Newfound Lake is located 40 miles north of Concord, New Hampshire’s capital city. Stretching for seven miles through scented forests and regularly refreshed by underground springs, the lake’s pristine waters are ringed with vacation rentals ranging from cozy cottages deep in the woods to luxurious waterfront homes. Imagine waking up to birdsong and drinking in the scenic views as you sip your morning coffee and plan the day ahead. You might choose to relax on the front porch with your favorite paperback while the kids have fun splashing around in the crystal clear waters, or set out on a hike through the woods. Either way, there’s a fabulous range of outdoor activities for family members of all ages available just minutes from your Newfound Lake vacation rental.
If you have your own boat, choose one the many waterfront properties with a private dock. The lake has three commercial boat launches along with a state launch in Wellington State Park. West Shore Marina in Bristol offers a full range of services and also rents out boats on a daily or weekly basis. Reserve early as they quickly sell out for the season. Be aware that local regulations require all boat renters to possess a valid New Hampshire Safe Boater Education Certificate, or an acceptable certificate from a state that has a reciprocal arrangement with New Hampshire.
Some waterfront vacation homes come complete with their own beach and anchored raft, so you and your kids can spend lazy days floating on the water or swimming out to the raft for a sunbath. If you’ve chosen an inland home-from-home, pack up the inflatables, fill up the cooler, and head on down to one of the lake’s beaches. Wellington State Park in Bristol is home to a large, sandy swimming beach with a snack bar and restrooms. There is a day-use fee. Make an early start on fine weekends and holidays, as there is a daily limit on the number of beachgoers.
The family’s anglers stand a good chance of hauling out some of the lake’s exceptionally large lake trout and salmon. With 20 miles of shoreline, it’s easy to find a peaceful location to cast out. Alternatively get the kids to drop a line from your private dock, while you kick back on the front porch swing and enjoy the view. Keep a camera close by to capture that magic moment when they bring you their first catch. In winter, dress up in warm clothing, take some flasks of hot chocolate, and set out with your drill to try your hand at ice hole fishing.
Kayaking is a great way for the whole family to explore the lake at leisure while enjoying some gentle exercise. Several waterside home rentals come complete with kayaks and life-savers. The Newfound Audubon Center at the lake’s northern tip rents out kayaks and canoes from its nature center. Nearby, the shallow channels of the Cockermouth River delta in Hebron are great places to explore and get close to wildlife.
Fill up the backpacks with bottled water and healthy snacks, strap on the boots, and set off for a hike. The carpark at Grey Rocks Conservation on the North Shore Road is a great starting point for a number of hikes, including the Cockermouth River Loop and the Sandy Point Trail. Take some binoculars to help your kids spot the local wildlife. Pay a small fee to park at the Washington State Park and follow the scenic loop around the lake, or cross the road and take the Elwell trail up Sugar Loaf and Little Sugar Loaf Mountains. The area is pretty year-round, but especially so in fall when the leaves turn shades of red, gold, and orange.
6. Visit Sculpture Rocks Natural Area
Visit this amazing canyon on the Cockermouth River to have a real adventure, scrambling up the gorge across the giant boulders tossed down by the glaciers and swimming in the pools. Be extra vigilant with smaller children or adults who are not sure-footed, as there are few protective railings and the moss-covered rocks can be slippery.
7. Take an EcoTour
Take a ride on a pontoon boat to learn more about the lakes history, and enjoy hands-on experiences, such as measuring the lakes clarity and temperature. The tours set off from the Grey Rocks Conservation Area in Hebron from June through September. Be sure to register at least 48 hours in advance. Kids under five years old travel for free with an adult.
8. Clark’s Trading Post Family Theme Park
For a day out that the family will remember for years, take the 45-minute trip north to Lincoln to visit Clarks Trading Post. In addition to meeting some awesome black bears, you can ride a steam train, take in an amazing display by Chinese acrobats, and try out the climbing wall. On hot summer days, the youngsters enjoy the water blaster boats and love the thrill of hurtling around the twisting turning 300-foot Anaconda Escape in a water raft. The park opens May through October.
9. Winter Fun
The lake is a year-round vacation destination with families enjoying the fun of ice skating and sledding. Many of the trails, such as Paradise Point, Hebron Marshes, and Bear Mountain, are open year round and are ideal for skiing and snowshoeing. Wrap up warmly and enjoy thawing out at the end of the day beside a crackling log fire in your cozy cabin rental.
10. Retail Therapy
When you need a break from the outdoor activities, call into Bristol, a beautiful little New England town. There’s a supermarket to stock up on supplies for your rental home, and gift shops to buy a lasting memento of your fabulous vacation. Locals and visitors find it hard to resist the tempting ice creams and other sweet treats at The Mill Fudge Factory. At the day’s end, take a break from kitchen duties and enjoy some fine country dining at The Homestead Restaurant and Tavern.