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Hanover NH is a great town to visit in the Upper Connecticut Valley of New Hampshire, right on the Vermont border. The town’s stunning rural location makes an immediate impression whenever you visit: take in gorgeous leaf displays in the fall, ski cross-country trails in the winter months, hike Moose Mountain in the spring, and kayak the Connecticut River in the summer.
Hanover is perhaps best known as the home of Dartmouth College. Established in 1769 by Eleazar Wheelock, Dartmouth College transformed Hanover from an agricultural community to a center of arts, culture, and learning. Today, Wheelock Street shows the division between Hanover “town” to the south and Dartmouth “gown” to the north.
The combination of incredible natural beauty and Ivy League college has resulted in Hanover being one of the loveliest college towns in New England.
So is it worth visiting Hanover if you’re not dropping off a college student? Absolutely! New Englanders love visiting Hanover for the excellent restaurants and breweries, craft shops, art museums, historic theaters, cozy inns, easy access to the Appalachian Trail, and the first-class baseball stadium.
With its natural beauty and bustling atmosphere, this New Hampshire hamlet is always alluring. Here are the best things to do in Hanover NH.
This post was most recently updated May 2023.
Table of Contents
Best Things To Do In Hanover, NH
Hanover is a great destination for nature lovers and arts and culture fans. Enjoy your day outdoors, exploring the scenic Connecticut River or taking a day hike on the Appalachian Trail. Return to freshen up at the historic Hanover Inn before taking in dinner at Base Camp Cafe and enjoying a theater production. There’s quite a lot to love here.
Our team LOVES Base Camp Cafe, a really cool Nepalese restaurant in Hanover with something for everyone.
Stroll The Dartmouth College Campus
Soak up the history and tradition of world-famous Dartmouth College. Take a leisurely walk through the white brick and brownstone buildings and 250 acres of land that make up the campus of this Ivy League institution.
The college buildings are clustered around the central Dartmouth green, with the oldest building, the white-brick Dartmouth Hall, dating back to 1784. You can still detect the building’s original design and steeple, although it has been damaged and renovated over the centuries.
Other notable buildings include the iconic Baker-Berry Library, modeled on Independence Hall in Philadelphia, with a 20-foot bell tower. Established with a collection of 240,000 books in 1928, the library currently houses 2.5 million books, including a seventeenth-century edition of Shakespeare.
Don’t miss The Epic of American Civilization, the massive 24-panel mural painted by Jose Clemente Orozco, a Mexican artist from 1932 to 1934. Also, pop into the Theodor Seuss Geisel Room — it’s dedicated to alumnus Dr. Seuss.
Finally, spend some quiet moments reflecting in the multi-faith Rollins Chapel, a serene Romanesque-style building with a prayer labyrinth.
Explore The Hood Museum of Art
Set aside a couple of hours to explore the many galleries, exhibits, and events offered by the Hood Museum of Art. The Hood Museum is located in a newly renovated red-brick edifice on the campus of Dartmouth College. And guess what? Admission is always free here!
With a vast collection of artifacts and artworks, this teaching museum contains works dating from 900 BC to the present. Permanent exhibits include ancient cultural artifacts spanning the Assyrian Empire, Japanese prints, ceramics, sculpture, historic scientific instruments, and a magnificent collection of American portraits and landscapes.
The Assyrian Reliefs, pictured above, are one of the museum’s most beloved works.
If you prefer modern and contemporary art, savor works by Ruscha, Rothko, and Picasso, including the latter’s Guitar on a Table. The Hood also showcases contemporary Native American and African art, photography, and mixed media works.
The Hood Museum of Art is the best free art museum in New Hampshire and a must when visiting Hanover NH.
See A Show At Hopkins Center For The Arts
Known affectionately as the Hop, Dartmouth’s Hopkins Center for the Arts is a world-class performing arts venue. Each season’s program of events includes over 100 live performances, theater productions, film screenings, art exhibitions, lectures, and workshops to delight and challenge its audience.
Established in 1962, the Hopkins Center was designed by Wallace Harrison, famous for the architecture of New York’s iconic Lincoln Center. Since its inception, the Art Center has been home to Dartmouth College’s Music and Drama Departments. The Hop has hosted concerts, student workshops, dance and music ensembles, notably the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra and Dartmouth College Gospel Choir.
From 2023, the Hopkins Center for the Arts will undergo a massive renovation and expansion project. Events will occur at venues across the Dartmouth campus. Check their website for the latest performance schedule.
Catch A Game At Red Rolfe Field
If you’re a baseball fan, plan to visit Hanover in the Big Green’s baseball season and catch a game at the Red Rolfe Field. Part of the greater Dartmouth campus, Red Rolfe Field is located at Biondi Park, in a stadium that can host 2,000 spectators. It is one of the best places to watch baseball in NH (though we love watching the Fisher Cats in Manchester too!).
Dartmouth’s Big Green team, who play in the NCAA Division 1 Ivy League, are proud to call Red Rolfe Field Stadium their home ground. Dartmouth won seven Rolfe Division titles and two Ivy League crowns in the first seven years at this ground, setting records for scoring and consecutive victories.
Robert “Red” Rolfe, the former New York Yankees player, graduated from Dartmouth in 1931, where he was a two-time All-American. Rolfe was his alma mater’s Director of Athletics from 1954 until 1967. The field was dedicated in his honor in 1970.
Catch A Movie At Nugget Theater
With the fantastic scenery around Hanover, you might be wondering why you’d leave that behind to go to the movies! But the Nugget Theater isn’t only about what’s on the screen.
Nugget Theater opened on the classic Main Street in 1916 and is still running. This remarkable legacy project is owned by the community as a not-for-profit. Although the interior is still simple and there are only four screens, the popcorn is as tasty as ever, and the technology has been updated.
Today Nugget Theater is fully digital and shows all the latest blockbusters, including 3D productions, new releases, and a selection of art house favorites. Visiting this homey theater is a great family activity; it’s one of the best things to do in Hanover on a rainy day.
Try Nepalese Food At Base Camp Café
Ever had Nepalese food before? Base Camp Café is a fabulous restaurant located in a basement right off Main Street. Inspired by the cuisine of Nepal, Base Camp Café expresses its love for good food and people’s wellness through treating the guest like a god.
Nepalese food is fresh, healthy, and lighter than you may expect. Most meals are vegetable-based with small amounts of meat, if any; it’s very easy to eat vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free here. The family-run restaurant sources its food locally and organically, where possible.
The underground restaurant is warm, cozy, and colorful, a fantastic place for lunch or dinner. Sit back and try Nepalese moms (steamed dumplings), traditional curries, and a variety of delicious chili and noodle dishes. Save space for the luscious desserts, and be sure to order a pot of chai.
Read More: The Best Restaurants in Hanover, NH
Hike Moose Mountain
One of the best hikes near Hanover is Moose Mountain, and you can easily do a loop hike taking in the north and south peaks. Hikers of all levels can enjoy this moderate day hike of 4.1 miles, which will take approximately three hours.
Not very steep, the trail up Moose Mountain offers beautiful views of the Upper Valley’s rural landscape. You’ll need to scramble over a few stream crossings and enough rock to know without a doubt why New Hampshire is called the Granite State!
Notable sights along the hiking trail include wildlife, birds, an old cabin, and some wreckage from a Northeast Airplane crash in 1968.
Moose Mountain (2,300 ft) is the highest point in Hanover and forms part of the southern end of the White Mountains. Moose Mountain’s north and south peaks lie along the Appalachian Trail. Be sure to say hi to bedraggled Appalachian Trail thru-hikers and give them some snacks if you want to be a trail angel!
Wander Through Main Street
Main Street is the center of downtown Hanover, with its classically picturesque brick storefronts and bustling restaurants. Start at the Dirt Cowboy Café, which stocks a wide variety of coffees, and lose yourself in the used and antique books upstairs in Left Bank Books.
There are several opportunities for a shopping experience at both independent and chain stores. You can purchase artisanal pottery at Farmhouse, and Dartmouth gear at the Co-op. Simon Pearce is a beautiful gift shop that sells blown glass and Dartmouth mementos.
If you’re hungry, delicious options range from Japanese and Thai cuisines to American classics and Italian gelato, reflecting Hanover’s diverse population. Visit Molly’s, showcasing items from Dartmouth’s past and good food.
Or try Lou’s Restaurant to look at the display of pictures of Hanover and its people in the nineteenth century. You can enjoy the locally farmed food at Lou’s without taking part in Lou’s challenge – a traditional all-night study session followed by breakfast.
Visit Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park
Art and history fans will love an outing to the Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park, a short 30-minute drive from Hanover. Once the home of famed sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the park offers an opportunity to visit the historic site.
Initially renting it as a holiday home, Saint-Gaudens settled permanently at the estate he named Aspet. He attracted several other artists to the Hanover area, who formed the so-called Cornish Colony and produced sculptures, public works, and plays.
It’s well worth exploring the furnished house and studio where the sculptor worked, strolling past the artist-in-residence’s cottage, and marveling at the sculptures displayed in the galleries. Put yourself in Saint-Gaudens’ shoes: be inspired by the view from the porch onto the mountains and forests beyond.
Make time to walk through the magnificent grounds to discover more of Saint-Gaudens’ beautiful bronze sculptures, including one of Abraham Lincoln. There are also nature trails through the woods that the artist so loved.
Visit The Covered Bridges Of Cornish, NH
Visiting the Hanover area in the fall is a memorable experience as you can marvel at the beautiful scenery. It’s worth taking a 25-minute drive south along the Connecticut River Byway to explore classic rural New England. Whether you’re here during the best New Hampshire fall foliage or another time of year, it’s nice to visit the Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge.
The Cornish-Windsor Bridge, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, dates back to 1866. This still-functioning piece of history spans the Connecticut River between Cornish, NH, and Windsor, VT. At 450 feet long, the lattice-work bridge is the longest wooden bridge in the United States and one of the longest in the world.
There are plenty more covered bridges in the Cornish area, like the Blow-Me-Down Bridge and the Dingleton Hill Bridge, and if you love classic covered bridges, they’re worth exploring.
Take A Day Trip To Vermont
Hanover is just 10 minutes from Vermont, so it’s worth spending a day visiting three amazing sights in this area. There’s way more than just White River Junction!
Explore the Montshire Museum of Science
A 10-minute drive from Hanover will take you to the Montshire Museum of Science. This museum focuses on science, technology, ecology, and nature through 150 interactive exhibits.
Visit the Museum for the architecture alone – the building is an awe-inspiring example of technological innovation and design and houses a section of the exhibits. An outdoor science park is also spread across the spectacular 100-acre property along the Connecticut River. There are opportunities for children and adults to learn, discover, and marvel at this award-winning Science Museum.
Grab Lunch At Artisans Park
Artisans Park hosts eight Vermont businesses and is the perfect place for lunch. Sample local cheese at the Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company Market and enjoy a craft brew from Harpoon Brewery or SILO Distillery. Don’t miss Artisans Eats and Blake Hill Preserve. There are gift shops and unique art exhibits, including a walkable sculpture garden.
The Vermont Institute of Natural Science
End your day at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS), also called the VINS Nature Center. VINS focuses on environmental education, research, and a wildlife clinic to rehabilitate birds. Enjoy a live bird program, visit the raptors, songbirds, and reptiles, explore the forest exhibit, or relax on beautiful guided nature walks.
Ski At The Dartmouth Cross Country Ski Center
If you’re lucky enough to visit the Hanover area in winter, you can try out some cross-country skiing! The Dartmouth Cross Country Ski Center offers ski trails for skiers of all levels and opportunities for skating on Occom Pond.
The Ski Center in Hanover has two bases of operation in its 16 miles of groomed ski trails on Oak Hill and Garipay Field. First, there is the DOC House at Occom Pond if you want to rent equipment for outdoor winter activities and where you can sign up for lessons. The other base is out at Oak Hill, in north-east Hanover.
Alternatively, go ice skating! Hanover has ice skating at Occom Pond each winter and it’s a hugely popular event.
Further afield in New Hampshire are world-famous ski slopes, such as Loon Mountain, Bretton Woods, and Attitash, if you want to extend your visit.
Where to Stay in Hanover, NH
Hanover is a relatively small town. Whether you’re visiting Dartmouth for a college visit or looking for a new fun weekend getaway, there are places in Hanover for you.
In terms of accommodation in Hanover, there isn’t a ton in downtown Hanover — Hanover Inn Dartmouth and Six South Street Hotel are your two best options for a place to stay within walking distance of downtown.
Beyond that, plan on fanning out, possibly into the town of Lebanon or even into Vermont. There are also more options by Dartmouth Medical Center.
Here are the top-rated hotels in the Hanover area:
- Top-Rated Luxury Hotel in Hanover NH: Hanover Inn Dartmouth (Right downtown and everyone raves about the staff)
- Top-Rated Mid-Range Hotel in Hanover NH: Six South Street Hotel (Also downtown, modern and nice)
- Top-Rated Budget Hotel in Hanover NH: Hotel Coolidge (just barely over the VT border, simple but great value for money)
How Much Time to Spend in Hanover, NH
You can see most of the sights of Hanover in a single day. It’s compact like that. This is one reason why Hanover makes a great day trip destination in New Hampshire.
But if you have more time to spare and are interested in exploring the surrounding area, both in New Hampshire and Vermont, Hanover makes a great place to base for a weekend getaway.
Best Time to Visit Hanover, NH
Hanover is a great city to visit year-round. You have excellent hiking and outdoor adventures in the summer, glorious fall foliage, and while spring tends to hit a bit late in Northern New Hampshire, there’s nothing like seeing the flowers come out in late April or May.
And winter is a great time to visit as well! Dartmouth Carnival is one of the best New Hampshire winter festivals, taking place each February.
And for times to avoid? You might want to take a brief look at the Dartmouth College calendar to avoid the busiest weekends of the year: move-in weekend, homecoming, and graduation. This is the case with any college town — hotels will be expensive and restaurants will be packed.
How to Get to Hanover, NH
Hanover is located in the Dartmouth-Sunapee region, a beautiful and rural part of New Hampshire. It takes a bit longer to get here, but it’s worth it.
Hanover is located close to I-89 and I-91. Hanover is 90 minutes from Burlington, Vermont; 2.5 hours from Boston; three hours from Montreal; and 4.5 hours from New York.
If you’re flying into Hanover, the closest major airports are Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (80 minutes from Hanover) and Burlington International Airport in Vermont (90 minutes from Hanover). If you’re traveling internationally, you might find it easiest to fly into Logan Airport in Boston (2.5 hours from Hanover).
Amtrak provides rail service to White River Junction, Vermont, which is five miles from Hanover. This is on the Vermonter line, which runs from Washington, DC, to St. Albans, Vermont, via Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, New Haven, and Springfield.
And there are plenty of buses to Hanover on Dartmouth Coach and Greyhound.
Is Hanover Worth It?
We at New Hampshire Way are big fans of Hanover, and feel like it’s the perfect slightly-off-the-beaten-path destination in New Hampshire when you’ve been to the White Mountains a million time!
Go have a fantastic time in Hanover. This might end up being one of your new favorite places!
More from Dartmouth-Sunapee:
- 12 Best Restaurants in Hanover, NH
- 30+ Best Lake Sunapee Rentals
- Tips for Visiting the Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge
Best of New Hampshire:
- 50+ Best Things to Do in New Hampshire
- 13 Best Beaches in New Hampshire
- New Hampshire’s Best Breweries
- New Hampshire Fall Foliage Guide
- 30 Unforgettable Things To Do In The White Mountains, NH
Have you been to Hanover? What’s your favorite thing to do? Share away!