Ambleside is one of the Lake District’s main walking bases. Hill trekkers come to the town to stock up on hiking gear and supplies before tackling the classic hills nearby, and it can get crowded in the summer months. But despite its popularity, Ambleside feels less commercialized than neighboring Windermere and Bowness. With a selection of top notch bed and breakfasts and restaurants, it makes an ideal launching pad for exploring the central Lakes. The town’s best known landmark is Bridge House, which spans the tumbling brook of Stock Ghyll downhill from Market Cross. Nearby at Armitt Museum, artifacts include a lock of John Ruskin’s hair, a collection of botanical watercolors by Beatrix Potter, and prints by Herbert Bell. Football fans should check out Homes of Football, displaying photos amassed over two decades by the local photographer Stuart Clarke. Down by the lakeshore, cruise boats set out from the Waterhead dock for Bowness. Self-powered vessels can be rented as well. For walkers, Ambleside is the start of several well known walks, including the wooded trail up to the 60-foot waterfall of Stock Ghyll Force, or the 3-hour round trip via Wansfell and Jenkins Crag. Serious hikers can tackle the 10-mile Fairfield Horseshoe trail.