Photo: Dogs jump into lake

A black Lab and a yellow Lab celebrate summer by jumping into New Hampshire's Squam Lake.

Photograph by Nick Lambert, Aurora Photos

Pop. 6,362
GPS: 43°44'N 71°43'W

Life in Plymouth is like a master class in recreation. Wedged between Mount Washington Valley and the Granite State’s glittering lakes region, this college-meets-covered-bridge depot welcomes kayakers on the Pemigewasset River and explorers to the 798,562-acre (323,167-hectare) White Mountain National Forest. And if working at Plymouth State University or the local hospital doesn’t entice you, high-tech and political posts are just 45 minutes south in Concord.

PLAY

Up here, there's often skiing through the end of March at Tenney Mountain Resort. Call in sick and take a weekday run here to avoid the Saturday/Sunday lines (www.tenneymtn.com). The White Mountain Exploration center offers instruction in ski touring, ice climbing, mountain biking, and rock climbing, (plus a geocaching treasure hunt!) all run by Eastern Mountain Sports (www.whitemountainexploration.com).

EAT

Carbo load for your outdoor activities at the Italian Farmhouse on the outskirts of town—locals rave about the fresh bread and pizzas (www.thecman.com/restaurants/italian-farmhouse/). Chow down (and hang for open mic night) with the college crowd at Biederman's Deli and Pub, the sandwiches can't be beat (www.biedermansdeli.com).

SLEEP

This being a college town, there are plenty of B&Bs to choose from. The Inn at Newfound Lake heaps on country charm and offers its cheapest rates in the winter (from $150; www.newfoundlake.com). Come spring, rent a secluded mountainside yurt from White Mountain Exploration (from $150; www.whitemountainexploration.com/yurts.html).

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