DOVER, NEW HAMPSHIRE: Well, this was a new stop for our family. While we originally looked at staying in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, getting a booking there was no easy task. Always a fan of the Homewood Suites chain, I found one in the suburb of Dover (www.dovernh.homewoodsuites.com). This is part of the Lafrance Hospitality Group (www.lafrancehospitality.com), which also owns a Comfort Inn and Suites and a Hampton Inn nearby.

Dover is about 15 minutes from Portsmouth and 25 from beautiful Rye Beach. You are also only a 30 minute drive from the Maine beaches. Easily accessible from all directions, just take the I-95 to Route 16 and use Exits 6 through 9 (8E is recommended for access to downtown). For more information visit: www.dovernh.org

I have always enjoyed my stays at The Homewood Suites. In Dover this was no different. Located in the heart of the business district, at 21 Members Way, this hotel is just minutes from downtown Dover and many fine restaurants and shops. It is the perfect place for short and extended stay accommodations. We were there for five days and it proved to be a great base for our activities. Their sister properties, the Comfort Inn and Suites and the Hampton Inn, also have solid reputations.

This Homewood Suites Dover only opened in 2008 and still looks spanking new. It offers all of this on a complimentary basis: a daily Suite Star hot breakfast buffet; dinner and beverages Monday through Thursday evenings at a Welcome Home Reception; parking; high-speed internet access; shuttle service providing transportation to the surrounding area, including downtown Portsmouth; a business center with print, photocopy, and fax capabilities; Neutrogena bath products; a fitness center, indoor heated pool, whirlpool and outdoor patio. There is also a 24-hour Suite Shop.
We really appreciated the fully equipped kitchen in our one bedroom suite, complete with full-size refrigerator, microwave oven, two-burner stove top, and coffee maker. There were two televisions with a video player, two telephones with data ports, an iron, ironing board and hair dryer. Pets are allowed here (maximum 50 pounds) for a fee of $50 a night. The third floor of the hotel is reserved for this. Just up the street are a number of restaurants, grocery stores, a Target, Walmart, TJ Maxx and more.

The Orchard Street Chop Shop (www.orchardstreetchopshop.com) gets my vote for the top dining option in Dover. The magnificent dining room is one of the most elegant on the seacoast. It seats more than two hundred people over two floors and a seasonal patio, featuring floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace, oversized booths, Brazilian Cherry wood floors, bronze chandeliers, and wines scattered around the open-grill dining room. Open Monday through Saturdays at 5 p.m. for dinner, the restaurant offers the finest selections of meats and seafood, skillfully prepared with a stunning assortment of traditional steakhouse sides and sumptuous desserts – all house made.

We started off our dinner with some salads (wild field green and Tuscan caprese). Two members of our party chose the eight ounce petit filet mignon while I opted for the 14 ounce Delmonico steak. Each main item comes with your choice of two sides. The smashed potatoes won us over. Make sure to ask for owner Chris Kozlowski, who has developed such a success story that diners drive in from different parts of New Hampshire and Maine.

A mere 15 minutes away is Fox Run Mall, a one level enclosed regional shopping center located in Newington, 15 minutes from Dover. It is the only regional shopping center within a 40-mile radius and features national tenants including Macys, JC Penny, LOFT, Abercrombie & Fitch, PacSun, Express, Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works, Gap, Men’s Wearhouse, American Eagle Outfitters, Pandora and Hollister Co. New Hampshire does not have a sales tax which draws shoppers from neighboring states of Maine and Massachusetts.
Mike Cohen’s email address is info@mikecohen.ca. Log on to his travel advice columns at www.sandboxworld.com/travel

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