SILVER LAKE STATE PARK in Barnard, VT
There are a lot of places to swim and spend the day at the beach around here, but have you ever been to Silver Lake State Park in Barnard, VT? Silver Lake is a favorite spot of ours and it's not too far off the beaten path from the heart of the Upper Valley.
A good sized sandy beach and lots of grassy open space awaits. This will not be your typical day at the beach, the park boasts an expansive playground with three slides, swings, multiple sets of monkey bars and tons of things to climb on, all just a few steps from the swimming area. Rent a boat, canoe, kayak or paddle boat by the hour, half day or full day and paddle the lake, dock right at the Barnard General Store (one of the longest running general stores in Vermont) and treat yourself to an ice cream cone. Kids into fishing? Bring your poles and they can fish from the shore.
Walk the nature trail, explore the nature center, picnic or enjoy the concession stand, there is plenty to do at Silver Lake State Park! Clean bathrooms and changing areas are located right on the beach which is a plus with kids! Admission is $2-3 per person for the day and kids ages 3 and under are free. If you enjoy camping, you can camp there too!
SQUAM LAKES NATURAL SCIENCE CENTER in Holderness, NH
We recently discovered Squam Lakes Natural Science Center and cannot wait to return again very soon! Wow, what a spectacular place for the kids and the adults. As their brochure states, "You won't believe what you'll discover here..."
Walk the shaded Gephart Exhibit Trail through the woods and discover live native New Hampshire wild life and tons of hands on exhibits for all ages (there are too many to list here, you must see for yourself). These exhibits were interactive, educational and a lot of fun for the kids and us adults. Along the trail, The Gordon Children's Center provides an indoor playground built around nature where kids can climb a giant spider web, climb up the inside of a tree, burrow down into a groundhogs hole and explore what lives underground and so much more, my kids didn't want to leave!
Explore Kirkwood Gardens with native New Hampshire plants, hiking trails with stunning views of the lake or take a guided cruise on Squam Lake. During the summer months enjoy daily presentations so you can get a closer look at the animals. Pack a picnic, there are plenty of picnic tables available at the entrance to the Center. Plan to spend all day here, there is so much to see and do. The trails are open 7 days a week from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. Admission to the trails: $10-15, children ages 2 and under are free, lake cruises are extra.