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The Only Henniker On Earth Also Happens To Be A Wonderful Small New Hampshire Town

Downtown Henniker NH, a great New England small townHenniker, New Hampshire feels like the ultimate hometown.

by Eric Hurwitz. Page updated on 10/26/2021.
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Driving into Henniker, N.H., it was love at first sight.

Fixated on the "Henniker Pharmacy/Beer, Wine Groceries" sign with the old-time Coca Cola logo, Henniker immediately felt like a warm safe place that many other communities abandoned a long time ago in the name of faceless commercial, residential and industrial development.

Old-fashioned Henniker Pharmacy in Henniker, N.H.
Henniker Pharmacy in Henniker.

It's easy to understand why Henniker is a special New England travel destination. Best known as home of Pat's Peak ski area and New England College, Henniker (just west of the state capital of Concord) somehow feels more a like a well-established, Mayberry RFD-like community than just a ski vacation destination or college town.

Old-fashioned Henniker Pharmacy in Henniker, N.H.
Farmers' Market at Henniker Community Park.

Walking through the well-defined downtown district, I did not see the presence of overpriced ski shops, nor trendy local college hangout bars blasting out loud rock music. Maybe those scenes were somewhere in town, but my focus was on the Henniker Community Park and Center with a nice expanse of land and gazebo (and a wonderful small-town farmers' market going on at that time), and the flow of the scenic Contoocook River, the Edna Dean Proctor stone double-arch bridge above the river, the well-kept large Colonial homes, and the architectural brick beauty of the 1903 Tucker Free Library and the Henniker Community School.

Old-fashioned Henniker Pharmacy in Henniker, N.H.
Contoocook River in downtown Henniker.

The aforementioned Henniker Pharmacy at 4 Bridge St., is a local treasure. It's an authentic old-fashioned pharmacy seemingly stuck in time with friendly service, antiquated aisles set up in a way that looks more 1965 than sleek and shiny 2018, and a refreshing silence in the air without the need for background music pounding into the heads of customers. The old building smell further evokes memories of yesteryear. Adding further to the town's wonderful New England ambiance: the historical, old white building combo of the Congregational Church and Historical Society Museum, as well as the view of a lighted up Pat's Peak from Main St.

The downtown also features several niche shops (quilts, day spa, as well as art, boutique and gift shops), SuperScoops at 58 Main St. (wonderful homemade ice cream, coffee, smoothies, etc.). and a few really good restaurants. We stopped by Daniel's Restaurant and Pub (30 Main St.), a quaint, appealing dining spot serving steaks, chicken, seafood, pasta, soups, salads, sandwiches and homemade desserts. It's one of those made-for-New-Hampshire dining spots that has a rustic feel while, fortunately, not feeling "rusty."

Rustic, cozy dining room at Daniel's Restaurant and Pub in Henniker, N.H.
Cozy small dining room at Daniel's in Henniker.

 The "new" old look of the restaurant is quite inviting with everything up-to-date, but without losing any of the retro rural feel -- or pieces of the building. The atmosphere is especially pleasant with gleaming wood floors, wall sconces, hanging lanterns and
plant baskets, an aquarium, wooden windows, candles at each dining table and a brick wall in the cozy bar area. With a grand view of the Contoocook River from our table, we feasted on a delicious oversized Caesar salad; chicken pot pie with a perfectly-formed flaky crust, the right amount of salt (most chicken pies are oversalted), and creamed spinach (and carrot fries on the side);  and a terrific Rueben with homemade sauerkraut.  The homemade desserts involving cake, ice cream, fruit and whipped cream are simply mouthwatering.

Dessert cake from Daniel's Restaurant and Pub in Henniker, N.H.
Dessert at Daniel's in Henniker.

Water views from Daniel's Restaurant and Pub in Henniker, N.H.
Water views at Daniel's in Henniker.

After dining, we drove through town and took in the sweet feeling of the small town night. The air was fresh, the old front-porch homes looked tailor-made for us, and the lights at Pat's Peak looked like Emerald City. What a beautiful scene in this jewel of a town!

Speaking of the Pat's Peak area, There's a fabulous place for pancakes virtually right at the base of the mountain. The Intervale Farm Pancake House (931 Flanders Rd.), another rustic restaurant gem, specializes in delicious pancakes, French Toast, waffles and "Hungry Man's Breakfast" with three eggs, two pancakes, one slice of bacon, one link of sausage, homefries and one piece of toast. Unlike most other breakfast places, the Intervale serves real maple syrup. The place has a real local flavor and ranks amongst the best pancake houses in New Hampshire.

Coffee mug and jar of local  maple syrup at  the Intervale Farm Pancake House in Henniker, N.H.
Coffee and maple syrup from the Intervale Farm Pancake House.

Henniker bills itself as "The Only Henniker on Earth."  While the slogan refers to the name of the town, it could be said that the catch phrase implies that Henniker is also a one-of-a-kind community. Henniker is just that, a town that feels like home and innately promotes a sense of place and a feeling of well being. We'll certainly be back soon to explore more of this "real" New England town!

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The only town named Henniker on earth is also a wonderful small community in New Hampshire worth visiting.

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