old Bay Diner. There is no website for the diner. Bring cash. This is a busy little place. Before or after breakfast you can sit by the town docks and watch boats and birds.
After breakfast hike Mount Major
This is an incredibly popular hiking trail. Weekdays in September are ideal of experiencing this hike because you can actually have some room to breathe on the trail and you will get a parking spot in the lot instead of on busy RT 11.
Next up is a visit to Weirs Beach. So much to see and do at the Weirs. Depending on your style you may or may not like it. The scenery is beautiful from there. There is a nice town beach, train ride, and arcade games. You can get an ice cream and / or bring your beach chairs and sit for a while.
Continuing on, go to Meredith for lunch. The first recommendation is Church Landing. The rustic style decor of the Lakehouse overlooks Meredith Bay. The all wood bar faces the water and is a delightful spot to dine while looking directly out to the lake.
If you didn’t get an ice cream a the Weirs, you can get an ice cream in-town Meredith. You can enjoy waking through the downtown, or through the park at the lake’s edge. You could also pick up a picnic lunch and enjoy your meal at one of the many picnic tables in the park.
The next town is Center Harbor, which is at the northern most part of the lake. It doesn’t offer many scenic vistas or bustling tourist attractions. It is a quaint village setting.
Here is a village map (from 2017 – somethings have changed)
After you leave Center Harbor consider a stop at Moultonborough’s Old Country Store located right on RT 25. You could literally spend an hour or more in the store and the museum. There are many nooks and crannies in the store to explore.
Once you have had visual overload from the Country Store, take a visual break and head up to the Castle in the Clouds. You can walk in nature choosing from several trails. Some are easy, some are more challenging. Or if you love horses you can go for a ride or just visit them in the stables. You can have a cocktail at the Carriage House Restaurant out on the patio overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee.
Now that you have seen the lake from above it’s time to go back down the mountain and head over to Wolfeboro. This is where you can choose from many activities. Choose a museum, perhaps the NH Antique Boat Museum and a ride on their Millie B wooden boat.
After a boat ride, you an now settle in for the evening at your vacation rental and cook yourself a nice meal after you purchase farm fresh groceries from the Wolfeboro Co-Op or choose from one of many dining options from casual to a bit upscale.
You can then end your day with another ice cream from Bailey’s Bubble downtown. Sit and watch the moon rise over Wolfeboro Bay.
Whether you circle Lake Winnipesaukee all in one day or go to a different town over several days, you can see that New Hampshire has much to see and do. New Hampshire literally has it all: the lakes, the mountains, the ocean, country villages, and small cities. Come and enjoy it, especially in the September!