There are of course dozens of beaches, large and small, in the Lakes Region . On Winni , the most popular (and crowded) is Weirs Beach (Rte. 3, 603/524-5046, www.city.laconia.nh.us ), which has the advantage of being easily accessible and close to the action. A more pleasant and secluded bask in the sun can be found at Alton Small Swimming Beach (Rte. 28A, 603/875-0109, www.altonparksandrecreation.com ) on Alton Bay.
On the eastern side of the lake, avoid Winni entirely in favor of Wentworth State Beach (Rte. 109, Wolfeboro, 603/569-3699, website , $4 adults, $2 children ages 6–11, free children under 5) on the site of colonial Governor Wentworth’s former estate on Wentworth Lake. The lake has a bathhouse and picnic area.
Several small mountains overlooking Winnipesaukee make for good vantages to take in the enormity of the lake. The highest peak in the region, the 2,384-foot Belknap Mountain is one of the most-climbed mountains in southern New Hampshire .
Though steep in places, the trail to the summit is fairly moderate, the view of Winni and the Ossipee Mountain Range beyond is nothing short of spectacular. Though shorter than Belknap, the 1,780-foot Mount Major is actually a tougher climb with a higher increase in elevation and some steep ridges near the summit. The lack of tree cover at the top, however, makes for an excellent panoramic view.
Between Squam  and Winni , the hike up to the 2,029-foot Red Hill starts virtually at the shores of Big Squam and climbs strenuously up a near-vertical pitch to the top of the Eagle Ledge. From there, it’s a more gentle trail up to the summit of the hill, where a fire tower enhances the view. The total climb rises some 1,650 feet in elevation.
On the shores of Ossipee Lake, Heath Pond Bog (Off Rte. 25 near Pine River, 603/539-6323, www.ossipeelake.org ) is one of the more unusual natural habitats in the area. The wetland seems almost prehistoric with its wild fauna of orchids, pitcher plants, and Venus flytraps. Part of the bog has actually grown over the pond to create an undulating “quaking bog.” Mind the marked paths so as not to disturb the fragile environment here; and keep your eyes out for beavers, fisher cats, and porcupines.
For flatwater canoeing and kayaking directly on Lake Winnipesaukee , visit Wild Meadow Canoe & Kayak (Rte. 25, “at the lights,” Center Harbor, 603/253-7536, www.wildmeadowcanoes.com ), which has several hundred boats for rent ($45/day) in the island-dotted bay of Center Harbor. For something with a little more “oomph,” Meredith Marina (2 Bayshore Dr., Meredith, 603/279-7921, www.meredithmarina.com ) rents Stingray 175s ($295/day) to cruise on your own around the lake. It offers discounts with advanced bookings.
On Squam Lake , Squam Lakes Resort (1002 Rte. 3, Holderness, 603/968-7227, www.squamlakesresort.com ) has a marina that rents canoes ($49/day), power boats ($119–159/day), and pontoon boats ($189–279/day) for all your loon-spotting needs.
For more than 25 years, registered guide Curt “Gadabout” Golder has been fishing Winni and surrounding lakes for salmon, pickerel, perch, and largemouth bass. His outfit, Angling Adventures (Wolfeboro, 603/569-6426, www.fishingnewhampshire.com ) offers four-hour fishing excursions ($260 for one person, $300 for two) on the lake complete with all the equipment you need to land your own big one.
If you’ve just got to go skiing in the area, give Gunstock Mountain (Rte. 11A, Gilford, 800/486-7862, www.gunstock.com , $54 adults, $42 teens age 13–17, $29 seniors or children age 6–12) a try. The mountain’s lack of variety and really challenging terrain, however, make it not one of New Hampshire’s  best. You are better off driving a couple of hours north to Cannon or Loon—or just an hour west to Mount Sunapee.
The family-run campground at Bethel Woods (245 Rte. 3, Holderness, 603/279-6266, www.bethelwoods.com ) will get you within a few hundred yards of Squam Lake —close enough to hear the loons cackling at night. The campground has a mix of active and secluded tent sites, and family programs such as a Friday night barbecue and bonfire.