Featuring casual pubs and upscale lakefront restaurants, Sunapee is a great place to visit in any season.By Lenore Cullen Barnes | Pictured above: Flying Goose Brew Pub & Grille, New London
Locals, visitors and part-time homeowners may claim their favorite seasons, but the truth is there’s fun to be had year-round in the Sunapee region of southwestern New Hampshire. In the winter months, Mount Sunapee Resort is one of New England’s top spots for skiing, but it’s equally enticing throughout the spring, summer and fall for golfing, hiking, biking, rock-climbing and ziplining. From the first mild days of spring until the last days of fall, golfers can play the Donald Ross-designed course at Lake Sunapee Country Club in New London or the Eastman Golf Links in Grantham. And in the summer, Lake Sunapee is a boater’s paradise, with 70 miles of shoreline. Visitors can tour the lake aboard the MV Mount Sunapee II or enjoy a dinner cruise on the MV Kearsarge. Sunapee State Beach, the only public beach on the lake, has a refreshment stand, changing facilities, boat rentals and a public boat launch.
Dining options range from casual mountainside pubs to fine dining. Just a mile down the road from Mount Sunapee Resort is the recently refurbished Suna Restaurant, which has a cozy ski lodge atmosphere with pine-paneled walls, a fireplace and spacious bar. Blackened Ahi tuna with ginger, Wakame salad, sweet soy and cucumber wasabi sauce is a customer favorite, along with the sweet and sour calamari. If you’re indulging, try the smoked gouda tater tots served with spicy ketchup or the famed Rubbin Butts Nachos, featuring pulled pork with diced onions, jalapeno and barbecue sauce. The local greens salad is sourced from lēf Farms of Loudon.
When the sun shines and warm temperatures call for waterfront dining, The Anchorage at Sunapee Harbor offers an ideal setting, with an outdoor deck and dining room overlooking the lake. Locals and visitors alike savor the award-winning chowder, Sicilian shrimp scampi or the fresh haddock sandwich. The chef uses local ingredients whenever possible and the full bar includes a significant wine list, along with bottled and draught beers. A selection of creative beverages like Berry Berry, a blend of strawberry and raspberry flavors, an Oreo cookie frappe or a classic root beer float offer non-alcoholic options.
About six miles up the road from Sunapee is New London, which could double as a movie set for a classic New England town. Anchored by Colby-Sawyer College, The New London Inn and the town green, the scene includes a white-steepled church and traditional gazebo. The New London Barn Playhouse is a long-standing summer stock venue with acclaimed productions, some of which have gone on to Broadway. Whether you’re simply enjoying a stroll through town or seeking a post-golf spot to relax, the Flying Goose Brew Pub & Grille occupies an enviable location on Andover Road overlooking Mount Kearsage. Included in that view are the fields where the Flying Goose grows its own hops, harvested in early fall for fermentation along with seasonal ingredients to produce their 17 handcrafted brews and root beer. They currently brew about 1,500 barrels a year in 20 to 30 styles and flavors, and are proud of the fact that their tanks and water are heated entirely by solar power.
The pub menu features appetizers, salads, soups, sandwiches and full entrees. Bloody Mary Mussels are, as indicated, sautéed in the grille’s Bloody Mary along with jalapenos, garlic, shallots, tomatoes and scallions. The Ale and Onion Soup includes the brewery’s own dark ale for a flavorful punch. House Smoked Barbecue comes with a choice of Robie Farm pulled pork, baby back ribs or the “chef’s combo” in a cider barbecue sauce. Seared scallops over a bed of greens and Garden Vegetable Risotto are tasty non-meat alternatives.
On Main Street in the heart of town is Tucker’s, one of four New Hampshire breakfast/lunch restaurants with locations also in Hookset, Concord and Dover, owned by Erica and Hale Cole-Tucker. Its popularity is due to a straightforward recipe: a casual, upbeat ambiance, attentive staff, and a combination of tried-and-true favorites and original creations from wholesome locally sourced ingredients.
Falling under the “tried-and-true” category are classic combinations of free-range eggs, house potatoes, French toast and buttermilk pancakes. Vegan Breakfast Toast, served with hummus, guacamole, alfalfa sprouts and tomatoes, and drizzled with balsamic glaze, starts your day with a healthy dose of protein and flavor. Signature sandwiches include my favorite, the Parisian — grilled focaccia with brie cheese, fig spread, grilled chicken, hickory bacon and baby spinach — and the Redneck Brisket Melt, locally smoked beef brisket from Brothers House of Smoke on grilled sourdough with melted Cabot cheddar, red onions, tomato, and chimichurri sauce. Soups, wraps, salads and quinoa-based bowls, including the Pesto Power Bowl and Baja Bowl, round out the lunch menu.
From mountain to lake to golf course, to inns and restaurants and pubs, Sunapee is a great destination in any season.
6 Brook Road, Sunapee
71 Main Street, Sunapee
40 Andover Road, New London
207 Main Street, New London