Ready to visit the best places in New Hampshire?
New Hampshire is a stunning state in New England, the northeastern region of the United States. It offers visitors the chance to explore a range of beautiful landscapes- majestic mountains, endless forests, lakes, and a small 18-mile stretch of Atlantic coastline.
New Hampshire is known for its abundance of outdoor activities such as skiing, kayaking, hiking and camping. Check out the variety of quaint towns and cities to explore, full of history and culture. Fall is a particularly great time to visit New Hampshire, as the leaves turn a breathtaking array of vibrant colors.
I’m a New England native and New Hampshire still is one of my favorite places to visit any season!
But first, do you have these items for your trip?
Rental Car: I recommend Rentalcars.com for the cheapest prices!
Activities: Viator is my favorite resource to book fun tours and day trips!
Accommodation: Booking.com has a variety of hotels, but also rentals and b&bs
Best Places in New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a 4 season destination with its beautiful Atlantic coast and lake region to explore in the summer months, its colorful hikes, and cozy quaint towns to visit in the fall and winter.
1. Lake Winnipesaukee
Lake Winnipesaukee is the largest lake in New Hampshire, boasting more than 288 miles of shoreline and over 40 communities to explore. Whether you want to go swimming, boating, fishing, or just relax on the beach, Lake Winnipesaukee is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in New Hampshire!
Check out Weirs Beach for a quintessential Lake Winnipesaukee experience. Not only is it one of the most popular beaches on the lake, but it’s also home to a charming boardwalk with plenty of eateries and arcades like FunSpot, where you can play classic arcade video games.
If you are seeking a more nature-centered experience, check out hikes at nearby Mt. Major or check out the Lake Winnipesaukee Museum in Wolfeboro to learn about the lake’s history, as well as its unique wildlife, including loons and bald eagles.
North Conway is a small town in New Hampshire known for its stunning scenery and vast outdoor activities. Outdoor activities such as skiing, snowboarding, and even four-season fun can be found in North Conway making it an ideal destination for adventurers.
It was named one of the Top 10 Best Small Towns in America for Adventure, offering an exciting winter ski scene with six mountain resorts providing state-of-the-art lifts and trail grooming.
It is also conveniently situated near the beautiful Kancamagus Highway, offering even more opportunities to explore and discover what New Hampshire has to offer.
In the summer North Conway has activities like hiking, biking, fishing, and shopping. Cranmore Mountain provides a thrilling Aerial Adventure Park and Mountain Coaster, while Attitash offers an alpine slide, water slides, mountain bike trails, and horseback riding. Wildcat Mountain has a zipline and views of Mt. Washington.
Shopping is also available at Settlers Green Outlet Village with tax-free boutiques and designer outlets, or visitors can find unique gifts at Penguin Gallery. Zeb’s General Store offers local products like berry jams and maple syrup. Check out Conway’s vintage train, Conway Scenic Railroad, built in 1874.
Day tripping from Boston? Click here to book your visit to North Conway to see its famous fall foliage!
The charming town of Portsmouth is one of the top vacation spots in New England and one of the best places to visit in New Hampshire. You can find fabulous boutique shopping and seafood restaurants along the cobblestone streets of downtown.
Take a stroll through the 10-acre waterfront Prescott Park for some fresh air, or visit the amazing Strawbery Banke Museum for an immersive look into history. Visitors can explore 70 different sites around the city on the Portsmouth Harbor Trail, which are listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings and Landmarks.
Visitors can tour some of the historic buildings such as the 1716 Warner House with its original Colonial wall paintings and Queen Anne furniture. The 1758 John Paul Jones House allows visitors to explore collections of china, silver, glass, portraits, and clothing.
Finish your visit with a nice meal at La Maison Navarre Café or Ristorante Massimo located in or near Market Square. With so much to explore, Portsmouth certainly is one of the best places to visit in New Hampshire.
Tour Portsmouth by bike! Click here to book a 2-hour bike ride adventure along New Hampshire’s coast.
4. White Mountains
The White Mountains of New Hampshire offer some of the best hiking in the Northeast. From a gentle stroll, full-on backcountry expedition, or scenic drive, there’s a way for everyone to enjoy the mountains.
For a more challenging hike, head to the Presidential Range for some of the highest peaks in the Northeast. The Appalachian Trail runs through this section of the mountain and provides access to popular destinations such as Mt Washington, Adams, and Jefferson which offer spectacular summit views.
You’ll also find numerous other trails that wind around waterfalls, over rocky ledges, and through alpine meadows where wildflowers bloom in the summer.
Feeling adventurous? Book a paddling tour with views of the White Mountains!
5. Kancamagus Highway
The Kancamagus Highway is a 34-mile stretch of road between Conway and Lincoln, New Hampshire. It is part of the White Mountain National Forest and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountain range.
Along the way, travelers will find numerous scenic overlooks, as well as plenty of opportunities to stop for a picnic or just take in the scenery. The highway is one of the best places in New Hampshire to experience fall foliage, with brightly colored maples and birches lining the way.
Many day hikes start from one of the many trailheads along The Kancamagus Highway. For level trails with waterfall access, check out Diana’s Bath and Sabbaday Falls, both close to North Conway and each a short walk through the forest.
Experience the Kancamagus Highway with a self-driving audio tour! Click here to book!
Concord, the capital city of New Hampshire, has a population of just over 43,000 people, and many great historic and outdoor attractions to explore. The State House dates back to 1819 and offers guided tours. Other historic sites to explore include the National Historic Landmark and McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center.
Concord is also home to a vibrant downtown with plenty of shopping, dining, and entertainment options. You can find some unique gift shops on Main Street or take in some live music at one of the local pubs. Concord to a great base to explore nearby Canterbury Shaker Village and Manchester.
Concord has some of the best food in New Hampshire. Concord is bustling with American seafood and meat classics, but many restaurants have popped up with an international and modern twist. Check out award-winning restaurants The Barley House and Tavern and Revival Kitchen.
7. Hampton Beach State Park
Located right on the Atlantic, Hampton is sure to provide you with all of the relaxation and entertainment that you could need! Whether it’s taking a dip in the ocean, exploring shops and restaurants along the boardwalk, or watching an outdoor movie at Hampton Beach State Park, there is something for everyone in this lively spot.
The beach itself is a sight to behold. The white sand and blue waters provide the perfect backdrop for your beach day, while the boardwalk offers plenty of places to sit back, relax, and people-watch. There are attractions nearby such as amusement parks, historic sites, and nature trails that offer incredible views of the Atlantic.
The best part about Hampton Beach is that it’s never overly crowded. Even during peak season, you won’t have to worry about being overwhelmed by other visitors as there’s plenty of room for everyone to enjoy the area. It is also very family friendly with full amenities, weekly summer fireworks and events for kids.
8. Mount Monadnock
Mount Monadnock is a popular destination for hikers! The 3,165-ft summit offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape – perfect for those looking to get away and enjoy some fresh air and nature.
With five main trails ranging in difficulty and 35 miles of alternative routes, it’s easy to tailor your Monadnock hike to suit your skill level and preference. The most popular route is the White Arrow Trail, which is 2.3 miles long and begins at the Old Toll Road trailhead.
On sunny days, the mountain may be busy so be sure to plan ahead! An easy day trip from Boston, Mount Monadnock is one of the best places in New Hampshire for hiking and outdoor adventures.
Keene, New Hampshire is an idyllic place full of charm and historical beauty. Downtown offers picture-perfect views with a unique mix of old and new. You can explore the sights on foot, including the iconic Colonial Theater which hosts lots of music, film, and cultural events.
Every year during autumn, Keene also celebrates its famed Pumpkin Festival which always draws in huge crowds. Keene has a large student population which is accompanied by a cool restaurant and bar scene.
10. Bretton Woods Resort
Bretton Woods Resort offers 100 ski runs, which makes it the largest ski resort in New Hampshire. The resort caters to skiers of all levels, from beginners to experts. Brenton Woods has a ski school that offers classes for beginners, so don’t worry if you’re new to skiing.
The resort has ten lifts that make it easier for the large quantity of winter visitors to access the slopes. And one of the best things about Bretton Woods is that it receives a lot of snow.
Apart from skiing, Bretton Woods also offers plenty of activities like snowshoeing, ice-skating, and tubing. For those who need a break from physical activities, Brenton Woods has areas to recharge after hitting the slopes. There are plenty of nearby spas, dining, and shopping options that cater to visitors’ needs.
Brenton Woods has a rich history dating back to the early 20th century. The resort used to be a popular vacation spot for the rich and famous as multiple U.S. presidents and celebrities used to stay at the resort. The resort is surrounded by breathtaking scenery that makes it an ideal vacation destination.
11. Dartmouth College, Hanover
If you’re a history buff and love architectural marvels, the Dartmouth College campus should top your list of places to visit in Hanover. The college was founded in 1769 and holds a rich history that’s reflected in its academic buildings. There are plenty of opportunities to take a guided tour of the campus and learn the school’s history.
Hanover’s Main Street is filled with boutiques, bookstores, cafés, and restaurants that offer an array of cuisine. Among the best restaurants is Lou’s Restaurant and Bakery, known for its brunch and homemade pies. You can also check out Murphy’s on the Green, a classy American eatery.
Hanover is a town that is heavily influenced by student-life activities and the student population. You can head down to the Hanover Inn, where the locals gather and check out community events, such as farmers’ markets, music festivals, and art exhibitions.
Hanover’s location also makes it a great starting point for outdoor activities in the nearby mountains. If you’re a hiking enthusiast, a day trip to Mount Moosilauke or the part of the Appalachian Trail that runs through Hanover is worth considering.
12. Mount Washington Park
The Washington Auto Road, constructed in 1861, is a steep and winding road that covers 7.6 miles of unguarded roads, making it one of the steepest roads in all of America. It has an average gradient of 11.6%, beginning at the base of 1,527 feet and ending at the peak of 6,145 feet.
It is a journey that should only be undertaken by drivers with extensive driving experience, as it requires knowledge of steep inclines and declines. You will need to double-check your vehicle’s readiness, including good brakes, and fill up your tank.
As you drive up the Washington Auto Road, you will notice that the trees gradually disappear, and the landscape transforms into one with boulders strewn about. It takes about 30 minutes to reach the summit, where the view expands over four states.
13. Mount Washington Cog Railway
Another option you have while exploring Mount Washington is taking a thrilling ride on the Cog Railway built in 1869. The journey toward the summit is approximately 45 minutes, and the round trip takes about three hours, including the time you spend atop the mountain.
At the summit check out the Sherman Adams Visitors Center where you will find a small museum, a cafeteria, and the Mount Washington Observatory, a research station that studies extreme weather conditions. The abrupt and extreme shifts in the weather are prevalent on Mount Washington.
Be warned that weather can be extreme at the summit! In 1934, the wind here was recorded at 231 miles per hour, making it the fastest non-tornado wind flow ever recorded globally. Wind speeds exceeding 74 miles per hour are frequent, and rainfall and snowfall can occur anytime throughout the year.
14. Manchester, New Hampshire
Manchester, the largest city in New Hampshire, offers a perfect blend of urban and outdoor adventures. This dynamic city is easily accessible from Boston, Lake Winnipesaukee, and the White Mountains National Forest, making it a prime location to explore different parts of the state.
The first stop in Manchester should be the Currier Museum of Art, where you can admire a great collection of works by legendary artists such as Monet, Picasso, and Matisse. Additionally, it is worth taking a guided tour of the stunning Frank Lloyd Wright Zimmerman House, next door.
As the city rests alongside the river Merrimack, exploring the banks and its hidden gems is a must. The Palace Theatre and Manchester’s City Hall Plaza are worth visiting. Take your time strolling through the Millyard Museum, located within a historic textile factory, now converted into a vibrant business district.
If you’re traveling with kids, the SEE Science Center offers an interactive and hands-on learning experience. Apart from the SEE Science Center, check out the Amoskeag Fishways Learning and Visitors Center, where one can witness the wild Atlantic salmon’s migration in the nearby staircase channel.
15. Isle of Shoals
The Isles of Shoals is a cluster of nine islands, four of which are part of New Hampshire (the others are part of Maine). These islands have a fascinating history that includes tales of shipwrecks, pirates, artisan communities, and buried treasure. The Isles of Shoals have been inhabited by fishing communities for over 400 years.
Today, the islands are a popular leisure destination for locals and visitors alike. Star Island is the only accessible island via ferry boat service from the mainland. The Isles of Shoals Steamship Company in Portsmouth takes passengers to Star Island for a three-hour shore stop.
One of the main attractions of the Isles of Shoals is the Oceanic Hotel on Star Island. It has been a landmark and tourist attraction for more than 100 years. The hotel’s historical charm and architecture make it a unique destination for visitors. The island also has a 200-year-old chapel and buildings from the 19th-century village.
Nestled in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, Littleton is a charming town. With its cute main street, covered bridge, bronze Pollyanna statue, and rich history, this town has something for every type of traveler.
Take some time to shop local at unique stores such as The Nest, Balance Bethlehem, and First Impressions. If you love history and culture, check out the Littleton Museum. Here, you’ll find permanent gallery exhibits and a fascinating look at the town’s evolution.
Don’t miss out on the Thayers Inn Hotel, an impressive building with striking architecture. There’s also The Beal House, which is rumored to be haunted for those who love a good ghost story.
Next up, make sure to visit the Riverwalk Covered Bridge located at 18 Mill Street. It’s a perfect photography spot and a great place to tick off your New England covered bridges bucket list.
If you’re feeling hungry, grab a bite at the Littleton Diner before catching a show at The Littleton Opera House. The Littleton area also has a candy store worth visiting in Chutter’s. It’s home to an extensive collection of candies, including a 112-foot long candy counter.
Just north of Littleton, Christmas fans will find themselves in a magical location when they reach Santa’s Village in Jefferson. This festive amusement park is dedicated to winter and is open all year round. It features theaters, rides, and various characters from Santa’s workshop.
Want to see more covered bridges? Click here to book a covered bridge biking tour!
Nestled in the heart of the White Mountains of New Hampshire, Lincoln is a beautiful town bustling with a variety of activities and adventures. From skiing to moose tracking, and natural gorges to indoor theatres, Lincoln offers the perfect blend of excitement, nature, and art.
One of New England’s favorite ski resorts, Loon Mountain Resort offers excellent skiing, as well as snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and tubing. If you’re looking for more winter fun, head to the ice castle installations in Lincoln. It’s an enchanted winter playground of ice sculptures that provides an exciting blend of art, and snow!
For unique activities in Lincoln, take an unforgettable climate-controlled moose safari with Pemi Valley Moose Tours. You’ll have the opportunity to come up close with these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
After exploring nature, head over to Jean’s Playhouse, Lincoln’s indoor theatre. They offer a variety of shows, ranging from classic plays and music to contemporary theatre pieces.
Feeling thirsty? Click here to book a winery tour in Lincoln!
18. Franconia Notch State Park
Nestled in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire, Franconia Notch State Park and Flume Gorge provide visitors with breathtaking views of wildlife, greenery, and lakes. The park’s hiking trails and natural formations offer an unforgettable experience for nature enthusiasts, history buffs, and everyone in between.
The Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway is one of the oldest aerial tramways in North America. It took its first passengers to the 4,080-foot summit high above Franconia Notch in 1938. The ride to the top on the scenic tramway takes about ten minutes and passengers are rewarded with stunning views of the White Mountains.
The entrance into the park requires a State Park fee. For adults, it is $4, and for youths aged 6-11, it is $2. Anyone under 5 or over 65 gets in free all day.
Specific attractions such as the Flume Gorge, the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway, and the discovery pass (which includes both) are sold separately.
19. Flume Gorge
One of the park’s most popular attractions is the Flume Gorge. The 800-foot-long crack in the rock at the base of Mount Liberty is an incredible natural wonder. The Flume Gorge walls rise 70 to 80 feet above the brook that flows through it, and visitors can follow it on a boardwalk just feet above the water.
Franconia Notch has miles of hiking trails, ranging from easy to difficult. The trails meander through the woods and offer a chance to see wildlife up close. The campground is open year-round and is perfect for overnight stays.
If you’re looking for a place to cool off, Echo Lake State Park offers a beautiful sandy beach and boat rentals.
20. Castle in the Clouds
Are you looking for a dreamy destination on top of a mountain with great scenic views? Then Castle in the Clouds in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire should be your next vacation spot. This classic 1918 manor is an architectural masterpiece that covers an enormous area of 5,200 acres.
The manor was commissioned by Thomas Gustave Plant, who made his riches through the shoe business. In 1913, at the age of 51, Plant handed over his retirement project and commissioned the construction of Castle in the Clouds.
The mansion is opened for tours where visitors get to explore the beautiful rooms with antique furnishings and incredible views. While visiting Castle in the Clouds, visitors must stop at the on-site restaurant. The restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor seating, so visitors can enjoy their meals while taking in the stunning views.
For those who love adventure, hiking the Shannon Pond trail is an excellent way to spend your day. The trail takes you to Shannon Pond, which is surrounded by natural beauty, and you can also get a great view of the mansion from there. Visitors can occasionally spot animals like moose, deer, and other wildlife along the trail.
Storyland has been creating magical memories for families since its opening in 1954. The park’s immersive attractions are based on beloved childhood classics like Cinderella, Goldilocks, and Humpty Dumpty. But what sets Storyland apart from other children’s theme parks is their clever and original play areas and experiences.
Take a ride in a pumpkin coach, a swan boat, or sail in a pirate ship. Kids can also “drive” parents on a track and through covered bridges in an antique car. With a full-sized pumpkin carriage and an immersive Cinderella’s Castle, children can feel like they’ve escaped into a fairytale world.
If water rides are more your family’s speed, the park has a range of splash pads, fountains, and other water-based attractions to enjoy during the hotter months. Even the littlest ones will love climbing aboard the Buccaneer Pirate Ship, which soars high into the sky before plunging back down into a splash pool.
And for those looking for a bit of nostalgia, Storyland hosts a special “Nostalgia Nights” event for adults to relive their own childhood memories.
Where to Stay in New Hampshire
New Hampshire offers tons of affordable places to stay- from rustic ski cabins to historic farmhouses.
Best Place to stay near Lake Winnipesaukee
Sutton House Bed and Breakfast is an historic Victorian-era home, this Center Harbor B&B features an outdoor pool overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee.
The Center Harbor Village Historic District is 6 minutes’ walk from the Sutton House B&B, which is within 15 minutes’ drive of the Castle in the Clouds. Squam Lake Wild Life Center is 10 minutes’ drive away, while the Loon Center is only 5 minutes’ drive from the property.
Best Place to Stay near Portsmouth
The Hotel Portsmouth is located in the historic Haymarket Square area and is just a 10-minute walk from Prescott Park on the Portsmouth waterfront. The Strawbery Banke Museum is half a mile away and Kittery Outlets is less than a 10-minute drive away.
Best Place to Stay near Conway
Kearsarge Inn offers individually decorated rooms that include a fireplace, and seating area.
North Conway Country Club and Mount Washington Observatory is less than half a mile away from Kearsarge Inn. Story Land amusement park is 10 minutes’ drive.
Explore More Places to Stay in New Hampshire
Frequently Asked Questions: Best Places New Hampshire
What is the best walkable city in New Hampshire?
The charming town of Portsmouth is one of the best places in New Hampshire and one of the most walkable cities in New Hampshire. You can find fabulous boutique shopping and seafood restaurants along the cobblestone streets of downtown.
Why do people love New Hampshire?
New Hampshire is so special because of its stunning scenery all year round. The summer offers opportunities to explore the lake region, and hike, while the fall and winter offer chances to experience the fall foliage and ski resorts.
Is Vermont or New Hampshire better?
Neither- New Hampshire and Vermont are very similar in terms of their natural beauty, fall foliage, hiking and world class ski resorts. Check out the top things to do in Vermont!
Wrap-up: Best Places New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a hidden gem that offers a plethora of activities, experiences, and attractions to its visitors. No matter what your interests are, New Hampshire has some of the best places to visit in New England.
Franconia Notch State Park, White Mountain National Forest, Strawbery Banke Museum, USS Albacore Museum & Park, and the Omni Mount Washington Resort are just some of the highlights that make New Hampshire worth visiting.
Plan your trip now and discover why New Hampshire is one of the best-kept secrets in the Northeastern United States!