The Upper Valley: Living in New Hampshire and Vermont’s Most Diverse Region

Alan J. DiStasio  |  June 8, 2022

Life In The Upper Valley

The Upper Valley: Living in New Hampshire and Vermont’s Most Diverse Region

Deemed “The Land of Unexpected Discoveries,” the Upper Valley has much to offer visitors and residents alike. It’s a distinctive region that straddles both sides of the Connecticut River for 40 miles dividing New Hampshire and Vermont, with a historic bridge linking the charming towns of Hanover and Norwich. It consists of a collection of picturesque New England towns that exude small-town charm and a strong sense of community. Here’s everything you need to know about living in the Upper Valley.

1. Why people are moving to the Upper Valley

There are endless reasons why individuals from all walks of life are drawn to the Upper Valley. Academics are attracted to Dartmouth College, a member of the Ivy League of Colleges. Health Care Practitioners and Providers from around the globe seek out Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center for careers in medicine. Dartmouth Alumni return as retirees to be near their Dartmouth College community. The Upper Valley also boasts a dynamic economy where employment opportunities are plentiful. And some folks simply appreciate the ability to live in an area renowned for its natural beauty with access to the Green and White Mountains, all within reasonable distances to Boston, Burlington, New York, or Montreal.

2. Lifestyle

The Upper Valley has something sure to appeal to you no matter your interests. Read on for a closer look into this area’s idyllic lifestyle.

Close access to nature

Cardigan Mountain by Alan DiStasio
With the Green Mountains to the west and the White Mountains to the east, it’s hard to imagine more breathtakingly beautiful surroundings. Living in the Upper Valley provides ample opportunities to lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails year-round. Trails can be as gentle as a local Land Trust walk to hiking all 48 mountains in New Hampshire taller than 4000’. Dartmouth Skiway, Dartmouth Cross Country Ski Center, and Whaleback Mountain offer local options for skiing outings. In Vermont, big mountain skiing at Killington is 55 minutes away, as is Okemo Mountain.
During the warmer months, embark on an adventure by kayaking, boating, or rowing the scenic Connecticut River, or head over to any one of several community recreational parks such as Storrs Pond in Hanover for swimming and tennis. Bicycling, whether by road or trail, has become a year-round pursuit for many, despite the challenges embraced by the colder months!
After all, there’s no better place to enjoy the outdoors than right in your very own backyard.

A Vibrant Arts and Culture Scene

Photo courtesy of Lebanon Opera House

The Upper Valley is brimming with arts and culture. The Lebanon Opera House has been a cultural center for the Upper Valley region since it was built in 1924. This community-based venue has featured live performances that inspire and entertain with musical performances, comedy shows, and plays. It also hosts Opera North, producing opera for northern New England to a high standard musically and dramatically. Northern Stage in White River Junction is a year-round regional non-profit LORT-D professional theater company with a mission to change lives, one story at a time.

Make plans to stop by AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon. This esteemed art center offers exhibitions, artist studios, educational programs, and art classes for every level. Whether you’re established or a budding artist, AVA provides the perfect space for you to hone your skills.

Dartmouth College is also home to The Hood Museum, one of the top collegiate art galleries in the country, and The Hop (Hopkins Center For The Arts), which provides an educational environment for the study, creation, and presentation of the arts.

First Fridays in White River Junction are always popular, offering live music, dance, artist receptions, and sales. Learn more about other Upper Valley cultural offerings HERE.


Schools in the Upper Valley region of New Hampshire and Vermont offer some of the best educational systems in the two states, both public and private. Educational opportunities abound, enabling parents to choose the best route for their children. The Upper Valley region is also home to several excellent private schools, including Cardigan Mountain School, Thetford Academy, and Upper Valley Waldorf School.

3. Best places to live in the Upper Valley

The Upper Valley comprises a varied mix of towns and villages nestled along the Connecticut River. Each town offers its unique, distinctive qualities, so potential home buyers will have no problem finding a community that suits their lifestyle and values. Here’s a sneak peek into some of the Upper Valley’s most popular towns.


With just over 14,000 inhabitants, Lebanon provides its residents with a high quality of life. The town lies along the Connecticut River in the heart of the famous New Hampshire Valley. With Hanover and White River Junction, Lebanon is at the center of a Micropolitan Statistical Area approximately 60 miles from the state capital. It is home to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, the largest medical facility between Boston and Burlington, Vermont. DHMC is also home to The Dartmouth Cancer Center, a nationally accredited comprehensive cancer center.
A haven for nature enthusiasts, Lebanon boasts majestic scenery. It is characterized by ridgelines surrounding the bottomlands of the Mascoma and Connecticut rivers. Escape into nature by spending the day on the Northern Rail Trail of New Hampshire, the state’s longest rail-trail conversion spanning nearly 57 miles. It’s become a popular place for bikers and joggers, who pass through historic villages and scenic lakes. Grab a bite to eat afterward at Three Tomatoes Trattoria, a neighborhood hub in Lebanon. The restaurant is famous for its wood-fired pizza and other Italian staples.


Photo courtesy of Lars Blackmore

Hanover, home to nearly 12,000 residents, is situated alongside the Connecticut River. The town is the home of prestigious Dartmouth College, which was founded in 1769 by Eleazar Wheelock. Dartmouth is the northernmost Ivy League school. In addition to being synonymous with Dartmouth College, Hanover is well-loved for its vibrant downtown district. Kick off your morning at Lou’s Restaurant in the heart of downtown Hanover. Lou’s is the definition of a 1950s All-American diner, complete with green vinyl booths and photos of the 19th century hanging on the walls. This colorful cafe serves up delicious dishes with ingredients from local farms, a Hanover staple.

This New England hamlet is the perfect haven for art and nature lovers, offering a refined lifestyle in a pastoral setting. After breakfast at Lou’s, get your art fix at the Hood Museum of Art. It’s one of the oldest teaching museums in the country and features an expansive array of artifacts and art dating back to the Assyrian culture in 900 B.C. Storrs Pond is a great community recreational area for swimming and tennis for those looking for relaxation.

From pre-schools to college, Hanover is famous for its excellent educational offerings. The town is served by the SAU 70 School Administrative Unit, popularly known as the Dresden School District, which is the nation’s fir


With under 4,000 residents, Norwich is an idyllic small town. The town is on the western bank of the Connecticut River, across from Hanover in Vermont. Norwich is known for its affluent residents, many of whom are professors at Dartmouth College and doctors at DHMC. Though it might be a small town, life in Norwich is far from boring. Locals enjoy close proximity to top-notch hiking, skiing, and cultural attractions.

Stock up on fresh produce at the Norwich Farmers Market, has been a part of the community since the 1970s. The market, which runs from May to October, features vendors selling seasonal fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy, flowers, and prepared meals. If you want to enjoy a staycation, make a reservation at The Norwich Inn. The Inn is a historic, full-service Vermont country inn with a rich history dating back to 1797.

4. Working with an agent you trust

Ready to pack your bags and call the Upper Valley home? No matter where life may take you, buying a property can be a stressful and time-consuming process. That’s why it’s essential to have a trusted local agent guide you through the buying or selling process from start to finish. For nearly 23 years, Alan has served in real estate sales and has served in multiple executive leadership roles. He also has a personal referral network spanning the globe built during a 15-year association with Sotheby’s International Realty.

Alan understands the importance of working with a realtor who communicates clearly and effectively. His formula is based on consistent communication, transparency, strategic advice, and clear expectations. Whether you’re buying or selling, Alan will work tirelessly to ensure that you get the best possible outcome and that your needs come first — always.

Alan and his wife Susan (his Administrative Partner) live in Hanover, New Hampshire. They moved here for the same reasons many people do, to live near the great mountains of northern New England and for Susan to return to an academic medical setting at DHMC. If you’re ready to move to the Upper Valley, contact Alan today for a confidential assessment of your real estate goals.

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