Taking a drive through the White Mountains will send you down beautiful scenic roads and byways, historic landmarks, iconic attractions, and mountain views that are beyond compare. There are also many small towns and villages that you may have driven through on your way to somewhere else, or that may have been slightly out of the way so you didn’t even give them a second thought. Here are five of our favorites that are worth getting to know.
Blink and you might miss this small town on Route 113A in the eastern region of the White Mountains. Perched between the towns of Sandwich and Tamworth, one might not realize they had passed through. Wonalancet is technically an unincorporated township and is named for Chief Wonalancet, the leader of the Pennacook tribe. For hiking enthusiasts, many trailheads into the Sandwich Range are located in this town. As you drive through town, you will see many fields and Mount Chocorua continues to peek through the trees and taunt you. Wonalancet was also home to Chinook, the famous lead sled dog in the 1920’s. The Chinook breed of dog originated from that first sled dog and today is considered a rare breed. The site of the Chinook Kennels are located in Wonalancet and are memorialized by a New Hampshire State Historic Marker.
The town of Tamworth was incorporated in 1766 and is actually comprised of the smaller towns of Chocorua, Wonalancet, Whittier, and South Tamworth. Grover Cleveland, our 22nd and 24th President, had a summer home here, and his friend John Finely had a stone memorial wall built in his honor. This 1/3 mile wall runs up Cleveland Hill Road up to his summer home. Another interesting landmark in town is the Ordination Rock. This is a large glacial boulder where Samuel Hidden was ordained as Tamworth’s first settled minister in 1792. Tamworth is also home to the Remick Country Doctor Museum & Farm where visitors can learn how a 19th century farm operated, tour the doctor’s house, feed the animals, and participate in seasonal demonstrations and events.
While many may know Waterville Valley because of the ski area, some may not realize that there is a whole little town and community tucked away in the valley on the mountain. The town itself is an island that comprises about 42,000 acres within the White Mountains National Forest. It was incorporated in 1829 and prior to the 1960’s was primarily a summer destination where families would come and stay in one of the 20 cottages on site. Mt. Tecumseh Ski Area was built in the late 1960’s and since then, Waterville Valley has been a year-round resort community that boasts many events and activities for the public. Check out the beautiful scenery from Corcoran Pond, walk the many nature trails, and enjoy the shops, restaurants, and events in all seasons.
This quintessential village in the White Mountains gets its name from the large grove of sugar maples on the surrounding hills. The views of Cannon Mountain, the Presidentials, and the Green Mountains of Vermont are unparalleled. The clean air, and beautiful scenery attracted Victorian vacationers to this spot and continues to bring visitors from around the world. The actress, Bette Davis, even had a summer cottage here. In June, the fields of Sugar Hill bloom with lupines and the town hosts a month-long celebration. Autumn is a beautiful time to visit as well and the residents celebrate with an Autumn Celebration at the end of September. Take time to peruse the Sugar Hill Sampler and Harman’s Cheese & Country Store, and enjoy breakfast or lunch at Polly’s Pancake Parlor.
The town of Whitefield is a quaint town with an historic bandstand in King’s Square, which is the town common. Another town that was known to draw Victorian visitors from the city, looking to get away from it all, the town constructed several inns and hotels to accommodate the influx of traffic. The Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa still stands today atop a large hill with beautiful views of the Presidential Range. Taking the back roads to and from town will afford you excellent foliage and one can head to Burns Pond or Forest Lake to enjoy a dip, or to enjoy a trip in the canoe or kayak. In the summer, the Weathervane Theatre is a popular professional stock theater company that has been bringing quality theatre to the White Mountains for over 50 years.