New Hampshire’s largest city might not always be its prettiest, but Manchester’s artistic side sparkles beneath the mill-town grit. It boasts a world-renowned art museum, historic theater, and two Frank Lloyd Wright houses, including the only one in New England that’s open to the public. Manchester is embracing its industrial roots by giving its historic mill district new life with trendy restaurants, cool condos, and quirky museums. It has also been called one of the country’s best places to live. One visit and you’ll see why.
StayÂ Choosing accommodations in the heart of downtown will let you get a feel for this historic city. For a cozily refined weekend, try the Ash Street Inn, a Victorian-era B&B with private bathrooms and made-to-order breakfasts. Afternoon tea and special packages with the Currier Museum of Art (which is next door) are also on offer. 118 Ash St., 603-668-9908. Stay in the heart of the Millyard District at the Hilton Garden Inn Manchester Downtown to find Jacuzzi rooms and seasonal outdoor dining at The Patio Restaurant. 101 South Commercial St., 603-669-2222. The Bedford Village Inn, a 10-minute drive from downtown, offers opulent suites, gorgeous pastoral grounds, and three restaurants, including the elegant BVI Restaurant. 2 Olde Bedford Way, Bedford, 603-472-1166.
EatÂ With six straight years of Wine Spectator Awards of Excellence under its belt, Hanover Street Chophouse is a classic upscale steakhouse that’s consistently voted among New Hampshire’s best restaurants. Choose from dry-aged cuts of beef, local seafood, and other specialties for lunch or dinner, or a three-course prix-fixe Sunday menu. 149 Hanover St., 603-644-2467. Known for its retro vibe and sophisticated cocktails, Cotton brings downtown cool to the Millyard. Dishes like retro meatloaf and almond-crusted turkey schnitzel jazz up classic comfort food. 75 Arms St., 603-622-5488. Tapas, sushi, and steak are on the menu at the fusion-style Mint Bistro. The large wine list includes sake and various reserve bottles. 1105 Elm St., 603-625-6468.
SeeÂ The Currier Museum of Art is the jewel in the Queen City’s crown, with about 12,000 pieces of modern, European, American, and decorative art. 150 Ash St., 603-669-6144. One of its most impressive holdings is the Zimmerman House, the only Frank Lloyd Wright house in New England open to the public. The house is only accessible via Currier tours, which take visitors inside and outside the Usonian-style masterpiece that’s still furnished with Wright-designed pieces from the 1950s and ’60s. At the historic Palace Theatre, catch a show-Chicago (March 23-April 14) and Legally Blonde: The Musical (May 4-May 19) are on stage this spring-or a performance by the New Hampshire Philharmonic (April 28). 80 Hanover St., 603-668-5588.