There's no greater trigger for self loathing than mindless scrolling through the depths of the internet. Occasionally, though, you can stumble on something that actually enriches your life (ahem) and last year, as I perused my usual standards (Design Sponge, Design Mom, Apartment Therapy) a lone comment on a random article struck a chord: "You should checkout Bowerbird & Friends in Peterborough, NH". So I did, because the internet told me to, and for once, the internet was right. Bowerbird & Friends and the town of Peterborough have become monthly staples for me. If ABC Home, Anthropologie, Ikea, Garnet Hill, Orvis, and Dean and Deluca founded a town together, it would look a lot like Peterborough. Read on to learn more about the shopping, eating, hiking, skiing, and of course, the staying.
As you drive into Peterborough you are greeted by a tasteful sign that whispers, "Welcome to Peterborough. A Good Town To Live In." In New England speak, that means "This PLACE IS FREAKING AWESOME." Both are true.
Boston, Mass: 2 Hours
Hartford, CT: 2 Hours
Stamford, CT: 3 Hours
New York, NY: 4 Hours
Where To Stay: Vetted Airbnb's
Number of Bedrooms: 3
Number of bathrooms: 2.5
Is it good for families: This house is AWESOME for families. This is one of the best Airbnb homes I have seen yet. The property is managed by the owners of The Jack Daniel's Inn, and because of that it is incredibly well appointed, spotless, and safe. Visiting Peterborough and staying at the Hazelhurst Vacation House would be a wonderful getaway. The pictures are accurate - book this happily and get excited for your stay!
How was the host: Eric is a hospitality professional. After spending more than a decade working in Silicon Valley on the kinds of things people in Silicon Valley work on, he and his wife moved to Peterborough and took over The Jack Daniel's Inn, a cute inn/Motel that is another nice option for travelers to the area.
Was it clean: Eric has the space cleaned by the same staff that cleans his inn, so it is very clean.
Did it smell? Not at all.
Number of Bedrooms: 1
Number of bathrooms: 1
Is it good for families: Yes, I think if I were going with my kids (ages 2 and 4), I'd put them in the bedroom and my husband and I would sleep on the fold out sofa bed. Beth is extremely accommodating and offers an air mattress as well. Her apartment is attached to this apartment, so as someone with two small kids I immediately asked how she feels about crying babies at night. She is a very personable host and matter-of-factly stated that she doesn't ever hear a thing. I think this is huge - not all Airbnb's can accommodate screaming kids and their anxious, tired, grumpy parents. This one can! Also, it's a minimalist space without a lot of knick-knacks to break, so I would feel very comfortable with my kids here as well.
How was the host: Beth is great - very easy going and seems to really enjoy hosting and learning more and more about the Airbnb process. You can see from her reviews that she goes the extra mile, leaving snacks, slippers, and a guide to Peterborough for her guests.
Was it clean: It's very clean!
Did it smell? No!
Bonus feature: You can easily walk into town from Beth's place, a huge bonus. Another huge bonus is the yard and garden out back as well as family friendly hiking trails that are right out the back door.
Bowerbird & Friends: Home Decor, Art, Antiques, Inspiration, Decorative Arts
Grove and Main Antiques: Home Decor, Art, Antiques, Inspiration, Decorative Arts, Books, Glassware
Alice Blue: Home Decor, Clothing, Jewelry
Joseph's Coat: Jewelry, Toys, Clothing, Decorative items that make great gifts.
Laurel & Grove: Home Decor, Antiques, Art, Decorative Arts
Toadstool Bookstore: Book store and Cafe, includes Used Books.
L & M Create It Crafts: Excellent craft store stocked with crafts for adults and kids.
Peterborough Art Academy: This store has two sections, one is dedicated to beautiful rugs from all over the world, and the other is an art store that also serves as an art academy and summer kids (and there are classes for adults as well). The Peterborough Community is lucky to have this incredible store and space.
Tribal Rugs By Hand: This is the Rug store that is attached to the Art Academy listed above.
Black Swan: A delightful store feauturing antiques, jewelry, home decor, and clothing at incredible reasonable prices. You can find unique pieces that get you thinking (what can I do with an antique mail sorter?) and simple staples like stoneware and throws.
Trumpet Art Gallery: This is a fun, interesting, and lively gallery and store that offers items for sale as well as workshops. If you can sneak in a conversation with Mona, the owner, you will not regret it. She's bright, informative, and a joy to talk to.
Mariposa Museum of World Cultures: This is a really unique museum showcasing artifacts from around the world. One of the reasons I love living in this area is a dedication to encountering diversity, even when the population itself isn't culturally all that diverse. Mariposa is also home to a number of unique instruments that visitors (and children) are allowed and encouraged to play.
New England Art Exchange: What a gift to have a gallery like this in such a small, beautiful town. Home to hundreds of paintings, drawings, and fine prints from America, Europe, and Asia from the 1800's through the 1950's. It's not a great place for small kids as some of the artwork lines the floor and is easily accessible (and in the thousands of dollars), but it is a great place to take an hour to rejuvenate your inner artist and historian.
Twelve Pine: If you are planning to host a cocktail party, make a picnic, enjoy a quick lunch, then look no further than Twelve Pine. A foods specialty shop that also sells coffee, cured meats, prepared foods, Stonewall Kitchen items and much more.
Harlow's Pub and Restaurant: Family restaurant by day, happening bar by night, Harlow's has something for everyone. Serving enjoyable pub fare in a warm and friendly atmosphere, they offer a great play space for kids during the day (this was a savior for us), and at night they have live music and dancing for the grown ups.
Pearl Restaurant and Oyster Bar: I haven't actually dined yet at Pearl but have heard great things. The chef comes from Spiaggia in Chicago, one of Barack Obama's favorite restaurants, and politics aside, we can all agree the man knows where to eat.
Waterhouse: my sister and I enjoyed a delicious lunch at Waterhouse (we had the Calamari and the Fig Pizza) and were sad that we could only have a glass of wine each as we had a full day of adulting ahead of us. It's a beautiful restaurant perched right on the river with a great outdoor space.
Roy's Market: Roy's market is a rare find in this area of New Hampshire, it reminds me of a great New York City butcher. Whether you are hosting an outdoor BBQ or an Apres Ski dinner, Roy's is your must visit market for high quality meats.
Nonie's Restaurant and Bakery: I love Nonie's - my sister and I had breakfast here and it has a real home town, home cooking vibe going on. It also has the smallest bar stools I have ever seen. I had an Egg and Cheese sandwich that was delicious (seems simple but it's not for some reason) and my sister had apple French Toast and Ham that were out of this world. Great coffee and service too.
Crotched Mountain: As a non-skiier, I'm rarely intrigued by ski stuff, but this mountain does sounds like a lot of fun and it includes a pub. It's about 25 minutes from downtown Peterborough. I'll use their own words for the description: "Crotched Mountain skis like a big mountain, with more fun per hour and less crowds. 100 acres of impeccably groomed terrain, tree glades, and challenging steeps catering to a variety of experience levels. Home to the Rocket and Midnight Madness making Crotched Mountain the only ski area on the east coast that allows skiing & snowboarding 'til 3am!"
Windblown Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing: They offer skiing lessons, a youth club, and gear rental.
Miller State Park / Pack Monadnock: The oldest state park in the state, 1.3-mile paved road leading to the scenic summit is open for visitors to drive in summer and on spring and fall weekends. The best known is the Wapack Trail, which is a 21-mile footpath that extends from Mt. Watatic in Ashburnham, Massachusetts to North Pack Monadnock in Greenfield.
The Whole Story
I'm such a specialty shop junkie that I believe the variety and number of interesting and unique stores makes Peterborough a worthy weekend destination for anyone at any time of year. At least a dozen proprietors and galleries display plants, rugs, candles, lamps, lighting, artwork, antiques and photographs in the most inspiring and creative ways. I have spent countless hours in these stores, sometimes leaving with a purchase and sometimes not, but always with new ideas for my own home.
I recommend two full days here, especially if you are bringing the kids (I wouldn't be comfortable bringing my kids in a lot of the antique and art stores so my husband and I took turns). In addition to the incredible (and weirdly affordable) shopping there is also plenty to do outdoors and a number of great restaurants to enjoy, no matter the season.
My most recent trip was another I shared with my sister, who has lived within 40 minutes of Peterborough for over a decade and was completely unaware of its charm and artistic culture. That sums of the magic of the town, it has all the makings of an excellent tourist destination without any of the trappings. When you get there, I guarantee you'll be opening your Zillow app, looking for the perfect home to fill with the treasures you've collected in town.
I started Weekends Arounds to marry my passion for hospitality and interior design with my love of New England. Because lodging has the greatest impact on a travel experience, I only feature Airbnbs, home rentals, and hotels that I have personally visited (and on my own dime and time - always). I’ll share all my detailed itineraries, photography, and recommendations so that you, too, can experience this beautiful part of the world.