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Lake Winnipesaukee

New Hampshire

Beaches, forests, and vacation towns wrap New Hampshire’s largest lake, which sprawls across 72 square miles (186 square kilometers) of the state’s interior. This is where old-fashioned American resort culture meets opportunities for outdoor adventure, whether you’re cruising by boat, fishing for lake trout, or hiking up nearby summits such as Mt. Major, Belknap Mountain, or Gunstock Mountain.

Lake Winnipesaukee is among the most popular vacation spots in New Hampshire, and nearly every town surrounding the lake has attractions, activities, and tours. Bustling traveler hub Laconia offers sightseeing cruises and vintage-cool arcades, while Wolfeboro is home to the Wright Museum of WWII, The Libby Museum of Natural History, and the New Hampshire Boat Museum. Perched high above the lake’s northern edge is the 1914 Castle in the Clouds, a mansion built in a distinctive craftsman style.

  • Great for families. Lake Winnipesaukee offers ample kid-friendly options, from easy hikes to games.

  • Check event schedules before visiting. Annual events, such as Laconia Bike Week, can bring huge crowds (and traffic to match).

  • This is a fairly wheelchair-friendly destination: Attractions from Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad to Weirs Beach, as well as some trails, are accessible.

Lake Winnipesaukee is about 40 miles (63 kilometers) northwest of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It’s also reasonably accessible from Portland, Maine—it’s 68 miles (110 kilometers) away. If you’re coming from Boston to Lake Winnipesaukee, it’s a 99-mile (159-kilometer) drive. Most travelers come by car, and rental cars are available in all three cities. It is possible to arrive by public transit, with Concord Coach service between Boston and Meredith.

Lake Winnipesaukee is a year-round destination, but June, July, and August are the most popular times of year for beach lounging and boating. Big summer events include June’s Laconia Bike Week and 4th of July fireworks at Weirs Beach. If you’re seeking warm weather without the big summer crowds, consider visiting in September; fall colors begin to appear by mid-September and last well into October.

Hot summers leave many visitors looking for a place to swim in Lake Winnipesaukee, and there are ample public beaches to enjoy. Near Laconia are Weirs Beach, Opechee Park, Bond Beach, and Bartlett Beach (which has a playground children love). Lifeguards are on duty at Wolfeboro’s Albee Beach and Brewster Beach; Ellacoya State Park beach in Gilford is a favorite for nice swimming, a family-friendly atmosphere, and big views across the lake.


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