Events, features and things to do for families in New Hampshire
Want to avoid the holiday rush and still get some serious shopping done? Head north! This month’s road trip features a scenic shopping-oriented tour of the Franconia and Littleton region. Home to outlets and old-time country stores, there is sure to be something for everyone on your list. Leave the Black Friday frenzy behind and reserve the day after Thanksgiving as a fun family day away.
With coffee in hand, our Black Friday trip starts with a dawn cruise along I-93 through Franconia Notch. To limber up for a day of shopping, our first stop is a quick hike along the Franconia Notch Bike Path, accessible from the Cannon Mountain parking lot. It’s a flat walk through some pretty scenery that even little legs can manage. Need a family photo with a wintry feel for this year’s holiday card? Many of the peaks surrounding the notch are usually snow-covered by the end of November, and the path itself is lined with firs and spruce trees. Dress the kids in red and green sweaters, snap a few shots, and consider this task done.
Awake after that brisk walk? It’s time to shop. Leaving the notch and heading into the village of Franconia by way of Main Street, our next stop of the day is Garnet Hill (www.garnethill.com), the sole outlet store for the popular clothing and home catalog store of the same name. Voted “Best Outlet Store” by New Hampshire Magazine, Garnet Hill offers women's apparel, bedding, home furnishings, children's clothing, footwear and accessories. In other words, get ready to make a serious dent in your shopping list.
Next up is the tiny village of Sugar Hill, reached by heading south on Route 117 from Franconia. Here you will find Harman's Cheese Shop (www.harmanscheese.com), founded in 1954 by John and Kate Harman, whose dream it was to own a country store. About a year after they opened, the couple heard about some "forgotten" cheddar and quickly scooped up a half-ton of it. It proved so popular with customers that the Harmans labeled it the "World's Greatest Cheddar." What to buy at the quaint country store? Cheddar cheese, of course, which can be shipped to recipients, along with cheese boards and cheese knives, homemade jams, and other New Hampshire-made goodies.
From Harman’s, continue on Route 117 to Route 302, turn west and pass through Lisbon and Landaff and on into Bath. This is the home of the Brick Store (www.brickstore.com), which has the distinction of being the oldest continuously operated general store in the U.S. Still in need of those holiday photos? The Brick Store makes up part of a classic New England tableaus – a pretty town common, bounded by the store, the Bath Church, the town hall and post office and even a covered bridge. If snow has already fallen, this looks like something straight out of Currier & Ives. Inside the store, it’s no less photogenic. Get ready for a little bit of everything, from toys and trinkets to books, blankets and local foods.
For the last leg of our trip, backtrack on Route 302, following it to downtown Littleton. There are art galleries, clothing stores, a music shop, cute places to eat, and even another old-time general store. Chutter's General Store (www.chutters.com) on Main Street is filled with quaint country store offerings, but Chutter’s true claim to fame is holding the Guinness World Record for the longest candy counter in the entire world – it measures 112 feet.
Consider it a sweet end to a sweet (and stress-free) Black Friday.
Jacqueline Tourville of Nashua is a frequent contributor to PNH.