Visit Hanover, New Hampshire
Top, Dartmouth College’s Baker Library and Tower (center left) and Webster Hall (center right) viewed from across the Dartmouth Green on a summer morning and from left to right above, historic architecture facing the Dartmouth College Green, the Daniel Webster Cottage, and a horse-drawn sleigh in front of the Hanover Inn.
Historic Hanover, perhaps the cultural and intellectual epicenter of northern New England, is a uniquely picturesque college town of about 12,000 located along the east bank of the Upper Connecticut River, a scenic two-hour drive through the White Mountains from Boston and three hours from Providence via I-93 and I-89, and about two and a half from hours up the Connecticut River Valley from Hartford, and not quite five hours from New York City via I-95 and I-91. Hanover is an easy drive also from Montreal and Quebec City, all the way, except the last kilometer, via Canadian Autoroutes and U.S. Interstate highways.
The crossroads of Hanover, the intersection of Main and Wheelock, is a one-mile, two-minute drive from Exit 13 off I-91 in Norwich, Vermont (across the Connecticut River separating Vermont and New Hampshire).
The Hanover community may be best known as the home of Dartmouth College, and the resources, including the Hood Museum of Art, the Hopkins Center performing arts facility in the center of town, and the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center that the community and the College offer residents and visitors.
For regular visitors, Hanover is a favorite summertime and autumn destination for weekend getaways and outdoor adventures for families and couples, with ample, nationally flagged hotel accommodations nearby (not to mention the august Hanover Inn), as well as multiple, nearby attractions and activities, not the least of which is skiing at the Dartmouth Skiway (unquestionably one of New Hampshire’s best-kept winter secrets).
Editors’ Note: Hanover has regularly been named one of America’s best places to live and one of America’s best places to retire by various nationally distributed magazines.
Hotels in Hanover
The Hanover Inn
The Hanover Inn, is owned and operated by Dartmouth College, and though comparatively smaller, it is considered one of the five grand, historic hotels of New Hampshire.
“The Inn” is located in the center of Hanover, at the corner of Main and Wheelock Streets, (MAP) facing the picturesque Dartmouth College Green, Baker Library and Tower and Webster Hall; it was fully and beautifully renovated in 2012 and has been maintained to a palpably high standard thereafter.
The Inn features reasonably large, tastefully appointed, and well-maintained rooms with modern bathrooms, many with walk-in showers, and upgraded Gilchrist and Soames bath products.
The Inn is contiguous with and connected to the Hood Museum of Art (see below) and the Hopkins Center for the Performing Arts (below), and it is the home of The Pine restaurant (see below), certainly one of the top five restaurants in the Granite State.
A favorite pastime for hotel guests, not to mention local residents, is lounging in the Adirondack chairs in front of the Inn on Wheelock Street and watching the Dartmouth students come and go on the Green. The Grand Ballroom has a capacity of 400 making Hanover, and the Hanover Inn, one of New Hampshire’s most unique meeting venues.
Visit New Hampshire emphatically recommend the Hanover Inn for its creature comforts and its pleasing mix of small-town New England charm and big-city polish (at prices not seen in big cities in decades).
Editors’ Note: There is no such thing as a bad view in downtown Hanover, but it is a real bonus to sleep in a North-facing room at The Inn and wake up with a view of Baker Tower at the far end of the Green.
Six South Street Hotel
Six South Street Hotel, (MAP) Hanover’s only other downtown hotel, is a short two blocks from the Dartmouth College Green, and is a modern, contemporary alternative recommended by our editors for visitors who want to walk to eat and shop in downtown Hanover but are unable to get into the Hanover Inn, which has been known to sell-out.
Food service at Six South Street is limited to breakfast sandwiches and pastries from 7:00 to 9:30 in the morning, and small plates and charcuterie, with an ample wine selection, from 4:00 to 10:00 (on Tuesday through Saturday evenings only).
Hotels near Hanover
The Hilton Garden Inn, Hanover/Lebanon
The clean, new, airy and modern, 100-room Hilton Garden Inn is conveniently located just two minutes from downtown Lebanon, and two minutes from the Dartmouth Medical Center, and about five minutes to downtown Hanover. (MAP) This property incorporates the latest generation in guestroom layout, comfort, conveniences, plumbing and technology. Rooms are large and feature microwave ovens and small refrigerators. Many rooms have walk-in showers.
Limited, on-site dinner menu options were unexpectedly good, bordering on outstanding, at the time of our inspection, prepared with obvious care. There is certainly no need for guests dine out, and a very pleasant, outdoor seating area is a nice seating option in season, especially during fall colors.
Breakfast, unfortunately, for guests departing early for any number of reasons, is not available until 7:00am.
Other amenities include free parking, an indoor pool, fitness center, free Wi-Fi, and some pet-friendly guestrooms
The Hilton Garden Inn is highly recommended by Visit New Hampshire editors.
Two Hotels near Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center
Two Country Inns in adjacent Lyme, New Hampshire
All-seasons things to do in Hanover
The Hood Museum of Art. The Hood (pictured at left) completed a three-year, $50 million expansion adding five new galleries to its original eleven, including a significant Native American Art Gallery, in 2018, and it now holds 70,000 objects from around the world, including paintings, artifacts, ancient art from the near east, sculptures, and specimens of natural history.
Its varied collection is one of the largest of any college in the country, and certainly, in any quiet community of its size in the United States. One of the College’s most treasured works, José Clemente Orozco’s 3,200 square foot, The Epic of American Civilization, is now a national historic Landmark.
This priceless fresco, located in the Orozco Room at Baker Library (pictured in the background in the image at the top of Page One), is breathtaking.
The Hopkins Center for the Arts. “The Hop” is Dartmouth’s performing arts center, and the cultural epicenter of New Hampshire, with concerts, film, lectures and theatrical performances, including the Met Live in HD series. Anyone wondering about the architectural similarity between The Hop and New York City’s Lincoln Center would be interested in learning that the Hop was designed by Wallace Harrison, and was a preview of his later Lincoln Center design. Read more.
Summertime things to do in or near Hanover for families
Hike on the Appalachian Trail, the longest hiking-only footpath in the world, which passes through Hanover (the only settled area it enters along its entire 2,000-mile route between Maine and Georgia) just long enough to cross the Ledyard Bridge into Vermont. Our editors recommend a relatively easy climb (about a mile and 1,000 feet of elevation) on the trail to Holt’s Ledge that starts near the Dartmouth Skiway parking lot in Lyme Center (MAP), and ends with a memorable, panoramic view of the White Mountains from the top of the Ledge. An unforgettable experience at the peak of fall foliage, annually around the end of September or beginning of October.
Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS), a non-profit and environmental education museum based in nearby Quechee, Vermont, about a 15-minute drive (via I-91 and US Route 4) from Hanover. (MAP) The museum is focused on the environment through education, research, and avian wildlife rehabilitation with 17 raptor exhibits that contain hawks, eagles, vultures, falcons, owls, and ravens.
The Billings Farm & Museum in nearby Woodstock, Vermont (MAP) is a non-profit educational institution founded by Laurance and Mary Rockefeller in 1968 to preserve the character and heritage of rural Vermont. The Billings Farm features diverse, interactive programs that focus on rural life, work, and land stewardship as reflected in the traditions and values of 19th-century farm families.
The Billings Farm is a lovely, 30-minute drive past the Quechee Gorge (see below) and picturesque Woodstock Vermont, and well worth an afternoon visit, in any season.
The Quechee Gorge. Stop and walk across the bridge 165 feet above picturesque Quechee Gorge (at Quechee State Park), the deepest Gorge in Vermont, after your visit to VINS (above) and en route to the Billings Farm (immediately above. The Gorge is a popular attraction 365 days a year, but especially memorable in the fall foliage season from late-September through mid-October, and is a pleasant. 15-minute drive from the Hanover Inn. (MAP)
Winter activities in and near Hanover for the whole family
Skiing at the Dartmouth Skiway, owned and operated by Dartmouth College in nearby Lyme Center, a very pleasant, fifteen-minute drive along the Connecticut River from Hanover (MAP)
“The Skiway” as it is known by local residents (almost all of them skiers), is a secret carefully kept among them for its varied terrain, 25% beginner, 50% intermediate, and 25% expert (trail map), with 1,000 feet of vertical drop over 400 acres on two mountains, for its moderate prices, its spacious, modern lodge (pictured at right), and not least for its palpable lack of crowding even on holiday weekends.
Ice skating on Occum Pond. Half of the population of Hanover, it seems, will be out skating on the Pond at the edge of the Dartmouth campus on winter weekends, across the street from the Hanover Country Club, a short walk from Wheelock and Main Streets.
Bring your kids and your ice skates to Hanover for a Norman Rockwell afternoon or a moonlit evening on the Pond.
Tobogganing at the Hanover Country Club. If they’re not ice skating, half the kids in Hanover will be sliding down an impressive hill at the Country Club, across the street. This really is a memorable and exhilarating experience for kids and thrill-seeking adults, mostly the former. Bring your skates and sleds to Hanover. You won’t be disappointed.
The Montshire Museum of Science. A uniquely family-friendly, all seasons, science and discovery museum with indoor and outdoor activities on a 100-acre site just across the bridge in Norwich, Vermont, a two-minute drive from Wheelock and Main Streets at the center of Hanover. (MAP)
The locally popular science museum can be crowded on winter days in the Upper Valley when it’s too cold to ski or skate. Public transportation on the local Advance Transit bus is available on weekdays.
Not-to-Miss Hanover Restaurants
The sophisticated Pine restaurant in the Hanover Inn is considered by our editors to be one of the top five restaurants in New Hampshire and since it opened in 2012, it is the fine-dining establishment of choice for local residents. The interior décor is an imaginative mix of barn board and granite, with beamed ceilings and views through its Palladian windows of Main Street to the west and Baker Library and Tower and the Dartmouth Green to the north.
The not-to-miss Pine experience is certainly unsurpassed in the Upper Connecticut River Valley, and it is not hard to find, off the lobby in the Hanover Inn, overlooking the crossroads of Hanover, the corner of Wheelock and Main Streets. Read More
The Pine is highly recommended for its menu and consistently professional staff and not least for its unique, rustic but elegant ambiance.
Presidential candidate Gary Hart’s front-running Democratic Primary campaign ended at a press conference in this very room (then called the Hayward Lounge) in 1987, in the aftermath of a scandalous relationship with model Donna Rice (which both the married candidate and Rice always denied), back in the day when such things were disqualifying!
Jesse’s Steakhouse, a restaurant institution at the outskirts of downtown for more than 40 years, is a large, log structure that’s 50% Victorian Old West décor and 50% steak and prime rib cuisine … that is to say, both the rustic atmosphere and American cuisine are so consistently good, as virtually anyone who lives here would tell you, that it’s hard to say which is better. Maybe 100% décor and 100% steak and prime rib would be a more accurate characterization. Open for lunch and dinner, and dinner reservations are often needed.
Jesse’s is highly recommended. Read More
“Molly’s” is a classic, 130-seat college bar and restaurant institution for residents, students and visitors, located on Main Street, across from the Post Office, midway between Six South and the Hanover Inn, Hanover’s two in-town hotels, where neither the menu nor the ambiance has changed for 40 years. Molly’s is a dependable choice for a casual lunch or dinner, including soups, sandwiches, burgers, wood-fired pizza, and varied pub food served amidst a collection of Dartmouth College and Ivy League memorabilia. Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Read More
Editors’ Note: One of Visit New Hampshire’s editors met his wife at Molly’s Balloon, so this restaurant can do no wrong in our view. Virtually any student or resident and most regular visitors to Hanover would be familiar with Molly’s and would certainly agree.