New Hampshire was one of the original 13 states of the US and its capital is the city of Concord. The state was also the birthplace of the first US citizen to visit space, Alan Shepard, who took off in 1961. But aside from its famous inhabitants, it is known too for producing massive amounts of sweet and sticky maple syrup.
New Hampshire is often referred to as the Granite State as there are numerous natural granite formations and quarries scattered around the country. Its largest mountain is the 6,288-foot tall Mount Washington, which you can climb by boarding an old cog railway.
It has the shortest ocean coastline of any US state, with just 18 miles worth of shore within its boundaries. If you’re looking for a beach holiday, this isn’t the place to come, but there are plenty of other things to do in New Hampshire and natural attractions to enjoy.
18. Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves
The Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves are less than a ten-minute drive away from North Woodstock. There’s lots to do here, like walking along the one-mile-long wooden boardwalk trail that takes you winding through the gorge. The views of the Lost River along the way are spectacular!
Once you’ve done that head over to the Forest Adventure Trail where you can watch the kids play in the treehouse and jump on the suspension bridge. There are lots of great viewpoints where you can see the expansive forest that stretches around the gorge.
Don’t forget to climb into some of the secret caves on your visit. A fantastic adventure for all ages, this is a great day out for families, groups of friends, and couples alike.
17. Cathedral Ledge
Cathedral Ledge is a popular viewpoint that offers panoramic views of the White Mountains in the distance and the Saco River Valley below. It’s not just tourists that love taking photos here, it’s also common for couples to come here to get their wedding photos taken.
There’s a carpark right by the viewpoint, but if you want to get some exercise you can walk up via the Cathedral Ledge Trail. It’s not too long or difficult.
If you visit New Hampshire regularly you should come back in each season, the changes in the colors makes it look like a new place entirely.
16. Ice Castles, Lincoln
The incredible ice sculptures in Lincoln which are created every winter are known as the Ice Castles. They don’t really look like castles, but there’s lots of fun activities you can get involved in. It’s cold inside the castle’s icy walls, so make sure you bring hats and gloves.
A popular activity at the Ice Castles is snow tubing, where you slide down a snowy hill on a big donut-shaped inflatable – what could possibly go wrong? The kids will also love crawling through the narrow ice tunnels scattered around the Ice Castles and sliding down the ice slides (you might get a cold butt!).
If you want to try something a bit different you can ride a sleigh (sadly not pulled by Rudolf) around the icy castles.
15. Story Land
Have you ever wanted to be in a fairy tale? Well, now you can be! New Hampshire’s Story Land is a great place to go for a day out if you have young children. They can step into famous scenes from their favorite books and meet characters like Cinderella.
This magical land is full of funfair rides that will keep the kids happy for hours, and also runs exciting and engaging shows.
Don’t worry about packing a picnic, there’s plenty of food stalls scattered around Story Land, and a restaurant that sells quick and tasty food.
14. Isles of Shoals
Just six miles off the coast of mainland New Hampshire and Maine there is a little group of islands known as the Isles of Shoals. There are nine islands in total, and four that fall into New Hampshire territory.
They were first discovered by John Smith in 1614 and named “Smyth’s Islands”. They were later renamed and have since become a hotspot for tourists visiting New Hampshire.
The best way to explore the islands is to take a boat tour, you can do some whale watching along the way. Make sure you eat some of the local lobster, too. If you want to stay overnight there are some accommodation options, like the Oceanic Hotel on Star Island.
13. Lake Winnipesaukee
Lake Winnipesaukee has more to offer than just the lake itself, it’s also surrounded by thick forests and charming lakeside towns. It’s a place of tranquility and the perfect holiday destination for those looking for some peace and quiet; you can rent out one of the gorgeous lakeside houses.
Make sure you spend a day at Weirs Beach during your visit, it’s not often you get arcades and incredible views in one place. Once you’ve finished exploring the lake and admiring the stunning Victorian-style houses, hike up into the mountains and enjoy the lake from above.
Things you can do at Lake Winnipesaukee include boat cruises on the lake, paddling, fishing, hiking through the woods, and much more!
This small city in New Hampshire is quaint and cute. You can explore its most picturesque neighborhoods by foot with a gentle stroll around the city center or enjoy the city by sitting and reading a book with a hot coffee at one of the local cafés.
Make sure you check out the areas around the Squamscott River, there are idyllic riverside views and some parks where you can stop and rest. There are also plenty of walking trails around Exeter, like in the Henderson-Swasey Town Forest.
If you like history and you want to get to know the town’s past, go to the American Independence Museum in town where you can see exhibits of period furniture and clothing.
11. Strawbery Banke Museum
Once the waterfront neighborhood of Puddle Dock, the Strawbery Banke Museum is more like a small town. This historic neighborhood in Portsmouth was turned into a huge museum that is designed to take its visitors back into the past, so they can experience Portsmouth as it was centuries ago.
Aside from the beautiful buildings, there are also decorative gardens, exhibitions of traditional crafts, and numerous actors dressed up in period costumes who really bring the place to life.
The museum is best explored on a warm, sunny afternoon in Spring when the flowers are in full bloom. But whenever you go there will be plenty to see and it’ll certainly be an educational experience.
10. Clark’s Bears, Lincoln
Have you always wanted to get up close to a bear? But aren’t too sure about standing in the woods with a Mars Bar and hoping for the best? Then Clark’s Bears is the place for you. The bears are trained and used to people, so they are perfectly safe to be around.
Be sure to make it to one of the bear shows during your visit, it’s incredible the tricks you can teach a black bear. Aside from the bears, there is also ice-cream to be enjoyed and a bouldering wall the kids can muck about on.
Afterwards, you can go on all the park rides or try going on a Segway. It’s sure to be an unforgettable family day out.
9. Diana’s Baths
Diana’s Baths is a short walking trail just outside of Intervale. It’s only 1.3 miles long – great for all ages and fitness levels. It’s generally considered an easy walking trail, though the path can get a little slippery in winter when there’s ice and frost.
The best time to walk the route is from spring through to autumn, on a sunny day. Make sure you bring your camera so you can take pictures of the nature and wildlife around you.
If you’ve got an afternoon to kill and you want to spend an hour or so out in nature, this is a great place to come. You could drag it out a bit by bringing a picnic with you.
8. Bretton Woods Mountain Resort
The Bretton Woods Mountain Resort is a ski and snowboard resort right by the White Mountain National Forest. You get to combine the incredible views from high up in the White Mountains with an adrenalin sport.
The resort has 63 trails and 35 glades, so whatever your level there will be plenty of routes for you to try out. Some of the hardest slopes start at the top of Mount Rosebrook or West Mountain. You can ski from the top of them down to the small resort village at the bottom.
If you fancy spending a few days at the resort, you can book hotel or lodge accommodation. What could be nicer than a weekend skiing in the White Mountains? Needless to say, you’ll want to visit in the colder months of the year.
7. Currier Museum of Art, Manchester
This art museum in Manchester first opened its doors to visitors in 1929, though the idea was in the making for decades before that. It started off in the former home of Moody Currier and Hannah Slade, who first came up with the idea but passed away before it was made a reality.
The museum has expanded numerous times since and now has more than 15,000 permanent exhibits. You’ll get to explore art in all its forms, from photography to architecture, during your time at the museum.
They also run art classes, so if you’ve always fancied yourself as a bit of a painter, now’s your chance to give it a go!
6. Hampton Beach
Hampton city has a long stretch of beach that separates the city from the sea, known as Hampton Beach. Hampton is a great place to spend a weekend as you can enjoy the city’s lively nightlife and spend lazy days on the beach.
Bring a book and your sun cream and spend the day tanning or reading your book on the beach’s golden sand. Then enjoy a refreshing dip in the sea before you get back to yet more relaxing.
Whilst secluded beaches in the middle of nowhere always sounds appealing, there are advantages to going to a city beach. For starters, there is a row of bars and restaurants just feet away that serve cold beers and fresh seafood.
5. Mount Monadnock
Mount Monadnock is a 3,165-foot-tall mountain that is surrounded by the Monadnock State Park. Nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts come to the park year-round to explore the rocky trails and woodlands. The park is near the towns of Jaffrey and Dublin.
It can get quite busy, especially in the warmer months, so make sure you reserve your parking spot before going to avoid disappointment. Bear in mind there are three different car parks: Old Toll Road, Gilson Pond and Monadnock Headquarters. Each is the starting point for a different set of hiking trails.
The longest walking trail is the 3.5-mile Birchtoft Trail that takes about six hours (both ways). Faster trails to the top of the mountain include the Old Halfway House Trail and White Dot trail that are each roughly a four hour round trip. Make sure you have good footwear and bring lunch!
4. Kancamagus Highway
This 34.5-mile-long scenic highway runs along Route 112 from Conway to Lincoln (or you can do it the other way around). It’s especially incredible in the Autumn season when the road is lined by trees covered in orange and red leaves. There are no restaurants or hotels along the way, so bring your own food.
Along the route you’ll pass through the White Mountain National Forest, which has breathtaking views of the White Mountains, the Swift River, Sabbaday Falls, Lower Falls and the Rocky Gorge.
Make sure you visit the Albany Covered Bridge, and if you have time, stop off at the Sabbaday Falls and walk the easy hike up to a set of picturesque waterfalls less than a mile away. If you want to take your time driving the Kancamagus Highway and exploring the surrounding areas you can bring your tent and stay at a camping ground overnight.
3. Portsmouth Downtown Historic District
You’ll want a full day to explore the Portsmouth Downtown Historic District, there’s lots to see! The area is riddled with historical buildings and important landmarks that date back to the 17th century. If you can, stay somewhere nearby and explore the district by foot.
There are five National Historic Landmarks and more than 1200 historically significant buildings in the district, as well as the outdoor museum Strawbery Banke. Make sure you visit Bow Street too, the street has an intriguing history.
The district’s story began when settlers first arrived in 1630. The town quickly became a prominent seaport. Because of this there is a lot of colonial-era architecture. If you don’t fancy walking around, take a guided bike tour of the district instead.
2. Mount Washington Cog Railway
The old cog railway was the first-ever mountain-climbing railway of its kind in the world. It also still holds the title of the second steepest incline climbed by a cog railway. But before I tell you more about this magnificent train – what is a cog railway?
Unlike normal trains, cog railways have specialized wheels and railway tracks that attach tightly so that the railway can climb steeper inclines than ordinary trains (that would likely just roll back down the hill).
Your trip on-board the cog railway will take you from Marshfield Base Station to Mount Washington summit. Sometimes the railway is still run by the coal-fired steam engines that have been in use for more than a century. It’s a three hour round trip, including the time you’ll get at the top to take in the views.
1. Flume Gorge
The Flume Gorge is at the bottom of Mount Liberty. Once you’re inside the gorge you won’t be able to see much beyond the tall granite walls that can reach up to 90 feet in height. At points, the walls on either side are as little as 12 feet apart.
Most visitors explore the gorge by foot. There’s the Flume trail, a short two-mile-long loop that takes about an hour and a half to complete. Along the way you can take in the gorge’s impressive flora: the old trees growing on the walls of the gorge, the deep green moss that decorates the hard granite, and the pretty flowers that bloom in spring.
Bring good shoes (there’s lots of stairs) and some snacks! And don’t leave without visiting Flume Bridge which was built across the Pemigewasset River in 1886, and Avalanche Falls, a 45-foot waterfall.