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Best of 2021

Let’s try something new.

As with every year, the Best of 2021 Hippo Readers Poll offers lots of ideas for new things to try: a new sandwich, a new restaurant for your date night, a new spot for your morning coffee, a new hike with the family, a new park to visit with your energetic dog. If you’re looking for new and different things to do this year, readers, who voted in our online survey in February, have oodles of suggestions for you.

And this year we’re giving you readers’ picks in a slightly new way. Instead of breaking out some of the categories by geography, we’re giving you the top five winners in most categories. All these “readers bests” mean extra recommendations for places to go and things to do (and eat).

A note about the information here: It’s always a good idea to call before you head out to see if that salon is open or if that restaurant has the dish you’re craving. Even as more things are returning to normal, schedules can still be in flux and some locations have registration and reservation procedures.

Looking for a quick hike this weekend? Or a new spot to grab some takeout for dinner? Let Hippo readers give you some recommendations for all the Bests our slice of New Hampshire has to offer.

ARTS

Best Performing Arts Venue

Best of the best: Palace Theatre, 80 Hanover St., Manchester, 668-5588, palacetheatre.org

  • Tupelo Music Hall, 10 A St., Derry, 437-5100, tupelohall.com –
  • Capitol Center for the Arts, 44 S. Main St., Concord, 225-1111, ccanh.com
  • Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion, 72 Meadowbrook Lane, Gilford, 293-4700, banknhpavilion.com
  • The Music Hall, 28 Chestnut St., and 131 Congress St., Portsmouth, 436-2400, themusichall.org

Best Drive-in Venue for Live Entertainment

Best of the best: Tupelo Music Hall, 10 A St., Derry, 437-5100, tupelohall.com

  • Milford Drive-In Theater, 531 Elm St., Milford, 673-4090, milforddrivein.com
  • Northlands (formerly known as Drive-In Live), Cheshire Fairground, 247 Monadnock Highway, Swanzey, northlandslive.com
  • Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion, 72 Meadowbrook Lane, Gilford, 293-4700, banknhpavilion.com
  • Weirs Drive-In Theater, 76 Endicott St. N., Weirs Beach, 366-4723, weirsdrivein.com

Best Virtual Performance

Best of the best: Palace Theatre, 80 Hanover St., Manchester, 668-5588, palacetheatre.org.

  • Tupelo Music Hall, 10 A St., Derry, 437-5100, tupelohall.com
  • Bob Marley, comedian, bmarley.com
  • Capitol Center for the Arts, 44 S. Main St., Concord, 225-1111, ccanh.com
  • Recycled Percussion, instrumental junk rock band, New Year’s Eve show, recycledpercussion.com

Best Place to View Art

Best of the best: Currier Museum of Art, 150 Ash St., Manchester, 669-6144, currier.org

  • League of NH Craftsmen Nashua Fine Craft Gallery, 98 Main St., Nashua, 595-8233, nashua.nhcrafts.org
  • Andres Institute of Art, 98 Route 13, Brookline, 673-8441, andresinstitute.org
  • ArtHub, 107 W. Pearl St., Nashua, 405-698-1951, nashuaarts.org
  • Area 23, 254 N. State St., Concord, 552-0137, thearea23.com

Best Place to Buy Art

Best of the best: League of NH Craftsmen Nashua Fine Craft Gallery, 98 Main St., Nashua, 595-8233, nashua.nhcrafts.org

  • Craftsmen’s Fair, nhcrafts.org. The nine-day craft fair, hosted by the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, normally takes place at Mount Sunapee Resort starting the first week of August.
  • Greeley Park Art Show, nashuaarts.org. The outdoor art show, hosted by the Nashua Area Artists Association, is held every summer in Greeley Park (100 Concord St., Nashua).
  • League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Concord Gallery, 36 N. Main St., Concord, 228-8171, concord.nhcrafts.org
  • Concord Arts Market, 1 Bicentennial Square, Concord, concordartsmarket.net. The juried outdoor artisan and fine art market normally runs weekly on Saturdays from June through September.

ENTERTAINMENT & NIGHTLIFE

Best Bookstore or Comic Book Store

Best of the best: Gibson’s Bookstore, 45 S. Main St., Concord, 224-0562, gibsonsbookstore.com

  • The Bookery, 844 Elm St., Manchester, 836-6600, bookerymht.com
  • The Toadstool Bookshop, Somerset Plaza, 375 Amherst St., Nashua, 673-1734, toadbooks.com
  • Double Midnight Comics, 245 Maple St., Manchester, 669-9636, dmcomics.com
  • Water Street Bookstore, 125 Water St., Exeter, 778-9731, waterstreetbooks.com

Community Event You’re Most Looking Forward To

  • Best of the best: Market Days Festival, Concord, intownconcord.org. A three-day street festival, hosted by Intown Concord, featuring shopping, games and live entertainment on Main Street. Normally held in June.
  • Intown Taco Tour, Manchester, intownmanchester.com. An annual street festival organized by Intown Manchester in May. Restaurants create and sell their own unique tacos, and attendees vote on their favorites.
  • Winter Holiday Stroll, Nashua, downtownnashua.org. A holiday event, presented by Great American Downtown, featuring live music, food, holiday shopping, a candlelight stroll and a tree-lighting ceremony downtown. Normally held the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
  • Milford Pumpkin Fest, milfordpumpkinfestival.org. Features giant pumpkins, craft fairs, talent shows, fireworks and a haunted trail in downtown Milford. Normally held on Columbus Day weekend.
  • Deerfield Fair, Deerfield Fairgrounds, deerfieldfair.com. One of the largest and most well-attended agricultural fairs in New Hampshire, with carnival rides, live entertainment, food and more. Normally held in September.

Best Bar for Live Music

Best of the best: The Shaskeen Pub and Restaurant, 909 Elm St., Manchester, 625-0246, shaskeenirishpub.com

  • Area 23, 254 N. State St., Concord, 552-0137, thearea23.com
  • The Derryfield Restaurant, 625 Mammoth Road, Manchester, 623-2880, thederryfield.com
  • The Stumble Inn Bar & Grill, 20 Rockingham Road, Londonderry, 432-3210, stumbleinnnh.com
  • Murphy’s Taproom, 494 Elm St., Manchester, 644-3535, murphystaproom.com

Best Bar With an Outdoor Deck

Best of the best: Murphy’s Taproom, 494 Elm St., Manchester, 644-3535, murphystaproom.com

  • Penuche’s Ale House, 4 Canal St., Nashua, 595-9831, penuchesalehouse.com
  • Backyard Brewery & Kitchen, 1211 S. Mammoth Road, Manchester, 623-3545, backyardbrewerynh.com
  • Fody’s Great American Tavern, 187 Rockingham Road, Derry, 404-6946, fodystavern.com
  • The Pasta Loft Restaurant, 241 Union Square, Milford, 672-2270, pastaloft.com.

Best Sports Bar

Best of the best: Billy’s Sports Bar & Grill, 34 Tarrytown Road, Manchester, 622-3644, billys-sports-bar-grill.business.site

  • The River Casino & Sports Bar, 53 High St., Nashua, 881-9060, therivercasino.com
  • The Thirsty Moose Taphouse, 360 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack, 670-0270, thirstymoosetaphouse.com
  • The Draft Sports Bar and Grill, 67 S. Main St., Concord, 227-1175, draftsportsbar.com
  • The Thirsty Moose Taphouse, 795 Elm St., Manchester, 792-2337, thirstymoosetaphouse.com

Best Sports Book

Best of the best: Filotimo Casino & Restaurant, 279 S. Willow St., Manchester, 668-6591, filotimocasino.com

The Brook, 319 New Zealand Road, Seabrook, 474-3065, livefreeandplay.com

RESTAURANTS

Best Restaurant

Best of the best: Copper Door Restaurant, 15 Leavy Dr., Bedford, 488-2677, copperdoor.com (The Copper Door Restaurant also has a location in Salem.)

  • The Puritan Backroom, 245 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 669-6890, puritanbackroom.com
  • Buckley’s Great Steaks, 438 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack, 424-0995, buckleysgreatsteaks.com
  • The Tuckaway Tavern & Butchery, 58 Route 27, Raymond, 244-2431, thetuckaway.com
  • Mint Bistro, 1105 Elm St., Manchester, 625-6468, mintbistro.com

Best New Eatery

Best of the best: bluAqua Restrobar, 930 Elm St., Manchester, 836-3970, bluaquarestrobar.com. A “restrobar,” according to bluAqua owner Scott Forrester, is a downtown gastropub offering quality food and cocktails with a little Southern flair. The Lubbock, Texas, native opened this eatery in downtown Manchester in early 2020, offering Southern-inspired items like chicken and andouille gumbo, seared sesame tuna, and shrimp and grits, in addition to burgers, sandwiches, tacos and more.

  • White Birch Eatery, 571 Mast Road, Goffstown, 836-6849, whitebircheatery.com. Offering breakfast and lunch seven days a week, the White Birch Eatery features a menu of small plates, bowls, sandwiches and toasts, all with fresh, seasonal ingredients.
  • Tomahawk Tavern & Butchery, 454 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack, 365-4960, tomahawktavern.com. This deli and restaurant has quickly become a favorite in Merrimack for its marinated meats, burgers, hot and cold subs, and selection of Boar’s Head meats and cheeses.
  • Col’s Kitchen, 55 S. Main St., Concord, 227-6778, colsplantbased.com. Col’s Kitchen is a plant-based restaurant that opened its doors in mid-August 2020, featuring a well-rounded menu of appetizers, sandwiches, entrees, brunch options and desserts. The eatery also makes a variety of its own vegan sauces, which owner Jordan Reynolds said he hopes to begin bottling soon.
  • Diz’s Cafe, 860 Elm St., Manchester, 606-2532, dizscafe.com. Longtime chef and Manchester native Gary “Diz” Window opened Diz’s Cafe, his first restaurant as owner, in May 2020. Diz’s Cafe offers scratch-made comfort foods and home-cooked meals, including customizable “build-your-own” menus of at least one protein and up to three fresh sides.

Best Fine Dining

Best of the best: Hanover Street Chophouse, 149 Hanover St., Manchester, 644-2467, hanoverstreetchophouse.com

  • Copper Door Restaurant, 15 Leavy Dr., Bedford, 488-2677, copperdoor.com (The Copper Door Restaurant also has a location in Salem.)
  • Bedford Village Inn & Restaurant, 2 Olde Bedford Way, Bedford, 472-2001, bedfordvillageinn.com
  • Buckley’s Great Steaks, 438 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack, 424-0995, buckleysgreatsteaks.com
  • Cotton Restaurant, 75 Arms St., Manchester, 622-5488, cottonfood.com

Best Diner

Best of the best: The Red Arrow Diner, 61 Lowell St., Manchester, 626-1118, redarrowdiner.com (The Red Arrow Diner also has locations in Concord, Londonderry and Nashua.)

  • MaryAnn’s Diner, 29 E. Broadway, Derry, 434-5785, maryannsdiner.com (MaryAnn’s Diner also has locations in Windham and Salem.)
  • Airport Diner, 2280 Brown Ave., Manchester, 623-5040, thecman.com/airport-diner
  • The Red Arrow Diner, 137 Rockingham Road, Londonderry, 552-3651, redarrowdiner.com (The Red Arrow Diner also has locations in Manchester, Concord and Nashua.)
  • The Red Arrow Diner, 112 Loudon Road, Concord, 415-0444, redarrowdiner.com (The Red Arrow Diner also has locations in Manchester, Londonderry and Nashua.)

Best Seafood Restaurant

Best of the best: Surf Restaurant, 207 Main St., Nashua, 595-9293, surfseafood.com (Surf also has a location in Portsmouth.)

  • The Lobster Boat, 453 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack, 424-5221, lobsterboatrestaurant.com (The Lobster Boat also has a location in Litchfield.)
  • Petey’s Summertime Seafood & Bar, 1323 Ocean Blvd., Rye, 433-1937, peteys.com
  • The Beach Plum, 3 Brickyard Square, Epping, 679-3200, thebeachplum.net (The Beach Plum also has locations in Portsmouth and North Hampton. A fourth location is due to open in Salem this spring.)
  • Hooked Seafood Restaurant, 110 Hanover St., Manchester, 606-1189, hookedonignite.com

Best Pub

Best of the best: The Shaskeen Pub and Restaurant, 909 Elm St., Manchester, 625-0246, shaskeenirishpub.com

  • The Peddler’s Daughter, 48 Main St., Nashua, 821-7535, thepeddlersdaughter.com
  • Strange Brew Tavern, 88 Market St., Manchester, 666-4292, strangebrewtavern.net
  • The Barley House Restaurant & Tavern, 132 N. Main St., Concord, 228-6363, thebarleyhouse.com
  • The Wild Rover Pub, 21 Kosciuszko St., Manchester, 669-7722, wildroverpub.com

DELICIOUS DISHES

Best Dish or Drink You Had in the Last Year

Best of the best: Fried Oreos at Union Street Takeout, 90 Union St., Manchester, 260-7663. The deep-fried Oreos are among several sweet treats available at this takeout-only eatery, along with brownies, cookies and chocolate or peanut butter fudge.

  • Loaded chicken tenders at The River Casino & Sports Bar, 53 High St., Nashua, 881-9060, therivercasino.com. A customer favorite, these hand-battered chicken tenders are tossed in a sweet chili sauce and topped with cheese, bacon and scallions.
  • Chili at Union Street Takeout, 90 Union St., Manchester, 260-7663. Chili is available on multiple menu items here, including by itself with bread and butter, as well as on a hot dog, a cheeseburger or an order of chili cheese fries.
  • Chicken Francaise at Stella Blu, 70 E. Pearl St., Nashua, 578-5557, stellablu-nh.com. This dish features chicken breast floured and egged, cooked in olive oil and butter, over angel hair pasta, topped with garlic butter cream sauce and served with green beans.
  • Poutine at New England’s Tap House Grille, 1292 Hooksett Road, Hooksett, 782-5137, taphousenh.com. The Tap House poutine has hand-cut fries that are topped with cheese curds, a peppercorn demi-glace, Parmesan cheese and fresh rosemary before being finished off with a spray of white truffle oil.

Best Barbecue

Best of the best: KC’s Rib Shack, 837 Second St., Manchester, 627-7427, ribshack.net

  • Smokehaus Barbecue, 278 Route 101, Amherst, 249-5734, smokehausbbq.com
  • Smokeshow Barbeque, 89 Fort Eddy Road, Concord, 227-6399, smokeshowbarbeque.com
  • Georgia’s Northside, 394 N. State St., Concord, 715-9189, georgiasnorthside.com
  • Goody Cole’s Smokehouse and Catering Co., 374 Route 125, Brentwood, 679-8898, goodycoles.com

Best Breakfast

Best of the best: Tucker’s, 80 South St., Concord, 413-5884, tuckersnh.com (Tucker’s also has locations in Hooksett, Dover, Merrimack, New London and a sixth location that’s due to open in Bedford this summer.)

  • Purple Finch Cafe, 124 S. River Road, Bedford, 232-1953, purplefinchcafe.com
  • Tucker’s, 1328 Hooksett Road, Hooksett, 206-5757, tuckersnh.com (Tucker’s also has locations in Concord, Dover, Merrimack, New London and a sixth location that’s due to open in Bedford this summer.)
  • Tucker’s, 360 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack, 413-6477, tuckersnh.com (Tucker’s also has locations in Concord, Hooksett, Dover, New London and a sixth location that’s due to open in Bedford this summer.)
  • Janie’s Uncommon Cafe, 123 Nashua Road, Londonderry, 432-3100, janiescafe.com

Best Breakfast Dish

Best of the best: Sedona skillet at Tucker’s, 80 South St., Concord, 413-5884, tuckersnh.com. The dish features three local eggs scrambled with onions, pepper jack cheese and piquante peppers over crispy hash browns, and topped with guacamole, Southwest seasoning and a chipotle aioli drizzle. (Tucker’s also has locations in Hooksett, Dover, Merrimack, New London and a sixth location that’s due to open in Bedford this summer.)

  • Banana nut bread French toast at Tucker’s, 360 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack, 413-6477, tuckersnh.com. This freshly baked banana nut bread is grilled in French toast batter and then topped with bananas, maple glazed walnuts, whipped cream and powdered sugar. (Tucker’s also has locations in Concord, Hooksett, Dover, New London and a sixth location that’s due to open in Bedford this summer.)
  • Crepes at Chez Vachon, 136 Kelley St., Manchester, 625-9660, find them on Facebook. Crepes are made to order at this longtime West Side staple, with a variety of sweet and savory fillings available.
  • Pancake boards at the Purple Finch Cafe, 124 S. River Road, Bedford, 232-1953, purplefinchcafe.com. Depending on the time of year, you’ll find all kinds of seasonally themed pancake boards featuring eight pancakes and a variety of fun toppings per order.
  • Compost Heap at The Riverhouse Cafe, 167 Union Square, Milford, 249-5556, damngoodgrub.com/riverhousecafe. One of The Riverhouse Cafe’s many signature creations, the Compost Heap features roasted veggies, Monterey Jack cheese and tomato between two cheesy hash browns, topped with two eggs, organic pea shoots, avocado and salsa verde.

Best Burgers

Best of the best: The Barley House Restaurant & Tavern, 132 N. Main St., Concord, 228-6363, thebarleyhouse.com

  • New England’s Tap House Grille, 1292 Hooksett Road, Hooksett, 782-5137, taphousenh.com
  • Vibes Gourmet Burgers, 25 S. Main St., Concord, 856-8671, vibesgourmetburgers.com
  • The Tuckaway Tavern & Butchery, 58 Route 27, Raymond, 244-2431, thetuckaway.com
  • The Crown Tavern, 99 Hanover St., Manchester, 218-3132, thecrownonhanover.com

Best Fish & Chips

Best of the best: The Lobster Boat, 453 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack, 424-5221, lobsterboatrestaurant.com (The Lobster Boat also has a location in Litchfield.)

  • The Peddler’s Daughter, 48 Main St., Nashua, 821-7535, thepeddlersdaughter.com
  • The Barley House Restaurant & Tavern, 132 N. Main St., Concord, 228-6363, thebarleyhouse.com
  • Goldenrod Restaurant Drive-In, 1681 Candia Road, Manchester, 623-9469, goldenrodrestaurant.com
  • Petey’s Summertime Seafood & Bar, 1323 Ocean Blvd., Rye, 433-1937, peteys.com

Best Mac & Cheese

Best of the best: Mr. Mac’s Macaroni & Cheese, 497 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 606-1760, mr-macs.com (Mr. Mac’s also has locations in Portsmouth and in Tyngsboro, Mass., and Westford, Mass.)

  • Pressed Cafe, 108 Spit Brook Road, Nashua, 718-1250; 3 Cotton Road, Nashua, 402-1003 (the Cotton Road location is drive-thru only; Pressed Cafe also has locations in Burlington, Mass., and Newton, Mass.)
  • Stella Blu, 70 E. Pearl St., Nashua, 578-5557, stellablu-nh.com
  • The Tuckaway Tavern & Butchery, 58 Route 27, Raymond, 244-2431, thetuckaway.com
  • O Steaks & Seafood, 11 S. Main St., Concord, 856-7925, osteaksconcord.com (O Steaks & Seafood also has a location in Laconia.)

Best Pizza

Best of the best: 900 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria, 50 Dow St., Manchester, 641-0900, 900degrees.com

  • Alley Cat Pizzeria, 486 Chestnut St., Manchester, 669-4533, alleycatpizzerianh.com
  • Constantly Pizza, 39 S. Main St., Concord, 224-9366, constantlypizza.net (Constantly Pizza also has a location in Penacook.)
  • Sal’s Pizza, 80 Storrs St., Concord, 226-0297, sals-pizza.com (Sal’s Pizza also has locations in Derry, Hampton, Hooksett, Laconia, Manchester, Merrimack and Milford and several others in Massachusetts.)
  • Vintage Pizza, 241 Candia Road, Manchester, 518-7800, vintagepizzanh.com

Best Sandwich

Best of the best: Steak and cheese special at Union Street Takeout, 90 Union St., Manchester, 260-7663. You can get a steak and cheese sub with peppers and onions here, or order it as a special with bacon, mayonnaise and other toppings like lettuce, tomatoes and pickles.

  • The Garden at the Nashua Garden, 121 Main St., Nashua, 886-7363, find them on Facebook @thenashuagarden603. This vegetarian sandwich features tomato, cucumber, olives, bell peppers, pickles, onion, lettuce and sprouts.
  • Steak and cheese sub at Sub Station, 1292 Hooksett Road, Hooksett, 625-1800, substationhooksett.com. Featuring custom-blended shaved steak with either melted American or provolone cheese, this sub can be customized even further by adding teriyaki or barbecue sauce.
  • Roast beef sandwich at Bentley’s Roast Beef, 134 Route 101A, Amherst, 883-2020, bentleysroastbeef.com. Bentley’s uses grain-fed Midwestern beef for its sandwiches, which are available in multiple sizes on toasted sesame or onion rolls, or on Syrian bread.
  • CBC at T-Bones Great American Eatery, 25 S. River Road, Bedford, 641-6100; 39 Crystal Ave., Derry, 434-3200; 77 Lowell Road, Hudson, 882-6677; t-bones.com. The CBC features fried chicken, cheddar cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise on a toasted bun. (The Bedford, Derry and Hudson T-Bones locations all received votes in this category for the CBC, but you can also get this sandwich at the locations in Concord, Laconia and Salem.)

Best Subs

Best of the best: Nadeau’s Subs, 776 Mast Road, Manchester, 623-9315; 100 Cahill Ave., Manchester, 669-7827; 673 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 644-8888; 1095 Hanover St., Manchester, 606-4411; nadeaus.com (Nadeau’s Subs also has a fifth location in Exeter and a sixth location that opened inside McLaughlin’s Country Market in Concord in January 2021.)

  • Bill Cahill’s Super Subs, 8 Kimball Hill Road, Hudson, 882-7710, find them on Facebook @billcahills
  • USA Subs, 66 Crystal Ave., Derry, 437-1550, usasubs.com
  • Sub Station, 1292 Hooksett Road, Hooksett, 625-1800, substationhooksett.com
  • Union Street Takeout, 90 Union St., Manchester, 260-7663

Best Tacos

Best of the best: Dos Amigos Burritos, 26 N. Main St., Concord, 410-4161, dosamigosburritos.com (Dos Amigos Burritos also has a location in Portsmouth, and a third location in Dover under the name “Dos Mexican Eats.”)

  • B’s Tacos, nhtacotruck.com (Find their food truck outside the BP Gas Station at 2 Mohawk Drive in Londonderry every Tuesday through Saturday, from May to October. B’s Tacos also opened a brick-and-mortar location at 372 Kelley St. in Manchester in January 2021.)
  • La Carreta Mexican Restaurant, 545 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 628-6899; 1875 S. Willow St., Manchester, 623-7705; lacarretamex.com (with locations in Derry, Londonderry, Nashua and Portsmouth.)
  • La Carreta Mexican Restaurant, 44 Nashua Road, Londonderry, 965-3477, lacarretamex.com (with locations in Manchester, Derry, Nashua and Portsmouth.)
  • California Burritos Mexican Grill, 101 Factory St., Nashua, 718-8745; 2 Cellu Drive, Nashua, 417-6151; californiaburritosnh.com (California Burritos Mexican Grill also has locations in Hudson and Manchester.)

Restaurant That Can Make You Love Vegetables

  • Best of the best: Troy’s Fresh Kitchen & Juice Bar, 4 Orchard View Drive, Unit 6, Londonderry, 965-3411, troysfreshkitchen.com
  • Col’s Kitchen, 55 S. Main St., Concord, 227-6778, colsplantbased.com
  • Republic Cafe, 969 Elm St., 666-3723, republiccafe.com (Republic Cafe is currently operating under the same roof as its sister restaurant, Campo Enoteca, at 969 Elm St. in Manchester.)
  • Stella Blu, 70 E. Pearl St., Nashua, 578-5557, stellablu-nh.com
  • Green Elephant Vegetarian Bistro & Bar, 35 Portwalk Place, Portsmouth, 427-8344, greenelephantnh.com

SWEET TREATS

Best Bakery

Best of the best: Bearded Baking Co., 819 Union St., Manchester, 647-7150, beardedbaking.com

  • The Crust & Crumb Baking Co., 126 N. Main St., Concord, 219-0763, thecrustandcrumb.com
  • Buckley’s Bakery & Cafe, 436 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack, 262-5929, buckleysbakerycafe.com (Buckley’s also has a second location, known as Buckley’s Market & Cafe, in Hollis.)
  • Klemm’s Bakery, 29 Indian Rock Road, Windham, 437-8810, klemmsbakery.com
  • Bread & Chocolate, 29 S. Main St., Concord, 228-3330, find them on Facebook @breadandchocolateconcordnh

Best Candy or Chocolate Shop

Best of the best: Granite State Candy Shoppe, 13 Warren St., Concord, 225-2591, granitestatecandyshoppe.com (Granite State Candy Shoppe also has a location in Manchester.)

  • Van Otis Chocolates, 341 Elm St., Manchester, 627-1611, vanotis.com
  • Nelson’s Candy and Music, 65 Main St., Wilton, 654-5030, nelsonscandymusic.com
  • Granite State Candy Shoppe, 832 Elm St., Manchester, 218-3885, granitestatecandyshoppe.com (Granite State Candy Shoppe also has a location in Concord.)
  • Dancing Lion Chocolate, 917 Elm St., Manchester, 625-4043, dancinglion.us

Best Doughnuts

Best of the best: Klemm’s Bakery, 29 Indian Rock Road, Windham, 437-8810, klemmsbakery.com

  • Brothers Donuts, 426 Central St., Franklin, 934-6678, find them on Facebook @brothersdonuts
  • New Hampshire Doughnut Co., 2 Capital Plaza, Concord, 715-5097, nhdoughnutco.com (New Hampshire Doughnut Co. also has a location in Chichester.)
  • Crosby Bakery, 51 E. Pearl St., Nashua, 882-1851, crosbybakerynh.com
  • The Local Moose Cafe, 124 Queen City Ave., Manchester, 232-2669, thelocalmoosecafe.com

Best Ice Cream

Best of the best: Hayward’s Homemade Ice Cream, 7 Daniel Webster Hwy., Nashua, 888-4663, haywardsicecream.com (Hayward’s also has a location in Merrimack.)

  • Moo’s Place Ice Cream, 27 Crystal Ave., Derry, 425-0100, moosplace.com (Moo’s Place also has a location in Salem.)
  • Goldenrod Restaurant Drive-In, 1681 Candia Road, Manchester, 623-9469, goldenrodrestaurant.com
  • The Puritan Backroom, 245 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 669-6890, puritanbackroom.com
  • The Inside Scoop, 260 Wallace Road, Bedford, 471-7009, theinsidescoopnh.com

DRINKS

Best Beer Selection at a Retail Store

Best of the best: Bert’s Better Beers, 545 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 413-5992, bertsbetterbeers.com

  • The Beer Store, 433 Amherst St., Nashua, 889-2242, thebeerstorenh.com
  • The Packie, 581 Second St., Manchester, 232-1236, thepackienh.com (The Packie moved from South Willow Street to its current space in the Second Street Shoppes plaza in June 2020.)
  • Local Baskit, 10 Ferry St., Suite 120A, Concord, 219-0882, localbaskit.com
  • Lazy Dog Beer Shoppe, 27 Buttrick Road, Suite B4, Londonderry, 434-2500, lazydogbeer.com

Best NH Brewery

Best of the best: 603 Brewery, 42 Main St., Londonderry, 404-6123, 603brewery.com

  • Able Ebenezer Brewing Co., 31 Columbia Circle, Merrimack, 844-223-2253, ableebenezer.com
  • Backyard Brewery & Kitchen, 1211 S. Mammoth Road, Manchester, 623-3545, backyardbrewerynh.com
  • Concord Craft Brewing, 117 Storrs St., Concord, 856-7625, concordcraftbrewing.com
  • Pipe Dream Brewing, 49 Harvey Road, Londonderry, 404-0751, pipedreambrewingnh.com

Best NH-made Beer Variety

Best of the best: Safe Space New England IPA (Concord Craft Brewing, 117 Storrs St., Concord, 856-7625, concordcraftbrewing.com)

  • Misguided Angel New England IPA (Lithermans Limited Brewery, 126 Hall St., Unit B, Concord, 219-0784, lithermans.beer)
  • Burn The Ships Cherrywood Smoked IPA (Able Ebenezer Brewing Co., 31 Columbia Circle, Merrimack, 844-223-2253, ableebenezer.com)
  • Victory Nor Defeat Double IPA (Able Ebenezer Brewing Co., 31 Columbia Circle, Merrimack, 844-223-2253, ableebenezer.com)
  • Winni Amber Ale (603 Brewery, 42 Main St., Londonderry, 404-6123, 603brewery.com)

Best NH-made Cider and Mead

Best of the best: Ancient Fire Mead & Cider, 8030 S. Willow St., Building 1, Unit 7-2, Manchester, 203-4223, ancientfirewines.com

  • Moonlight Meadery, 23 Londonderry Road, No. 17, Londonderry, 216-2162, moonlightmeadery.com
  • Contoocook Cider Co. (Gould Hill Farm), 656 Gould Hill Road, Contoocook, 746-1175, contoocookcider.com
  • North Country Hard Cider, 3 Front St., No. 160, Rollinsford, 834-9915, northcountryhardcider.com
  • Sap House Meadery, 6 Folsom Road, Ossipee, 539-1672, saphousemeadery.com

Best NH Winery

Best of the best: LaBelle Winery, 345 Route 101, Amherst, 672-9898, labellewinerynh.com (LaBelle Winery also has a location in Portsmouth. Another location featuring an onsite restaurant and retail marketplace is due to open in Derry later this year.)

  • Zorvino Vineyards, 226 Main St., Sandown, 887-8463, zorvino.com
  • Ancient Fire Mead & Cider, 8030 S. Willow St., Building 1, Unit 7-2, Manchester, 203-4223, ancientfirewines.com
  • Flag Hill Distillery & Winery, 297 N. River Road, Lee, 659-2949, flaghill.com
  • Fulchino Vineyard, 187 Pine Hill Road, Hollis, 438-5984, fulchinovineyard.com

Where They Make Your Coffee Perfect Every Time

Best of the best: Revelstoke Coffee, 100 N. Main St., Concord, revelstokecoffee.com

  • Hometown Coffee Roasters, 80 Old Granite St., Manchester, 703-2321, hometownroasters.com
  • A&E Coffee & Tea, 135 Route 101A, Amherst, 578-3338, aeroastery.com (A&E Coffee & Tea also has a cafe location in Manchester and a wholesale roastery in Nashua.)
  • Flight Coffee Co., 30 Harvey Road, Bedford, 836-6228, flightcoffeeco.com
  • Cafe la Reine, 915 Elm St., Manchester, 232-0332, cafe-la-reine.square.site

EATING OUTDOORS & FOOD TO-GO

Best Restaurant to Get Takeout From

Best of the best: The Puritan Backroom, 245 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 669-6890, puritanbackroom.com

  • Troy’s Fresh Kitchen & Juice Bar, 4 Orchard View Drive, Unit 6, Londonderry, 965-3411, troysfreshkitchen.com
  • Union Street Takeout, 90 Union St., Manchester, 260-7663
  • Georgia’s Northside, 394 N. State St., Concord, 715-9189, georgiasnorthside.com
  • Lilac Blossom, 385 E. Dunstable Road, Nashua, 888-9588; 650 Amherst St., Nashua, 886-8420; lilacblossom.us

Best Food Truck

Best of the best: B’s Tacos (nhtacotruck.com) Find them outside the BP Gas Station (2 Mohawk Drive, Londonderry) every Tuesday through Saturday, from May to October. B’s Tacos also opened a brick-and-mortar location at 372 Kelley St. in Manchester in January 2021.

  • Up In Your Grill (upinyourgrill.com) Follow them on Facebook @upinyourgrill for their most up-to-date schedule. The barbecue trailer regularly appears at Vault Motor Storage (526 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack) and also provides catering services.
  • Smoke N’ Butts BBQ (smokenbuttsbbq.com) Find them outside The Farmer’s Wife (20 Main St., Candia) on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, beginning April 9. The barbecue trailer has also appeared at several local events and provides catering services for small parties.
  • The Hungry Caterpillar (find them on Facebook @thehungrycaterpillarnh) This plant-based food truck regularly posts its weekly schedule on social media, but is most often found every Wednesday through Saturday at 45 Danville Road in Hampstead.
  • The Food Abides (find them on Facebook) The truck is currently closed for the season, but will regularly post updates on its whereabouts on social media. Last year, it was a regular visitor of Lithermans Limited Brewery (126 Hall St., Unit B, Concord).

Restaurant with the Best Outdoor Seating

Best of the best: Downtown Cheers Grille & Bar, 17 Depot St., Concord, 228-0180, cheersnh.com

  • The Crown Tavern, 99 Hanover St., Manchester, 218-3132, thecrownonhanover.com
  • Backyard Brewery & Kitchen, 1211 S. Mammoth Road, Manchester, 623-3545, backyardbrewerynh.com
  • 603 Brewery, 42 Main St., Londonderry, 404-6123, 603brewery.com
  • Copper Door Restaurant, 15 Leavy Drive, Bedford, 488-2677, copperdoor.com (The Copper Door Restaurant also has a location in Salem.)

Best Farmers Market

Best of the best: Concord Farmers Market (concordfarmersmarket.com) Held on Saturdays, from 8:30 a.m. to noon, on Capitol Street in Concord (near the Statehouse), from May to October. The 2021 market is tentatively set to begin on Saturday, May 1.

  • Bedford Farmers Market (bedfordfarmersmarketnh.org) Held on Tuesdays from 3 to 6 p.m. in the parking lot of Wicked Good Butchah (formerly the Harvest Market) at 209 Route 101 in Bedford. The market is due to return on June 15 and will continue weekly after that until the middle of October.
  • Nashua Farmers Market (downtownnashua.org/local) Held on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the grounds of City Hall at 229 Main St. in Nashua. The market is usually held from mid-June to mid-October. 2021 market dates TBA.
  • Salem Farmers Market (salemnhfarmersmarket.org) Held on Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon inside the former Rockler Woodworking building (369 S. Broadway, Salem). The year-round market, which normally operates indoors from November through about April or May, moved into its current spot in January 2021.
  • Derry Homegrown Farm & Artisan Market (derryhomegrown.org) After taking a one-year hiatus last year due to Covid-19 concerns, the Derry Homegrown Farm & Artisan Market will return on June 2 at 1 W. Broadway in Derry, where it will be held on Wednesdays from 3 to 7 p.m. through the end of September.

OUTDOOR FUN

Best Farm for Pick-Your-Own

Best of the best: Sunnycrest Farm, 59 High Range Road, Londonderry, 432-7753, sunnycrestfarmnh.com. Pick-your-own opportunities include apples, strawberries, blueberries and cherries.

Mack’s Apples, 230 Mammoth Road, Londonderry, 432-3456, macksapples.com. Pick-your-own opportunities include apples and pumpkins.

Lull Farm, 65 Broad St., Hollis, 465-7079, livefreeandfarm.com. Pick-your-own opportunities include strawberries, apples and pumpkins. (Lull Farm also has a seasonal farm in Milford.)

Brookdale Fruit Farm, 41 Broad St., Hollis, 465-2240, brookdalefruitfarm.com. Pick-your-own opportunities include strawberries, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, black raspberries, blackberries, apples and pumpkins.

Carter Hill Orchard, 73 Carter Hill Road, 225-2625, carterhillapples.com. Pick-your-own opportunities include peaches, blueberries and apples.

Best City Park

Best of the best: Benson Park, 19 Kimball Road, Hudson, 886-6000, hudsonnh.gov. Originally a private zoo and amusement park, Benson Park reopened in 2010 as a town park for recreational use and is now a popular spot for hiking, dog walking, fishing and picnicking.

  • White Park, 1 White St., Concord, 225-8690, concordnh.gov. Amenities include a basketball court, a seasonal pool, walking trails and an ice skating rink.
  • Greeley Park, 100 Concord St., Nashua, 589-3370, nashuanh.gov. Amenities include baseball and softball fields, a playground, picnic areas, walking trails and a tennis court.
  • Livingston Park, 156 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 624-6444, manchesternh.gov. Amenities include walking trails around Dorrs Pond, as well as a baseball diamond, a running track and two playgrounds.
  • Mine Falls Park, Whipple Street, Nashua, 589-3370, nashuanh.gov. This 325-acre park features eight miles of walking trails, forest, open fields and wetlands.

Best State Park

Best of the best: Bear Brook State Park, 61 Deerfield Road, Allenstown, 485-9874, nhstatesparks.org/visit/state-parks/bear-brook-state-park. The largest developed state park in New Hampshire, Bear Brook State Park is 10,000 acres and features more than 40 miles of trails. Activities include biking, hiking, swimming, camping and fishing.

  • Hampton Beach State Park, 160 Ocean Blvd., Hampton, 926-8990, nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/hampton-beach-state-park. Activities include swimming, fishing, picnicking and RV camping.
  • Pawtuckaway State Park, 7 Pawtuckaway Road, Nottingham, 895-3031, nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/pawtuckaway-state-park. This park features more than 5,000 acres of land and trails with a variety of landscapes.
  • Wellington State Park, 614 W. Shore Road, Bristol, 744-2197, nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/wellington-state-park. Wellington State Park offers hiking trails, picnic areas and volleyball and horseshoe courts, and is also known for having the largest freshwater swimming beach in the New Hampshire state park system.
  • Odiorne Point State Park, 570 Ocean Blvd., Rye, 436-7406, nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/odiorne-point-state-park. This park offers gorgeous views of the Atlantic Ocean and also features the Seacoast Science Center.

Best Campground

Best of the best: White Lake State Park, 94 State Park Road, Tamworth, 323-7350, nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/white-lake-state-park

  • Pawtuckaway State Park, 7 Pawtuckaway Road, Nottingham, 895-3031, nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/pawtuckaway-state-park
  • Danforth Bay Camping & RV Resort, 196 Shawtown Road, Freedom, 539-2069, danforthbay.com
  • Moose Hillock Camping Resort, 96 Batchelder Brook Road, Warren, 764-5294, moosehillock.com
  • Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp Resort, 111 Mi-Te-Jo Road, Milton, 652-9022, lakesregionjellystone.com

Best Bike Trail

Best of the best: Nashua River Rail Trail, Nashua. This 12.5-mile trail roughly follows the Nashua River, passing through Nashua and several neighboring towns in Massachusetts.

  • Goffstown Rail Trail, Goffstown, goffstownrailtrail.org. The trail runs for more than seven miles from Goffstown to Manchester.
  • Londonderry Rail Trail, Londonderry, londonderrytrails.org. About six miles of this trail runs through North Londonderry.
  • Windham Rail Trail, Windham, windhamrailtrail.org. The Windham Rail Trail is 4.1 miles and is a core part of the longest paved abandoned rail bed in the Granite State, as the Windham, Derry and Salem rail trails collectively run about 11 miles.
  • Mine Falls Park, Whipple Street, Nashua, 589-3370, nashuanh.gov. This 325-acre park features about eight miles of trails.

Best Hike in Southern New Hampshire

Best of the best: Mount Monadnock, Jaffrey/Dublin, 532-8862, nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/monadnock-state-park. The 3,165-foot mountain features more than 35 hiking trails of various levels of difficulty leading to the summit.

  • Pack Monadnock, Miller State Park, 13 Miller Park Road, Peterborough, 924-3672, nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/miller-state-park. The oldest state park in New Hampshire, Miller State Park features three hiking trails and a 1.3-mile paved, driveable road to the 2,290-foot summit.
  • Mount Major, Alton, blog.nhstateparks.org/mt-major-family-friendly-hike. This 1,785-foot peak offers panoramic views of Lake Winnipesaukee.
  • Mount Uncanoonuc Trails, Mountain Road, Goffstown. The North Uncanoonuc Trail, about a 0.6-mile hike, is steep in some spots and is known for its wilderness and panoramic views of Goffstown. The South Uncanoonuc Trail is slightly longer (about 0.8 miles) and is a snowmobiling and ATVing trail that features views of Mount Monadnock from a distance.
  • Mine Falls Park, Whipple Street, Nashua, 589-3370, nashuanh.gov. This 325-acre park features eight miles of walking trails, forest, open fields and wetlands.

Best Spot for a Mini Hike

Best of the best: Mine Falls Park, Whipple Street, Nashua, 589-3370, nashuanh.gov. This 325-acre park features eight miles of walking trails, forest, open fields and wetlands.

  • Marjory Swope Park, Long Pond Road, Concord, 225-8815, concordnh.gov. Named in 2012 after Marjory Swope, longtime executive director of the New Hampshire Association of Conservation Commissions, this 77-acre park near Long Pond in Concord features a nearly two-mile trail loop that offers great views of Penacook Lake.
  • Lake Massabesic, Manchester, 624-6482, manchesternh.gov/departments/water-works/lake-massabesic-watershed. Dozens of trails are available for walking, jogging and hiking.
  • Beaver Brook Association, 117 Ridge Road, Hollis, 465-7787, beaverbrook.org. The Beaver Brook Association features more than 35 miles of trails across more than 2,000 acres of forest, fields and wetlands within the towns of Hollis, Brookline and Milford.
  • Livingston Park, 156 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 624-6444, manchesternh.gov. Numerous trails for hiking are available in the area; one of them circles the pond, which opens for fishing in the summer months and public ice skating in the winter months.

Best Spot for a Long Run

Best of the best: Mine Falls Park, Whipple Street, Nashua, 589-3370, nashuanh.gov. This 325-acre park features eight miles of walking trails, forest, open fields and wetlands.

  • Goffstown Rail Trail, Goffstown, goffstownrailtrail.org. The trail runs for more than seven miles from Goffstown to Manchester.
  • Londonderry Rail Trail, Londonderry, londonderrytrails.org. About six miles of this trail runs through North Londonderry.
  • Nashua River Rail Trail, Nashua. This 12.5-mile trail roughly follows the Nashua River, passing through Nashua and several neighboring towns in Massachusetts.
  • Lake Massabesic, Manchester, 624-6482, manchesternh.gov/departments/water-works/lake-massabesic-watershed. Dozens of trails are available for running and jogging.

Best Lake to Canoe or Kayak

Best of the best: Lake Massabesic, Manchester, 624-6482, manchesternh.gov/departments/water-works/lake-massabesic-watershed

  • Newfound Lake, Wellington State Park, 614 W. Shore Road, Bristol, 744-2197, nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/wellington-state-park
  • Lake Winnipesaukee, lakewinnipesaukee.net
  • Pawtuckaway State Park, 7 Pawtuckaway Road, Nottingham, 895-3031, nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/pawtuckaway-state-park
  • Lake Sunapee, Mount Sunapee State Park, 86 Beach Access Road, Newbury, 763-5561, nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/mt-sunapee-state-park

Best Route for a Motorcycle Ride

Best of the best: Kancamagus Highway, kancamagushighway.com. A 34.5-mile scenic ride from Lincoln to Conway along New Hampshire’s Route 112.

  • New Hampshire Route 31. A 56-mile state highway crossing several towns in southwestern New Hampshire.
  • New Hampshire Route 107. A 69-mile state highway connecting Laconia in the Lakes Region with Seabrook on the coast, its northernmost area near Lake Winnipesaukee.
  • New Hampshire Route 1A on the Seacoast, or the Coastal Byway, visit-newhampshire.com/seacoast/scenic drives. An 18.4-mile drive along New Hampshire’s coast through Portsmouth, Rye and Seabrook.
  • New Hampshire Route 13. A 43-mile state highway running from Brookline to Concord.

Best Off-Roading Trail

Best of the best: Jericho Mountain State Park, 298 Jericho Lake Road, Berlin, 752-4758, nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/jericho-mountain-state-park. The trails at Jericho Mountain State Park are currently closed to OHRV use for mud season but may reopen in late May, depending on the weather and trail conditions

  • Pittsburg, greatnorthwoodsridersatv.org. Most of the Great North Woods Riders ATV Club’s trails are located on 8,000 acres of the Perry Stream Land and Timber Co. property in Pittsburg. The only allowed travel on Route 3 is from Cheese Factory Road to the Murphy Dam.
  • The state’s trails (visit nhstateparks.org for a map of permitted OHRV trails)

Best Ski Hill

Best of the best: Pats Peak Ski Area, 686 Flanders Road, Henniker, 428-3245, patspeak.com

  • Loon Mountain, 60 Loon Mountain Road, Lincoln, 800-229-5666, loonmtn.com
  • Gunstock Mountain Resort, 719 Cherry Valley Road, Gilford, 293-4341, gunstock.com
  • Bretton Woods, 99 Ski Area Road, Bretton Woods, 278-3320, brettonwoods.com
  • Cannon Mountain Ski Area, 260 Tramway Drive, Franconia, 823-8800, cannonmt.com

Best Spot for Cross-Country Skiing

Best of the best: Jackson XC, 153 Main St., Jackson, 383-9355, jacksonxc.org

  • Beaver Meadow Golf Course, 1 Beaver Meadow Drive, Concord, 228-8954, concordnh.gov
  • White Farm, 144 Clinton St., Concord, 271-3241, concordnh.gov
  • Bretton Woods, 99 Ski Area Road, Bretton Woods, 278-3320, brettonwoods.com
  • Gunstock Mountain Resort, 719 Cherry Valley Road, Gilford, 293-4341, gunstock.com

Best Snowmobile Trail

Best of the best: Pittsburg, pittsburgridgerunners.org. Trail reports in Pittsburg are posted on the Pittsburg Ridge Runners Snowmobile Club’s website.

  • Lake Massabesic, Manchester, snowmobile-nh.com. The Southern New Hampshire Snow Slickers posts information on trail status in this area on its website.
  • Belmont, belmontbogiebusters.org. Trail reports in Belmont are posted on the Belmont Bogie Busters Snowmobile Club’s website.
  • Bow, bowpioneers.org. Trail conditions and maps are available on the Bow Pioneers Snowmobile Club’s website.

Home & Garden

Best Car Repair

Best of the best: Merrimack Auto Center, 9 Webb Drive, Merrimack, 216-9596; 150 Amherst St., Nashua, 546-0157, merrimackautocenterllc.com

  • Duncan’s European Automotive, 3 Liberty Drive, Londonderry, 434-5796, duncansauto.com
  • Weed Family Automotive, 124 Storrs St., Concord, 225-7988, weedfamilyautomotive.com
  • Gurney’s Automotive Repair, 83 Broad St., Nashua, 886-5800, gurneysautomotive.com
  • Ron’s Toy Shop, 235 Elm St., Manchester, 669-9682, ronstoyshop.com

Best Garden Center or Nursery

Best of the best: House by the Side of the Road, 370 Gibbons Highway, Wilton, 654-9888, housebythesideoftheroad.com

  • Demers Garden Center, 656 S. Mammoth Road, Manchester, 625-8298, demersgardencenter.com
  • Cole Gardens, 430 Loudon Road, Concord, 229-0655, colegardens.com
  • Lake Street Garden Center, 37 Lake St., Salem, 893-5858, lakestreet.com
  • Bedford Fields Home & Garden Center, 331 Route 101, Bedford, 472-8880, bedfordfields.com

BEAUTY, WELLNESS & FASHION

Best Barbershop

Best of the best: South Mane Barbershop, 28 S Main St., 1B, Concord, 952-2202, southmanebarbershop.com

  • The Polished Man, 707 Milford Road, Merrimack, 718-8427, thepolishedman.com
  • Lucky’s Barbershop and Shave Parlor, 50 S. State St., Concord, 715-5470, luckysbarbershop.biz.
  • HomeGrown Barber Co., 18 Orchard View Drive, Londonderry, 818-8989, homegrownbarber.com
  • Blank Canvas Salon, 1F Commons Drive, No. 38, Londonderry, 818-4294, blankcanvassalon.com

Best Independent Clothing and/or Shoe Store

Best of the best: Alec’s Shoes, 1617 Southwood Drive, Nashua, 882-6811, alecs-shoes.com

  • Gondwana & Divine Clothing Co., 13 N. Main St., Concord, 228-1101, clothingnh.com
  • Joe King’s Shoe Shop, 45 N. Main St., Concord, 225-6012, joekings.com
  • Alapage, 25 S. River Road, Bedford, 622-0550, alapageboutique.com
  • Camaraderie Boutique, 175 Main St., Nashua, 402-1908, camaraderiestyle.com

Best Jewelry Shop

Best of the best: Bellman Jewelers, 1650 Elm St., Manchester, 625-4653, bellmans.com

  • Capitol Craftsman Romance Jewelers, 16 & 18 N. Main St., Concord, 224-6166, capitolcraftsman.com
  • Scontsas Fine Jewelry & Home Decor, 169-173 Main St., Nashua, 882-3281, scontsas.com
  • Jonathan’s Jewelers, 460 Route 101, Bedford, 471-2828, jonathansjewelers.com
  • Princess Jewelers, 55 Crystal Ave., Derry, 537-9605, princessnh.com

Best Second Hand Shop

Best of the best: Mother & Child Clothing and Gifts, 135 Route 101A, Amherst, 886-6727, mothersays.shoprw.com

  • Lilise Designer Resale, 7 N. Main St., Concord, 715-2009, liliseresale.com
  • OutFITters Thrift Store, 394 Second St., Manchester, 641-6691, outfittersnh.org
  • Hilltop Consignment Gallery, 56 N. Main St., Concord, 856-0110, hilltopconsignmentgallery.com
  • Corey’s Closet, 1329 Hooksett Road, Hooksett, 722-2712, coreyscloset.org

Best Salon

Best of the best: Blank Canvas Salon, 1F Commons Drive, No. 38, Londonderry, 818-4294, blankcanvassalon.com

  • 5 Diamond Salon, 915 Holt Ave., Suite 4, Manchester, 459-3367, 5diamondsalon.com
  • Color Trends Hair Salon, 25 Merrit Parkway, Nashua, 880-7504, colortrendshairsalon.com
  • Salon North, 102 Bay St., Manchester, 483-3011, 102salonnorth.com
  • Advanced Hair Etc., 61 Crystal Ave., Derry, 425-2262, advancedhairderry.com

Best Spa

Best of the best: Renew MediSpa, 23 B Crystal Ave., Derry, 932-4701, renewmedispa.com

  • Pellé Medical Spa, 159 Frontage Road, Manchester, 627-7000, pellemedicalspa.com
  • Serendipity Day Spa & Float Studio, 23 Sheep Davis Road, Pembroke, 229-0400, serendipitydayspa.com
  • Innovations Salon & Spa, 228 Naticook Road, Merrimack, 880-7499, innovationsnh.com
  • The Skin & Body Spa, 385 E. Dunstable Road, Nashua, 888-7900, theskinandbodyspa.com

Best Workout Space

Best of the best: Get Fit NH, 41 Terrill Park Drive, Concord, 344-2651, getfitnh.com

  • SPENGA, 493 Amherst St., Nashua, 324-0355, spenganashua.com
  • Strive Indoor Cycling, 10 Hills Ave., Concord, 513-9464, striveindoorcycling.com
  • Executive Health & Sports Center, 1 Highlander Way, Manchester, 668-4753, ehsc.com
  • New Hampshire Power Yoga, 704 Milford Road, Merrimack, 594-2494, nhpoweryoga.com

KIDS

Best Place to Take Kids

Best of the best: Aviation Museum of New Hampshire, 27 Navigator Road, Londonderry, 669-4820, nhahs.org. Museum dedicated to the science, technology, history and culture of aviation, with interactive exhibits and educational programs.

SEE Science Center, 200 Bedford St., Manchester, 669-0400, see-sciencecenter.org. Museum focused on technology, engineering, mathematics and more with interactive exhibits, demonstrations and educational programs.

  • Cowabunga’s, 725 Huse Road, Manchester, 935-9659, mycowabungas.com. Indoor inflatable playground and party venue.
  • Benson Park, 19 Kimball Road, Hudson, 886-6000, hudsonnh.gov
  • Livingston Park, 156 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 624-6444, manchesternh.gov

Best Outdoor Spot to Let Kids Run Around and Be Crazy

Best of the best: Livingston Park, 156 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 624-6444, manchesternh.gov

  • White Park, 1 White St., Concord, 225-8690, concordnh.gov
  • Benson Park, 19 Kimball Road, Hudson, 886-6000, hudsonnh.gov
  • Greeley Park, 100 Concord St., Nashua, 589-3370, nashuanh.gov
  • Hampton Beach, Hampton, hamptonbeach.org

Best Kids Summer Day Camp

Best of the best: YMCA of Greater Nashua’s Camp Sargent, 141 Camp Sargent Road, Merrimack, 880-4845, campsargent.org

  • Melody Pines Day Camp, 510 Corning Road, Manchester, 669-9414, melodypines.com
  • Granite YMCA, Allard Center of Goffstown, 116 Goffstown Back Road, Goffstown, 497-4663, graniteymca.org/locations/allard-center-of-goffstown
  • Boys & Girls Club of Manchester’s Camp Foster, 36 Camp Allen Road, Bedford, 625-5031, begreatmanchester.org
  • Executive Health & Sports Center, 1 Highlander Way, Manchester, 668-4753, ehsc.com

Pets

Best Doggie Day Care

Best of the best: Woof Woof Daycare & Boarding, 47 Rockingham Road, Windham, 890-6239, woofwoof.net. In addition to day care, boarding and grooming services for dogs of all breeds, this family-owned and -operated company offers classes in pet first aid and CPR, as well as in basic or intermediate obedience training.

  • All Dogs Gym & Inn, 505 Sheffield Road, Manchester, 669-4644, alldogsgym.com. Founded in 1993 by dog trainer, behavioral consultant and author Gail Fisher, All Dogs Gym & Inn is a full-service training center and activity center for dogs, with services that include boarding, day care, grooming, training and dog sports classes.
  • American K9 Country, 336 Route 101, Amherst, 672-8448, americank9country.com. American K9 Country, which celebrated its 18th year in business last month, offers a doggie day care center, a full-service grooming salon, boarding for both dogs and cats, a dog park and more.
  • Chewie’s Playland, 472 Amherst St., Nashua, 921-1875; 217 W. Hollis St., Nashua, 921-0745; chewiesplayland.com. With two locations in the Gate City, Chewie’s Playland offers a variety of services for dogs, including day care, boarding, grooming and both indoor and outdoor play areas with plenty of toys.
  • Bark City, 259 Hanover St., Manchester, 227-5248, barkcitynh.com. Bark City, which opened in 2017, features a day care facility with grooming services and a boutique retail store carrying top toy brands, all-natural snacks and treats.

Best Dog Groomer

Best of the best: Grooming at Tiffany’s, 127 Rockingham Road, Derry, 432-8000, groomingattiffanys.com. Grooming at Tiffany’s offers a variety of crate-free appointment or walk-in services for both dogs and cats.

  • Sarah’s Paw Spa, 16 Manning St., Derry, 512-4539, sarahspawspa.com. Established in 2017, Sarah’s Paw Spa offers a variety of grooming services for dogs, with several special add-on services ranging from flea and tick shampoos to teeth brushing and nail painting.
  • WAG Grooming Salon & Spa, 15 Ermer Road, Suite 108, Salem, 328-5530, wagplace.com. WAG arrived in early 2019 and continues to provide a variety of grooming and styling services for both dogs and cats.
  • Ruff to Fluff Dog Grrrooming, 1238 Hooksett Road, Hooksett, 669-1955, rufftofluff.com. Ruff to Fluff offers both quick-fix and full-service grooms, which include bath, brush and blow dry services.
  • Hollywood Hounds Pet Spa, 250 Wallace Road, Bedford, 472-7387, hollywoodhoundsnh.com. Hollywood Hounds, which opened in 2006, offers grooming services to dogs and cats of all breeds, as well as hydrosurge bathing, flea and tick removal and emergency de-skunking.

Best Place to Let Your Dog Go Off Leash

  • Hudson Dog Park at Benson Park, 19 Kimball Hill Road, Hudson, 886-6000, hudsonnh.gov/bensonpark/page/dog-park. The Hudson Dog Park, which opened on the grounds of Benson Park in Hudson in the fall of 2012, features two separate areas for large and small dogs. Dog waste bags are available.
  • Concord Dog Park at Terrill Park, Old Turnpike Road, Concord, 225-8690, concordnh.gov/facilities/facility/details/Terrill-Park-28. This 21-acre park is maintained by the Pope Memorial SPCA and features groomed trails and fenced in areas for dogs of all breeds.
  • Derry Dog Park, Fordway and Transfer Lane, Derry, 432-6136, derrynh.org/animal-control/pages/derry-dog-park. This dog park is completely fenced in with a double gate to enter, featuring separate areas for larger and smaller dogs.
  • Merrimack Dog Park at Wasserman Park, 116 Naticook Road, Merrimack, 882-1046, merrimackparksandrec.org/merrimack-dog-park. This ¾-acre-sized dog park is divided into separate sections for larger and smaller dogs.

Best On-Leash Dog Outing

Best of the best: Mine Falls Park, Whipple Street, Nashua, 589-3370, nashuanh.gov. This 325-acre park features eight miles of walking trails, forest, open fields and wetlands.

  • Benson Park, 19 Kimball Road, Hudson, 886-6000, hudsonnh.gov. Originally a private zoo and amusement park, Benson Park reopened in 2010 as a town park for recreational use and is now a popular spot for hiking, dog walking, fishing and picnicking.
  • Livingston Park, 156 Hooksett Road, Manchester, 624-6444, manchesternh.gov. Amenities include walking trails around Dorrs Pond as well as a baseball diamond, a running track and two playgrounds.
  • Windham Rail Trail, Windham, windhamrailtrail.org. The Windham Rail Trail is 4.1 miles and is a core part of the longest paved abandoned rail bed in the Granite State, as the Windham, Derry and Salem rail trails collectively run about 11 miles.
  • Beaver Brook Association, 117 Ridge Road, Hollis, 465-7787, beaverbrook.org. The Beaver Brook Association features more than 35 miles of trails across more than 2,000 acres of forest, fields and wetlands within the towns of Hollis, Brookline and Milford.

PERSONALITIES

Most Innovative Chef

Best of the best: Troy Ward Jr., Troy’s Fresh Kitchen & Juice Bar, 4 Orchard View Drive, Unit 6, Londonderry, 965-3411, troysfreshkitchen.com

  • Bobby Marcotte, The Tuckaway Tavern & Butchery, 58 Route 27, Raymond, 244-2431, thetuckaway.com
  • Nicki Leavitt, Purple Finch Cafe, 124 S. River Road, Bedford, 232-1953, purplefinchcafe.com
  • Michael Buckley, Surf Restaurant, 207 Main St., Nashua, 595-9293, surfseafood.com (Surf also has a location in Portsmouth.)
  • Corey Fletcher, Revival Kitchen & Bar, 11 Depot St., Concord, 715-5723, revivalkitchennh.com

Restaurant with the Friendliest Staff

Best of the best: Troy’s Fresh Kitchen & Juice Bar, 4 Orchard View Drive, Unit 6, Londonderry, 965-3411, troysfreshkitchen.com

  • Union Street Takeout, 90 Union St., Manchester, 260-7663
  • Purple Finch Cafe, 124 S. River Road, Bedford, 232-1953, purplefinchcafe.com
  • The River Casino & Sports Bar, 53 High St., Nashua, 881-9060, therivercasino.com
  • Stella Blu, 70 E. Pearl St., Nashua, 578-5557, stellablu-nh.com

Butt-kicking-est Fitness Instructor

Best of the best: Meagan Sbat, Get Fit NH, 41 Terrill Park Drive, Concord, 344-2651, getfitnh.com

  • Mary Peace, SPENGA, 493 Amherst St., Nashua, 324-0355, spenganashua.com
  • Lauren Pino, SPENGA, 493 Amherst St., Nashua, 324-0355, spenganashua.com
  • Meagan Ferns, Strive Indoor Cycling, 10 Hills Ave., Concord, 513-9464, striveindoorcycling.com
  • Courtney Giddis, Strive Indoor Cycling, 10 Hills Ave., Concord, 513-9464, striveindoorcycling.com

Best Barber

Best of the best: AJ Caron, South Mane Barbershop, 28 S Main St., 1B, Concord, 952-2202, southmanebarbershop.com

  • Joey Daniels, South Mane Barbershop, 28 S Main St., 1B, Concord, 952-2202, southmanebarbershop.com
  • Traci Pettengill Tooky, Village Barber Shop, 12 Maple St., Contoocook, 746-2170, tookyvillagebarbershop.business.site
  • Rick Lindof, The Polished Man, 707 Milford Road, Merrimack, 718-8427, thepolishedman.com
  • Rafael Robles, Lineup Barbershop, 1271 Hooksett Road, Hooksett, 218-3294, lineupbarbershop.com

Best Hair Stylist

Best of the best: Samantha Courtois, 5 Diamond Salon, 915 Holt Ave., Suite 4, Manchester, 459-3367, 5diamondsalon.com

  • Kate Kwasniak, Blank Canvas Salon, 1F Commons Drive, No. 38, Londonderry, 818-4294, blankcanvassalon.com
  • Tashia Landry, Salon North, 102 Bay St., Manchester, 483-3011, 102salonnorth.com
  • Ashley Hastings, Blank Canvas Salon, 1F Commons Drive, No. 38, Londonderry, 818-4294, blankcanvassalon.com
  • Corrie Thayer, Color Trends Hair Salon, 25 Merrit Parkway, Nashua, 880-7504, colortrendshairsalon.com

Friendliest Dentist

Best of the best: Dr. Elizabeth & Victoria Spindel Rubin, Spindel General and Cosmetic Dentistry, 862 Union St., Manchester, 669-9049, elizabethspindel.com

  • Dr. John Patrick Ahern, Ahern, Nichols, Hersey & Butterfield Family & Preventive Dentistry, 30 Pinkerton St., Derry, 432-5039, ahern-nichols.com
  • Dr. Ray Orzechowski, 280 Pleasant St., Concord, 228-4456, rayorzechowski.com
  • Dr. Charles Pipilas, 280 Main St., Suite 311, Nashua, 881-8280
  • Dr. Joseph Sheehan, 155 Dow St., Suite 401, Manchester, 623-0641

Friendliest Mechanic

Best of the best: Chad Tanguay, Merrimack Auto Center, 9 Webb Drive, Merrimack, 216-9596; 150 Amherst St., Nashua, 546-0157, merrimackautocenterllc.com

  • Ralph Brutus, Brutus Auto Repair & Service, 148 Merrimack St., Manchester, 624-8881, brutusauto.com
  • Dan Weed, Weed Family Automotive, 124 Storrs St., Concord, 225-7988, weedfamilyautomotive.com
  • Chuck Nelson, P&N Automotive Services, 140 Pleasant St., Concord, 225-4313, pandnauto.com
  • Justin Lemay, Bandit OffRoad, 51 Kosciuszko St., Manchester, 624-0400, banditoffroad.com

Best Local Music Act

Best of the best: Chad LaMarsh, chadlamarsh.com. Chicago born and Berklee trained, the singer-guitarist calls Boston home, but he’s a Granite State favorite and perennial opener for Recycled Percussion whenever they’re in town.

  • Alli Beaudry, allibeaudry.com. She’s a Manchester native and Berklee alum (and instructor) whose bedazzled keyboard, infectious smile and sweet singing voice make Beaudry a local treasure.
  • Lucas Gallo, lucasgallomusic.com. Along with his talents as a singer, songwriter and guitarist, Gallo is a Concord booster, booking as well as playing shows in his hometown.
  • Brad Bosse, facebook.com/bradbossemusic. A ubiquitous presence on the music scene, Milford native Bosse possesses a voluminous catalog of cover songs and boundless energy.
  • Kevin Horan, kevinhoranmusic.com. The talented guitarist and drummer lives in Manchester and also performs with the Stone Road Band.

Best Comedian Who Lives Local-ishly

Best of the best: Bob Marley, bmarley.com. Marley is a Maine native who went west to seek fame many years ago, only to return quickly and find it at home riffing on the region’s many funny foibles.

  • Juston McKinney, justonmckinney.com. Having spent time as a Portsmouth police officer before he became a comic, one of the state’s most beloved, McKinney still lives on the Seacoast.
  • Nick Lavallee. Manchester’s own polymath, Lavallee does standup, plays in power pop rock band Donaher, and makes custom action figures under his Wicked Joyful brand.
  • Paul Landwehr, paullandwehr.com. He’s a Manchester native who cut his teeth at the weekly comedy gathering in Shaskeen Pub’s backroom, graduating to bigger stages and a solid regional reputation.
  • Jimmy Dunn, jimmydunn.com. Dunn made a name for himself in Boston and on enough cruise ships to write a book called Boat Hack. He now lives in Hampton Beach, where he hosts a must-see comedy festival every summer.

LIVING HERE

Coolest Free Historic Site or Monument

Best of the best: Stark Park, 650 River Road, Manchester, starkpark.com. Dedicated to New Hampshire’s Gen. John Stark, who penned the state motto, “Live Free or Die,” in 1809. The 30-acre plot was once the Stark Family farm and contains the original Stark Family burial plot.

  • New Hampshire Statehouse, 107 N. Main St., Concord, 271-2154, gencourt.state.nh.us/nh_visitorcenter/default.htm. The oldest state capitol in the country in which both houses of the legislature meet in their original chambers. Features tours, exhibits and a gift shop.
  • The Old Man of the Mountain. A series of cliff ledges resembling the profile of a man’s face that was a popular tourist attraction at Franconia Notch State Park until its collapse in May 2003. In 2011, the Old Man of the Mountain Legacy Fund created The Old Man of the Mountain Profile Plaza, with seven steel “profilers” that recreate the Old Man’s visage. Also at the State Park are museums with history, photos and stories of the Old Man. Visit cannonmt.com/things-to-do/activities/old-man-of-the-mountain.
  • Amoskeag Millyard, between Commercial and Bedford streets, Manchester, 622-7531, manchesterhistoric.org. Site of Amoskeag Manufacturing Co. from 1831 to 1936. The textile factory complex was the largest in New England.
  • Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park, 139 St. Gaudens Road, Cornish, 675-2175, nps.gov/saga. Features the preserved home, gardens, studios and works of American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The plot was Saint-Gaudens’ summer residence from 1885 to 1897. The park grounds, gardens, outdoor monuments and trails are open now during daylight hours for no cost. The Visitor Center and all historic buildings are currently closed for the season and will reopen in May.

Thing NH Does Better Than Anyone Else

Best of the best: Live free or die.

  • Everything!
  • No sales tax.
  • Maple syrup.
  • Outdoor activities.

Best Thing We Forgot to Ask About

Best of the best: Best Jams and Jellies: Laurel Hill Jams & Jellies, 47 Birchwood Circle, Bedford, 472-5388, laurelhilljams.com. A producer of dozens of jams and jellies made by hand in small batches from local fruits, wines and teas, Laurel Hill Jams & Jellies gets its name from the area of Bedford where owner and founder Sue Stretch lives. Formerly the president of the Bedford Farmers Market, Stretch was also a teacher for 41 years before retiring in the mid-2000s to focus on her business. She makes fruit jams like strawberry rhubarb, blueberry and red raspberry, plus jellies like apple cider, Asian pear, Concord grape and heirloom apple, and tea jellies, like chamomile tea and chai tea. You can order her products online or find them at several local stores, like Lull Farm in Hollis, Trombly Gardens in Milford, Grasshoppers Garden Center in New Boston and Bedford Fields Home & Garden Center.

  • Best Distillery: Steadfast Spirits Distilling Co., 134 Hall St., Unit H, Concord, 333-2162, steadfastspiritsdistilling.square.site. Steadfast Spirits officially opened its doors in early 2020 as the first licensed liquor manufacturer in the city of Concord. Its signature moonshine — Trouble’s Moonshine, named after owner and head distiller Charles “CJ” Lundergan, who is known by some as “Trouble” — is made with all natural ingredients and comes in a variety of flavors, like maple, vanilla, honey and cinnamon. Moonshine-mixed Trouble’s cocktails are also available, like Strawberry Smash, Citrus Squeeze and Apple Pie.
  • Best Gourmet Food to Go/Specialty Food Service: Local Baskit, 10 Ferry St., Suite 120A, Concord, 219-0882, localbaskit.com. Local Baskit was born when owner Beth Richards, an early adopter of the meal kit concept around the year 2013, began working toward creating a business plan integrating New Hampshire farms and other local businesses. In late 2016 she started working out of Genuine Local, a shared commercial kitchen in Meredith, and appeared at local farmers markets to gauge public feedback for the concept. She opened a storefront in Concord early the following year. Local Baskit has since expanded into offering craft beer and small gourmet food items, as well its meal kit delivery radius across southern New Hampshire.
  • Best Physical Therapist: Elite Rehab & Sports Therapy, 380 Daniel Webster Hwy., Suite H, Merrimack, 262-3305, eliterehabsports.com. Elite is a therapist-owned outpatient physical therapy practice, providing individual treatment plans to clients based on their own goals. It’s affiliated with several local universities and youth sports leagues, and offers a variety of services, from home exercise programs to injury prevention and wellness.
  • Best Massage Therapist: Bethany Chabot, LMT, 444 Hands, 36 Baboosic Lake Road, Merrimack, 834-2758, 444hands.com. Certified massage therapist Bethany Chabot has been working out of Family Chiropractic of Merrimack and Wellness Center in Merrimack since 2007 — in 2020, her practice was rebranded under the name 444 Hands. She is a 1999 Keene State College graduate, later going on to attend McIntosh College in Dover and completing her certificate for Massage Therapy and Bodywork.

This story was possible with the generous financial support of Hippo readers. Hippo is very grateful to have the support of its readers. If you haven’t contributed yet, please consider a small contribution. Your contributions allow Hippo to write more stories and gets you access to additional stories and columns. 

The Fine Print
This survey is for entertainment purposes only and all results are final.

The results of Hippo’s readers poll are based on readers’ answers to a poll conducted online in February. Readers typed in the names of people and locations they voted for. In situations where the vote is tied or otherwise unclear, Hippo editorial staff makes an effort to determine the will of the greatest number of voters. Hippo reserves the right to disqualify individual votes, ballots and/or entries when they are incomplete or unclear, do not meet the letter or the spirit of the question asked or otherwise do not meet the requirements to make them a usable vote.

Hippo’s editorial staff makes the ultimate determination of the winners in the categories. Hippo’s advertising staff and its advertisers play no role in the determination of the winners. All results are final.

The Best of 2021 is a celebration of all things local and is meant to serve as a snapshot of the people and places in southern New Hampshire. Large national and international chains are, for the most part, not included in the count.

Questions, Comments, Concerns
Did we get an address or phone number wrong? Do you have an idea for a new category? Let us know. Contact editor Amy Diaz at adiaz@hippopress.com. Corrections will appear on the first page of the news section in future issues. Is your favorite category missing? Categories change regularly, with some categories taking a sabbatical and new categories introduced, so please send your suggestions for a category for next year. And, again, all results are final.

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