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Manchester, New Hampshire

Great Destination:

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Personality Types that Like it Best

Did You Know … ?

  • In the early 20th century, the Amoskeag company was the world’s largest producer of cotton textiles.
  • The SEE Science Center has the world’s largest LEGO installation at minifigure scale.
  • Manchester-born brothers, Richard “Dick” McDonald and Maurice “Mac” McDonald, founded McDonald’s.
  • Concord’s Levi Hutchins invented an alarm clock (1787), which rang only at 4 a.m., the time he woke up.
  • Gilmanton, N.H., was, in part, the model for Grace Metalious’ “Peyton Place” (1956).

A company town no more

Manchester, New Hampshire’s largest city, blossomed in the 19th century as a major mill town. The Amoskeag cotton mills once employed up to 17,000 people. The makeup of the workforce, which counted immigrants from many countries including a significant French-Canadian contingent, flavors the culture of Manchester even today.

The mills closed in 1936, but the repurposed redbrick Amoskeag buildings, which line the Merrimack River and still dominate the cityscape, now house smaller manufacturers, tech companies, shops, restaurants and museums.

Fittingly, the Manchester Historic Association Millyard Museum is on site. Its exhibits tell the stories of area residents beginning with Native Americans and continue past the textile era. The SEE Science Center (where a miniature Amoskeag Millyard made with LEGOs is displayed) and the Square Dance Museum also are in the old mill buildings.

The Amoskeag mills were central to the shaping of Manchester, but today’s economic activity is healthier for being diversified — and that diversity includes products and services that attract or meet the needs of visitors, such as outlet stores and other shopping, restaurants, outfitters for recreational activities, museums, spectator sports and the performing arts.

The internationally recognized Currier Museum of Art, which displays American and European works, also owns Frank Lloyd Wright’s Zimmerman House, which is open to the public.

The Palace Theatre, which brings Broadway and other entertainment — including the annual Jazz and Blues Festival — to its stage, is the sole survivor of what had been a string of 22 theaters in the early 20th century. A few blocks away, the Verizon Wireless Arena, seating more than 11,000, is the venue for sports events and concerts.

There are parks throughout Manchester, complemented by parks in neighboring towns and state parks. Together, they offer numerous places to hike, ride a bicycle or put on cross-country skis, depending on the season. The city’s Lake Massabesic offers options for canoeing, kayaking and sailing.

Finally, it’s New Hampshire, one of America’s top spots for autumn leaf peeping and, in the land of the White Mountains, a prime destination for skiing, snowboarding and other mountain activities. Manchester can be a base for these pursuits.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Take a class that lets you work with clay or glass at the Studio 550 Art Center.
  • Attend the summertime Jazz and Blues Festival.
  • Visit Mystery Hill, also dubbed America’s Stonehenge, in Salem, and draw your own conclusions about whether this site is truly a 4,000-year-old mystery or a collection of structures created by early European farmers.
  • In winter, skiing and snowboarding are always options. In summer, sail or paddle a kayak on Lake Massabesic, with a shoreline in Manchester and neighboring Auburn.
  • Head to NASCAR races at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Louden.
  • Follow one of three main hiking trails, such as the 21-mile Wapack Trail, to the top of Pack Monadnock, a 2,290-foot mountain in Miller State Park. On a clear day, visitors at the summit can see Mount Washington, New Hampshire’s tallest mountain; Boston’s skyscrapers, and the hills of Vermont.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Give your attention to brewing techniques at the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Merrimack and enjoy samples. Photograph Clydesdale horses, too.
  • Visit America’s Credit Union Museum for a window on what it was like to live in the U.S. during the Great Depression.
  • Learn about more than a cotton mill during a turn through the Manchester Historic Association Millyard Museum.
  • Follow the Chamber of Commerce’s self-guided Historic Walking Tour of the city.
  • Make use of the bike path system in Derry. Include time for visiting the Robert Frost Farm, where the poet lived for more than a decade.
  • In Concord, the capital 15 miles away, admire the historic attractions of greatest interest to you. They may include the State House and the Pierce Manse, home of the 14th U.S. president, Franklin Pierce. Drive another 10 miles to the Canterbury Shaker Village in Canterbury Center.

Things to do for Authentics

  • In September, join locals and other visitors in sampling foods offered by participating restaurateurs at the annual Taste of Downtown Manchester event.
  • See the city’s famed LEGO Millyard Project, a permanent representation, in 3 million LEGO bricks, of Manchester’s Amoskeag Millyard as it would have looked in 1900. It’s at the SEE Science Center, which offers a raft of other diversions, too.
  • In season, play golf. Also, in autumn, visit for the colors.
  • For indoor attention to art, consider the Currier Museum of Art, featuring American and European paintings, decorative arts, photographs and sculpture. Also, visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Zimmerman House, which the gallery owns.
  • Save an evening for theater at the Majestic, or see a performance, which could be dance, music or Broadway theater, at the Palace, the last of the city’s historic downtown theaters.
  • Take a dinner dance cruise or a themed cruise aboard the Mount Washington on Lake Winnipesaukee.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce at www.manchester-chamber.org