Anyone who identifies as a political nerd already knows Manchester, New Hampshire’s main claim to fame.
It’s true, Manchester, the state’s largest city, is ground zero, every four years, as the state holds the country’s first presidential primary. However, there are many reasons to visit during non-election years.
Currier Museum of Art
Hannah Currier, the wife of New Hampshire’s Governor in the late 1800s, shared her love of the arts by endowing her wealth to the city, by establishing a museum full of European and American art. Picasso and Monet, as well as O’Keeffe and Wyeth, are part of the permanent exhibit in this many-faceted space. Their mission statement, “Focused on Art, Centered in Community, Committed to Inspire,” is evident throughout the building which is small enough to take in without being overwhelmed.
Affiliated with the Currier Museum of Art, the Zimmerman House Tour will guide you through Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1950-designed home for Isadore and Lucille Zimmerman. Every aspect of the house, down to the mailbox, was crafted in Wright’s eclectic modern style. The Zimmermans left the house to the Currier Museum which maintains the property and conducts tours of the only Wright property open to the public in New England.
Manchester was home to one of the largest textile manufacturers in the world. Amoskeag Manufacturing Company sat along the banks of the Merrimack River, which powered the structure. During their heyday, Amoskeag was the leading denim supplier to Levi Strauss. However, for a multitude of reasons, the mills shut down in 1935. But, thanks to the Manchester Historic Association, the buildings still stand.
One of these structures houses the Millyard Museum where you’ll find artifacts from a time before child labor laws existed. The permanent exhibit, Woven in Time: 11,000 Years at Amoskeag Falls, includes Indian tools that go back thousands of years. You’ll see items that originated in Manchester like the Segway Human Transporter by Dean Kamen; or remember the memory game, Simon? That was Manchester’s Ralph Baer’s invention. Actress Sarah Silverman’s photo appears on the Museum’s Wall of Fame along with Seth Meyers and Adam Sandler.
The Native American word Amoskeag means Great Fishing Place. Along the banks of the Merrimack River lies the Amoskeag Fishways Learning and Visitors Center, answering any question you might have about the history of this region’s fishing background. Interactive exhibits will keep the kids engaged while learning about hydro-electric power and fish biology.
The New Hampshire Fisher Cats, a double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, make Manchester their home in the Northeast Delta Dental Stadium located along the Merrimack River. You never know when the skies might explode in fireworks after a win. It’s a great, inexpensive night out for the family and within walking distance of all the downtown eateries.
Walking along Elm Street, Manchester’s main drag, you’ll run into an ample collection of cafes, restaurants and bars. Start the morning at The Bridge Café on Elm for espresso, cappuccino or just plain great coffee. Add a wonderfully homemade Danish or muffin and it’s a meal. For a major dose of comfort food check out The Red Arrow Diner, around the corner on Lowell Street. All your favorite Blue Plate Specials are on the menu.
You’ll think you’re in the other Manchester, across the pond, while visiting British Beer Company, a pub featuring Sausage & Mash, British Fish & Chips as well as pizza and burgers. If it’s all about the pizza, head back to Elm and hit up Portland Pie Company. Specializing in unique and seasonal doughs made with ingredients like beer and basil, they also offer a variety of local craft beer and lobster in the form of rolls or mac and cheese.
The choices are many and all within walking distance of lodging.
Where to Stay
Speaking of lodging, the Radisson Hotel Manchester Downtown is located just steps from Elm Street and adjacent to the Convention Center. Another option is the Hilton Garden Inn, also close to downtown. These are just two of the larger brands available in and around the city.
For more intimate surroundings, the Ash Street Inn provides the Bed and Breakfast experience in an 1885 Victorian home. Offering five guest rooms and a full breakfast cooked to order each morning, the Inn provides a relaxing stay with all the comforts of home, and more.
New Hampshire’s largest city delivers in terms of historical venues, amazing cuisine and small-town charm. However, you might not be able to get a hotel room or a seat at a restaurant on primary day, so choose your time to visit around Presidential elections.
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