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President Washington dined here in 1789. Abraham Lincoln visited in 1860, months before he was elected president. One of the original copies of the Declaration of Independence was discovered in a local home, and the city, founded in 1638, was once the Revolutionary War capital of New Hampshire. This preppy, small town (it’s also home to prestigious Phillips Exeter Academy) is rightfully proud of its history. Today, the historic center is filled with families, dogs, and savvy visitors browsing local artisan shops and boutiques, strolling the banks of the Squamscott River, checking out historic sites, and dining at waterfront and street-side cafes. It’s about an hour’s drive from Boston, or ride the Amtrak Downeaster; from the Exeter train station it’s an easy walk to downtown.