Lake Winnipesaukee is Waiting to Give You the “Smile of the Great Spirit”
Discover why and how Lake Winnipesaukee may be the perfect vacation spot for you.
Like so many place names in New England, Lake Winnipesaukee is an Indian name, and it’s common meaning is “smile of the great spirit.”
Native people had been living on the lake for 10,000 years before any settlers came.
After reading this guide you'll understand why it was so sacred to the natives.
The truth is I hope to whet your appetite, so you'll come and experience Lake Winnipesaukee yourself, and plan to take your next vacation here.
Lake Winnipesaukee is the largest lake in New Hampshire and one of the deepest. It's one of many in the beautiful Lakes region of New Hampshire.
But to me it’s the jewel of them all. Let me tell you why…
At 72 square miles and a shoreline full of inlets, at first glance it looks less like a big lake and, more like a bunch of islands. But nestled in among these inlets are; vacation rentals, inns, and bed and breakfasts.
Within easy reach are homely coffee shops, fine restaurants, and your favorite ice cream – or at least mine!
And plenty of hiking trails, or bike rides, and when you’re ready… relaxing beaches.
But let’s not forget Winnipesaukee Lake is an active boating lake, with canoeing, fishing, and all manner of water activities.
Lake Winnipesaukee, and Winnisquam Lake, and its surrounding towns, can take you a month of Sundays to fully explore and appreciate.
Towns like Weirs Beach, Meredith, and Center Harbor. And Alton Bay, Wolfeboro, and Moultonboro – each different, but each warm and friendly.
This is an area to take your time exploring, and let the hours tick slowly by. You’ve got no promises to keep… only to Lake Winnipesaukee. And she wants you to enjoy and discover her.
Are you ready? Are you open to some suggestions? Good…
The cruise boat they cut in half, deliberately…
Take the lake cruise on the M/S Mount Washington. It takes 21/2 hours to do the full cruise but it’s well worth it. And you’ll learn about the fascinating 132-year history of the cruise, and why they cut the boat in half in 1982.
There just isn’t a better way of experiencing Lake Winnipesaukee.
Sit on the cruise deck and let the sounds of the lake energize you. But be sure to take your camera because you’re going to be snapping a lot of must-take pictures along the way.
You can park your car at a day lot near Weirs Beach where the cruise starts – don’t worry route 3 takes you right by it. And as it stops at four other ports around the lake (Meredith, Center Harbor, Alton Bay, and Wolfeboro), you can even take time out, visit a port, and catch a later boat back to Weirs Beach.
And when you get back to Weirs beach don’t take off. Hang around and explore awhile.
Take an easy stroll along the wooden boardwalk. Weirs Beach area is very family-oriented with waterslides, miniature golf, and go-carts. And if the cruise made you hungry there’s no shortage of places to eat.
All aboard for a scenic train ride…
The Lake Winnipesaukee scenic train runs from Meredith to Weirs Beach to Lakeport and back again. You can pick-up the train from Meredith or Weirs beach – both on route 3.
You get spectacular views of the Lake Winnipesaukee and areas along the shoreline. And of course what’s special to me is that… it has an ice cream car!
On the return leg watch out for views of Belknap Mountain and the many islands.
And boats and Lake Winnipesaukee live in perfect harmony…
I’ve a friend who rents a house on Lake Winnipesaukee for the whole summer every year. He has his own boat and has it winterized and stored near the lake during the off-season.
His family uses it just about every weekend in the summer. And as Memorial Day approaches he becomes a kid again unwrapping his boat, setting it in the water, and getting ready for the season.
Unless you’ve got the boat “bug” it’s hard to describe the feeling. But you can see it any day in the summer on Lake Winnipesaukee.
You’ll see hundreds of boats and people enjoying their hobby.
Jet skis are allowed on the lake, as are all classes of boats. If you’ve never tried a jet ski then you should. You can rent them at most towns on the lake.
You’ll find a jet ski very exhilarating, and easy to operate. If you can drive a car you can operate a jet ski.
But to really experience Lake Winnipesaukee on your own terms you need to rent a boat, and cruise around the islands and inlets yourself. You’ll discover hidden coves where you can drop anchor, and take a quick dip and eat the picnic you packed for the day.
On a hot summer’s day, with the sun beating down on you in the boat, you’ll find the water temperature of the lake refreshing. Not cold… but exhilarating.
Just cut the engine for a minute and plunge in. Go on do it now. Nobody's looking. Can you feel the tingle in your body?
It just doesn’t get any better than that!
And when the day is over, and you’ve feasted… take out your fishing rod, find a quiet dock, and drop your line in the water. If it’s nighttime you may even see the blurred outline of bats, flying in and out of the shoreline area.
The Castle in the Clouds...
Now one thing you’ll notice about Lake Winnipesaukee is many people have built large and expensive homes right on the lake. You’ll see some of these magnificent homes when you’re cruising around on the lake.
But the most famous of them you can visit and tour is the Lucknow Mansion, also known as “The Castle in the Clouds.”
The castle was built in 1913 by industrialist Thomas Plant. It’s built on a mountaintop overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee with majestic views of the lake. You can tour the castle and the grounds. You’ll find waterfalls on the property and miles of trails to explore.
The closest town to the castle is Moultonboro. Getting there is easy, from wherever you are get to route 171 in Ossipee and look for the signs.
I hope you've enjoyed this brief vacations guide to the Lake Winnipesaukee area, and it's proved helpful in planning your next trip.
Lake Winnipesaukee Lodging:
The main towns on Lake Winnipesaukee of Weirs beach, Meredith, Center Harbor, Alton Bay, Wolfeboro, and Moultonboro are chock full of inns and bed and breakfasts and motels. But they get very popular, especially during the summer season. So book early to avoid disappointment.
To discover where to stay deals, and compare rates and amenities with a trusted and professional travel organization then check out Lake Winnipesaukee lodging and accommodations.