Things to Do in Lebanon NH
New England provides four distinct seasons of beauty and activities to accommodate your needs whenever you visit. It is probably best-known for its incredible display of foliage in late September and early October when the countryside explodes into breathtaking color. A drive on Route 120 through Lebanon and Route 10 north through Hanover, Lyme, Orford, Piermont and North Haverhill offers one of the most beautiful scenic trips to the White Mountains of Northern New Hampshire.
There are plenty of attractions for everyone here in the Lebanon area as well. Thirty minutes east in Grafton, New Hampshire, is Ruggles Mine, open for exploration by adventurous spelunkers of all ages. Or there is the quaint and fascinating Enfield Shaker Museum. Visitors learn how the Shakers lived and how an understanding of their lifestyle can enhance our lives today. The museum is nestled between beautiful Mascoma Lake and Mount Assurance, only 15 minutes east of Lebanon. Open daily year-round, the museum has eight historic structures, organic herb and vegetable gardens and 18 acres for you to explore. The Great Stone Dwelling was once the tallest building north of Boston. The Enfield Shakers produced many high-quality agricultural and industrial goods that are still prized today. The Enfield Shrine run by the LaSalette Fathers offers a museum with over 400 nativity scenes plus an awesome Christmas light display from December 1st to January 1st annually.
Forty minutes south in Warner, New Hampshire, the Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum Education and Cultural Center is dedicated to increasing the public’s awareness of American Indian traditions, philosophies and art. And 10 minutes south in Cornish is St. Gaudens National Park – an artists’ colony, and the home of American author Winston Churchill. From there it’s a short drive across the longest two-lane covered bridge in America to Windsor, the “Birthplace of Vermont,” home of the Old Constitution House, American Precision Museum, Simon Pearce Glass (also in Quechee), Harpoon Brewery and more.
The region includes hundreds of hiking trails, rivers and lakes. A favorite snowmobile, bike and footpath enjoyed by many locals is the 60-mile Northern Rail Trail that runs from Lebanon to Boscawen along a wonderfully scenic former railroad line. There are many brochures and maps for guiding you to these areas.
Quechee Gorge in Vermont, known as “Vermont’s Little Grand Canyon,” is only 15 minutes west. The 165-foot-deep gorge appeared when the glaciers started receding into Lake Hitchcock, which covered lands from Connecticut to Canada.
And in the summer, old-time train enthusiasts can enjoy a scenic excursion on the White River Flyer, which operates weekends from White River Junction.
While visiting, one can rest a spell in one of the area’s hotels, motels, inns or bed and breakfasts conveniently located both in Lebanon and throughout the surrounding Upper Valley.
Dining opportunities range from fast food to fine dining. Locally owned restaurants offer steak, seafood, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian, French, Mexican and traditional American cuisine.
For a complete list of hotels, motels, B&Bs and restaurants, contact the Lebanon Area Chamber, refer to the Membership Directory in the back of this book or go to the chambers website
Arts and Entertainment in Lebanon
The 800-seat Lebanon Opera House is the cultural heart of the community. Renovated in 2002, it is the largest proscenium theater in the Upper Connecticut River Valley, hosting events more than 250 days each year. Opera House performances include theater, music, dance, educational programming and an array of family entertainment, connecting over 60,000 people annually to the performing arts. Recent performances have included Garrison Keillor, Toots and the Maytals, Momix, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Weird Al Yankovic.
The city is also home to a number of local performance groups such as North Country Community Theater, which stages a full-scale musical every summer and an annual musical production for teenagers from across the Upper Valley each spring. Every August, Opera North presents two fully staged operatic productions featuring leading stars of the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera and New York City Opera supported by talented young artists and an array of local performers.
Downtown Lebanon is home to the Upper Valley Music Center. This organization is the region’s only full-service music school, enrolling hundreds of adults and children in music instruction programs of all instruments and styles.
Dance is flourishing in Lebanon with the City Center Ballet Company providing classes in ballet and jazz, and Creative Movement School of Dance providing classes in ballet, jazz and tap. Both schools host performances throughout the year.
The Alliance for the Visual Arts (AVA) Gallery, located just off Colburn Park in downtown Lebanon, has been nurturing young and old artists for three decades through classes and exhibits. The recent renovation of its 41,000-square-foot facility has received recognition as a “green,” sustainable building project.
Duke’s Art & Frame Shop, just off the Green in downtown Lebanon, offers over 50 years of combined experience for all of your framing needs.
For more informal entertainment, various musical groups, including the Lebanon Community Band, perform free concerts in Colburn Park every Monday night throughout the summer. Thursdays during the summer include a full day of activities in the park with a children’s concert series at noon, farmers’ market and crafts from 4 to 7 p.m. and evening concerts featuring nationally known folk and acoustic artists.
Lebanon has an Entertainment Movie Theater complex with six screens, while Hanover’s Nugget Theatres has four. Serious movie buffs may join the Dartmouth Film Series, which features a selection of American and foreign films from well-known titles to the obscure.
Dartmouth College’s Hopkins Center is another prominent cultural center. Plays, operas, musicals and special programs and events are plentiful throughout the year. The Hood Museum of Dartmouth College displays paintings, sculptures and artifacts from college collections and traveling exhibits.
Across the river in Norwich, Vermont, the Montshire Museum of Science is a great place for children and fun-loving adults who still enjoy learning. Carefully-designed exhibits with scientific themes provide visitors with hands-on interaction that both teach and entertain.
Outdoor Recreation in Lebanon NH
The Lebanon Recreation & Parks Department is dedicated to “inspire play” by providing a variety of quality recreation programs, special events and recreational facilities for the community’s use and enjoyment. The department provides over 130 special events and programs in a typical year, including team and individual sports programs and camps, savvy senior outings, outdoor adventures and performing and creative arts. Special events include summer concerts in Colburn Park, holiday celebration events, running races, sports tournaments and the popular Lebanon Farmers’ Market. Lebanon has received numerous accolades including Tree City USA, Sportstown USA for New Hampshire by Sports Illustrated and Top 5 U.S. cities to raise a child in the outdoors by the Outdoor Foundation.
An extensive park and conservation land trail system, skate park, accessible playground/picnic area, ball fields, two ski areas, outdoor skating rink and a state-of-the-art outdoor pool provide plenty of year-round outdoor recreation enjoyment to residents and visitors of all ages. The scenic state-maintained Northern Rail Trail, complete with the historic Packard Hill Covered Bridge, picnic areas and views of Mascoma Lake and River, is an all-season attraction for cyclists, walkers, joggers and skiers.
For summer fun in the sun, ponds, lakes and golf courses are plentiful. Storrs Pond is 15 minutes north in Hanover; Mascoma Lake is approximately 10 minutes east in Enfield. The Mascoma River meanders from Mascoma Lake through Enfield and Lebanon, and empties into the Connecticut River, offering a peaceful, scenic waterway for canoeing or kayaking (though some portage is necessary). Lebanon is home to the Carter Country Club for golf and Fore-U Golf for mini golf and driving range enthusiasts; several other golf courses providing all levels of challenge can be found within a 20-mile radius.
The non-winter months are also great for hiking, camping and fishing, all of which are plentiful in the surrounding area. The Lebanon Conservation Commission maintains more than 25 miles of woodland hiking trails within Lebanon’s city limits. Skiing, snowboarding and tubing are the popular sports for the winter months. Just a quarter-mile from downtown Lebanon, the Storrs Hill Ski Area offers fine downhill skiing, a snowboard park and ski jumps, and Dartmouth Skiway is located 30 minutes to the north in Lyme. Within a two-hour radius are a dozen world-class ski resorts for both alpine and cross-country enthusiasts of every ability level.
No matter what the season, families can enjoy ice skating, taking ballet, dance, gymnastics, tae kwon do or karate lessons just minutes from Colburn Park. There are also bowling and other indoor games available in Lebanon and the surrounding area.
For those who like quieter ways to spend their time, the Lebanon Public Libraries offer reading programs and activities for families and children of all ages. Both the Lebanon and new Kilton West Lebanon Library provide Internet terminals and high-speed wireless access.
The CCBA’s Witherell Recreation Center, River Valley Club, and Anytime Fitness of Lebanon provide a variety of exercise alternatives for everyone.