Littleton, New Hampshire – Main Street

Main Streets 2017: New Hampshire

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winter chris hubble nothern light side view 2010
winter chris hubble main street sidewalk view 2010
7 28 16Littleton7 winter chris hubble nothern light side view 2010 winter chris hubble main street sidewalk view 2010

There’s nothing big-box or cookie-cutter about Littleton’s Main Street. This is the real thing.

This genuine old-school New England downtown in northwestern New Hampshire is close to the White Mountains, where skiing, hiking and mountain biking are big attractions. So Littleton does get visitors — but if you walk along Main Street, you’ll mostly be mingling with townspeople. And you won’t lack for interesting local shops, inviting eateries and uncommon attractions to explore.

Main Street has the world’s longest candy counter, in Chutters (at 112 feet, it’s been in the Guinness Book of World Records). It has a sculpture of Pollyanna, the unsinkably optimistic orphan girl who first came to life in a 1913 novel by local author Eleanor H. Porter, then was portrayed onscreen by Hayley Mills in a popular 1960 Disney film.

And speaking of movies, right on a Main Street corner are the Jax Jr. Cinemas, a two-screen venue that’s one of America’s last surviving fine downtown moviehouses. A theater has been showing films here since 1920; the site hosted the 1941 world premiere of “The Great Lie,” a film by Bette Davis, who summered nearby.

Main Street looks nicely old-fashioned, but there’s a strong present-day vibrancy to it. Thanks largely to the work of local volunteers with Littleton Main Street, Inc., the street’s vacancy rate is close to zero, and Littleton has been honored with a Great American Main Street Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Among the shopping opportunities here, you can help kids learn through play at the Little Village Toy & Book Shop, raise your own level of play with an instrument from Northern Lights Music, pick up quilting supplies at One Stitch, Two Stitch, and be amazed at New Hampshire’s wide-ranging creativity on display in the League of NH Craftsmen.

To refuel, grab warm fresh scones and cookies at the French Sisters Bakery. The Littleton Diner is a local institution that won Yankee Magazine’s Best Pancake Award — and in northern New England, you know that means something.

Finally, stop in as the day wanes for a beverage at the Littleton Grist Mill. The 1798-vintage mill has been restored and is home to the Schilling Beer Company, purveyors of European-inspired lagers and ales. They’re brewed right here — on Main Street, of course.

All photos courtesy of Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce