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The history of Manchester is the history of its mills. Brick buildings still line both shores of the Merrimack River today, reflecting an era when New England was one of the manufacturing centers of a rapidly growing nation. That industrial age has long since passed, but visitors are still impressed by the mills, some now converted into restaurants and offices, others serving as university classrooms, and one that has leapt eras by housing a technology center.

With 100,000 residents, this is northern New England's largest city, and it feels like it: The place has a grittier, more urban feel than anywhere else in the three states covered in this book. (Streetwise comic actor Adam Sandler grew up here.) As such, it's best used as a place for stocking supplies, visiting the fine-art museum, and getting a glimpse of the region's proud industrial heritage. Then: onward.

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