New Hampshire may look small on the map, but its diverse regions offer a variety of destinations and attractions—from historic river valleys to the soaring peaks of the highest mountains in the Northeast. Roads lined with stone walls lead to quintessential New England villages, miles of scenic forests and parks, inviting lakes, picture-postcard rural landscapes and a wealth of outdoor recreation opportunities.
New Hampshire Highlights
Where locals go to relax
New Hampshire has three great kinds of playground: mountains, ocean and lakes. And because the state is compact, you can experience more than one in a single day. Swim and get a suntan on 18 miles of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean, take a cruise on Lake Winnipesaukee or picnic near Echo Lake in the White Mountains.
Put these events on your calendar
- Maple Sugaring in New Hampshire, statewide (spring)
- North Country Moose Festival, Colebrook (summer)
- Wildquack River Festival, Jackson (summer)
- Fields of Lupine Festival, Franconia, Sugar Hill and Easton (summer)
- New Hampshire Highland Games, Lincoln (autumn)
- Keene Pumpkin Festival, Keene (autumn)
- Winter Holiday Stroll and Celebration, Nashua (winter)
- Annual Candlelight Stroll, Portsmouth (winter)
- State Snow Sculpture Competition, Jackson (winter).
In the autumn, trees glow with vibrant colours and orchards overflow with ripe fruit ready for picking. Bright reds, oranges, yellows and golds make the entire state a breathtaking sight during the autumn months, but visitors will want to make sure they take a drive on ‘The Kanc’, as locals call it. The Kancamagus Scenic Byway is a 28-mile road that stretches from Conway to North Woodstock through the heart of the White Mountain National Forest. There are hundreds of miles of trails accessible from the highway, where hiking and fishing are popular sports.
The Currier Museum of Art in Manchester is an internationally renowned art museum that features European and American paintings, decorative arts, photographs and sculpture, including works by Picasso, Monet, O'Keeffe, Wyeth and LeWitt. The museum also offers tours of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Zimmerman House (reservations required). On Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon, admission is free.
Classic road trip
The 133 miles of gorgeous roads between Tilton and Pittsburg are known as New Hampshire’s Route 3 Retro Tour; they are a treasure chest of affordable, 1950s and 1960s-era motels and attractions. Stay overnight at a place where you can swim, cook out and play badminton or horseshoes. Have breakfast in a diner or country restaurant, then hang out in an arcade or play a round of miniature golf. Experience one of the traditional family theme parks, and be sure to drive across a covered bridge or two along the way.
In New Hampshire, shopping is tax-free. Browse everywhere from old-fashioned ‘five-and-dime’ stores to ski and sports shops, factory outlets and antiques shops. If you’re looking for wares made by craftspeople, check out NH Made or shop at one of the eight League of New Hampshire Craftsmen shops around the state.
A number of New Hampshire hotels and inns have created special packages for those looking to spend some quality time with a loved one. Three worth checking out are: the Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, Glen Oaks Inn in Intervale (the package includes a horse-drawn sleigh ride) and Adair Country Inn in Bethlehem (your room will have a fireplace).
- Hiking: there are thousands of miles of scenic trails, including 1,200 miles in the White Mountain National Forest and a section of the Appalachian Trail. For those keeping count, the state has 48 4,000-foot-plus mountains to climb, while many other hikes offer spectacular views for moderate or little effort
- Rock climbing: New Hampshire is also home to some of the finest rock and ice climbing in the East
- Mountain biking: Many ski areas welcome mountain bikers in warmer weather
- Ziplining: a ride on a zipline is a fun and unique way to take in mountain views. You’ll soar through the air like an eagle and feel the sensation of flying.
Just want to indulge?
- New Hampshire has a wealth of spas, from grand hotels to B&Bs that offer treatments. A few choice options include: Mountain View Grand Hotel and Resort, Whitefield
- Omni Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Woods
- Church Landing at Mill Falls, Meredith
- Christmas Farm Inn and Spa, Jackson Village
- Wentworth by the Sea, New Castle.