There is a medium sized town near our home that recently got very cool, at a time when most downtowns are struggling to keep their vibrancy and purpose. It started with a rail bike trail, and tasty flatbread pizza restaurant and was quickly followed by a charcuterie, a speakeasy and an artisanal ice cream store. Suddenly the town was "cool" and became a destination for these new hip businesses even while bouying the exsisiting businesses.
During a recent trip to the White Mountains, we discovered Littleton NH has undergone a similar renaissance. The Schilling Brewery developed in the newly christened "Riverfront District" linked by a covered pedestrian bridge (circa 2004) to a recently developed senior housing complex and the town's senior center and a park, joined existing businesses, such as Chutters Candy shop (a general store since the late 1800s) the Northern Lights Music Shop (40 years!) and the quintessential white steepled church on Main Street, to create a vibrant cool place to hang out.
Downtown Littleton, dominated by a quintessential white steeple, common to most old New England towns, also features some new and hip shops, side by side with old favorites like Chutters Candy.
The new River Dsitrict boasts the Schilling Brewery, with its popular outdoor patio. The Brewery has a new building under construction which employ more people in its growing operation. http://schillingbeer.com/
A covered pedestrian bridge was built in 2004 to connect a town park, senior center, and assisted living facility. Iconic covered bridges are tourist attractions all over Vermont and New Hampshire, the genius of Littleton was building a new one to create a destination and gathering place for vistors and locals.
On Maine street, Chutters Candy has been around, originally as a general store, for over a century and boasts the "worlds largest candy counter". All your old favorites are here, and the place proves that nostalgia is hip! http://www.chutters.com/
Also nostalgic and hip- the many used clothing and consignment shops you can find on Main St.
No one can deny the resurgence of Midcentury Modern design and Just L is a beautifully curated antique shop with a variety of furniture, home goods and brick a brac. https://www.facebook.com/MidModLiving/
Just L (roman numeral for 50- get it?) is set up more like a high end department store than junk shop. Popular with hipsters shopping for their homes as well as people of a certain age on a nostalgia trip. Our Bed and Breakfast owner said she likes to play a form of the old baseball card collecting game when she goes into Just L- "had it, grew up with it, mom had it"!
An ironic part of Littletons renaissance is a campaign to embrace the homegrown author of Pollyanna, a book written in 1913, about a plucky, down on her luck optimist, that most millennials have never heard of! The upbeat character graces banners and even crosswalks, and symbolizes the the "Glad Town". More events based on the book are held in June. http://www.golittleton.com/pollyanna.php
Destination dining can be found at Tim-Bir Alley https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tim-Bir-Alley/111623692207551 Tim-Bir Alley was the reason for our trip. Chris, the wonderful inn keeper at The Rose and Lion Bed and Breakfast recommended we make a reservation for dinner. If you are looking for a centrally located bed and breakfast, (located nearby on busy, accessible Rt 3 in Whitefield) Chris and her family are wonderful hosts who seem to have a knack for knowing what each of their guests will enjoy, the ideas she gave us all weekend were spot on! http://thelionandtherose.com/
Tim-Bir Alley offers open spaces in an old building with real linens and caricatures on the walls. What really stands out is the farm to table beautifully presented dishes of contemporary American food. We had a meal we felt rivaled anything we could find in a major metropolitan city for a lot less money! The crowd couldn't be pigeoned holed; date night couples, plaid shirted hipsters and an interesting, chatty 85 year old consultant who splits time between NYC, Vermont and Shanghai was up introducing herself to everyone in the restaurant were there the night we dined.
After a delicious dinner, we left Littleton NH feeling like it was a place we would like to return to; fun, hip and nostalgic at the same time. While many rural downtowns are suffering economically, Littleton seems to have found a mix that appeals to all ages and is located in an area with 3 beautiful seasons to enjoy out of doors.
Photos and Story by: Kathy Klofft