In the west-central part of the state, the towns around prestigious Dartmouth College and rippling Lake Sunapee vary from sleepy, old-fashioned outposts that haven't changed much in decades to bustling, sophisticated towns filled with cafés, art galleries, and boutiques. Among the latter, Hanover and New London are the area's main hubs, both of them increasingly popular vacation destinations. Although distinctly removed from the Lakes Region, greater Lake Sunapee quite resembles a miniature Lake Winnipesaukee, albeit with far less commercial development. This part of the state, along with the even quieter Monadnock area to the south, has long been an informal artists' colony where people come to write, paint, and weave in solitude.
For a great drive, follow the Lake Sunapee Scenic and Cultural Byway, which runs about 25 miles from Georges Mills (a bit northwest of New London) down into Warner, tracing much of the Lake Sunapee shoreline.