State of New Hampshire
Residents of New Hampshire often refer to one of the state’s seven geographic regions when describing where they live. From the Great North Woods to the Lakes Region and Seacoast, New Hampshire provides a variety of year-round activities to enjoy like snowmobiling, boating and hiking. Portsmouth and Concord are among the best places to live in New Hampshire. There is no general sales tax or personal income tax in New Hampshire, which attracts many tourists, residents and businesses.New Hampshire is the 42nd populous state in the U.S. The largest cities in New Hampshire are Manchester, Nashua and Concord. The median income for New Hampshire is $64,925, which is 79% higher than the national median income. The median home price in New Hampshire is $245,600. The highest-priced homes are typically found in Seabrook Beach, Hanover and New London. The lowest-priced homes are in Groveton, Berlin and Colebrook.
Median Household Income$64,925
Median Home Price$245,600
The small city of Lebanon, N.H., features big attractions and many things to do, especially since the Mascoma River flows through the downtown district to provide multiple recreational opportunities. The large assortment of things to do in Lebanon helped the city earn the top spot on our list of the Top 100 Best Small Towns. Here are six things to do in Lebanon: Take a Hike Find your hiking boots, grab a bottled water and head to the Northern Rail Trail of New Hampshire, a well-maintained and marked pathway that begins in Lebanon and ends in Boscawen, N.H. The 60-mile former railroad line is paved for hikers and bikers, and it’s also a favorite with snowmobilers in the winter. Rivers, lakes and excellent photo opportunities are all along the way. White Mountain National Forest, just a short drive north from Lebanon, offers many seasonal hiking options, including the Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves. Relish the Flavor Bring a good appetite to any of the excellent independent restaurants that operate in Lebanon. Among popular eateries are Yama Restaurant, where the service is great and the food choices include sushi, kimchi, bimibab and eel. 4 Ace’s Diner serves selections like piping-hot Florentine eggs Benedict, homemade raisin bread toast and red-flannel corn beef hash with beets, while popular restaurant Lui Lui prepares Italian food at its best, with menu items like lobster-stuffed ravioli and wood-fired pizzas. Margaritias Mexican Restaurant is highly rated by locals as well. See the Big Picture Spend a few hours at the AVA (Alliance for the Visual Arts) Gallery and Art Center, which plays an important role in Lebanon’s overall quality of life. Housed downtown just off Colburn Park in a former clothing factory, the 41,000-square-foot facility underwent a recent renovation and is worth a visit just to see the refurbished building. Inside, the art gallery often changes its permanent and traveling exhibits, and schedules numerous art studio classes for adults and kids. Hit the Slopes Buy or rent snow skis and get to Storrs Hill Ski Area, only a mile from downtown Lebanon. The ski area offers downhill skiing and operates a snowboard park along with the area’s only ski jumps. Other convenient winter recreation spots near Lebanon are Whaleback Ski Area located five minutes to the south on Interstate 89, and Dartmouth Skiway just 20 minutes to the north in Lyme. Catch Their Acts Treat yourself to an evening of musical entertainment by attending a performance at Lebanon Opera House, a small and quaint theater known for its quality acoustics and comfortable seating. Excellent sight lines are available to patrons seated on the main floor and mezzanine level, and shows range from operas to Broadway musicals to rock concerts. Meanwhile, music fans in Lebanon can also attend summer concerts and live entertainment festivals in Colburn Park as well as nightspots like Salt Hill Pub that hosts bands. Float Your Boat Go whitewater rafting or kayaking in the Mascoma River, which features a section of class V rapids that will test even the most experienced paddlers. Enjoy further water recreation activities along the larger Connecticut River and Mascoma Lake. The banks of the Connecticut have several spots to launch a canoe or boat, and the river shoreline also features other adventure options such as challenging hiking trails.
“Close your eyes and picture a New England town green.” That’s how Lebanon’s Recreation Director Paul Coats began a virtual tour of his town, which tops Livability’s inaugural Top 100 Best Small Towns ranking. The city was also one of our Top 10 Small Towns in 2014. There are thousands and thousands of small towns throughout the U.S. Many would argue that while our metropolises are the economic heart of our nation, our small towns are where you find our soul. Livability’s editors have traveled many a blue highway and kicked up a lot of dust in our rental cars headed on letter-named county roads with paper maps to backup our GPS units. We’ve walked into many a diner where we were clearly a stranger as we entered, but left with new friends and promises to visit again. But we can’t visit them all. We take a data-driven approach to find great places, and when our algorithms pop places like Lebanon to the top of a list, we know we’ve done our work well. Lebanon, NH City Hall photo by Ellentk via Flickr As Coats paints the picture for us, it’s easy to imagine the families picnicking and children dancing around the bandstand during one of many free concerts on the green. City Hall shares a building with the Opera House at one end of the green. Restaurants like Salt Hill Pub and Three Tomatoes line another side. Neighborhoods surround this district providing walkable access to this town's center. And just a couple of blocks away, residents can ski at Storrs Hill. “Winters are tough up here,” Coats says, “but I think most people embrace it.” The skiing and snowshoeing in town are just part of the draw. The mix of mountains, rivers, biking and hiking trails in this four-season climate mean that there are always seasonal opportunities to take advantage of the spectacular natural amenities. Lebanon is more than just a pretty place to visit. The city is a cultural and business hub as well. This discussion starts with its proximity to Dartmouth College. Having an Ivy League school in neighboring Hanover means there’s a constant influx of young adults and cultural draws for the region. Alongside that comes the economic stability of having solid institutions like Lebanon’s Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, the area’s largest employer. Not many other cities this size can boast a diversified economy with a range of headquarters in everything from aerospace to biotech to ski equipment. All of this in an area with few fences, engaged residents who volunteer within their community, a highly-rated school system, good wages, low unemployment and the small-town, everybody-knows-your-name vibe that many crave. Small towns aren’t for everyone, but if you’re looking for somewhere to escape from big-city life, Lebanon is a great place to start your search.
If the outdoors is your thing, you've come to the right place. The Lakes Region's economy is anchored in tourism with boating, fishing and swimming during warm weather months, plus skiing, snowmobiling and ice fishing in the winter. “You can't drive two minutes without running into a body of water in the Lakes Region,” says Carmen Lorentz, executive director of the Belknap Economic Development Council. “There are year-round attractions that make outdoor recreation a big part of life around here.” While adventure opportunities result in tourism being a major industry in the Lakes Region, the overall economy is much more diverse. For example, the health care industry is also a top employer that offers quality jobs to residents. “LRGHealthcare runs the two hospitals in our area – Lakes Region General Hospital and Franklin Regional Hospital – plus has many clinics and physical rehabilitation facilities. So with 1,200 employees, LRGHealthcare is the largest employer in the region,” Lorentz says. “There is an older population in the Lakes Region, so health care is a vital industry today and for years to come.” Also Impacting the Economy In addition, the local economy features numerous small businesses that include coffee shops, campgrounds, car dealerships, art galleries and golf courses. Meanwhile, local governments and public school districts also provide many jobs, while other schools with significant employment numbers include Lakes Region Community College, New Hampton School and Plymouth State University. Advanced manufacturing remains a critical industry throughout the region, accounting for more than 10 percent of jobs. “Manufacturing jobs are some of the best-paying in the area, with many local companies specializing in components for defense, aerospace or the medical industry,” Lorentz says. “The manufacturing sector in the Lakes Region certainly offers solid professional employment options and advancement opportunities.” Discover more great businesses near Laconia, NH.
Manufacturing remains the No. 1 economic industry in New Hampshire, with workers earning an average annual salary of $75,000 a year. The Lakes Region, often thought of as a tourism destination, has a surprising level of high-tech manufacturing. “Several area manufacturers make products for the aerospace, defense and/or medical industries,” says Carmen Lorentz, Belknap Economic Development Council executive director. “The jobs are highly technical and computer-based, and such jobs aren't going to be outsourced to other countries. The advanced manufacturing we have is not going anywhere.” So how is today's manufacturing industry distancing itself from the long-standing stereotype of unsophisticated, dirty factory jobs? And how can the industry attract more students to present and future careers in manufacturing? Huot Technical Center on the campus of Laconia High School is doing its part, offering students 12 curriculums that include an advanced manufacturing/engineering technology program. “Our curriculums are available to students in grades 9-12 who attend Laconia and five other high schools in the region, with interested students bused to Laconia High for 90-minute technical course blocks during every school day,” says Scott Davis, Huot Technical Center director. “Early in the advanced manufacturing curriculum, we take students on field trips to local industries to show how clean and high-tech the companies are, and the wide variety of interesting career opportunities they offer.” High-Tech Equipment Huot Technical Center recently underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation that included the installation of new equipment purchased and donated by local manufacturers. “We now have top computer lab equipment, a 3D prototype printer, and high-tech mills and lathes,” Davis says. “Students are learning all aspects of the manufacturing industry, including design, computer programming, prototyping and actually producing some products.” The Huot Center also collaborates with Lakes Region Community College, which recently added a new advanced manufacturing lab of its own. “It's exciting that a student can ultimately end up earning a two-year degree at LRCC and soon afterward be earning up to $75,000 in the manufacturing field,” says Don Brough, LRCC advanced manufacturing training manager. Companies Calling LRCC also receives classroom ideas and input from the more than 20 manufacturers doing business in the Lakes Region, including companies such as Aavid Thermalloy, EPTAM Plastics, Freudenberg-NOK, Howard Precision, Milpower Source, Redwood Technologies, Titeflex Aerospace and Vitex Extrusion. Another area manufacturer is New Hampshire Ball Bearings, whose employees design and make precision bearing products for the aerospace industry. “We are a high-tech, clean, invigorating, nimble company that is always looking for more skilled employees with technical backgrounds, who also have critical thinking and communications skills,” says Gary Groleau, NH Ball Bearings communications manager of labor relations and organizational development. “The time is right now to get all students thinking about the excellent advanced manufacturing opportunities that are available in the Lakes Region.” Check out more on the business climate near Laconia, NH.
Catching a movie, registering to vote or spending the night can be scary experiences in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire -- since all three could involve entering haunted places. Alton Town Hall in Alton, N.H., built in 1894, is a one-stop shop for government services ranging from applying for a marriage license to applying for a dog license, but more than government business goes on inside the brick building with the impressive clock tower. Witnesses report hearing footsteps and murmuring and tell stories about how furniture gets rearranged overnight and doors open and close with no one in sight. Check into the 1875 Inn on Main Street in Tilton and you might get to meet the inn’s most infamous resident. Multiple guests report sightings of a young girl in various rooms and hallways throughout the historic structure. Known as Laura, the ghost reportedly died as a 12-year-old in a fire in the 19th century. The show “Ghost Hunters” and some paranormal organizations have investigated -- and validated -- the claims. The Colonial Theater in Laconia may be closed but one movie buff refuses to leave. Witnesses report seeing a shadowy figure of a man walking through the theater and also tell tales of footsteps in dark areas and hearing voices all over over the building. Doors open and close and lights switch on and off. Visitors to the building say they get a strange feeling that they should leave as soon as possible...if possible.
Cool crisp air and the crunching of leaves are heaven to hikers in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, but the views are the true reward. Three hikes in the Lakes Region that deliver spectacular views year round are Mt. Major, Belknap Mountain and Red Hill. Most of the popular 1.7-mile Mt. Major climb is fairly easy, elevating gently as it follows old logging roads. However, this trail ends with a sting -- a very steep climb to the summit where the land is wide and flat and the payoff is a panoramic view of the Lakes Region. From here hikers see the view of Lake Winnepausaukee that photographers have made famous. The trail is located on Route 11 between Alton and Weirs Beach. The view from the Belknap Mountain trail is breathtaking and the ascent can be challenging with four trails of varying difficulty. The steepest is the Green Trail while the most scenic is the White Trail. All the trails are accessible from Belknap Mountain Road from Gilford Village. Spring and fall climbs on clear days open the view to the snow-capped Mt. Washington in the distance. The flat ridge of Red Hill offers incredible views of Lake Winnepausaukee and Squam Lake. There are two ways up to the summit. The toughest is an approximately 3-mile hike that has some tricky climbs, but offers the added bonus of a view from Eagle’s Cliff. Don’t attempt this hike unless you have experience. The easier route -- though still challenging -- is a little over 1.5 miles and follows a steep roadbed.
With modern medical facilities, fitness programs, and healthy living initiatives, Lakes Region residents have everything they need to live fit and healthy lifestyles. LRGHealthcare Comprised of Lakes Region General Hospital (LRGH), Franklin Regional Hospital (FRH), and 22 affiliated medical providers and service programs in the Lakes and Three Rivers regions, LRGHealthcare's goal is “strengthening the community’s well-being by providing patients with the highest quality health care.” LRGHealthcare offers state-of-the-art medical facilities and the services of more 200 physicians representing 35 medical specialties. LRGHealthcare also employs 1,600 people, making it the largest employer in the Lakes Region area. In an attempt to meet the growing health care needs of the community and stay on the forefront of patient care, LRGHealthcare recently opened the new Interlakes Medical Center in Meredith, expanded the emergency department at Franklin Regional Hospital, and completed a 97,000-square-foot addition to Lakes Region General Hospital. Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) A collaborative effort of numerous nonprofit foundations and state agencies, Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) is an initiative intended to decrease obesity rates and improve the health and quality of life of Lakes Region residents. The program seeks to advance and encourage changes that promote healthy people and places in New Hampshire. HEAL links the Lakes Region community to the resources needed to create healthy environments through its schools, worksites, health care, food outlets and more. Fitness Centers Laconia Athletic & Swim Club features a wide variety of fitness programs designed to keep people of all fitness levels in optimum shape. Participate in one of the club’s yoga, pilates, spinning, or swim classes, or join one of their weight management programs like the 90-Day Commitment to Get Fit! challenge. Don’t know what type of exercise or class is right for you? Ask for a private fitness consultation. Shalimar Resort also offers pool and gym memberships to local residents. Buy a daily swim pass or a full membership that allows access to the resort’s Olympic-size indoor pool, fitness center, steam room and whirlpool Jacuzzi. “We have many members of all ages that use the pool for recreation, exercise, or even physical therapy,” Gabby Owens of Shalimar Resort says. “Members can have unlimited use of the pool and fitness center for one month, six months or a year.” Granite United Way Granite United Way proudly supports activities, events and initiatives intended to promote the overall well-being of community members across the region. By supporting, planning, and implementing programs, such as the grassroots neighborhood effort “Better Together” or “Got Lunch!” school lunch program for disadvantaged kids, the United Way brings together multiple community sources to provide a safe, healthy environment for all. “We define health here as a healthy community,” says Alan Robichaud, community development director for Granite United Way, Lakes Region. “The more you become engaged, the safer communities become, the healthier they are.” Find more healthy activities near Laconia, NH.
Consider yourself a “culture vulture"? You’ll never run out of fascinating things to explore in the Lakes Region, which is packed with historical attractions, performance venues and museums. Franklin Opera House Take in a concert at the Franklin Opera House. Opened in 1893, this Romanesque-style building was for years both a cultural venue and housed Franklin’s municipal offices. In its early heyday, it presented lectures, plays, musical events and vaudeville. But demand for office space eventually prevailed, and for years the Opera House, as it was called, was offices-only. It was revived and refurbished in the early 2000s, and today audiences once more enjoy concerts, talent shows and other entertainment. Daniel Webster Birthplace Also in Franklin, learn more about the early days of the great Daniel Webster. The three-time presidential candidate, senator, Constitutional lawyer. U.S. Secretary of State and renowned orator lives on as one of the most remarkable figures in American political life. His birthplace is a state historic site. Mills Reborn Textile mills have played a major role in New Hampshire life since the early 19th century. The oldest unaltered brick textile mill in the United States, the Belknap Mill in Laconia, was nearly demolished in 1969, but was saved by passionate citizens and went on to become one of the first buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. Today it is the official meetinghouse of the State of New Hampshire, and houses a museum, gallery and more. In Meredith, on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee, Mills Fall at the Lake was once the site of a dilapidated 19th-century linen mill. Today it is a luxury lodging-shopping-dining-spa destination whose 14 acres and many buildings provide plenty to do. History by the Books The Laconia Historical & Museum Society dedicates itself to collecting, preserving and interpreting the history and culture of Laconia, Lakeport and the Weirs. It sponsors publications, educational programs and exhibits, and conserves artifacts, documents and more. The society is housed in the Laconia Public Library, where it is visited by more than 137,000 people annually. All Aboard A former railroad freight depot in downtown Laconia, Pitman’s Freight Room, now is a versatile function space that hosts weddings, musical events, banquets, etc. in a charming rustic setting. On Thursday nights it presents topnotch jazz and blues acts from around the Northeast. Find more fun things to do in the Laconia, NH area.
Opened in 1935, the Naswa Resort has served as a family-run oasis on Lake Winnipesaukee for nearly a century. Naswa features a private sandy beach that spans 1,000 feet, several boat slips, convenient dining options and regular live entertainment. Naswa's lakeside views, private balconies and complimentary Wi-Fi access invite visitors to stay overnight in its accommodating hotel rooms, suites and cottages. For dining, Naswa delivers NazBar & Grill and the Blue Bistro. NazBar & Grill is a classic beach bar that offers a full menu complete with tropical drinks and specialty items like its quarter-pound hot dog and its NAZ wrap, which includes hummus, Asian slaw and black bean corn salsa. The Blue Bistro is a highly popular place on the lake thanks to its close proximity to Weirs Beach and its entertainment, which often includes live music and themed weekends. The Bistro boasts several unique seafood delicacies like scallop sliders, calamari Naswa and lobster focaccia, to name a few. In 2009, Yankee Magazine chose Naswa as its Editor’s Choice in its Annual Travel Guide to New England, and Naswa featured on the New England Cable Network’s TV Diner with Billy Costa program. Naswa has also been named one of the Top 20 Boating Hotspots by Powerboat Magazine. Discover more fun getaways near Laconia, NH.
Best Places to Live in New Hampshire
- East Merrimack
- Hampton Beach
- New London
- North Conway
- North Walpole
- Seabrook Beach
- South Hooksett
- Tilton Northfield
- West Swanzey