A Native’s Guide to Lake Winnipesaukee Real Estate – Towns
So you are considering some time up in New Hampshire’s Lakes region? Well sit back with your favorite drink and let me give you a whirlwind tour. Better yet, clear off that desk, unfold a nice map and I’ll guide you along the best I can.
If you are fortunate enough to be staring at a map that shows the topography of NH’s lakes region, the first thing that might jump out at you is presence of Lake Winnipesaukee enveloped by beautiful mountains right in the center of the map. Lake Winnipesaukee encompasses 72 sq. miles, 182 miles around, with 253 islands of various shapes and sizes so there is plenty exploring to do whether your in a boat or a landlubber. The real estate options on Winnipesaukee are as diverse as the rugged Lakes region landscape. From majestic south-facing sunsets and north facing vistas over the sandwich and Ossipee ranges, to a quiet afternoon at the 5th generation family cottage or a 7,000sq. ft luxurious Adirondack home, life on or near”Winni” just offers a quality of life that will make your family want to settle for a few generations.
Lake Winnipesaukee shares a border with eight NH towns: starting with my home town of Wolfeboro in the southeast corner and then heading around the lake counterclockwise, Tuftonboro, Moultonborough, Center Harbor, Meredith, Laconia, Gilford, Alton.
Wolfeboro: A popular summer destination on the southeast corner of the lake with a claim to fame as “The oldest summer resort in America” due to the large summer residence that then Governor John Wentworth built on the shores of Lake Wentworth in the 1700′s. Today Wolfeboro has a year-round population of approximately 6,500 residence that swells to around 20,000 in the summer months. Wolfeboro is a great little lakeside village with restaurants, music festivals, craft fairs, a real throwback in time with little kids running around with ice cream dripping down their faces. The town is largely void of box stores and strip malls and doesn’t even have a stop light. Wolfeboro also has its own regional Huggins Hospital where my two daughters were born and myself. Right along Winnipesaukee’s Wolfeboro Bay shoreline you’ll find the beautiful campus of Brewster Acadamy prep school which is attended by students from around the world and also hosts the Heifetz international musical festival during the summer months
If the price tag for Wolfeboro Winnipesaukee waterfront real estate sours the appeal there are a number of water access communities and exceptional public access properties to consider as well. You will also want to take a gander at the great secondary lakes in Wolfeboro: Lake Wentworth, Crescent, Mirror, Lower Beach pond, Rust Pond.
Tuftonboro: Just minutes from downtown Wolfeboro, Tuftonboro offers a quieter alternative to the busy summer traffic with plenty of waterfront and mountain views with an exceptional property tax rate. Homes in Tuftonboro typically give you a little elbow room and a great rural lifestyle. With great mountain views and waterfront Tuftonboro should be at the top of your short list.
Moultonborough: Moultonborough, NH offers the most Lake Winnipesaukee shoreland of all the lakeside town. Moultonborough is another quiet rural community outside the hustle and bustle of the resort lifestyle with the lowest tax rate on the lake. It also tends to be the most affordable access to homes on the big lake due to its remoteness and extensive shoreline. If you need to be close to a variety of restaurants, shopping and a major grocery store you may want to consider one of the larger towns. If your looking to escape the resort town atmosphere and enjoy a rural escape Moultonborough is just the ticket. Make sure to try the top rated Woodshed restaurant while your there.
Center Harbor: A quaint village and junction toward the north country and Squam Lake ( “On Golden Pond”). Center Harbor lies just outside the summer peak congestion of Meredith with easy access to amenities, movies, restaurants. While your there make sure you stop by the Canoe restaurant for some great food or the Thai food over at the Lemon Grass is very good too.
Meredith: A destination resort town in the northwest corner of Lake Winnipesaukee with a boardwalk along the water, restaurants and the Inn at Mills falls. Meredith has gone through a dramatic expansion over the years and has tried to maintain a balance between growth and its New England village appeal. Meredith’s appeal is largely due to it’s location along the Interstate 93 corridor, near the White Mountain National Forest and it’s location along the shores Lake Winnipesaukee with access to outlet store shopping, movie theater, restaurants and other amenities. If you visit during the peak summer months of July and August be prepared for some traffic congestion. Most of the locals get in and out of town in the off peak hours of the day and enjoy the long summer days outside the fray. Meredith also has some great secondary lakes nearby such as, winnisquam, Waukewan, Newfound and squam just to name a few.
Laconia: A blue collar city in the southwest corner of the lake with all the major amenities you would expect. The family friendly and and popular waterfront area in Laconia is known as Weirs Beach with Funspot arcade, mini race cars and a busy boardwalk with restuarants and acitivities. Laconia has number of waterfront price points with condos and Lake Winnipesaukee access from Paugus Bay. Lake Winnipesaukee’s Governors Island is also accessed via bridge from the mainland and is a popular residential lakeside community.
Gilford: Located right on the edge of the Belknap mountians and home to Gunstock Ski area. Gilford shares has a commercial strip that leads into Laconia complete with movie theater and small regional airport. Gilford has a great residential community and offers a number of waterfront condominiums with rental options. Gilford also has great schools with good access down the interstate 93 corridor to Concord and Manchester and southern points beyond.
Alton: On the southeast corner of the lake, Alton has extensive shoreline on Lake Winnipesaukee with good access to NH’s seacoast and also Concord and Manchester in the central part of the state. Along Alton’s southern shoreline skirts route 11 where waterfront lots tend to be smaller and more affordable. Like many Lakes Region towns Alton’s population swells in the summer time and Alton Bay comes alive with clam shacks and a fun laid back atmosphere. Between Alton Bays roads and surrounding hillsides lots tend to be small and steep which offers access to the lake at a variety of price points. Alton’s northern shoreline flattens out as you head toward Wolfeboro and offers a number of premium waterfront and water access communities with long views down the broads with spectacular sunsets. For Secondary Lakes in Alton be sure to take a look at Merrymeeting and Halfmoon lakes.
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