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Ossipee Lake and North Conway, NH | A Late Fall Visit to the White Mountains

Ossipee Lake and North Conway, NH | A Late Fall Visit to the White Mountains
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In the beautiful Lakes Region of central New Hampshire, it’s fair to say that the mighty Lake Winnipesaukee gets most of the attention. While the hustle and bustle of Lake Winni is hard to avoid, it was the lesser-known (but no less praiseworthy) Ossipee Lake a little bit northeast that spurred a recent excursion, which included a visit to nearby North Conway.

lake ossipee hammock
Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
A hammock beckons at Ossipee Lak.

My mother’s friend Neha had generously invited us (meaning my mom and me), along with fellow friends Maria and Karen, to visit her family’s lake house for a late-fall getaway weekend, and I was delighted to accept. The older I get, the more I love and appreciate the wonderful group of friends my mom has made through her job teaching small children at my hometown’s community center. It takes a special kind of person to spend the day working with toddlers and pre-schoolers — qualities like kindness, humor, and patience spring to mind — and these women are. Many of them (including Neha) have known me since I was in my early teens, but now that I’m in my early thirties, I get to join in on some of the fun!

Mom and I made the drive north together last Friday, taking route 28 north all the way from my apartment in Manchester, NH past the right bank of Winnipesaukee and up to Ossipee. It was dark when we arrived, but in the morning we got our first “wow” views of the lake (the sixth largest in the state), which was just steps from the porch. I immediately understood why Neha and her family love their visits. The house itself was the perfect combination of comfy and cozy, with the added bonus of heat (and hot coffee) to keep us toasty and we looked out the “wall of windows” onto the lake. It was late October, and fall’s cooler temps had definitely moved in!

lake ossipee house
Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
A wall of windows afforded gorgeous views of the lake.
lake ossipee house
Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
Looking from the kitchen towards Ossipee Lake.
lake ossipee house
Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
Cozy lake cottage charm.

It was a beautiful spot to enjoy late fall in New England, and what visit to the New Hampshire Lakes Region would be complete without a loon? After all, nearby Moultonboro is home to The Loon Center and Markus Wildlife Sanctuary, and loon loot is for sale in many of the region’s souvenir and tourist shops. We watched our Saturday morning bird swim and dive for awhile (where will it pop up next?) before starting the day.

lake ossipee loon
Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
A lone loon cruises Ossipee Lake .

Because Ossipee is 30 minutes north of Wolfeboro and 45 minutes south of North Conway, we had a tough time choosing which tourist-friendly town to visit for the day. Both offer plenty to see, do, and eat (my favorite part), but the former is a Winnipesaukee (mostly) summer town while the latter sits in the heart of the White Mountains under the watchful eye of Mount Washington. Guided in part by the seasonal shift, we headed north.

Once we arrived in North Conway we headed down the main drag, the White Mountain Highway, making our first stop at Zeb’s General Store. Inside, two floors were crammed from floor to ceiling with over 5,000 items, and where there weren’t items for sale, there were shoppers. Be prepared to do the “crowded shopper shuffle” at Zeb’s — especially near the food samples. The retro-nostalgic vibe makes Zeb’s a top tourist draw for adults missing “the good old days,” while the old-fashioned candy counter (and hundreds of other edible offerings), toys, and games appeal to kids.

Zeb's General Store
Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
Zeb’s General Store – a North Conway favorite.

The store opened in 1991, but its namesake dates back to an earlier time. Zebulon Northrop Tilton, a colorful thrice-married schooner captain, was born on Martha’s Vineyard in 1866 but spent decades sailing up and down the New England coast from the late 1800’s to 1940. The ultimate New Englander, Zeb’s spirit is a big part of the store’s folksy personality.

Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
Greetings from Zeb’s!

New England products like maple syrup, common crackers, soup mixes, Moxie, peanut brittle, kettle corn, and Kenyon’s cornmeal are just some of the culinary items for sale at Zeb’s. Upstairs, a slew of household wares, beauty products, holiday gifts, and souvenirs are also available.

Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
All manner of New England made (and New England loved) products are for sale at Zeb’s.

After braving Zeb’s (and reminding myself why I love the occasional bag of Sugar Babies) we headed to Peach’s Restaurant for lunch. Part of the Peach’s experience is looking at all of the decorated napkins tucked underneath the glass on each of the restaurant’s tables. Guests (which visit North Conway from near and far) are encouraged to decorate clean napkins, then leave them in a basket before they go. The staff regularly replaces the napkins with new ones. It’s a neat aspect of a visit to Peach’s.

peach's north conway
Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
Peach’s is a favorite North Conway spot for breakfast and lunch.

Of course, we encouraged our resident artist (Karen) to commemorate our weekend!

Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
Leave your napkin artwork behind for future patrons to enjoy!

After lunch we headed next door to the League of N.H. Craftsmen gallery — one of seven throughout the state. The League’s mission is to “encourage, nurture, and promote the creation, use and preservation of fine contemporary and traditional craft through the inspiration and education of artists and the broader community,” and its retail galleries sell the crafts made by its 750+ juried members. Inside the North Conway gallery are beautiful examples of jewelry, furniture, pottery, blown glass, woven baskets, and more on display (and on sale). If you’re lucky, you’ll even catch a glimpse of artist Philip Jacobs demonstrating his glassblowing at the gallery’s glassblowing studio.

league of nh craftsmen
Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
Art for sale at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen North Conway gallery.

Before leaving North Conway we made one final stop for something sweet at the Bavarian Chocolate Haus, where the lovely ladies were kind enough to pose for a photo amid the mushrooms.

bavarian chocolate north conway
Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
Maria, Karen, Neha, and my mom oblige me with a quick pose outside the Bavarian Chocolate Haus.

Sweet-tooth satisfaction is guaranteed inside, where you can watch the candy being made through a glass window. I picked up some of their homemade fudge — chocolate peanut butter and pumpkin spice.

Bavarian Chocolate Haus
Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
Chocolate for sale!

After a final series of stops at Settlers’ Green Outlet Village for a little early discount holiday shopping (okay, a lot), we headed back to the house for dinner, wine, and a spirited game of Scattergories. In the morning I took a few moments to enjoy some final views of the lake, which was still and calm, like glass, and perfectly reflected the sky and clouds above. In just a few months it will be frozen over, ringed with snow, and ready for skating…

lake ossipee
Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
A beautiful morning at Lake Ossipee.

But that’s another story for another visit!

Want to read more about visiting the Mount Washington Valley and North Conway in winter during the holiday season? Read Mount Washington Valley Inn to Inn Cookie Tour.

Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

Aimee Seavey


Aimee Seavey


As Yankee's Digital Editor, Aimee manages, produces, and promotes content for Yankee's digital and social media initiatives. A lifelong New Englander, she loves history and a good Massachusetts South Shore bar pizza.
Updated Friday, November 1st, 2013

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7 Responses to Ossipee Lake and North Conway, NH | A Late Fall Visit to the White Mountains

  1. mgw November 2, 2013 at 8:44 am #

    Great, fun story to read about. Beautiful pictures!

    • chris consentino November 5, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

      wow. we had been, until late September, long-time…..lifelong, really, residents of new Hampshire. our son and his family, including 2 adorable children, live in DC, soooo we have transplanted to Virginia. I was on the computer, wanting to find a way of obtaining this month’s issue of yankee, having heard a pc on npr about an article I believe to be included, and then I came upon the article about a “late Fall Visit….”. well, all I can say is “wow”. my husband and I lived in Alton, nh, for the past 30 plus years, and we religiously would take as many “fall-foliage” trips, and maybe a summer trip or 2, as we could, to the white mtns. oh, what gorgeous pics you have in this article. and, oh, what memories they did stir. we were last to no. Conway in early September, a few weeks before our move. I am lost for words as to how I feel this moment, but, I do miss nh, even tho we have spectacular views where we now live…..later on, I will have him look thru this wonderful piece of nh-home. we’ll probably both mist up. thank you, to all who took part in making this wonderful tribute to a wonderful place.

      • Aimee Seavey November 5, 2013 at 7:44 pm #

        Hi Chris! You might be a Virginia transplant, but you’ll always be a New Englander! Alton is beautiful, and I don’t blame you for missing it, but it will be here waiting for you whenever you want to make a return visit. I am so glad you enjoyed this post — being able to bring a slice of home (or give other folks something to want to see) is what the Yankee “Explore New England” series is all about! Happy fall to you and your family!

    • Susan November 17, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

      Thank you for the memories!

      My first trip to the Lakes Region of New Hampshire was as a bride honeymooning on Lake Ossipee in 1976. We had no money for the usual kind of honeymoon – just a paper sack full of change! My husband had spent week-ends there helping a friend build a chalet – the friend let us stay there for the week gratis, in return for my husband’s help. We spent our days exploring the lake, riding the gondola to the top of Mt. Whittier (we picked blueberries there and I made blueberry pancakes!), traversing the Kangamangus Highway and stopping to see all its sights, and visiting North Conway. The week we spent there was spectacular, and I still remember every day of it. That sack of change held enough cash to buy groceries for the week, pay for our gas, and let us have a really good time in NH! Now that you’ve rekindled those memories, we’ll have to plan another visit soon (we’ll have to start saving our change again…)!

      • Aimee Seavey November 18, 2013 at 10:25 am #

        Hi Susan! What wonderful memories – I hope the change adds up quickly so you’ll be able to make a return visit soon and create a whole new set. :)

  2. Carolyn Clark December 4, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    What a nice surprise to find your story about an Ossipee /North Conway weekend get-away with my old friends and teaching buddies! Your story evokes the charm of both of those places, which were my family”s favorite vacation spots, and your pictures are beautiful.

    • Aimee Seavey December 5, 2013 at 8:57 am #

      Thanks so much, Carolyn! As you can imagine, we had a lot of fun. Hope all is well! :)

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