Newfound Lake in Bristol NH with a kayaker

Fun Things to Do on Newfound Lake

May 23, 2022 2:29 pm

Newfound Lake is a great place to spend the day, the week or a lifetime. Crystal clear waters, local eateries, and plenty of outdoor activities have enticed summer vacationers for generations. If you decide to come for a visit, here are some ways to get out on the water and a few dining options for when you get back from your outing.

See why Bristol makes a great hub for all your Newfound Lake activities.

Wellington State Park

Whether you’re looking to swim, hike or get out on the water, Wellington State Park has you covered. Here you’ll find the state’s longest freshwater beach with a beautiful view of the lake and nearby mountains. You can get into the woods along the park’s hiking trails or put in your boat at the year-round boat launch. Wellington Boat Ramp is one of the few places where the general public can put in a motor boat in on Newfound Lake. It’s easy access and ample parking make it a great choice for boaters.

Don’t have a boat? No problem! The park offers kayak rentals at the park store, which also stocks snacks and beach toys.

Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children 6-11. Kids five and under and New Hampshire residents over 65 are free. Reservations are recommended for busy weekends and warm summer days.

Ice Cream at Shackett’s

It’s not summer in New England unless there’s ice cream. Roadside ice cream stands are a staple in nearly every lakeside town, but few have the selection and quality of Shackett’s. Here you’ll find a wide variety of ice cream flavors, as well as savory summertime favorites like fried seafood, burgers and salads. The “Shack” is across the street from Shackett’s Supermarket, a family-owned store since 1945. It offers all the essentials for your lake camp stay, including the Shackett’s famous donuts.

The Big Catch

On those days when you’re too tired to cook dinner, take a ride over to the Big Catch on Shore Drive. This highly-reviewed seasonal restaurant has delicious seafood, frosty frozen drinks and a relaxed atmosphere. Stay cool dining inside or enjoy a view of Newfound Lake out on the deck. Their fried clams or scallops are a must for the summer! Looking for lighter fare? There are plenty of sandwiches and salads on the menu, too. 

Newfound Audubon Center

The Newfound Center in Hebron, just on the other side of Newfound Lake from Bristol, is a great place to enjoy the natural beauty of New Hampshire. Located on North Shore Road, the center is actually three wildlife sanctuaries–Paradise Point Nature Center, Ash Cottage at Hebron Marsh Sanctuary, and the Bear Mountain Sanctuary–which have trails open from dawn until dusk. 

While there’s plenty to see and do on land, the Newfound Lake Water Trail is a must-see for any kayaking enthusiast. This unique paddling trail highlights the diverse wildlife of Newfound Lake, taking you along the lake shores, rivers and marshlands. Kayak rentals are available, or you can bring your own.

Little Sugarloaf

Sometimes the best day on the lake is not along the shore, but a view from far above. Little Sugarloaf is a short hike that offers a big payoff overlooking Newfound Lake. The moderately difficult loop trail is 1.4 miles long with a 370 foot elevation gain. It’s perfect for a family hike, with chances to see some wildlife and wildflowers along the way.

The trail is also open year-round and is a favorite for fall foliage seekers and winter hikers alike.

After a good hike, you can stop off at Woodman’s or Shacketts for some refreshing local beers. Read more about our local breweries here.

Mount Cardigan and AMC’s Cardigan Lodge

One of the most popular hikes in New England, Mount Cardigan and the 5,000-acre Mount Cardigan State Forest offers all levels of hikers a great day out in the wild. The 3,121-foot treeless granite summit has gorgeous views of the White Mountains and peaks in Vermont and Maine.

The Lodge, run by the Appalachian Mountain Club, offers family-style dinner, breakfast, and trail lunch, along with provisions such as linens, soap, and towels for campers. Finish your day with a dip in their pond or relaxing on the lodge’s porch.

Gray Rocks

If you’re looking for things to do with the kids, head to Gray Rocks, a conservation area on Newfound Lake in Hebron that has hiking trails, water access for kayaking, picnic areas and plenty of family-friendly programming for little nature lovers. For an educational trip on the water, try the Eco Tours about the history and ecology of the area.

Slim Baker Area for Outdoor Living

This 135-acre conservation area on Little Roundtop Mountain is named in memory of Everett “Slim” Baker, a dedicated and much-loved local  conservation officer with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. It was his dream to create a school for outdoor living and the Slim Baker Foundation has programming aimed at achieving that dream. It’s another great spot for families, especially those who are just getting their kids out into the woods. The Story Walk features pages of children’s books placed along the trails to keep kids engaged.

Slim Baker also has a lodge and camping, that as of March 2022 remained closed due to COVID-19, however all trails are open year round.

Sculptured Rocks

This 272-acre natural area is run by the state and offers a great place for a shady hike on a summer’s day. Located on the Cockermouth River in the Newfound Lake watershed, hikers can see the canyon and potholes created in the bedrock during the Ice Age. Sculptured Rocks is a pet-friendly park, as well, a great spot for year-round walks with the dog.

About Bristol and Our Business Opportunities

Bristol, New Hampshire has about 3,000 year-round residents and nearly double that number in the summer when people come to enjoy the recreational activities around the lake. Bristol also draws people from surrounding communities, since the town is just off of Interstate 93 and centrally located in the state and Lakes Region. Our Economic Development Committee and local business organizations like Newfound Independence work with our business community to enhance opportunities and encourage business growth. 

If you want to know more about Bristol business opportunities in the Newfound Lake area, visit Newfound Independence at