There are some places that are pure magic (for example Lake Placid, New York). Another one of those places is Hanover, New Hampshire and Dartmouth College — yes I am biased as I’m a graduate of Dartmouth. Ryan and I spent the past weekend in and around Hanover and here are my thirteen favorite things about Hanover (and the Upper Valley) in summer.
1. The Green. Its quintessential New England in every season but its particularly perfect in the summer. Shade trees along the edges, students playing volleyball and Frisbee on the grass and gorgeous views of Dartmouth’s architecture.
2. Dirt Cowboy Cafe. Some of the best coffee I’ve ever had kitty corner from the Green. My favorite is the Dirt Cowboy (espresso with a little foamed cream) but on a hot day the ice coffee is pretty perfect.
3. Lou’s. Speaking of places to eat right in downtown Hanover, you must do breakfast at Lou’s Restaurant and Bakery. Yes there will be a line on the weekend and yes its definitely worth the wait. Huge buttermilk pancakes with fresh blueberries, perfectly cooked eggs and awesome specials like salmon hash. There is no better place to get breakfast.
4. Running Around Occum Pond. I needed to get in about 9 miles so Ryan and I ran down from our hotel in Lebanon to Hanover, around campus and then around one of my very favorite places — Occum Pond. Way back when I was in college my regular three mile run always involved a loop around the pond. It was awesome to be able to relive the memory.
5. The Connecticut River. Dartmouth sits on the Connecticut River (Vermont is just across the Ledyard Bridge). On a hot day hanging out on the river is perfect. We rented two kayaks from the Ledyard Canoe Club ($5 per hour each) and paddled out. It was super easy to pull the kayaks ashore to spend some time swimming and the water temperature was in the mid-60s, which felt awesome on a hot and humid day.
6. Georgian Architecture. To me Dartmouth is a paradigm of what college should look like (as President Eisenhower remarked in 1953 when visiting Dartmouth “This is what a college should look like.”). I could walk around campus all day exploring the nooks and crannies. Even if you’re not a huge nerd like me, the buildings are beautiful and its worth spending some time to explore.
7. King Arthur Flour. Located across the Connecticut River in Norwich, Vermont, King Arthir flour not only has a really great store and biking classes (learn to make puff pastry!) there’s also a great little cafe featuring fresh baked breads and locally sourced ingredients. Before heading to the Connecticut River on Sunday afternoon we picked up sandwiches at King Arthur Flour for a picnic on the water.
8. Quechee Gorge. That “Grand Canyon of the East,” the gorge is both beautiful and very hike-able. We didn’t get to go this weekend, but its on the list for the next time we’re in the Upper Valley.
9. Ottaquechee River Waterfall. Located right next to Simon Pearce, the waterfall and the covered bridge adjacent to the waterfall are absolutely beautiful. At sunrise and sunset you can often see hot air balloon taking off over the waterfall.
10. Simon Pearce. Gorgeous blown glass and hand thrown pottery and one of my favorite restaurants — ever. Seriously the restaurant is in my top 5 all time with locally sourced products, an extensive wine list, creative cocktails (they had a Pimm’s Cup on special) this is a fantastic place for a meal.
11. Food. I love Lou’s and Simon Pearce and King Arthur Flour and Murphy’s and the Collis Cafe and Lui Lui and on and on and on. What I think this means in a more general sense is that dining options in Upper Valley are excellent. The food is generally fantastic and for being a fairly rural area there are some fantastic options at all price points.
12. Wine. Not directly related to Dartmouth or Hanover but while at Simon Pearce we discovered a new vineyard — Donkey and Goat Winery. I wanted a rose and I was enamored with the name so I ordered a bottle. It was FANTASTIC. Really the perfect summer wine. I will be ordering more (and trying some of their other releases).
13. Dartmouth College. I don’t quite know how to put to words what the College means to me. A Dartmouth 2002 banner hangs over my desk in my office. I wear a Dartmouth water polo t shirt to bed. I have several Dartmouth Christmas ornaments and the Dartmouth Aires still grace many of me playlists. Dartmouth is home and always will be.