Blog: Exploring Dartmouth and Lyme: A Journey through Art, History, and Nature

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This tour was created after a conversation between a guest and a Granite State Ambassador (GSA) working at the Hooksett North Rest Area. The guest, Liz Ryan Cole, who happens to be a partner in the Loch Lyme Lodge in Lyme, NH, expressed interest in the GSA program and reached out to learn more and invite them for a visit.

As it turns out, Liz and her husband have a connection to Dartmouth College, so they arranged for the tour to include not only the lodge and lunch, but also the Hood Museum on the Dartmouth campus, as well as the historical society and church/meeting house on the Lyme Common.

Some of the participants started their adventure early by having breakfast at Umpelby’s in Hanover. This cozy cafe in downtown Hanover offers a wide assortment of delicious pastries and breakfast sandwiches. After parking in the Lebanon Street garage, which is reasonably priced, we took an easy walk to the cafe and then passed by various shops on our way to the Hood Museum, which overlooks the Dartmouth Common. The route even took us down a portion of the Appalachian Trail that runs up Main Street.

Once inside the Hood Museum of Art, we met our guide, Jayda, who highlighted exhibits throughout the museum. The collection includes important holdings of American, Native American, European, African, and Melanesian art. It also features a significant collection of indigenous Australian contemporary art and a major archive of photojournalism. Among the collection’s treasures are the ninth-century BCE Assyrian stone reliefs and the fresco mural cycle in the nearby library “The Epic of American Civilization” (1932-34) by José Clemente Orozco.

The tour method used by our guide, Jayda, was particularly moving. She didn’t just explain the artworks and artifacts, but also walked us through some of the processes and teaching techniques used by professors when guiding their students. This method, titled “Learning to Look,” was created by the Hood Museum of Art and is designed to help viewers look carefully and think critically about any work of art. It introduces the five steps involved in exploring a work of art: careful observation, analysis, research, interpretation, and critical assessment and response. This approach helped the participants better appreciate and understand what they saw, enhancing their overall experience.

Admission to the Hood Museum is free, and the museum is open to all. It is considered a high-quality and impressive museum that is definitely worth a visit.

After the museum tour, we traveled north on Route 10 for about 10 miles to Loch Lyme Lodge, where we enjoyed a tasty lunch of quiche and salad. Liz introduced us to the innkeepers, Jay and Amy Kelly, who are very knowledgeable about the property and clearly love what they do.

The historic lodge, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary, has a high return rate among its guests. It is located on the large and beautiful Post Pond, offering plenty of waterfront space, including a dog beach for furry guests. The lodge has 20 rustic, eco-friendly cabins with relaxing views, spaced across the property to ensure privacy for guests, whether they are there for a romantic vacation, a wedding, or a family reunion.

In addition to swimming on their private beach, guests can enjoy activities such as kayaking, canoeing, boating, paddle-boarding, fishing, and exploring a network of hiking trails. The lodge also offers a clay court for tennis, as well as basketball, tetherball, and various lawn games. At night, guests can gather around one of the fire pits for s’mores and ghost stories, or simply marvel at the clear night sky undisturbed by any major cities for over 100 miles. The lodge can even arrange for guests to rent e-bikes for extended rides to other historic sites and picturesque villages. I can see myself returning to try this part out myself.

The Upper Valley and surrounding region offer a wide range of attractions, including craft breweries, farm-to-table restaurants, artisanal shops, museums, and virtually every outdoor activity imaginable.

After touring the lodge and cottages, Liz took us a mile down the road to learn more about the history of Lyme and the area. Lyme Historian Bill Murphy served as our entertaining guide, using his skills as a social studies teacher to bring historic Lyme to life. The tour started at the Congregational Church and meeting house, where we also saw the restored 27 historic horse sheds, which are the longest line of contiguous horse sheds in New England.

The Lyme Historians maintain the Churchill-Melvin House on Main Street, across from the Lyme Common. The house has five exhibit rooms filled with local artifacts and two carriages. It is named after two early families of the house, Judge David Churchill and George Melvin, both of whom owned the Lyme Country Store at different times.

Overall, the tour of Dartmouth’s Hood Museum, Loch Lyme Lodge, and Lyme Historical Society provided a rich and enjoyable experience. The guides, exhibits, and historical insights made the tour informative and engaging and I’m sure many of us will be returning ourselves and pointing the way for guests.


Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth
6 East Wheelock Street, Hanover NH 03755

Loch Lyme Lodge
70 Orford Road, Lyme NH 03768

Lyme Historians
15 Main Street, Lyme NH 03768

Upper Valley Business Alliance
377 Main Street, West Lebanon, NH 03784