Small Towns, Big Fun: Summer in the Monadnock Region

The area of Southwest New Hampshire known as the Monadnock Region, where I grew up and still live, isn’t exactly a booming metropolis, but it’s a wonderful place to live — small towns dot the deeply forested landscape, each one offering unique surprises. Here’s a glimpse of how my family spent the weekend—a showcase of just a few of the fun and interesting activities this area of the state has to offer.

The Play’s the Thing

First thing on Saturday morning we made our way to Peterborough, NH to see a production of “The Wind in the Willows” at Peterborough Players. My husband’s family have been loyal patrons of Peterborough Players for decades, and I’m happy that my own children now get to enjoy theatrical productions there. Founded by Edith Bond Stearns in 1933, Peterborough Players offers seven main stage shows, as well as two Second Company shows for children, every summer.

My son and I read the novel The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame in anticipation of seeing the play. Although the play didn’t follow the plot of the book exactly, it was perfectly adapted to suit its audience of young children. Blending the perfect amount of whimsy, physical comedy, and suspense, this play was a big hit with everyone in the audience—young and old. My son was particularly impressed with Will Champion’s performance as Toad.

An Afternoon in Fairy Land

From Peterborough Players, we took a short drive to downtown Peterborough to visit the Monadnock Center for History & Culture and check out their 9th Annual Fairy House Day. To celebrate this special event, some clever crafters had created beautiful fairy houses that were hidden throughout the museum building and adjoining grounds, just waiting to be found.

I was so impressed with the beauty and creativity of the fairy houses on display, and we had a great time trying to find them all. The museum also had lots of organic building materials available, so our son crafted an elaborate birch bark fairy house of his own, which is now carefully hidden in our own backyard—I do hope the fairies will pay us a visit.

Besides the fairy fun and games, we also enjoyed looking at the museum’s current exhibits. I was totally enthralled by the period home and historic kitchen garden that are on display behind the museum. The garden was so beautiful—absolutely bursting with lush green veggies—and it was clear that an enormous amount of care had been taken to find and arrange historically-relevant vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Being a history nerd and avid gardener myself, I took lots of pictures for future reference!

Paddling on the Pond

After a full day of fun on Saturday, we were back at it again on Sunday—this time kayaking at Harrisville Pond in Harrisville, NH. We’ve been kayaking as a family for many years now, but this day was special as our son was able to kayak on his own for the very first time—no tow rope needed! After years of being stuck sitting in front of me, he is now free to explore all on his own. (In case you’re wondering, our son’s kayak is the Lifetime Wave 60 Youth Kayak.)

We love Harrisville Pond because it is small enough for little people to manage, there aren’t a lot of motorboats speeding around that need to be avoided, and it’s easy to park and get the kayaks in the water quickly. We also like to paddle under the bridges near the old mill buildings—when the water is high you have to lean far forward, or you’ll end up face to face with some pretty serious spiders. Our son did such a great job on his first solo trip, and I know he was proud of himself. He said, “Kayaking on your own is a lot more fun!”

I hope you enjoyed reading about our adventures in the Monadnock Region. If you’d like to learn more about what’s happening in this corner of the state, visit Monadnock Travel Council’s website or Facebook page.

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