Peterborough: 71 miles NW of Boston; 38 miles SW of Manchester, NH

New Hampshire's southwestern corner is a pastoral region of rolling hills, small villages, rustic farmsteads, and winding back roads. What the area lacks in major attractions, it makes up for in peacefulness and bucolic charm -- plus one good-sized mountain. The inns here tend to be more basic and less luxurious than those across the river in southern Vermont, but their prices will appeal to budget travelers looking for a taste of history with their bed and breakfast. It's becoming a popular area for Bostonians seeking a respite from city life, and in fall thousands of them stream steadily north to this region for the excellent fall foliage, some of the best in New England.

For many visitors, the main activities here are woodland strolls, afternoons reading on the porch, and idle drives to nowhere. In fact, the best strategy for exploring this area may be to put away the map and turn randomly down side roads to see where they lead. Wherever you go, odds are good that you'll find a Currier & Ives tableau.