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Travel Talk

Travel Talk: From ice cream to photography, New Hampshire offers variety of travel itineraries

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of Sunday afternoon drives with my parents and siblings, wandering about the Connecticut countryside. Back in those days, gas was 25 cents a gallon. The main attractions were nice scenery, perhaps a stop for a swim in a lake or stream, and if we were really lucky, an ice cream cone before heading home. We had a crumpled map to guide us.

Gasoline is hovering around $3.50 now; paper maps have been replaced by GPS devices; and smart phones provide on-the-fly access to the internet for searching out restaurants and attractions. (Speaking of which, there are a lot more attractions to experience than there were in the ’50s and ’60s.) The good news is that day trips and afternoon drives can still be an inexpensive way to make memories – and even better, New Hamphsire’s Division of Travel and Tourism Development has a lot of ideas to help you put together a drive with family or friends.

The Concept: The travel and tourism division has always provided detailed and current information on just about everything you would ever want to see or do in New Hampshire. But about five years ago, someone got the idea to organize that information into itineraries – each focused on a special interest.

Division staff members researched a topic, such as history, then organized a driving tour with recommended stops. The significance of each stop was described, a map was provided and bingo! You’re off for a day or more of tailor-made touring.

The idea took hold and now the state tourism website, visitnh.gov, offers more than three dozen itineraries grouped into six subject areas: culture, tasty N.H., adventure, harvest, winter and historical.

The Execution: Of course the idea is good – but how can the itineraries be made compelling, varied and fun? Easy: Follow emerging trends as well as time-honored interests, and mine other state departments such as agriculture, and film and tourism, as well other New Hampshire resources for the rich details that create winners.

What are some of the best new ones? How about a photography tour with hints and sample images from some noted New Hampshire photographers? If you’re into extreme adventure activities, try the new adrenaline tour – it guides you to the 10 zipline and elevated obstacle courses across the state. If you’ve been following the growing popularity of microbrewing, you’ll have a hard time resisting the brewery map, with 14 options spread out from north to south and east to west. Also, chocolate is a new addition to the ever-popular wine and cheese trail itineraries – and what a nice fit!

Speaking of which, if being fit is your thing, why not try the biking from Rindge to Rochester tour or kick it up a notch and do the biking from Nashua to Canada itinerary?

Bud and I are thinking about the Route 3 retro tour – a look back at the days of rural state highways and the motel era. Then we might pop the grandkids into the car and try the New Hampshire ice cream trail (courtesy of Granite State Dairy Promotion).

The Access: This is just a sampling of the inspiring itineraries right here in the state. You’ll find a few of the most popular brochures on the shelves of local chambers of commerce and interstate rest areas, but all are available for download at visitnh.gov.

The website stats show just how intriguing the itineraries are: People visit the site often and stay a long time. A new one that I had a hard time leaving? The chocolate and martini tour, yum!

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