With 72 square miles of surface area and about 182 miles of shoreline, Lake Winnipesaukee offers
tremendous recreational opportunities. The principal communities around the lake are: Laconia,
Meredith, Center Harbor, Wolfeboro and Alton. Weirs Beach is part of the city of Laconia. The communities all have very different
personalities. If you are a boater, some of the lodging properties offer private docking
facilities (usually at additional charge) so be sure to inquire.
Alton feels like a community near the lake, not on the lake. Most of the homes and
businesses are away from the water. A notable exception is the Sandy Point Beach Resort,
with 2,000 feet of water frontage and quite reasonable rates, especially in the 'shoulder seasons'.
If you enjoy hiking, be sure to trek Mt. Major. At an elevation of 1,785 feet the summit has stunning
views of Lake Winnipesaukee, the Ossipee Range and beyond.
Center Harbor is a small town, with some lodging and a couple of well heeled restaurants, but can be best thought of
as an 'overflow' community. The Center Harbor Inn is on the water, has a small private beach and
its own docks, so it can be a good choice for boaters.
Gilford, home to Gunstock Mountain Resort and Meadowbrook, an 8,000 seat performance venue,
is primarily a bedroom community, but has significant lodging, and handful of good family restaurants, and a nice state park. Weirs Beach is nearby ~ be sure to ask the front desk for the short-cuts.
Laconia sprawls, and the southern area offers some good shopping in town and nearby, but has
few businesses 'on the water' except for a handful of marinas and small motels. Route 3 between Laconia
and Weirs Beach offers some pretty views and many lodging opportunities. The 600ish feet of
boardwalk on Lakeside Avenue in Weirs Beach is famous and quite pretty and has a view of the docks, and is the principal departure point
for the famous MS Mount Washington.
There are several arcades and amusements for the kids at Weirs Beach and it's served not only by the
'Mount', but also a handful of smaller tour boats,
and the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad.
Jet ski and boat rentals are also available. Don't be disappointed: call ahead for information, rentals,
reservations or tickets.
Meredith, with beautiful Hesky Park and 1,700' of water-side boardwalk, feels much more open and
pristine than other communities. Across the street from the park is a small attractive mall
with a courtyard and picturesque bridge and walkway beside an old mill. There is great lakeside dining,
and excellent, but pricey, waterside accommodations. The town docks see the MS Mount Washington on a limited schedule and a few blocks away Meredith is served daily by the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad.
Weirs Beach - Please see Laconia.
Wolfeboro has an identity all of its own. Home to the elite Brewster Academy, Wolfeboro feels like a
small maritime/artsy community on the waterfront. There are lots of little local shops in their thriving
downtown, good restaurants, and sufficient lodging. It's just 5 minutes from Lake Wentworth and also
home to the Wright Museum,
preserving and telling the story of America from 1939-1945 (WWII era) with kitchen,
soda fountain, living room and dental office vignettes as well as war posters and genuine period military vehicles.
A summer concert series attracting national talent and service by both the MS Mount Washington
and the Winnipesaukee Belle makes Wolfeboro an enviable
summer vacation destination.
For the size of it, Lake Winnipesaukee has very few public beaches. Here are the ones we're aware of.
Weirs Beach, Laconia, is attractive, with good facilities and near all kinds of recreation. There is no charge for
swimming, but they do charge for parking, and, as parking is somewhat limited, the beach rarely gets too
crowded. If you are not planning to be there too long (less than 2 hours) and everyone in your party is old
enough to comfortably walk, we recommend you park on Lakeside Avenue and walk over, maybe 3-5 minutes, otherwise use the beach-side parking lot.
Ellacoya State Park is our favorite choice. There's plenty of room, good facilities, and copious picnic tables.
The following one is nearby on Lake Opechee:
Opechee Park, Laconia. Located on a quiet bay opposite the Laconia Middle School, this beach has a small playground and good facilities. It's somewhat small but nice.