Over the river and through the woods, on the banks of the Connecticut River in New Hampshire’s Upper Valley, sits the charming town of Hanover. This quintessential college town, steeped in history and full of classic brownstones, is alive with the fervent quest for knowledge. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a well-deserved getaway.
Stroll along Dartmouth College’s campus green soaking up the Ivy League atmosphere, learn more about ancient civilizations at the Hood Museum of Art, or enjoy a performance at the Hopkins Center for the Arts. Take a leisurely drive along the picturesque Connecticut River, hike sections of the Appalachian Trail, or hop on an electric bike and enjoy the beautiful nature central New Hampshire has to offer. Shop local and explore area stores filled with antique books, beautiful hand-blown glass, and yummy baked goods.
In New Hampshire, heading outdoors is always a great idea. In summer, the refreshing, temperate weather and explosion of forest greenery invite you to explore. In fall, the trees put on a fiery show of breathtaking color, imploring you to take a long Sunday drive. In winter, the crisp air and brilliant snow call to you to bundle up and explore. Spring is the time to head to antique shops and indulge in cozy indoor activities.
Here are nine reasons to fall in love with Hanover.
1. It’s Home To Dartmouth College
The prestigious Dartmouth College is the centerpiece of Hanover. Founded in 1769, Dartmouth College, an Ivy League school, bustles with activity every autumn when the students return to campus.
Reminisce about your own college days as you stroll past brownstone buildings, enjoy the sprawling campus green, and live vicariously through the students growing in knowledge. As you walk around campus soaking up the tradition and history of this great institution, you’ll feel the pull of education, calling students of all ages to expand their understanding of our world.
2. You Can Peruse One Of The Finest College Art Collections In The Country
Located on the Dartmouth College campus, the Hood Museum of Art is a treasured resource. It welcomes the public to view its immense collection, which includes everything from ancient art to modern and contemporary art. Japanese prints, environmental art, and historic scientific instruments are just a few of the artistic holdings of the museum.
One of the finest college art museums in the country, the Hood offers a large selection of workshops and lectures. Check the calendar of events for programs that will enlighten and entertain you on your journey through the world of artistic expression.
Pro Tip: Also located on Dartmouth’s campus is the Hopkins Center for the Arts. Offering everything from concerts to lectures, the center will engage your creative side and foster conversation about how society and art intersect. The college recently announced a new renovation project that will make the center a leading spot for performances and arts curriculum.
3. You Can Go For A Scenic Drive
Hanover is situated along the Connecticut River Byway, which runs over 140 miles through New Hampshire along the Connecticut River from West Chesterfield to Littleton. The drive through the White Mountains is pretty at any time of the year, but it is particularly popular during the fall, when the leaves put on a show-stopping performance.
Drive south along the byway and stop at the Cornish-Windsor Bridge for a great photo opportunity. This covered bridge dates to 1866. It is nearly 450 feet long and is rightly listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Another stop along the way is the Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park, a good spot to get out and stretch your legs. The historic home and grounds of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, it displays his sculptures and furnishings.
You can learn more about the picturesque towns along the byway and throughout New Hampshire here.
4. You Can Hike Part Of The Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail runs from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. The approximately 2,190 miles of trails beckon to hikers to take on the challenge of completing the trail in one continuous hike. For many, taking the time to hike the complete trail is not practical. But it is fun to hike separate sections of the trail when the opportunity arises.
Dartmouth Outing Club, an Appalachian Trail member club, provides care and maintenance for the first 50 miles of the trail heading north in New Hampshire. Along this stretch, you’ll discover all sorts of trails for day hikers and maybe cross paths with long-haul hikers, too. Visit the club’s page for up-to-date information.
One moderately difficult hike is the Velvet Rocks Trail, a marked 3.6-mile loop trail that is classic New England hiking with hills, rocks, roots, and lots of forest. It intersects with the Appalachian Trail, and you can experience the feeling of being part of the trekking community.
5. It’s Easy To Explore The Great Outdoors
New Hampshire is known for its natural beauty and opportunities to explore the great outdoors. Hanover is no exception, and Hanover Adventure Tours wants to help you get out and breathe in the fresh air.
In the summer, you can go bike riding, tubing, kayaking, or canoeing. In the fall, you can enjoy the foliage show with guided electric bike tours that’ll help you avoid the crowds. During the winter months, you can join a snowshoeing, tubing, or fat-tire electric bike tour that will help you appreciate the snow.
6. It’s Home To The King Arthur Baking Company
King Arthur Baking Company is a mecca for bakers. Whether you are a hobbyist or professional pastry chef, visiting the King Arthur flagship store in Norwich is a real treat. Stop for lunch and grab a fresh-from-the-oven pastry or a delicious sandwich on freshly baked bread. Better yet, plan your getaway around one of the demonstration classes for a fun, hands-on baking experience.
7. It’s Got Gorgeous Hand-Blown Glass
The exquisite hand-blown glassware on display at the Simon Pearce Hanover shop will dazzle you. In addition, the showroom offers pottery, woodwork, linens, and much more. You will find many beautiful pieces that would look perfect in your home.
Located about 30 minutes from the flagship Simon Pearce showroom in Quechee, Vermont, the shop offers gorgeous pieces that would make perfect gifts. To learn more about the flagship store and the Quechee area, see this page. Quechee is less than a 30-minute drive from Hanover.
8. Left Bank Books Is A Bibliophile’s Dream
A stroll through a great bookstore is a rare event and one that should be thoroughly savored. Step up to Left Bank Books and browse their out-of-print, used, and rare books. Run your fingers over the well-loved volumes for a sense of the promise of pages unturned. Stop in for a literary trip down memory lane and pick up that book you have always wanted to read.
9. There Are Great Accommodation Options
Immerse yourself in the Ivy League tradition with a stay at the historic Hanover Inn Dartmouth. Overlooking the Dartmouth Green, the hotel is renowned for timeless elegance, fine dining, and classically appointed guest rooms.
Bright and modern, Six South St Hotel is another great getaway option in downtown Hanover. The hotel is conveniently located near Dartmouth College and the charming downtown area and offers dining at its Bistro at Six restaurant.
Pro Tip: Late winter and early spring in New Hampshire is mud season, with the ground slowly thawing. Dirt road travel and trail hiking can be difficult at this time. Beginning in April, the flowers start to bloom and the central New Hampshire countryside begins to wake up and dry out.
Plan a getaway to Hanover, and experience the timeless beauty New Hampshire’s Upper Valley has to offer.