Spending the Night in the 3 Northern NE States’ Largest City — Nashua

The pre-wedding celebration that brought us to New England was in Lowell, MA. But we found a deal for a place to lay our head across the border. And I wanted to say we visited New Hampshire. A little place called Nashua.

See, to us it was little. One of those Anytown USA’s with a Main Street, a Walmart and a sign boasting it’s the first to do this or home of someone we don’t know. So, I Wikipedia’d Nashua, New Hampshire.

Nashua is a city in Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, United States. As of the 2010 census, Nashua had a total population of 86,494, making it the second largest city in the state (and in the three northern New England states) after Manchester.

Built around the now-departed textile industry, in recent decades it has been swept up in southern New Hampshire’s economic expansion as part of the Boston region. Nashua was twice named “Best Place to Live in America” in annual surveys by Money magazine. It is the only city to get the No. 1 ranking on two occasions—in 1987 and 1997.

So this little Anytown USA, with its whopping 86,000 people, is the second largest city in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine? And twice named best place to live in America? I became curious. Boston can wait.

So we ventured around and came across this little family restaurant. Roland’s. If I was doing a Yelp review, I’d give it 3 to 4 stars. Nothing fancy but no reason I’d protest about going back to. We just did breakfast. The cheese in my eggs weren’t my favorite, orange American cheese, and the bacon had more fat than meat, but it was well below what we budgeted for and Najwa ate her three Silver Dollar pancakes.

Najwa and Nduku at Roland's Family Restaurant in Nashua NH

Roland's Family Restaurant in Nashua NH

I was hoping to meet Roland, but our waitress told me Roland passed away and the restaurant sold then sold again to whoever owns it now. Whatever.


But there’s a “Variety Store” attached to it. In DC we call it a corner market. It’s just a little store front with a medley of everything and nothing. I was hoping to find a souvenir spoon of Nashua to add to our collection. Not happening.

But we did meet Grace. When she asked if we needed any help with anything, I noticed her accent and asked where she was from. Nashua having only an African American population of 2.7%, probably even smaller for Africans, I’d think she’d like to converse with some black people not from the area. But, with her obviously African accent, she replied, “Lowell.” As in Massachusetts.

Eventually, though, Nduku came over, and she has an eye for Kenyans. She and Grace got to talking and Grace turns out to be the warmest person ever. She was a teacher for over two decades in Kenya, like Nduku’s mom. Grace has some kids. Well, kids with advanced college degrees. One just graduated from UMass, and next thing you know, we got invited to the celebration later that evening.

And we went, but I’ll get to that later.

Nashua is quaint. We didn’t spend a lot of time driving around checking the place out. If we had more time, we would’ve, but the entire New England area’s largest city was calling.

So down the road we headed to Boston.

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