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Unique and Scenic; The Upper Valley Has Many Charms

Aug 28, 2012 01:21PM ● By Erin Frisch

Unique and Scenic; The Upper Valley Has Many Charms

The scenic Upper Valley extends from Walpole, New Hampshire, and Westminster, Vermont, in the south to Bath, New Hampshire, and Ryegate, Vermont, in the north. This beautiful area comprises towns both large and small on either side of the Connecticut River, which forms the boundary between the two states. The Upper Valley Bi-State Regional Chamber of Commerce lists some 50 towns as part of the Upper Valley, ranging from quiet hamlets, such as Wilder in the Green Mountain State and Etna in the Granite State, to bustling centers of commerce, academia, and the arts, such as Hanover, home to Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.

Each town in the Upper Valley has its own unique charms and each is worthy of a visit. In fact, if you love to explore the road less traveled, there’s no better place to start than in this pastoral area of New England. And if you’re looking for a future home that offers serenity, a healthy lifestyle, good schools, and affordable housing, the Upper Valley has all that too. To whet your appetite, here are a few facts and highlights about several of these towns.

The city of Lebanon boasts a population of about 13,500, but that number swells to close to 30,000 people each day as workers head to the many high-tech companies and well-known businesses that call the city home. Lebanon, home to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, boasts a dynamic and diverse business community. It also offers an active and accessible recreation program with something for everyone, from toddlers to senior citizens. Situated on the Connecticut River, Lebanon is a healthy, thriving community with the best of both worlds—the day by day experience of rural life and the cultural opportunities of a city.

At the heart of the Upper Valley, Hanover, New Hampshire is a diverse community of about 11,000 people located near the crossroads of two major interstates, I-89 and I-91. This bustling college town started its life as a quiet agricultural community first inhabited in 1765. The highest point in town is Moose Mountain, at 2,313 feet above sea level. There is much to see and do in Hanover, and pretty much something for everyone. Upscale boutiques, quaint shops, and excellent eateries in every price range abound. Booklovers will enjoy perusing the many shops that cater to them. There’s always something happening in Hanover—Dartmouth College offers many events, including theater, musical performances, and sports—and the town offers outstanding art galleries and museums, plus opportunities to hike, bike, canoe, and kayak. Hanover residents consider their town to be the jewel in the Upper Valley crown. Check it out and see if you agree.

Lyme, New Hampshire was granted a charter in 1761. This small town on the big river is a historic rural community located about 9 miles northeast of Hanover with about 1,700 residents. A striking feature of Lyme is its reverence for its heritage. Forward-thinking citizens have worked to protect land throughout the town, ensuring that it will still be recognizable to future generations, and that good soil will still be available for food production. Most recently, an effort has been underway to preserve old barns here, and those interested in historic architecture will find examples in abundance. You can learn more about Lyme at

Another picture-perfect town is Fairlee, Vermont, a small village on the Connecticut River that features beautiful scenic cliffs. The year-round population of 977 grows in the summer, with vacationers and kids attending summer camps as they have for a century. Lake Morey and Lake Fairlee are destinations for many and just two of the attractions this town has to offer. Fairlee encompasses the village of Ely and is near West Fairlee and Thetford, in Vermont, and Orford in New Hampshire. Close to I-91, it’s also a convenient commute to White River Junction, Hanover, and Lebanon. A fall foliage destination, Fairlee resumes its gentle pace as quiet, scenic New England village in late fall.

Each town that’s part of the Upper Valley is unique and worthy of a visit. For more information on these towns, visit

What's your favorite spot to catch the beautiful scenic views of the Upper Valley?

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