Steeped in history and home to one of the country’s most prestigious schools, Exeter has something to offer all visitors. Historians should not miss touring the American Independence Museum, which is housed in a building dating back to 1721, and the very interesting Gilman-Garrison House which is even older. The quaint town also has an extensive historic waterfront commercial district where many historic buildings now house businesses, restaurants and the fabulous Exeter Fine Crafts Gallery. Visitors can also tour the campus of the Phillips Exeter Academy, a fine co-educational school which dates back to the 18th century. When hunger strikes you can enjoy great food and coffee at Me and Ollie’s Café or excellent farm-to-fork cuisine at Otis Restaurant. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Some restaurants are currently offering pickup only. Hours/availability may have changed.

1.American Independence Museum

American Independence Museum
© American Independence Museum

Essential viewing for anyone interested in US history, Exeter’s American Independence Museum was established in 1991, after an electrician fortuitously discovered a priceless original copy of the Declaration of Independence under the attic floor boards of the historic Ladd-Gilman House. The Ladd-Gilman House, which now houses the museum, was built in 1721 and was home to the prominent Gilman family who played an important role in the establishment of the United States. Visitors to the museum can see the original Declaration of Independence as well as other historic documents and artifacts which focus on Revolutionary history. The museum includes another historic building, the Folsom Tavern (1775) which was moved to the museum site and is included in your guided tour.

American Independence Museum, 1 Governors Lane, Exeter, NH 03833, Phone: 603-772-2622

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2.Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, NH

Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, NH
© Phillips Exeter Academy

Founded in 1781, the Phillips Exeter Academy has become one of the most prestigious schools in the US. A visit to the beautiful campus will unveil the impressive Georgian architecture of the original buildings which is complimented by the modern design of the Class of 45 Library. There is also a beautiful school chapel which was built in 1895. Visitors are welcome to join a walking tour of the campus led by one of the students. Art lovers should not miss the chance to visit the on-site Lamont Gallery, which showcases art produced by local and national artists as well as students of the academy.

Phillips Exeter Academy, 20 Main Street, Exeter, NH 03833, Phone: 603-772-4311

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3.Gilman-Garrison House, Exeter, New Hampshire

Gilman-Garrison House, Exeter, New Hampshire
© Historic New England

The Gilman Garrison House Museum is another of Exeter’s important historic buildings which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. You will find the house in the Waterfront Commercial District, which is where the original settlers set up camp back in 1638. The house was built around 1709 and is especially interesting due to its defense-related features which included massive wooden beams, a portcullis and firing portholes built into the floor of the second-floor overhang. Although most of these ancient defensive features have been removed, visitors can still see where they were situated. The museum is filled with interesting exhibits showcasing regional history.

Gilman-Garrison House, 12 Water St, Exeter, NH 03833, Phone: 603-436-3205

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4.Exeter Fine Crafts, Exeter, NH

Exeter Fine Crafts, Exeter, NH
© Exeter Fine Crafts

Exeter Fine Crafts is open 7 days a week to showcase the amazing talents of over 200 juried artists and crafters from New England. The not-for-profit organization has been supporting the arts community since 1966, when they first opened their gallery to the public. When you visit the gallery you can admire a large selection of arts and crafts in many mediums including beautiful jewelry and metalwork, pottery, glass work, fiber arts and visual arts utilizing modern innovative techniques. In addition to showcasing local artists the gallery also holds regular demonstrations and workshops for aspiring artists and crafters and children’s art workshops.

Exeter Fine Crafts, 61 Water St, Exeter, NH 03833, Phone: 603-778-8282

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5.Me and Ollie’s Cafe, Exeter, NH

Me and Ollie’s Cafe, Exeter, NH
© Me and Ollie’s Café

Locals and visitors agree that Me and Ollie’s is one of the best places to meet with friends for a great meal and a brilliant cup of coffee or tea. The company has been baking fine breads for over 20 years at their original Portsmouth bakery. All the wheat for the bread is certified organic and grown for them in Montana and all their coffees and teas come from people who care about the origins and sustainability of their products. On the menu you will find a good selection of breakfast treats – all made with their signature breads or wraps and free-range local eggs. For lunch you can choose from nutritious and delicious bowls, Panini, salads (and soups when it is cold).

Me and Ollie’s Café, 64 Water Street, Exeter, NH 03833, Phone: 603-772-4600

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6.Otis Restaurant, Exeter, NH

Otis Restaurant, Exeter, NH
© Otis Restaurant

Located in a beautiful historic building in the heart of downtown Exeter, the Otis Restaurant brings flavorsome farm-to-fork fine-dining to Exeter. The interior of the restaurant honors the roots of the building which was once home to the Otis Sleeper Jewelry Store, which dates back to 1910. Otis works with local producers to procure the freshest and finest seasonal ingredients for their dishes, all of which are prepared with passion and served with an eye for detail. Guests are invited to come and spend a relaxing evening enjoying their 5-course tasting menu, which can be adapted to accommodate dietary restrictions. Foodies are advised to try and book the Chef’s Table, where you can watch the food being prepared.

Otis Restaurant, 4 Front Street, Exeter, NH 03833, Phone: 603-580-1705

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6 Best Things to Do in Exeter, New Hampshire

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