Once a part of Gilmanton called Gunstock Parish, the town was named for a key battle at the end of the revolution, the Battle of Guilford Court House, North Carolina. Sargent Lemuel B. Mason, who had fought in that battle, had retired to Gunstock Parish. In 1812, he successfully proposed incorporation of a new town to be named Gilford. North Carolina's Guilford Court House has long since been renamed Martinsville. The original name is used by the Gunstock recreation area on Belknap Mountain.
Ellacoya State Park is located in Gilford on the southwest shore of Lake Winnipesaukee. The 600-foot long sandy beach, with views across the lake to the Sandwich and Ossipee mountains, is a great place to spend time with the family for a full day of swimming and picnicking. Gilford residents receive automatic membership to the Gilford Town Beach.
Also located in Gilford is Meadowbrook Musical Arts Center, an outdoor concert facility that has seen artists from Bob Dylan to Dierks Bentley perform during the summer months.