The CEO of Groen Construction, Fenton Groen has been a New Hampshire (NH) native for over 30 years. He shares his love for the Granite State with his lovely wife Shirley of 47 years, 7 children and 19 grandchildren. A true believer that community and family come first, he has enjoyed exploring the 8,968 square miles of NH with friends and family. “There is no room in our lives to be bored while living in a state as beautiful as ours,” he told me with a smile. Below, Mr. Groen shares a few forgotten gems and must see places if you are in New Hampshire.
THE ISLE OF SHOALS (PORTSMOUTH, NH)
Just 10 miles away from the Portsmouth, NH harbor, 9 islands can be visited via the Isles of Shoals Steamship Company. Capt. John Smith first saw the islands in 1614 and they were settled by Europeans in the 17th century. Legends are plentiful and Isle of Shoals folklore is full of fascinating stories. It has been said that at least one pirate may have buried treasure here. Interested in learning more? Visit: https://islesofshoals.com/
MADAME SHERRI'S CASTLE RUINS (CHESTERFIELD, NH)
Over 500 acres of what is called, “Madame Sherri’s Forest” is located about 100 feet from the road on the eastern slope of Rattlesnake Mountain in Chesterfield. The forest features several hiking trails excellent for observing the fall foliage. The Ann Stokes Loop is a rugged 2-mile trail that provides sweeping views of Chesterfield and Indian Pond, connects many of the trails and is located at the entrance to Madame Sherri Forest. Named after the former owner, Madame Antoinette Sherri was a Parisian theatrical costume designer who worked in New York City during the early 1900s. In 1963, the house burned down and all that remains is a stone foundation and stairway, a large empty fireplace tapers to a freestanding chimney.
Interested in learning more? Visit: https://forestsociety.org/property/madame-sherri-forest
FRANCONIA NOTCH STATE PARK (LINCOLN, NH)
Located in the heart of the White Mountain National Forest, Franconia Notch is a spectacular 8-mile mountain pass on Interstate 93 that meanders between the high peaks of Franconia and Kinsman mountain ranges. The notch once was the home to the Old Man of the Mountain. Despite naturally occurring erosion that caused it’s collapse in 2003, the Old Man remains an iconic New Hampshire symbol. You can also visit the aerial tramway for spectacular rides which reach the 4,080’ summit of Cannon Mountain in only 8 minutes. Enjoy mountain views of NH, ME, VT, NY and Canada. Interested in learning more? Visit: https://www.nhstateparks.org/
MT WASHINGTON COG RAILWAY (BRETTON WOODS, NH)
Ride to the top of Mount Washington on the world’s first mountain-climbing cog railway—built in 1869. You can ride on either an eco-friendly biodiesel or historic steam locomotive to New England’s highest peak. The railway is open from late April through November and has a 3-hour on-board guided tour that includes one hour at the summit.
Interested in learning more? Visit: http://www.thecog.com
SEARLES CASTLE (WINDHAM, NH)
Built in 1902 by Edward Francis Searles, Searles Castle is a scaled down replica of a medieval castle in Oxfordshire, England. Located on 157 acres, the granite, fieldstone, and sandstone came from local quarries in Pelham, NH. Searles hired the finest carpenters and masons to construct the castle and imported marble and artifacts from Europe to furnish it. From the marble fireplaces to the carved oak balcony, this is truly a rare and unique structure in New Hampshire. Searles Castle is a popular venue for weddings so it is best to call before planning a visit. Interested in learning more? Visit: http://www.searlescastle.com/
STRAWBERRY BANKE (PORTSMOUTH, NH)
Strawberry Banke is a 10-acre living history museum located in the oldest neighborhood in New Hampshire. Settled by Europeans in 1630, it features over 37 restored buildings built between the 17th and 19th centuries. Both adults and children are welcome to learn from costumed actors who interpret the history and lifestyle of each home. There are formal exhibits that depict woodworking tools, architecture, archaeology, amusement, entertainment, and cooking of that time period. Interested in learning more? Visit: https://islesofshoals.com/
KANCAMAGUS HIGHWAY (CONWAY, NH)
Route 112 is a 56-mile long highway that winds through the scenic White Mountain National Forest between Conway, NH and Lincoln, NH. Only a portion of Route 112 is known as the Kancamagus Highway, affectionately known as "The Kanc”. It covers 34 miles and showcases some of the region’s most spectacular fall foliage between September and October. Traditional “leaf-peepers” drive the route west from Conway to Lincoln. Enjoy this drive that includes twists and turns as the highway climbs to almost 3,000’ and includes a number of scenic hiking trails and swimming holes. Interested in antique cars or want to a unique gift? Mr. Groen encourages you to visit the Kancamangus Collectibles museum and gift shop in Woodstock, NH.
Interested in learning more? Visit: http://www.kancamagushighway.com/
DIANA'S BATH (BARTLETT, NH)
Described by many visitors as “majestic rock waterfalls,” Diana’s Bath is a favorite spot for the Groen family because of the hiking and swimming holes. The area was originally used as a sawmill operation in the 1800’s, but was abandoned and became a historic site by the US Forest Service. Touted as an excellent family destination, it’s an easy ½ mile hike to the base of the falls in all seasons. Several tips before you go: bring bug spray, cash for parking and go during the weekday to avoid long lines.
Interested in learning more? Visit: http://www.newenglandwaterfalls.com