Travel Advisory – Hanover Inn at Dartmouth College
If, like me, you’ve lived in New England all of your life, you might feel as if you’ve already seen most of our region’s interesting places, and already know about the great things to do when you visit them. What a treat it is, then, to discover a place you know nothing about, and probably wouldn’t have visited if you hadn’t been, say, scouting a location for a travel column.
That’s what happened recently when I visited Hanover, N.H., the home of Dartmouth College and the beautiful 108-room Hanover Inn, which is owned by the school. I’d passed the Interstate 89 exit to Hanover near the Vermont border many times on my way north, never imagining the quaint New England village that is the town center or envisioning the majesty of Dartmouth’s iconic Baker Library Bell Tower at the foot of the college green.
My stay began with a fantastic dinner at Pine, Hanover Inn’s restaurant. I’ve been fortunate to have eaten in many excellent restaurants over the years, and can honestly say Pine is among the best. Executive Chef Justin Dain sources his meats, dairy and produce from area farms whenever possible — a practice that’s almost expected of fine restaurants these days — to ensure that his dishes begin with high quality ingredients. It’s what Dain does or doesn’t do with these products that makes them special. All the dishes I tried were unfussy and prepared with a minimal number of ingredients, allowing the freshness and natural flavor of the food to come through. The biggest surprise was how much I loved Pine’s foie gras appetizer, mostly because I’ve never really liked foie gras.
Located on Dartmouth’s green, opposite the Baker Library and in the heart of Hanover’s charming downtown, Hanover Inn is a gem of a hotel. Large enough to offer full service, but small enough to make interactions with the staff feel personal, the AAA Four Diamond property offers modern, spacious guest rooms with clean lines, and elegant common areas perfect for reading the paper or waiting for a friend. It’s also adjacent to Dartmouth’s renowned Hopkins Center for the Arts, where you can enjoy musical and dance performances and live theater featuring internationally celebrated artists.
Things to do nearby include shopping in downtown Hanover’s collection of exclusive boutiques (if you like to cook, don’t miss Main Street Kitchens). Dartmouth’s Hood Museum of Art is currently closed for expansion, but ongoing exhibitions can be viewed at the museum’s gallery at 53 Main St. And a 24-panel mural by Mexican artist Jose Clemente Orozco, “The Epic of American Civilization,” which was named a National Historic Landmark in 2013, can be seen in the Baker Library.
Just over the Vermont border in Norwich is King Arthur Flour’s Baker’s Store, a cafe and their Baking School, where you can take a cooking class, enjoy a sweet treat or shop for specialty ingredients, pans and tools.
You might also want to visit nearby White River Junction, Vermont’s downtown art colony, where you’ll find dozens of studios and galleries featuring the work of printmakers, jewelers, painters, photographers and more.
Skiers should plan to visit Dartmouth Skiway, located in nearby Lyme Center, N.H. This 30-trail resort offers two mountains, ski and snowboard lessons, and a variety of terrain suitable for both beginning and expert skiers. The affordable prices might even convince you to extend your time here beyond just one day.
A fun side note: The Appalachian Trail runs down Main Street in Hanover, just outside Hanover Inn’s Pine restaurant. Look for the brass trail markers embedded in the sidewalk. You might even spot a hiker or two while enjoying an afternoon cocktail.
(reservations strongly recommended)
Hopkins Center for the Arts
King Arthur Flour
Lyme Center, N.H.