In the spring of 2020, as the weeks went on, I held out so much hope that summer might be back to normal and we could go on the trips we had planned. But as summer got closer, I knew that wasn’t going to be the case. Lake Winnipesaukee was somewhere I had saved on my travel bucket list. So when I started looking at where we might be able to go in close driving distance where we could be out of a crowd… it seemed like a good time to try New Hampshire. We loved Lake Winnipesaukee with the kids so much that as the trip was coming to a close, we extended it. Then last year, summer 2021 we decided to go back and bring my whole family. Here’s my guide to where to stay, what to do and where to eat:
Lake Winnipesaukee with Kids
Where to Stay on Lake Winnipesaukee
We’ve now stayed at three different places when visiting Lake Winnipesaukee and in a couple different towns. The first time we visited (July 2020), we stayed in the town of Gilford in a townhouse (this unit). It was an awesome complex that had a few pools, their own beach and while it was right off the main road, the unit felt tucked away and more like a cabin. It was just down the road from the Ellacoya State Park and Beach which we enjoyed visiting.
We actually loved the area so much that we didn’t want to go home. Our condo wasn’t available to stay in so we moved over to the Crescent Lake Inn. This hotel is in the town of Wolfeboro and lake front on Crescent Lake. Crescent Lake is much smaller and quieter but it was lovely to be right on the lake for a few days. The hotel has a huge front lawn that leads down to the lake which the kids loved. You can easily walk into Wolfeboro from Crescent Lake Inn and enjoy all things Lake Winnipesaukee too.
We loved Lake Winnipesaukee so much that I decided I wanted to bring my whole family back last summer! I loved Wolfeborro and that we could walk to so many things. So when I found a house that would fit us all, we went with it. This is the house we stayed in: (Wolfeborro rental house). It was the cutest house, had everything we needed and the yard was amazing. There was a big fire pit with chairs around it that we’d sit around each night to roast marshmallows. The front of the house is on the main road but if you walk out the back yard, you can take a very quiet road to town. This was perfect for all the kids to walk along and with the strollers.
We also have a bunch of friends that stay in Meredith and love that town too.
What to Do on Lake Winnipesaukee
Brewster Beach (Wolfeboro)
Brewster Beach in Wolfeboro was a favorite spot both times we were in the area. There is lots of parking and a great big open beach. There’s also a little path on the one side we would walk down to a little “cove” to swim in all to ourselves. You also get a great view of the marina in Wolfeboro from Brewster Beach.
Allen Albee Beach (Wolfeboro)
Allen Albee Beach is another beach in Wolfeboro that we’ve gone to a few times. This one was almost totally empty both times we were there and the kids loved swimming here.
To really see Lake Winnipesaukee you have to be on a boat. It’s truly a breathtaking area and there is a lot to see from the water. We didn’t want to drive the boat and wanted a captain that would give us some history and information while we enjoyed the boat ride. We did a pontoon boat ride through Wake Winni and they were awesome.
The Libby Museum is the perfect spot for a rainy day at the lake. There’s a lot to see and do inside this museum. it’s the oldest natural history museum in the state. Also: make sure to stop in on a Wednesday afternoon at 2pm when they do the live animal shows. These take place outside with a beautiful view of the lake. My kids still talk about meeting a baby kangaroo at the lake!
Event: Car & Boat Show
We just happened to be in Wolfeboro the weekend of the Annual Lake Winnipesaukee Antique & Classic Boat Show. Look up what events might be going on when you are in the area. This boat show was amazing and the kids loved it.
There are a few fun spots to play mini golf around Lake Winnipesaukee. We played at Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf and had a blast.
Seeing the Weirs Beach sign and the little town along the beach makes you feel like you’ve gone back in time. Then, once you see the old train go through you’ll really feel like you’re experiencing summer time decades ago. The beach itself is a public beach so you can enjoy some time swimming. There are lots of little shops and spots to eat right along the train tracks and ferry dock too.
Ellacoya State Park and Beach
Ellacoya State Park was right near where we stayed in Gilford. We loved the beach and there was tons of space for the kids to run and explore. That said, we were the only people there. I have heard it gets very crowded but have only experienced it empty.
Beans & Green Farm is a great stop any time of day. It’s an adorable farm with animals, outdoor games, colorful swings and delicious food in the market.
The first time we visited Lake Winnipesauke I had heard about Castle in the Clouds but it felt too “out of the way” to make the trek… the second time… I am SO glad we made the trek! We actually went on our last day before the long drive home. It was perfect because it really tired out the whole crew before the drive. The views are incredible. You could spend 30 min or a whole day there. We enjoyed the views for a bit, got ice cream and hit the road but there are lots of other things to do too. There are a bunch of hikes to try, garden tours, a Castle tour and more.
Where to Eat when visiting Lake Winnipesaukee
- North Main
- Downtown Grille
- Compass Cafe
- Noplan’s Brick Oven Pizza
- La Boca
- Sawyer’s Dairy Bar
- Ellacoya Barn & Grill ($8 burger night)
- Yum Yum Shop
- Bailey’s Bubble