Lake Winnipesaukee is the largest lake in New Hampshire. Situated in the southern foothills of the White Mountains, the lake is an impressive 72 square miles in area. The beautifully clear waters of the spring-fed lake lap sandy and wooded shoreline of coves and inlets, and the area is as popular in the winter as it is during the summer.
With the numerous villages located around the shores of the lake, it’s not always easy knowing where to stay. That’s why we’ve put together this helpful guide on where to stay in Lake Winnipesaukee. Full of all the information you’ll need, this article has you covered.
Let’s get started!
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Best Cabin in Lake Winnipesaukee – Stylish A-Frame Cabin
This beautifully restored 1970s A-frame cabin is a charming option for your Lake Winnipesaukee vacation. There’s a vinyl player, full kitchen, and a grill out on the porch. Location-wise, it’s situated in woodlands, close to Gunstock Mountain Resort in Gilford.
Best Lakehouse in Lake Winnipesaukee – Family Friendly Home
This beautiful lakefront home is ideally located for enjoying life along the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee. The house features modern interiors with whitewashed walls and stylish furnishings, and has enough for six people. The on-site fire pit allows for cosy nights under the stars, and there’s a jetty for use in the summer months.
Best Hotel in Lake Winnipesaukee – Mill Falls at the Lake
Feel like staying in a part of Lake Winnipesaukee history? This hotel is situated in a former linen mill dating back to the late 19th century. Here, you can enjoy the old-world charm of the building’s period features alongside a top location, with views over Meredith Bay. Rooms are tastefully decorated and come in a range of shapes and sizes for all travel styles.
Extending along the southern shores of Lake Winnipesaukee is the town of Gilford. This popular resort town draws ski enthusiasts during the winter months and summer vacationers to its lakeside locales in warmer weather.
Situated immediately east of Gilford, Laconia is a waterfront destination perfect for a family vacation in Lake Winnipesaukee. This historic town benefits from its position in the heart of the Lakes Region as a whole, with plenty more in terms of amenities and accommodation than neighbouring Gilford.
Meredith is a historic resort village. Tourism developed here after the Boston, Concord & Montreal Railroad was built in 1849. It’s also a port of call for the MS Mount Washington paddle steamer, which has been visiting since 1872 and still attracts tourists on its voyages to this day.
Top 3 Neighborhoods to Stay in Lake Winnipesaukee
Lake Winnipesaukee is the perfect destination for a lakeside holiday in New England. It features an intricate shoreline with large bays and inlets to explore. It’s a picturesque area, and has a variety of charming towns and villages to match. It’s a popular ski-resort town during the winter, while summer lures visitors to lakeside villages.
Gilford is a ski town, and attracts visitors all year round. It’s a great place for those looking to explore the lake, and has a number of hiking trails nearby. It’s a popular area for snow sport enthusiasts and nature lovers, and a great location for those looking to get to know the area.
Laconia sits next to Gilford. It’s abundant in history and nature, and boasts numerous restaurants and entertainment options. There’s some charming architecture to soak up here, plus sandy beaches and a boardwalk. Laconia is a popular destination for families heading to Lake Winnipesaukee, as there are plenty of activities on offer.
Meredith is an easy-going resort town, and an affordable option for anyone traveling on a budget. There’s a creative side to Meredith, with a collection of galleries, arty installations around town, and boutique stores to discover.
Now, let’s dive into the details of each area and see what makes them tick!
1. Gilford – Where to Stay in Lake Winnipesaukee for Your First Time
Gilford extends along the southern shores of Lake Winnipesaukee. Home to Governors Island, Belknap Mountain State Forest and Ellacoya State Park, it’s a proper area of supreme natural beauty.
The lakeside village of Glendale is a particularly picturesque spot in the boundaries of Gilford, and makes a great base for a vacation. Arguably the most well known Lake Winnipesaukee destination, Gilford is definitely a good place to find a base for all your adventures.
Best Cabin in Gilford – Stylish A-Frame Cabin
A dreamy spot for a first time vacation near Lake Winnipesaukee, this charming A-frame cabin has everything you need and more for a cosy base in Gilford. It’s situated just minutes from the Gunstock Mountain Resort and surrounded by two acres of woodland. The property itself features stylish minimalist interiors, and is perfect for anyone who likes to get out into nature.
Best Hotel in Gilford – TownePlace Suites
TownePlace Suites has all the amenities of a hotel, and is close to local amenities. Rooms have a fully equipped kitchen, and guests can enjoy a complimentary breakfast each morning. There are a range of facilities on offer at the hotel, including an indoor pool and a gym.
Best House in Gilford – Beautiful Vacation Home
For those who want to unwind amongst nature, this house provides the perfect location. Situated in amongst pristine scenery, this charmer of a property boasts rustic yet modern interiors: think indoor fireplace and comfy couches to chill on. The property sleeps 8 guests, and has a large porch and garden that comes with a fire pit.
Beautiful Vacation Home is one of our favourites in Lake Winnipesaukee but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.
Things to See and Do in Gilford
- Go for a stroll around the tranquil Saltmarsh Pond State Forest
- Pay a visit to Pepi Herrmann Crystal to shop for amazing cut crystal products
- Grab your hiking boots and explore Belknap Mountain State Forest for epic views out across Lake Winnipesaukee
- Swing by Beans & Greens Farm to pick up excellent fresh produce or their bakery items; try out their corn maze.
- Hit the slopes at Gunstock Mountain Resort, a family-friendly ski and snowboarding area.
- Sample the fresh homemade doughnuts at Goody Good Donuts (be warned: they sell out!)
- Spend some time exploring Ellacoya State Park, walking along the trails or just kicking back on the beach.
- Tackle the Whiteface Trail for yet more stunning vistas of the lake scenery.
- Take a day out to simply chill on the sands of Gilford Beach in Glendale.
- Head to The Studio to pick up cute gifts in its whimsical decor and fun, welcoming vibes.
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2. Laconia – Where to Stay in Lake Winnipesaukee for Families
Situated east of Gilford, Laconia is a waterfront destination perfect for a family vacation in Lake Winnipesaukee. This historic town sits in the heart of the Lakes Region, and has plenty of options for accommodation.
Numerous events throughout the year draw crowds from across the country. It hosts Laconia Motorcycle Week in June, and is home to the Pumpkin Festival and the World Championship Sled Dog Derby. Laconia is rife with New England charm, with quaint architecture, an idyllic boardwalk and beaches, and views of the Ossipee Mountains.
Best Cabin in Laconia – Charming Waterfront Cottage
For one of the best places to stay in Laconia for a family vacation, check out this picturesque home. This stunning cottage sits right on the water’s edge, and comes with its very own dock for lake adventures. The interiors are warm and cosy, with wood-panelled walls and classic cabin style decor throughout. There’s also a wood-burning stove, cottage style kitchen three bedrooms, with enough room for up to six guests in total. Plus, the public beach is just half a mile away.
Best Lakehouse in Laconia – Family Friendly Home
This beautiful lakeside property is the perfect place for a family getaway in Lake Winnipesaukee. Located right on the water’s edge, this place is all about outdoor living: the outside spaces include a large garden, fire pit and even a jetty. There’s space to sleep up to six guests across three bedrooms, making it a great option for families just minutes from downtown Laconia.
Best Hotel in Laconia – The Margate Resort
This large hotel has a lot going on, including a private beach, indoor swimming pool, gym, and gardens. There’s a complimentary breakfast served up each morning here, and there’s a beach bar – great for meals and cocktails.
Things to See and Do in Laconia
- Take an afternoon to explore the beautiful scenery of Opechee Park.
- Treat yourself and the family to a delicious breakfast at Water Street Cafe.
- Let the children loose in the leafy Weirs Community Park.
- Enjoy a spot of go-karting at Weirs Beach Go Kart Track.
- Hit up Half Moon Penny Arcades and try your luck on its old-school games.
- Try out Funspot Family Entertainment Center, the largest arcade in the world!
- While you’re there, head to the third floor for the American Classic Arcade Museum
- Stroll along the boardwalk and step onto Winnipesaukee Pier.
- Check out the Belknap Mill Museum to learn about the textile history of Laconia.
- Enjoy local food and a cosy atmosphere at pub-style Tavern 27.
- Embark on a walking tour of Downtown Laconia to spot its historical buildings and chapels.
- Spend the day enjoying a well-deserved chill at Weirs Beach.
- Pay a visit to Daytona Fun Park and have a day out for all the family to enjoy.
3. Meredith – Where to Stay in Lake Winnipesaukee on a Budget
Meredith is a historic resort village. Tourism developed here after the Boston, Concord & Montreal Railroad was built in 1849. The village is a port of call for the MS Mount Washington paddle steamer, which has been visiting since 1872 and still attracts many visitors today.
This compact village is home to a number of lakes in the area, making it a great stop-off location for a road trip through New England. There are endless opportunities for water sports, as well as hiking and biking. Couple this with a creative edge, and Meredith sure packs a punch.
Best Vacation Home in Meredith – Waterfront Cottage
A traditional cottage situated along a shared waterfront, this holiday home in Meredith is a great affordable option in Lake Winnipesaukee. It has space to sleep up to six guests, and is perfect for traveling groups. The deck here is perfect for sunbathing and warming up after a swim in the lake.
Best Homestay in Meredith – Brand New Apartment
This modern and clean apartment in Meredith is well located, being a mere five minutes’ walk from Downtown Meredith’s bars and restaurants. The apartment is split over two floors, with a brand new kitchen and two bedrooms. There’s a porch, BBQ, and lake views – making days spent here relaxing and idyllic.
Best Hotel in Meredith – Mill Falls at the Lake
Mill Falls at the Lake is an awesome place to soak in the history of this region. It’s set in a restored 19th-century linen mill, complete with views overlooking the majesty of Meredith Bay. The hotel is also connected to the town’s historic marketplace via a covered bridge. Rooms at the property range from standard, affordable affairs to more luxurious and spacious lodgings.
Things to See and Do in Meredith
- Walk the Meredith Sculpture Trail to discover some of the town’s interesting artworks.
- Refresh yourself with the selection of beers on offer at Twin Barns Brewing Company (there’s even a beer garden).
- Catch a show at the community-run Winnipesaukee Playhouse.
- Enjoy a glass of wine and a meat and cheese board at Hermit Woods Winery & Deli.
- Fish, swim or chill out at Waukewan Beach – it’s great for sunsets.
- Explore the Laverack Nature Trail at Hawkins Brook.
- Swing by Innisfree Bookshop and browse their wide variety of books, games and gifts.
- Pick up some delicious local produce and a bite to eat at Moulton Farm.
- Take a trip out on the MS Mount Washington paddle steamer for some vintage fun.
- Stop for lunch at Lakeside Deli and Grille, a low-key spot for fish tacos and lake views.
- Pay a visit to Bear Island and check out the historical Saint Johns Church.
- Embark on a historical journey courtesy of the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad.
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Final Thoughts on Where To Stay in Lake Winnipesaukee
Lake Winnipesaukee has so much diversity and is a delight to visit all year round. Couple its picturesque natural credentials with the charming towns and cute accommodation, and it’s definitely a must-visit in New Hampshire.
All destinations are awesome in their own right, but Meredith tops the list for its budget-friendly accommodation! Invite a bunch of friends and enjoy a stay at Meredith’s Waterfront Cottage for an unforgettable lakeside trip.
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