Looking for a few hours to escape your crazy routine? Take a drive up to Peterborough, NH in the Monadnock region. The area has a blossoming art scene as well as an up-and-coming dining scene. You can make a weekend of it and stay at one of the many cozy inns within walking distance of the downtown. Here’s a list of fun things to in Peterborough, NH on a cozy fall weekend.
My trip to Peterborough, NH started a little late in the morning on Saturday.
1) I was waiting for the rain to stop.
2) It mapped out to being a 40 min drive from me and so I decided to get there in time for lunch and afternoon coffee.
Peterborough is about 1hr 30 min drive from Boston (only!) and it literally is the little town in the mountain. The mountain being Mt. Monadnock. The population hovers around 7,000 and most of them are year-round residents. So it really is a small picturesque town with a lot to see and do.
Parking on a Sunday afternoon was incredibly easy. Most side-street parking is free and municipal lots (there are two) cost less than $5 dollars a day. Sweet! Once I got oriented, I decided to walk up School Street to find a place to eat lunch.
I didn’t make it over to Twelve Pine this day, but I did take a look at their menu and I have to say, I will be back. They offer ready-to-go, carry-out food as well as indoor and outdoor traditional dining. Everything is freshly made that day and they have options for gluten-free folks too. A bakery and coffee shop are also inside.
Cooper’s Hill Public House, or “The Public House” as they call it, is an irish pub-style bar with upscale eats and over 150 whiskey’s on tap. I decided to try the house burger with fries alongside a local beer (not a whiskey fan – yet) and was pleasantly surprised. Their drink/cocktail menu is extensive too, and they are quick to point out that all of their food is locally sourced – that is a plus in my book.
After lunch, I wanted to walk around a bit and check out all the cute little shops along Depot Square. I lucked out, because it was ART weekend and a few of the galleries were open to the public for viewing. Peterborough has a burgeoning art community and their most famous artist to date is Mona Adisa Brooks who makes unique porcelain figures as well as paintings. To check out the art scene in Peterborough, go visit the NH ART site and the Macdowell Colony.
The Toadstool Bookshop on the corner of Depot Square was a rare find for me on this unseasonably warm October day. An independent bookstore with a quaint vibe, Toadstool’s has a great selection of new and used books and a friendly staff who will help you find your next read. Right across the street from the bookstore is the Peterborough Diner which has a rich history of feeding future presidential candidates as it does the locals.
Having just had lunch, I wasn’t ready for a heaping mound of chocolate chip pancakes at the diner, so I went for a cup of coffee instead. It was fairly busy inside with a lot of tourists and locals talking about the warm weather and the foliage. I got a few tips on where else to go before heading home, and so I decided to finish up my cup-of-joe and get moving. Honestly, the foliage was gorgeous around this area and it seemed as if the colors popped overnight. The day was meant for snapping lots and lots of photos.
In addition to a famous diner and a handful of art galleries, Peterborough is a destination spot for antiques. And right off of Depot Square you will find plenty of antique stores. Popping into Bowerbird and Friends was a treat, and I bought a few luxury soaps in addition to some kitchen towels. They also have an amazing dishware collection as well as first-edition children’s books. Something for everyone! Across the street from Bowers is Depot Park – a scenic little walkway that connects Depot Square with School Street and this time of year, it is p-r-e-t-t-y. I imagine it’s a lively place in the summer months as well.
Heading back to Toadstool Bookshop where I parked, I got a sense for how laid-back and serene this little town by the mountain can be even when it is flushed with tourists. It definitely needs to be noticed but it doesn’t seem to want the attention.
Peterborough NH surprised me with its quiet downtown, burgeoning art scene and funky eateries. I think for my next trip, I’ll book a room at the Little River Bed & Breakfast, have dinner at Pearl Restaurant, and try some of the famous chocolates at Ava Maria’s. In the meantime, if you have any tips or favorite places to visit in Peterborough, please leave me a comment.