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Meredith

The village of Meredith sits at the northwestern facet of the (roughly diamond-shaped) jewel that is Winnipesaukee. There are good views across a nice bay from almost anyplace in town, but Meredith lacks the quaintness and broad selection of activities that many travelers want -- a busy road cuts the tidy little downtown right off from the lake's shore, and strip malls have also intruded as well. Still, this town is stocked with life's necessary services (restaurants, gas station, souvenir shops, pizza places, full-size grocery stores), and it's also home to several desirable inns. Foremost among its qualities is its superb location.

Getting There -- Reach Meredith by taking I-93 to exit 23. Drive 9 miles east on Route 104 to Route 3, turn left, and continue downhill to the town and the lakefront. Concord Coach (tel. 800/639-3317; www.concordcoachlines.com) provides twice-daily bus service from points south, including to and from Boston; pick it up at the Irving gas station on Main St.

The same buses also stop in Center Harbor, which has a new ticket office at the Village Car Wash and Laundromat (in the Dunkin' Donut plaza -- hey, this is small-town New Hampshire, remember?).

Visitor Information -- The Meredith Area Chamber of Commerce (tel. 877/279-6121 or 603/279-6121; www.meredithcc.org) maintains an office in the white house on Route 3 (on the left when driving down the hill from Rte. 104). It's open daily in summer from 9am to 5pm; closed Saturday and Sunday in winter.

Wolfeboro

The handsome town of Wolfeboro, on Lake Winnipesaukee's eastern shore, claims to be the first-ever summer resort in the U.S. The documentation makes a pretty good case for it. In 1763 John Wentworth, nephew of a former governor, was granted land for a summer estate on what's now called Lake Wentworth, a small lake connected to Winnipesaukee by a tiny river. Blue-blood types (and grand hotels) eventually followed him to the area, and the village that prospered has been a great success both as a summer retreat and a year-round community.

In contrast to the low-brow tourist attractions of Weirs Beach, this town has a more prim sensibility and takes its own preservation quite seriously. You'll find impeccably maintained 19th-century homes, attractive downtown shops, and a refined sense of place. There's the requisite private boarding school (Brewster Academy), which dates from 1820. You might even see a famous face at the hardware store or ice-cream shop -- well-known celebrities and politicians often vacation here, and some own summer homes in the area.

Getting There -- Lake Winnipesaukee's eastern shore is best explored using Route 28 (from Alton Bay to Wolfeboro) and Route 109 (from Wolfeboro to Moultonborough).

Visitor Information -- The Wolfeboro Chamber of Commerce (tel. 800/516-5324 or 603/569-2200; www.wolfeboroonline.com/chamber) provides regional information and advice from its offices in a converted railroad station at 32 Central Ave., a block off Main Street in Wolfeboro. It's open daily in summer, Monday to Friday the rest of the year.

Special Events -- The Great Waters Music Festival (tel. 603/569-7710; www.greatwaters.org) is an amazingly eclectic series held on the campus of Brewster Academy throughout summer. Performers really run the gamut, from swing bands (the Glenn Miller Orchestra) to big-time jazz (Dianne Reeves, Wynton Marsalis) to good old-fashioned folk (Judy Collins, Arlo Guthrie).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.