Route 3: A great road trip waiting to be taken?

A short article in the Concord Monitor has alerted me to a potential great road trip we haven’t considered yet: Route 3 in New Hampshire! This one even crosses an international border into the Great White North of Canada! New Hampshire’s Office of Travel and Tourism Development are even marketing it as the “Retro Road Tour”.

I like it already—it’s as if they’re asking me to head on up to New Hampshire and do some shooting along 133 miles of Route 3’s northern reaches…and I’m already mighty tempted!

It starts at the Tilt’n Diner in Tilton and ends at the Cabins at Lopstick overlooking First Connecticut Lake in Pittsburg. Sojourners who make it that far (and, these days, who have their passports with them) should cross the border and experience Magnetic Hill in Chartierville, Quebec.

…Most of the motels and many of the attractions listed on the tour date back to the early ages of automobile travel. Rumney’s Polar Caves, for example, opened in 1922; Clark’s Trading Post in 1928; Funspot in Laconia in 1942; Storyland in Glen in 1954, and Six Gun City in Jefferson in 1957. The many stops listed on the tour complement the real attraction along Route 3, the gorgeous landscape and the opportunities for outdoor recreation that it offers.

Excuse me…sorry…just…hauling this…suitcase up the…stairs…*pant pant*

New Hampshire’s tourism office has put together what is really a fabulous little itinerary booklet, available for free at their website (I’ve stolen the cover for this post, as you can see) just click the gorgeous old car dashboard glowing away above the “Route 3 Retro Tour”. Again…swoon. There’s a great little overlay map of Route 3, with all of the interesting stops marked using an easy-to-understand (and attractive) colour key. And bless them, they even talk about the glory day of the American road trip—motor courts, restaurants and diners, and the coming of the interstate system.

After talking about Route 3’s role in the age of the auto tour, the reader is treated to a list of still-in-business motels, ice cream and candy shoppes, diners, vintage motels and motor courts, and roadside attractions ranging from mini-golf to marvellously kitschy. Continuing along the bottom of each page of spots to stop is a timeline that begins in 1950. Travel & Tourism Development office’s communications manager, Tai Freligh gets what is so great about an old-fashioned road trip, too:

“Like many family trips in the past, you can experience a stay overnight at a
place where you can swim and cook out, play a rousing game of badminton or
horseshoes and get to know the owners or proprietors,” said Freligh. “Have
breakfast in a diner or country restaurant then hang out in an arcade or play a
round of miniature golf. “

With a real road trip, the journey truly is the destination; meeting the locals is part of the fun.

In response to an email asking about the tour, Mr. Freligh explained that Mark Okrant, Executive Director of the Institute for NH Studies at Plymouth State University, approached the NH Division of Travel and Tourism about the possibility for the tour—being himself a history buff interested in tourism before the days of the interstate (all hail old US Highways and state routes!). In fact, Mr. Okrant is the one who gave Travel & Tourism most of the info, to which they added the terrific pictures and maps.

The Route 3 Retro Tour has already gained some aficionados:

Newbury, New Hampshire, resident Susie Riley and her husband Rick Kent took their motorcycles on the Retro Tour over the summer and thoroughly enjoyed it.

“This tour is such a fun, off-the-beaten-path excursion,” said Riley.  “The roads
meander along, giving you plenty of time to really enjoy the best of New
Hampshire.  And these retro stops make things so much fun!  You feel like
you’ve stepped back in time.”  Riley added, “Fabulous comfort food, fun family
spots, beautiful scenery.  We are definitely doing this Retro Tour again.  I highly recommend it!”

Well, you can count me in! I’m adding New Hampshire’s Route 3 to my must-see list!


2 thoughts on “Route 3: A great road trip waiting to be taken?

  1. Sounds like fun Jen, I bet it’d be good for vintage shops too. I’m a little embarrassed to say, as a Canadian anyways “I’ve never been east of Brighton, Ontario (fab town maybe 2 hours east of Toronto on old hi-way 3 which travels along the north edge of lake Ontario). It’s on our bucket list for sure.

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