The home of Dartmouth College and a cultural hub for the region, Hanover, N.H., makes an ideal getaway from Boston, and it’s doable for a short jaunt from New York City. We’ve put together the perfect 1-2-3 Weekend – 1 hotel, 2 restaurants, and 3 things to do – to showcase the top offerings in the greater Hanover area.
1 – Hotel
The history of the Hanover Inn dates almost as far back as that of Dartmouth. Founded as a tavern in 1780, the hotel moved into its current location in 1903. And it certainly is quite a location: The inn sits on the Dartmouth College Green and within easy walking distance of charming downtown restaurants and shops (as well as national chains like the Gap). Ninety-three rooms and suites sport a classic décor – some have four-poster beds – while offering modern perks like free Wi-Fi. The hotel has two restaurants and a seasonal terrace, but you’ll generally find less pricey fare in town. Rates from $249/night in August. Main Street; 800-443-7024; www.hanoverinn.com
Be warned that fall weekends at the Hanover Inn fill up early with Dartmouth football fans and foliage enthusiasts (weekends are already booked solid from mid-September through mid-November). As an alternative, consider the Six South St. Hotel (from $209/night in August; www.sixsouth.com), which opened in early 2011; as of this posting, the property still has some availability for select Saturday stays in fall.
2 – Restaurants
For a grown-up dining experience, head to the Canoe Club, where the menu highlights local and regional ingredients in dishes like chicken breast medallions with marsala sauce and shellfish stew. Come for dinner and you’ll be treated to live entertainment from mostly local performers – think jazz guitar or a pianist/vocalist, with an early-bird magic show most Mondays. The restaurant’s atmosphere is not entirely formal, but it’s certainly not a place for cutoffs and flip-flops. 27 S. Main St.; 603 643-9660; www.canoeclub.us
Molly’s Restaurant is your best bet for casual eats in Hanover. The laid-back joint does a solid hamburger and brick oven pizza, as well as fish and chips and other pub fare. In warm weather, snag a seat on the outdoor patio. Molly’s owners also operate the slightly more upscale steakhouse Jesse’s right outside town and the casual Italian restaurant Lui Lui in nearby West Lebanon. 43 S. Main St.; 603-643-2570; www.mollysrestaurant.com
3 – Things to Do
About a 30-minute drive from Hanover, the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site encompasses the former homestead of the late 19th/early 20th-century sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. About 100 works by the artist are displayed within the house and grounds, including a copy of the famed Shaw Memorial (a tribute to the Civil War commander of a black regiment who was later immortalized in the movie Glory). Guided tours are offered, or you can simply wander on your own, picnic on the lawns, admire the gardens, and even take a short hike. Through August 21, a summer concert series takes place each Sunday at 2pm. Entry to the site costs $5 per person. 139 Saint-Gaudens Rd.; Cornish, N.H.; 603-675-2175; www.nps.gov/saga
A short trip over the border into Vermont, the Simon Pearce glass-blowing facility is housed in a beautiful, restored woolen mill. Though he now has over 500 stores nationwide, this is where Pearce got his start in the U.S.; wander through the workshops to view artists making glass and pottery. Stay for lunch at the on-site restaurant, and be sure to browse the shop for glassware to take home – the vases make particularly nice gifts. 1760 Quechee Main St.; Quechee, Vt.; 802-295-2711; www.simonpearce.com
For a healthy dose of culture right in Hanover, head to the Hood Museum of Art. Though the current space opened in 1985, this Dartmouth facility contains 60,000 pieces the college has acquired since 1772. Browse ancient Assyrian relief sculptures, West African masks, and European masters. Current temporary exhibits include works by American impressionists and realists from a Dartmouth alum’s personal collection, and a retrospective on the 1960s/70s Fluxus art movement. Admission is free. Dartmouth College; 603-646-2808; hoodmuseum.dartmouth.edu
By car, Hanover is a little over 2 hours from Boston and just under 5 hours from New York City. Dartmouth Coach (www.dartmouthcoach.com) offers (somewhat expensive) bus service from both cities, but limited public transportation options make a car essential if you plan on venturing outside the downtown Hanover area.
For general trip-planning information, see our New Hampshire Travel Guide.