Events, features and things to do for families in New Hampshire
Start your family’s North Country adventure in the sweet seat of Coos County
By Jacqueline Tourville
If you live in one of New Hampshire’s larger towns and cities, it can be easy to miss that magical moment when the ice and snow of winter suddenly gives way to the warm promise of spring.
But here in Lancaster, and the rest of Coos County, this annual event has all the anticipation of Christmas morning. The gift communities so eagerly await? Maple sap. In the thick coating of forest that marks this part of the state ancient sugar bushes produce thousands of gallons of maple syrup each March and April, helping the product to rank among New Hampshire’s largest exports.
Lancaster serves as an important hub during maple sugaring season. Families from all over, drawn by the region’s sugar houses, trek to the sleepy little town on the northern fringes of the White Mountains. Is the hypnotic smell of fresh maple syrup leading your family north this month? Visit Fuller’s Sugarhouse, a combination country store and modern maple sugar production center in Lancaster’s quaint village center. Fuller’s produces more than 2,000 gallons of syrup each season. Visitors can sample syrup, buy products to take home and watch maple syrup in the making.
On the outskirts of town, Christie’s Maple Farm houses its maple gift shop and visitors center in a farmhouse dating to 1846. And just down the road in Bethlehem is the NH Maple Experience, a popular family learning program run by The Rocks Estate.
Lancaster also boasts an eclectic variety of locally owned restaurants and shops, a charming town common park, and even its own picture-perfect covered bridge. The 94-foot Mechanic Street Covered Bridge, right off Route 3 in downtown Lancaster, crosses Israel’s River. Built in 1862, it owes its longevity to citizens electing to prohibit driving across the bridge at a pace faster than a walk. Take a stroll across the bridge in March to see (and hear) the river roar by beneath your feet as you cross. It’s a sure sign, the locals will tell you, spring is here to stay.
Contact the Northern Gateway Regional Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 537, Lancaster, New Hampshire 03584 for a map and brochure, or go to www.northerngatewaychamber.org for more information.
Check out the great places in this article:
Fuller’s Sugarhouse: 267 Main St. Buy syrup in all shapes and sizes, plus maple candy, locally made jams and pancake mix. Open year round. Call for maple sugaring season hours and special events, 877-788-2719
Christie’s Maple Farm: 246 Portland St. Christie’s motto is, “If it’s maple... we’ve got it!" With products like maple barbeque sauce and maple “blondie" mix, they may just be right. Call for seasonal hours and special events, 800-788-2118
The Rocks Estate: 4 Christmas Lane, Bethlehem. Maple Experience participants will learn how to identify the sugar maple trees that produce the sweet sap for making syrup, discover the history of maple sugaring and see part of the process demonstrated. Plus, lots of pancakes and syrup! Go to http://therocks.org for dates and details.
Sylvia's Lunch Break: 257 Summer St. Need a quick bite? Sylvia’s offer standard breakfast and lunch (and plenty of kid-friendly choices) at great prices. Call for hours, 788-3328
Last updated by Morgen Thiboult Feb 22, 2011.