Apr 17, 2020 at 8:00 AM in Things to Do by
It’s always delightful to see a town well preserved, one that has resisted the temptation of allowing the development of a formula store or restaurant, one that’s devoted to maintaining its character and authenticity without giving in to big-city or unsightly suburban ways. That’s Littleton, New Hampshire and it’s no wonder that this charming little town (named after Colonel Moses Little in 1770) is consistently listed as one of the best small towns in America by all kinds of publications. It has everything a small town needs to be alluring: a sweet setting alongside a river, an old mill, a covered bridge, an excess of historic buildings, white clapboard houses, traditional as well as hip and happening shops and restaurants, a vibrant arts scene and views of the White Mountains that you can hike into from town. Plus, the New Hampshirites here are super friendly.
Originally called Chiswick, which is Saxon for cheese farm, Littleton and the surrounding area are further enhanced by many lovely working farms. You can shop for their wonderful products such as produce, meats, prepared foods and yes, cheese at the Littleton Farmers Market from June through October. Purveyors of local crafts sell there as well. The Littleton Food Coop is also a great address for good foodstuffs. (Although member-owned, you don’t have to be a member to shop there.) Pick up fresh farm products year round outside of Littleton at Meadowstone Farm. They’re keeping with the Chiswick/Littleton tradition by making a superb goat cheese that would make the original cheesemakers of the area proud.
You can find more healthy and organic foods at The Healthy Rhino on Main Street. Plan to spend a good amount of time taking in the shops along this pretty street; it might even be a good idea to stock up on gifts for the holidays, since shopping within these pleasant boutiques sure beats going to the mall.
People in these parts do a lot of food preserving. With so many farm-fresh products available and a low-key lifestyle conducive to spending a day making jams or pickling, there’s no doubt that many pantries within the White Mountains communities are well stocked with all kinds of products on their shelves. With White Mountains Canning Co., you’re spared the effort of food preserving yourself. It’s a family-owned business that uses high-quality ingredients to produce small batches of canning products for you to enjoy at home. With their commercial kitchen (as well as their retail shop) located in Littleton, you know that this is not industrially produced.
After you have eaten and stocked up on all kinds of healthy foods, you can go guilt free to Chutters Candy Counters. A certain Mr. Chutters established a dry goods business on Main Street in Littleton during the late 1800s and the store retained his name. Apparently sweets won out over textiles, clothing and sundries yet fortunately much of the old fashioned feel of this emporium has remained. Known to have the longest candy counter in the world, you’ll have a ball here shopping for their famous fudge, jelly beans, gummy bears and just about any type of confection you can imagine.
For more fun for young and old, check out Little Village Toy & Book Shop, a darling of a place where their motto is play, laugh and learn. That sounds about right.
Many of Littleton’s restaurants are loved for both their food and ambiance. Enjoy wonderful comfort food at Littleton Diner. This iconic eatery exudes the same charm as when it opened in 1930.
Littleton, an old mill town, has fortunately preserved and restored many of the old structures used in that industry. Shops and restaurants have opened in some of them. Schilling Beer Co., a brewery and taproom set up in an eighteenth-century gristmill on the Ammonosuc River, is one such example.
For one of the best views of the river, go to Miller’s Café, a restaurant with a two-story deck that’s an especially enjoyable place to go in summer. Their homemade soups, sandwiches, salads and desserts also make them a local’s favorite.
Unless the weather is crazy blustery–which sometimes happens in the North Country–no trip to Littleton is complete without taking a stroll along the riverwalk. On a nice day, you can amble down to Littleton's old covered bridge, cross it and poke around at the farmer’s market. People walk–or bike–most everywhere here and that is indeed the best way to soak up the delightful small-town feel that Littleton offers.