New London, New Hampshire | Could You Live Here?
New London, New Hampshire, is an inviting college town surrounded by lakes and mountains.
In New London, trees have space to spread out; fields curve up and over the horizon. Draw a deep breath here in the hills, and you’ll start to remember the depths of your lungs. Or walk along Main Street, past Colby–Sawyer College, where the lifeblood of old maples plinks into metal buckets, and you’re reminded that tree tapping is mysterious and sap making is alchemy.
Founded in 1779 and, at an elevation of more than 1,000 feet, trumpeted by its energetic Historical Society as “one of the highest towns in New Hampshire,” New London is also more than that, riddled with lakes and cradled in the arms of mountains: Sunapee, Ragged, Kearsarge. Main Street runs like a ribbon through this panorama. A pleasing New England mix of Capes, colonials, farmhouses, and Victorians, it’s anchored by two bookends of substance: the college to the south and the New London Barn Playhouse to the north. In between, and spreading out to the lakes and mountains, there’s a library in which to lose yourself, an in-town farm stand, a busy Historical Society, an arresting nature shop, a lake at the edge of town—even a quaking bog. All within easy reach of I-89, which speeds you off to various other diversions in all directions.
First Impression: A scant 1.8 miles from town, the blacktop curves around Little Lake Sunapee. “Along these shores Indians once camped and fished,” according to an adjacent historical plaque, but by the 19th century, it was “a haven for vacationers’ summer homes.” The beach is loved by year-round and summer residents alike, and the water beckons you to launch a kayak.
The Reality: “There’s so much water—lakes and streams and bogs,” says John Kiernan at Village Sports, in the center of town. Besides Bucklin Beach on Little Sunapee, there are public beaches on Pleasant Lake (a sparkling 600-acre glacial gift) and Lake Sunapee (a 4,000-acre expanse with sailing, swimming, a yacht club, and a lively harbor). Mount Sunapee’s alpine trails are visible from Main Street, and hikes lead to spectacular lake views. “There are secret places,” Kiernan acknowledges, but he’s mum about the details. Even so, some treasures are hidden in plain sight: “My wife’s favorite place to kayak is still Little Sunapee,” he smiles.
First Impression: With water everywhere, surely there’s an affordable cottage to be had, maybe with a beach, a dock, or a view? Or a vintage farmhouse that just needs a few rough years scrubbed off?