Lake Winnipesaukee is the largest lake in New Hampshire. Spanning 21 miles long and a driving distance of 63 miles around, there is a lot to explore. Winnipesaukee is said to mean “Beautiful Water in a High Place” or “Smile of the Great Spirit” by Native Americans. Lake Winnipesaukee is also been known as “The Big Lake”. It is approximately twenty-seven miles long from Alton Bay, the southern tip, to Center Harbor, the northernmost point. It is 14 to 16 miles wide, over 180 feet deep at its deepest point off Rattlesnake Island, and has over 283 miles of shoreline. The size of the lake makes it so there are a lot of activities to do on the beaches and water of Lake Winnipesaukee.
The surrounding towns, like Laconia and Wolfeboro, have many attractions for visitors looking to stay by the lake. While there is a lot to entertain yourself with along the shores of the lake, there is a lot to do in the lake, too. There are many beaches, fishing spots, boat tours, and more.
Boating on Lake Winnipesaukee
The best way to explore the waters of Lake Winnipesaukee is by boat. You will see tourists and locals alike riding the waves on an average summer day. Cruising on the lake is some of the most fun you can have when visiting Lake Winnipesaukee. One way to do this is to check out one of the many boat tours that the area has to offer. Not everyone has a boat available for them, so these tours can give the experience of cruising on the lake while also being informed about the area. Services through the Mount Washington Cruise, the New Hampshire Boat Museum, and the EKAL Activity Center allow people to cruise on the waves with added benefits.
The Mount Washington Cruise
The Mount Washington Cruise has offered tours and experiences on Lake Winnipesaukee for 149 years. Since 1872, cruises have been able to take people on scenic tours of Lake Winnipesaukee. This cruise offers many activities, such as scenic tours, island cruises, and dinner out on the water. There are even mail boat tours that navigate smaller channels and waterways to provide postal service for the island residents. The cruise fleet has a variety of vessels that are ready to take people out on the water.
The Winnipesaukee Fleet consists of three vessels, each with different configuration options and amenities. First, there is the M/S Mount Washington. This is a first-class, 230-ft. excursion ship offering daily scenic cruises and dinner dance cruises each evening. Then there is the M/V Sophie C. The 74 ft. vessel is the oldest floating post office in the United States and the only U.S. Mail Boat on an inland waterway. Lastly, there is the M/V Doris E. This boat provides shorter scenic tours of the islands adjacent to Weirs Bay, as well as a shuttle service to the town of Meredith. All of these boats offer a variety of services and are a great way to get out on the water of Lake Winnipesaukee.
The New Hampshire Boat Museum
There are other boat tours on the water that are offered by the New Hampshire Boat Museum. The New Hampshire Boat Museum is most known for its vintage wooden boat, the Millie B. The Millie B will take you to see the spectacular scenery and magnificent homes and boathouses of the lake. The tour lasts about 45 minutes and you will hear fascinating stories from your boat Captain about the lake’s history, geography, geology, and wildlife.
Instead of going on boat tours, there are also many options to go boating yourself. There are plenty of places to rent boats like canoes or kayaks around the lake. You’ll find it hard not to find some people boating on the water on their boats or rentals.
In the waters of Winnipesaukee, you can find people engaging in extreme water activities. There are many places around the lake to go water skiing, tubing, and more. With a lake as big as Winnipesaukee, many people want to try extreme activities out on the waves.
EKAL Activity Center
The EKAL Activity Center at Mill Falls is one of the best ways to get out on Lake Winnipesaukee. It is located on the shores of Meridith Bay, so the water is very close. This is a great place to rent boats to go out on the water. You can also rent paddleboards, kayaks, canoes, and aqua cycles. The EKAL Activity Center also offers lessons for people wanting to learn the activities that they have to offer.
There are also places to learn about water skiing and other watersports on the lake. Feet First Watersports is a water sport instruction provider that offers a variety of options. Here, they offer water skiing, wakeboarding, and water surfing. It may take some getting used to, but going out on the water like this is a blast. Another option for learning watersports would be Wake Winni LLC. They provide an all-inclusive, private group experience in Winnipesaukee to learn how to wake surf, water ski, or wakeboard. Places like these are beginner-friendly and welcoming to people wanting to learn watersports in Winnipesaukee.
One water sport that has been increasingly popular in recent years has been the foil board. Luckily, Lake Winnipesaukee has a passionate following of people ready to teach and get out on the water. People can get lessons on how to use foil boards at eFoil New Hampshire. People looking to foil board will find no better fit than Lake Winnipesaukee. You can cruise and surf anywhere without the need for a boat or waves.
For many, activities on the waters of Lake Winnipesaukee mean finding the creatures that lie beneath. Many people love coming to Lake Winnipesaukee and the lakes region for the fishing it has to offer. Lake Winnipesaukee is home to a wide variety of fish for people to catch. The fish that inhabit the lake include salmon, cusk, smelt, rainbow trout, brook trout, yellow perch, lake trout, and many more.
There are many spots for people to go to and cast a line at a tranquil point in the lake. These locations can be found in the surrounding towns like Meredith, Laconia, and Moultonboro. The Meredith Town Docks is a great place to fish, and one of my favourite spots. This is a popular destination with shoreline fishing access on the big lake. There is even a great spot to have a meal and ice cream on the water by the docks. Anglers seek early season salmon and rainbows here and other species throughout the summer.
The town docks at Wolfeboro are also a great place to fish. Wolfeboro has a bustling downtown, but you can still find great spots to cast a line. The fish are attracted to the mouth of the Smith River that flows through here and into Lake Winnipesaukee. In the spring, salmon and rainbow trout flow through, as well as perch and smallmouth later in the season. Another great spot is the Lee Mills Boat Launch. This spot has many abundant warm water species and plenty of spaces to park. There is also the added benefit of being within walking distance of the Loon Preservation Center. Visitors like this spot for the feeling of being off the beaten path. These are just some of the many fishing spots around the lake, and there are many more that may be unknown to the public.
Of course, what would a good lake be without some good spots to swim in? Whether it is a private lake house or a bustling public beach, there is nothing quite like relaxing in the water of Lake Winnipesaukee on a hot summer day. There are even instances of people swimming across the entire lake. Each time it happens, it makes headlines and is seen as a grand achievement. However, I think most people would rather relax in some water closer to a beach. There are many areas around the lake where people are allowed to swim.
Weirs Beach is hands down the most popular beach on the lake and the whole Lake region. The beach is the main attraction of Endicott Rock Park, which offers picnic tables, a playground, and restroom facilities. Weirs Beach is large, spanning 680 feet long and 260 wide. Water on the end of the beach near the boardwalk is shallow out to a greater distance. It is great for people to be able to play different kinds of water games and ideal activities for children. Weirs Beach offers many activities to go out on the water, such as swimming, the boardwalk, and the previously mentioned M/S Mt. Washington.
Ellacoya State Park
If you’re ever at Ellacoya State Park for camping or otherwise, why not check out their beach? Some of the best memories that I had when camping were swimming out on the lake. I loved seeing the view of the mountains in the distance among the glistening water as I swam. Ellacoya State Park’s waterfront is no exception to this. The 600-foot long sandy beach with wide-open views across the lake is the main attraction at Ellacoya. The area also has a boat ramp, so it is perfect for bringing a canoe or kayak into the water.
If you are looking for something to eat in the area, there are plenty of restaurants in the area. There are many great spots to have a drink by the water or have a nice meal. The kinds of restaurants you might see vary from nice spots by a beach or restaurants that you can boat up to.
One great spot is the NASWA Resort. In addition to having beach access, people can drive their boats up to the resort to eat. This is one of the places to go on a hot day out on the lake. I remember when my family and I were riding on a friend’s boat and we pulled up to the resort. The convenience of being able to park your boat and immediately go to the restaurant is refreshing. The resort’s restaurant, the Nazbar Grill, has cold tropical drinks and a menu that is sure to satisfy after a day on the lake. This is still one of the best spots to go from the lake directly to dining.
Another restaurant that is worth checking out is Anthony’s Pier Restaurant. Here you can take in the views of Weirs Beach. You can also overlook the rest of Lake Winnipesaukee and the mountain range that extends beyond. Anthony’s Pier offers plenty of fried seafood and sandwiches to enjoy.
Another great restaurant by the lake is Camp Meredith. I mention this one because I went there a while ago and I could not stop thinking about it. This restaurant by Meredith Bay has a great atmosphere similar to that of a rustic camping feel. The camp serves great comfort food, such as Camp crackers, Pot Roast and Apple Fried Chicken. For dessert, you can even order special S’mores. I remember loving having these S’mores when I was much younger. Writing this reminds me that I should probably head back sometime soon.
Not too far from Camp is another restaurant located by Meredith Bay. This restaurant was mentioned briefly before, and that restaurant would be the Town Docks. The Town Docks have a great dining experience that is right next to the water. You can even walk around on the docks outside and go under a gazebo right above the water. The Town Docks also serve ice cream by the water. There is a wide selection of flavours to choose from and it is one of my favourite ice cream spots in New Hampshire. There have been many times where we have decided to get ice cream on a whim and drove down to the Town Docks.
Wolfeboro has plenty of spots to eat in its bustling downtown area. From most restaurants there, you can probably get a good view of the water. Out of the many, one great place is the Bayside Grill and Tavern. Here there is a range of dining opportunities, from casual and upbeat at the sports pub and tavern to elegant fireside dining in the main dining room.
Lake Winnipesaukee makes for a great vacation spot for people looking for fun activities on the water. There are plenty of spots to go boating, try water sports, visit beaches, fish, meat, and more. So, while people are in between seeing the many sights that New Hampshire has to offer, they should give them a chance to do some of the many activities on the largest lake in the state.