New Hampshire Farm Museum
Exit 18 off Spaulding Tpke., N.H. Rt. 125, Milton • (603) 652-7840
Built to preserve and celebrate New Hampshire's rural past, the Farm Museum is both a collection and a teaching facility. Guided tours of the farm house and self-guided tours of the barn bring the 19th century to life. The Plummer Homestead, part of the complex, is a working farm that demonstrates animal husbandry, gardening and heritage arts and crafts. There is also a working blacksmith shop, a cobbler shop, a country store and an extensive collection of antique tools and farm implements. The 50-acre site also includes nature trails and picnic areas. Special events (spring planting, sheep shearing, spinning and weaving, etc.) are held throughout the season.
Hours: The museum is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday during the summer season. Call to check opening dates.
Prices: Admission is $5 for adults and $1.50 for children, with no charge for kids younger than 3. A family membership costs $30 and includes admission to all events for one year.
U.S. Rt. 4, Grafton • (603) 523-4275
Last mined commercially in 1959, this 190-year-old, open-pit mine and caves on Isinglass Mountain is the place for mineral exploration. Giant rooms and tunnels for exploration make Ruggles Mine a favorite with kids.
Hours: Ruggles Mine operates on a seasonal schedule of weekends from mid-May to mid-June and every day from mid-June through mid-October. The hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except in July and August when the park is open until 6 p.m.
Price: $15 for those 12 and older, $7 for children 4 through 11 and free for children younger than 4.
Squam Lakes Natural Science Center
N.H. Rt. 113, Holderness • (603) 968-7194
The Science Center is a wildlife feast for children of all ages. The 200-acre sanctuary features a .75-mile-long exhibit trail. Visit native black bear, whitetail deer, otters, foxes and birds of prey, including a bald eagle. The animals, most of which have been injured or orphaned and could not survive in the wild, are housed in open pens or cages replicating their natural habitat. The center also has educational displays on loons and other animals that would not do well in captivity. A second trail leads visitors through four major New Hampshire ecosystems — forest, pond, marsh and field — while a third (for the ambitious) climbs to the summit of Mount Fayal for a stunning view of Squam Lake. Ask at the desk about the scheduled naturalist talks throughout the day, or take potluck as you encounter the staff caring for the animals along the trails.
Hours: The animals are here year round, but the center is only open May 1 to November 1 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (last admission is at 3:30 p.m.). Pets are not allowed. Prices: From May to June and September to October, admission is $6 for adults and $3 for ages 5 to 15. In July and August, when there are more demonstrations, adults pay $8 and kids 5 to 15 pay $4. Children younger than 4 free.
90 N. Main St., Wolfeboro • (603) 569-3016
Take a 90-minute narrated tour of Lake Winnipesaukee on board the Winnipesaukee Belle. This is a 65-foot replica of turn-of-the-century paddle steam boats. The ship is owned and operated by the Wolfeboro Inn, but you don't have to be a guest to book passage.
Hours: Daily excursions beginning in May (call for hours).
Prices: Not yet set for 2001 season.
Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad
Meredith Station, off U.S. Rt. 3 N., Meredith • (603) 279-5253 (July/August), (603) 745-2135 (year round)
The trains are classic antiques, the scenery is the beauty of the Lakes region, the snacks are delightful, and the conductors are talkative. Picnic lunches are available (not included in the price), or you can bring your own snacks. (Even if you feed them immediately before boarding, kids probably will want to eat on the train. The lunches are just sandwiches and chips, but the novelty of eating on the train whets young riders' appetites.) This train is operated by the same folks who do the Hobo Train out of Lincoln, and in fall they run special foliage trips from Meredith north into the Pemigiwasset. Dinner trips and holiday specials sometimes leave from Laconia, Tilton and Northfield stations; call for details. You can also ride the Scenic Railroad from Weirs Beach Station (hourly departures 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.), but insiders know there's more parking in Meredith — and you can get off the train at Weirs, play the arcades and ride back later.
SEASON: Daily, June 23-Labor Day; Weekends, May 26-June 24 and Labor Day - Fall Foliage
Hours: This two-hour tour leaves every two hours from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Wednesday and Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
Price: Adults $9.50, Children (ages 3-11) $7.50, Children under 3 ride free
Wiers Beach Station
Hours: Every hour on the hour 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Price: Adults $8.50, children (ages 3-11) $6.50, children under 3 ride free
77 Center St., Wolfeboro • (603) 569-1212
The Home Front comes alive in this World War II museum, which features a large collection of military vehicles, authentic uniforms and memorabilia of daily life from 1939 to 1945. Videos help set the scene, while the opportunity to visit an actual 1940s kitchen and living room, soda fountain and dentist's office recollect the past with vivid clarity. It's an eye-opener for kids and an eye-mister for those who remember the war. The museum, which is wheelchair accessible, is open weekends in off-season and daily in summer.
Hours: May 1 to Oct. 30 seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sundays noon to 4 p.m.
Off season, open weekends, Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday noon to 4 p.m.
Museum will be closed December & January
Price: $6 Adults, $5 Seniors & Veterans, $3 Students, Free for children under 8