Last week we started a series exploring the ideal places to shop and stay in smaller towns offering unique stores for that hard-to-shop-for person, starting in Vermont. After the National Retail Federation surveys showed holiday shopping will increase by 4-percent this year, we thought we’d better help Distinctive Inns of New England (DINE) guests get an early jump on shopping getaway ideas, paired with a wonderful romantic getaway to the 11 DINE inns. Today we’ll explore two fabulous New Hampshire getaway destinations featuring tax-free shopping. New Hampshire is one of the few states left where there is no sales tax. What you see on the price tag is what you pay, making the Granite State the ideal place for your holiday shopping, especially when paired with a welcoming New Hampshire inn to return to afterward.
Shopping getaways to Chesterfield Inn, West Chesterfield, NH
Located in West Chesterfield, NH, just five miles from the Vermont border and Brattleboro, VT, the Chesterfield Inn offers the best of New Hampshire and Vermont shopping. Starting in Brattleboro, here’s the place to find unique locally-made crafts and gifts. The Vermont Artisans features art created by Vermonters, offering unique one-of-a-kind gifts created as locally as it gets. In addition, during the winter months, the Brattleboro Winter Farmer’s Market opens on Saturdays from 11:00am to 2:00pm offering local produce and another chance to find that one-of-a-kind gift from local artisans. Finally, the Penelope Wurr Shop in Brattleboro offers up contemporary glass creations along with locally made crafts and is another great choice for unique gifts.
Head east from the Chesterfield Inn toward nearby Keene, NH and start at the Hannah Grimes Marketplace, where locally sourced craft items from 300 local artisans are featured. It’s a virtual daily craft show here. In addition, also in Keene, visit Colony Antiques, a collection of small antique dealers or Urban Exchange, a sophisticated thrift store – also favorites of Chesterfield Inn innkeeper, Judy Hueber. Judy also recommends
In the Company of Flowers, which is so much more than a flower shop with many unique and beautiful gift items. Two more of Judy’s favorite Keene shopping spots are the Toadstool Bookshop and Clays, for women’s clothing and accessories.
Return to the Chesterfield Inn after your shopping extravaganza for a welcome from Yoda, the inn’s feline mascot – often found in the lobby near the fireplace or on the front desk. Enjoy a hot toddy and then a relaxing dinner in the Chesterfield Inn’s dining room before a second day of shopping. Many of the Chesterfield Inn’s guest rooms offer two beds, perfect for girlfriends getaways and/or queens and kings with whirlpool tubs and private fireplaces for couples’ shopping trips.
Manor on Golden Pond, Holderness, NH
Head to New Hampshire’s Lakes Region and you’ll find the Manor on Golden Pond overlooking Squam Lake – a.k.a “Golden Pond” made famous by the movie On Golden Pond and filmed near the inn. Themed after an English Manor House with rooms thoughtfully decorated for comfort with English themed-names, “the Manor” offers the perfect starting point for finding unique gift items in small, locally owned shops. Mary Ellen Shields, Co-owner of the Manor on Golden Pond, offered up some of her best ideas for finding one-of-a-kind gifts, starting with the Moultonborough Country Store in nearby Moultonborough, NH. Referred to as “the old country store”, This is one of the oldest country stores in the country, operating since 1781. Mary Ellen guarantees if you’re searching for a gift and haven’t found it anywhere else, you’ll find it here. “I like to bet the guest they can get out without spending a cent,” says Mary Ellen. From nostalgic toys and foods to local crafts, clothing, gadgets and so much more, the Moultonborough Country Store is a treasure trove of fabulous gifts and hard-to-find items. Plan to spend a day poking around here – the rooms go on and on.
Mary Ellen’s other suggestions include the Innisfree Bookstore in Meredith. “In this day and age of online shopping this bookstore is a must to visit. It has some many interesting items for that difficult person to shop for,” says Mary Ellen. For those who love to read, this is a fantastic local bookstore. In addition, the New Hampshire League of Craftsman in Center Sandwich or Meredith features beautiful hand made gifts, small sculptures, blown glass, jewelry, accessories, leatherworks and so much more all made by juried New England crafts people.
After a day of shopping in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, return to the Manor On Golden Pond for afternoon tea before the fire. The Three Cocks Pub, featuring a lovely collection of roosters, is a great place for a drink, with some unique concoctions for the weary shoppers. Plan to dine fireside at least one night in the Van Horn Dining Room where fine dining and contemporary food choices are the name of the game. Many guest rooms feature wood-burning fireplaces with logs provided. You’ll fall asleep to a flickering fire while you nod off remembering all the great shops you visited.
Don’t forget to add a gift certificate for your favorite DINE inn to your holiday shopping trip. They make the perfect gift for that person who has everything but time to relax. And if you’re lucky, you’ll get to go too. Also, plan to book directly with your favorite DINE inn when you reserve your shopping trip.
In Connecticut: Inn at Harbor Hill Marina in Niantic.