Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Lake Winnipesaukee, NH

  • Published 2022/11/29

The iconic Lake Winnipesauke of the Lakes Region is the largest lake in New Hampshire.

It is home to over 200 hundred islands, with eight cities and towns surrounding the lake.

By the late 19th century, most of these towns have developed into a summer destinations.

Surrounded by mountain ranges, the lake’s beautiful tree-lined shores and picturesque waterfront towns offer plenty of opportunities for recreation and relaxation throughout the year.

Over 20 public boat launches and several beaches provide access to recreation on the lake, such as swimming, canoeing, sailing, and fishing.

Its lakefront towns are home to camps, museums, parks, restaurants, and attractions to enjoy in every season.

To get you started on planning your getaway to this beautiful destination, here are some of the best things to do in Lake Winnipesauke, New Hampshire.

Enjoy a Ride along the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad

View of Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad

Ceri Breeze /

Experience the lake region’s beauty as you travel along the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad.

This lakeside train ride runs on the 19th-century rail system that served as home to famous lines, such as Boston and Montreal.

Hop on the train at the station in the town of Meredith and enjoy a two-hour ride along the lakeshore.

View of Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad

Wangkun Jia /

Don’t forget to pick up some bites or treats to enjoy during the ride.

You can also get on the train at Weirs Beach station for a one-hour ride.

During the ride, you’ll see spectacular views of the lake and lovely vacation homes on the other side of the railroad.

If you’re visiting in the fall, you’ll also see the season’s beautiful foliage along the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad.

View of Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad

Wangkun Jia /

See Stunning Views from Castle in the Clouds

View of Castle in the Clouds

Fletcher, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ride the trolley up to Castle in the Clouds and marvel at the stunning views of the lake region.

Opened to the public in 1959, this historic mountaintop estate in the town of Moultonborough features an early 20th-century mansion, a gallery, and access to hiking trails.

Enjoy a breathtaking view of Lake Winnipesauke at the scenic overlook.

Peek into life in the 1900s as you tour the mansion and see its vintage furnishings.

You can also take a guided tour of the mansion’s basement, where you’ll learn more about its construction history.

After exploring around, dine at the restaurant and café.

You can also visit Castle in the Clouds during winter and enjoy the estate’s beauty in the season and some winter activities.

Go on a Cruise on M/S Mount Washington

View of M/S Mount Washington

Fletcher, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Soak up relaxing views and get to know more about the area when you go on a cruise aboard the M/S Mount Washington.

With four decks and a full bar service, the vessel is a first-class excursion ship offering various cruise tours showcasing the beauty of Lake Winnipesauke.

Hop on and enjoy a narrated scenic tour, where you’ll learn about the region’s history while admiring the lovely scenery.

You can also join an evening cruise to see the stunning sunset on the lake and enjoy dinner and some entertainment.

If you’d rather admire the daytime scenery, go on a Sunday brunch cruise.

M/S Mount Washington cruise tours depart from Laconia and Alton ports.

Visit Ellacoya State Park

View of Ellacoya State Park

Jon Bilous /

Explore the lake’s southwest shores when you visit Ellacoya State Park.

This state park in the town of Gilford features a 600-foot beach, a campground, picnic areas, and a boat ramp.

View of Ellacoya State Park

Jon Bilous /

Beat the heat and swim at the beach, or lounge by the sand and enjoy calming views of the lake and nearby mountains.

You can also launch a canoe or a small boat to explore the lake.

Ellacoya State Park’s RV campground has over 30 sites open for reservation.

View of Ellacoya State Park

Jon Bilous /

Spend a Weekend at Weirs Beach

Scenic view of Weirs Beach

Jon Bilous /

Go on a summer weekend escape to Weirs Beach in Laconia.

Located on the lake’s southern shore, this popular destination offers plenty of summer activities.

Take a splash at the beach and enjoy the beautiful sweeping beach scenery.

Scenic view of Weirs Beach

Jon Bilous /

After some fun in the sun, explore the shops and the dining spots around.

At night, check out the popular nightlife spots and unwind.

Your visit won’t be complete without a stroll along the boardwalk for lovely lake views.

Summer in Weirs Beach is also a good time to experience its festivals and events, such as evening fireworks and antique boats show.

Scenic view of Weirs Beach

Jon Bilous /

Visit the Lake Winnipesaukee Museum

Dive into the rich history of the lake and its surrounding towns at the Lake Winnipesaukee Museum.

Take a glimpse into over a century of Lake Winnipesauke history through the museum’s collection of postcards, maps, and other souvenirs and memorabilia.

There’s an exhibit on the lake’s steamboat era, showcasing artifacts and photographs of the many steamboats that cruised on the lake until the early 20th century.

You’ll also learn about the lake’s history and tradition of summer camping and water skiing.

Lake Winnipesaukee Museum is housed in a historic landmark property in Laconia.

Wine and Dine at Hermit Woods Winery & Eatery

Indulge in local wine and unwind at Hermit Woods Winery & Eatery.

This boutique winery and eatery in Meredith serves local handcrafted wines and a light food menu.

It also features craft beer from various small local breweries in the state.

Enjoy a glass of wine at the beautiful indoor space or a beer at their outdoor deck.

You can also visit for wine tasting.

Hermit Woods Winery & Eatery hosts intimate musical performances featuring local artists on some nights, so you can also check out the local music scene.

Go Skiing at Gunstock Mountain Resort

View of Gunstock Mountain Resort

Wikiuser100, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Enjoy the winter activities with your family at Gunstock Mountain Resort.

This 2,200-acre mountain resort in Gilford offers family-friendly winter adventures.

You can go skiing and snowboarding over its 200-acre trails and glades.

Have fun snow tubing and sledding at the resort’s multi-lane tubing hills.

View of Gunstock Mountain Resort

Wikiuser100, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re looking for more adventure, go on a night ski session and enjoy the evening scenery.

At the summit panorama deck, admire breathtaking views of Lake Winnipesauke and its surrounding areas.

In the summer, you can also visit Gunstock Mountain Resort and enjoy scenic lift rides, ziplines, and other outdoor adventures.

Hike at Mount Major

At the top of Mount Major

IP Singh at the English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Enjoy some of the lake’s best views at Mount Major’s summit.

This hiking destination in Alton features a major trail system and offers various opportunities for outdoor recreation, such as bird watching and winter activities.

Enjoy exploring the various trails leading to the mountaintop.

At over 1,700 feet, you can admire spectacular sweeping views of the state’s lovely southern region.

Located in southeastern Lake Winnipesaukee, access to the Mount Major trail network is via NH Route 11.

Enjoy a Farm Experience at Beans & Greens Farm

Take the family to a fun day out on the farm at Beans & Greens Farm.

This farm in Gilford produces various vegetables and offers visitors a family-friendly farm experience.

Get to meet the friendly resident animals at the barnyard.

If you happen to visit during the fall, don’t miss out on trying their corn maze, which is said to be one of the most challenging in the state!

You can also visit the greenhouse for gardening inspiration and stocks you may need for your home garden.

Don’t forget to stop by the Beans & Greens Farm bakery for freshly baked goods you can enjoy on the road.

Go on a Fishing Trip on the Lake

View of Lake Winnipesauke

Pjard /

One of the best ways to experience Lake Winnipesauke is, of course, through fishing.

Spanning over 20 miles across the center of New Hampshire, the lake offers plenty of opportunities for fishing enthusiasts.

You can catch salmon, trout, bass, pickerel, and bluegill species at the lake.

There are shoreline access points, and many public boats launch around the lakefront towns providing fishing access to the waters.

View of Lake Winnipesauke

Jon Bilous /

Cast a line from the shores of Center Harbor and Meredith town docks and catch some bass, rainbow trout, and landlocked salmon.

Start your fishing trip at the Alton docks if you’re looking to catch some spring salmon and trout.

There are various fishing guide services you can check out in the surrounding towns of Lake Winnipesauke to help you plan your fishing trip.

View of Lake Winnipesauke

Helioscribe /

Explore the Ragged Island Conservation Area

Spend a quiet time amid nature as you explore the Ragged Island Conservation Area in Tuftonboro.

This 11-acre island on the lake has about a mile of shoreline, sandy beaches, and a trail.

You can paddle around the island and enjoy navigating through nooks and coves adorned with high-bush blueberries.

Take a splash at the swimming beaches on the island’s east and west sides.

If you’d rather stay on dry land, you can explore along the nature trail and immerse yourself in the island’s serenity.

Ragged Island Conservation Area can be reached from the northwest via the Harilla Landing boat launch.

Check Out Artworks at the Meredith Fine Craft Gallery

See a part of the local art scene when you visit the Meredith Fine Craft Gallery.

This lovely art gallery and shop on the shores of Lake Winnipesauke in Meredith features the creations of local New Hampshire craftsmen.

Pottery, handcrafted wood, jewelry, fiber art, and other pieces made from various materials are available here.

Browse their collection, and you might find an interesting piece to adorn your walls back home or a nice art piece to gift to someone.

The Meredith Fine Craft Gallery also offers craft classes and workshops such as painting, weaving, and flower design at their studio.

Camp at Three Mile Island

Experience relaxing and quiet days when you camp at Three Mile Island.

This 43-acre island on the lake offers plenty of opportunities to unplug, slow down, and enjoy the beauty and serenity of the outdoors.

Stay at the simple yet lovely lakefront cabins and enjoy fresh and hearty meals with your family on the porch.

Swim on the lake, go fishing, or explore Lake Winnipesauke on a kayak or canoe.

You can visit and camp at Three Mile Island during the summer and fall.

Dine and Shop at The Marketplace

Of course, a visit to Lake Winnipesauke wouldn’t be complete without checking out the dining and shopping scene.

If you’re visiting the Meredith area, you can stop by The Marketplaceat The Mill Falls at the Lake.

Explore the shops to grab a new read, get some sweet treats, or find interesting souvenirs to take back home.

Have a meal while admiring views of the lake and the picturesque scenery of flower gardens and sculptures.

Don’t forget to see and take a photo at The Marketplace waterfall as a souvenir of your visit.

Final Thoughts

Whether traveling by car or on a boat, numerous recreation and relaxation opportunities await you at Lake Winnipesauke.

This lovely New Hampshire destination is worth visiting for its various recreational activities, from fishing, paddling, swimming, hiking, camping, and exploring the lakefront towns’ arts, culture, and heritage.

Start planning your trip and experience some of the best things to do in Lake Winnipesauke, New Hampshire!

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