Weekend Getaway: Littleton and Bethlehem

littleton and bethlehem

One is the “Crossroads of Northern New England” and features an award-winning Main Street. The other is the highest town in New Hampshire and known as the “Star of the White Mountains.” Together, Littleton and nearby Bethlehem are setting the latest travel trend in New Hampshire – and for good reason.

Looking down on Littleton. Photo by Shaun Terhune.

A once-thriving vacation destination in the 1800s, flocks of city-dwellers escaping heat and hayfever would arrive by train to these areas to enjoy the crisp, cool, clear mountain air. Writers like Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson inspired generations of readers with their observations on the region’s majestic natural splendor and rugged terrain. By the 20th century, grand hotels sprung up around the region as well as smaller “railroad” hotels to cater to travelers. But as railroads declined and air-conditioning and anti-histamines became common, the area eventually grew quiet by the 1980s.

Now – fueled by renewed downtown activity, buzzy breweries, and a strong community bond – the area is experiencing a resurgence as a top travel spot. In particular, both towns are increasingly popular with the Millennial crowd. With so much pristine wilderness to explore, a burgeoning arts scene, and eclectic little shops, it’s hard to not fall for their small-town charms. Read on for our favorite places to eat, stay, and play in Littleton and Bethlehem.

Littleton and Bethlehem Eats

Schilling Beer Co. – 18 Mill Street, Littleton, NH 03561

At Schilling, their passion for brewing is rivaled only by the pride they take in their local community. Driven by these values, they’ve created something really special in the landscape of the North Country. Stop by here to enjoy the finest artisanal European-inspired beers and wood-fired pizza while overlooking the Ammonoosuc River in a beautifully converted 18th-century grist mill. And because Schilling distributes in limited quantities, a trip to their taproom should be on every beer lover’s list! It’s the only place you can taste some of their progressive beers.

The Beal House – 2 W. Main St., Littleton, NH

Full of cozy and rustic charm, The Beal House is the North Country’s must-stop destination for classic American tavern fare. The Inn itself dates back to 1833, but the food is fresh, modern, and refined. A semi-finalist for the prestigious James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year in 2008 when he opened Max Fish in Glastonbury, CT, Owner/Chef Adam Alderin is whipping up some of Littleton’s most mouth-watering entrees. From main meals like a burger topped Vermont cheddar, bacon, and a homemade chive bacon mayo to shareables like Mushroom and Braised Beef Tart with smoked gouda, chives, and frisée, The Beal House is a bright spot on the New Hampshire food scene.

Rek’-lis Brewing Company – 2085 Main Street, Bethlehem, NH 03574

It may be a small-town brewery, but Rek’-lis is all about big beers! Swing by for an ever-changing selection of freshly brewed beers, a menu with something for everyone, and a great lineup of live music and events. When it’s warm out, kick back and relax with a roaring fire pit, heated deck, and cornhole beer garden! On a recent visit, we tried an awesome mushroom burger, perfect for any plant-based diners out there.

Where to Stay in Littleton or Bethlehem

Presidential Mountain Resort – 1108 Main Street, Bethlehem, NH 03574

Newly renovated and one-of-a-kind, Presidential Mountain Resort is a full-service luxury cabin experience in Bethlehem. It’s a dreamy 250 acres of outdoor recreation area with an extensive network of trails, a private lake, a saltwater pool, and a fully-stocked trout pond. While all of the cabins have been updated with modern touches, they still retain their rustic charm. Plus, most of the cabins sit right on the lake with private decks! Staying for a full week? Check PMR’s site for a special deal of 20% of your nightly rate when you stay for 7 nights.

Adair Country Inn and Restaurant – 80 Guider Ln, Bethlehem, NH 03574

For couples looking for a romantic retreat, Adair Country Inn and Restaurant‘s classic New England Inn offers intimate fireside dining, 200 acres of scenic grounds and gardens, and a central location to the area’s best attractions. Although the property is steeped in history and grandeur, it’s the kind of cozy country inn that allows guests to unwind, unplug, and really relax.

Thayers Inn – 111 Main Street Littleton NH, 03561

If you’re someone who’d rather be in the heart of downtown, check out the historic Thayers Inn on Littleton’s Main Street for a taste of a bygone era. Sweeping staircases, original floors, and greek revival architecture have all been preserved from the Inn’s founding in 1843. It’s hosted U.S. Presidents, including Ulysses S. Grant and Richard Nixon, and celebrities Henry Ford and Bette Davis. Besides being cozy and comfortable, the location can’t be beat. Step out onto one of the Inn’s small balconies and look down the quaint Main Street, or step outside for a stroll to Littleton’s famous shops, restaurants, and even Schilling Beer Co.

Littleton and Bethlehem Attractions

Award-winning skiing, snowmobile, mountain biking, and hiking trails surround these two great towns. In addition, don’t miss:

  • Chutters in downtown Littleton, home of the world’s longest candy counter!
  • Walk Littleton’s Covered Bridge. Built in 2004, the 352 ft. bridge offers incredible views of the Ammonoosuc River.
  • Despite its small population, Bethlehem boasts TWO championship 18-hole golf courses designed by the legendary Donald Ross. 
  • Pay tribute to the beloved children’s book character Pollyanna at her sculpture on Main Street. Eleanor H. Porter, the creator of the cheerful character, was a Littleton resident.
  • Visit nearby adventure parks like Whale’s Tale Park and Alpine Adventures.

While both places are worth a visit in and of themselves, they’re also great spots to use as a base of operations if you’re exploring other parts of the White Mountains!