Abraham Lincoln visited Manchester in 1860 while on the presidential campaign trail and said to one of the Millyard workers, “Young man, the hand of honest toil is never too grimy for Abe Lincoln to clasp.” In this statement, Lincoln summed up many of the most important values of the city. Its rich history of textile production, pristine setting upon the Merrimack River, and political importance during presidential campaigns have helped to make Manchester a vibrant and cultured city. Manchester is located only an hour outside Boston, but its small-town feel belies its status as the largest city in New Hampshire. So whether you are looking to learn about the Industrial Revolution, sample cuisines from around the world, attend one of the premiere antique shows in New England, or simply marvel at the number of vanity license plates, Manchester is the perfect place to do all of these things.
The backbone of Manchester is Elm Street, a lively strip during both the daylight and nighttime hours. During the day, Elm Street is the center of government with
Elm Street is also home to numerous bars and restaurants open until the wee hours of the morning. For lunch, both
Filled with historic buildings and independent stores, the Cultural Crescent is located to the east of Elm Street. For great locally owned and operated stores, check out Hanover Street. Devastated by a fire in 1870, Victorian buildings now standing replaced the rubble. Unique, handmade jewelry can be purchased at
In this part of town can be found theaters, an art school, art galleries, and the
Located on either side of the banks of the Merrimack River, the Millyard is distinct from the rest of the city. From the
The area north of downtown is comprised of quaint neighborhoods some containing rather grand houses, much as one might envision houses in New England should look. Among these houses is the
The southern area of downtown is a less quaint than other parts of the city. Here is located the
The area just north of the
Perhaps the most imposing hotel in Manchester, the Radisson Hotel Manchester is the hotel with the best location in the city, and an elegant event space where get-togethers, such as part of New Hampshire Antiques Week, are located every year.
Just as this area is filled with independent shops and cute restaurants, the Ash Street Inn fits into this neighborhood nicely. A little farther off the beaten track than most of the attractions, the Inn is close to many major attractions while being located in a quiet residential street. This Victorian-style house provides cozy rooms with a personal touch.
If you are a baseball fan, then the Hilton Garden Inn just south of downtown Manchester is the place to be. Its claim to fame is it overlooks Merchantsauto.com Stadium, the home of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Sports enthusiasts will also like its proximity to the Verizon Wireless Arena. Well-appointed rooms and attentive guest services round out the hotel's offerings.
The area south of town and north of the airport is filled with all the chain name hotels that offer the same quality and service in all parts of the country. Most are priced alike and located in fairly similar areas.
The Fairfield Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Four Points by Sheraton are all located just across from the Mall of New Hampshire. Of the three, the Fairfield Inn and Holiday Inn Express are located down a more peaceful side street, and the Fairfield is the only one of the three with an outdoor pool the other two have heated indoor pools.
Closer to the Manchester Boston Regional Airport itself are SpringHill Suites and Homewood Suites. Great for the busy business traveler, with a free shuttle to and from the airport and a 24-hour food market at Springhill Suites, and Homewood Suites provides similar luxuries and is a great option for longer stays with an airport shuttle of its own and a light meal at the Manager's Reception on weekdays.
Closest of all is the Highlander Inn, while located just next to the airport, is also situated on 33 acres. A great conference facility as well as hotel, the Inn has all the facilities of a corporate chain, but with the charm of an independently run facility.
Looking for a greasy, hole-in-the wall place to satisfy a late night craving? Manchester is home to a diner that is known nationally as one of the best in the country. Have you set your sights on an upscale restaurant with a contemporary twist? As the largest city in New Hampshire, Manchester offers more options than anywhere else in the entire state! About time to nurse a cold beer in a party atmosphere? Manchester isn't called ManchVegas for nothing. Want to try something new from a different part of the world? Manchester's working class roots attracted immigrants from all over the world and the city offers a range of authentic and delicious ethnic cuisines. So go out for a bite in the city, you won't be disappointed.
By far the area with the largest number of offerings in such a tight space, visitors will be presented with a multitude of dining options simply walking down the street.
Asian restaurants include Thousand Crane, a good choice for those who do not want to have to choose between Chinese and Japanese cuisine. Rumor has it that the sushi is some of the best you will find in the city. Peking Garden 2 gives out sweet fried dough before dinner to help curb your appetite. Although perhaps not the most authentic Chinese food in the world, the American-style Chinese cooking satisfies all cravings.
Consistently rated a favorite in Manchester, Z Food & Drink offers a contemporary lunch and dinner dining experience with the option of eating outside if it is a nice day or night. Inspired combinations make it a great place to eat if you are looking to thrill your palate. Also one of the more daring choices is Lala's Hungarian Pastry. A wide range of sweet treats adorn the cases surrounding the cash register, and delicacies like goulash and upon occasion, cherry soup, are offered.
The center of nightlife, Elm Street is the reason the city is nicknamed “ManchVegas.” See a real Grammy at Shaskeen's, the winner of which is also the owner of the bar, The Chieftans. J.W. Hill's Sports Bar & Grille is good for after dinner drinks with large windows to let in light or at night when the scene gets a little more lively.
Ask any local for a restaurant recommendation, and chances are good they will mention the Red Arrow Diner. This small venue has 5 booths and a long counter, but the food is as typical diner as you could wish, extensive pie list and all. Famous visitors are commemorated with plaques at the places at which they sat and ate. Open 24 hours, it's a great place to visit after all the bars close.
Another “best” is Consuelo's Taqueria, awarded a “Best of New Hampshire” award in 2008. This friendly eatery serves up Mexican food with a flair. Another great choice for lunch (or even better, breakfast) is Suddenly Soupy's, with great coffee and superb sandwiches, and of course, delicious soups. The best pizza is arguably Alley Cat Pizzeria, with an extra large pizza to serve the entire family.
The big old buildings of the Amoskeag Millyard are perfect for converting into restaurants, and here you will find a number of upscale choices. Cotton is located just next to the river and is great for strong cocktails and mouth-watering entrees, American-style. If you're looking for something a little more European, Fratello's Ristorante Italiano has great seafood options and a porch perfect for warm evenings. The family friendly 900 Degrees Pizzeria cooks the round pizza pies in a wood fired oven.
Some of the best restaurants in the northern part of the city can be found on Hookset Road. La Carreta has a fun atmosphere and often a wait at on weekend nights. The Shogun Japanese Steak House not only serves up great Japanese fare, but entertaining tricks as well. Giving a nod to the country's roots, the Puritan Backroom Restaurant has daily specials and is always busy.
Pho Golden Bowl specializes the Vietnamese favorite pho, and to those who know Vietnamese food, it is a favorite. Day or night, try Murphy's Taproom, just south of the Verizon Wireless Arena. Happy hour and night time drinks are excellent. Or to switch up the scene try Theo's, a pizzeria with Greek and American influences.
Many of the restaurants in this area of town are chain, in fact, an alarming number of Dunkin' Donuts can be found here. But if you are looking for something a little unfamiliar, try Cactus Jacks with more than Tex-Mex, other cuisines make an appearance, and there are vegetarian options. For lunch, the locals choose Nadeau's Subs, with wraps as well as the title food, hot or cold. For a great buffet and the ability to eat as much as you can stuff into your stomach, try the lunch at India Palace, quickly becoming known as one of the best places to eat Indian in the area.
The New Hampshire Institute of Arts is based in Manchester, allowing an influx of new artists and ideas to constantly flow into the city. With such an institution on site, it is no wonder the Manchester art life is flourishing.
To get news on all the latest events and happenings in the art world, pick up a copy of The Hippo, the local arts and entertainment newspaper for the greater Manchester area.
The Palace Theatre is the toast of the Manchester arts world, and is one of 450 buildings with the same design in the United States. The venue hosts both professional performances and youth theatre. Across the river, the Majestic Theater puts on numerous shows, including musicals, and is becoming a force to be reckoned with in the Manchester arts community. On the campus of Saint Anselm College, the Dana Center presents an array of works in a state-of-the-art facility.
Although home to Back Lot Films, Manchester has mostly cinema straight from Hollywood in the numerous theaters around the area. The Regal Manchester 9 is a nice theater although without stadium seating. This is the main theater for the city, although there are numerous cinemas located just outside the area.
Wandering around the city, it is more than likely you will happen across a gallery or two. Of particular note are the NHIA Amherst Street Gallery and French Building Gallery, which upon occasion show works from the faculty, and often from the students of the New Hampshire Institute of Arts. The Manchester Artist Association runs a gallery showcasing artists from Manchester and around the state. The E.W. Poore Gallery has exhibits changing every month to 6 weeks, usually exhibiting the works of local artists. Classes are also offered at the facility for those with artistic aspirations.
The most famous museum in Manchester is the world class art facility, the Currier Museum of Art. The collection includes mostly American and European art, and the permanent collection includes art from some of the most renowned artists in the world. Of interest is also the Millyard Museum, detailing the history of Manchester from pre-European times to its heyday when the Amoskeag Manfacturing Company was the largest textile mill in the world.
The SEE Science Center is conveniently housed in the same building as the Millyard Museum, but provides knowledge of science rather than only history. Here is the home of the Lego Millyard Project which captures the millyard in miniature. Also of note is the Franco-American Centre, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the French culture and heritage.
The New Hampshire Philharmonic is based out of Manchester and puts on classical music concerts several times throughout the year. The New Hampshire Symphony Orchestra is also based out of the city and brings music to people of the region. Showing that opera is not just for the highbrow or from years past, Opera New Hampshire has a variety of performances dedicated to the appreciation of this art form.
Major musical acts often have a stop at the Verizon Wireless Arena, so check the schedule for details. For those looking for something a little more low-key, many of the bars in the area have live music nights. Strange Brew Tavern has live music six nights a week, and both the Black Brimmer and Shaskeen's both regularly feature live music.
The Verizon Wireless Arena hosts all different sports and is the home arena for both the Manchester Wolves (arena football) and the Manchester Monarchs (hockey). Numerous collegiate games, as well as an occasional game featuring the Boston Celtics (basketball) grace the arena. Baseball fans will find the home field of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats at Merchantsauto.com Stadium.