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Jackson, New Hampshire is one of the gems of the White Mountains. We at New Hampshire Way are huge Jackson fans! If you’re looking for an adorable small mountain town for a getaway, they don’t come much more adorable than Jackson. And there are tons of cool things to do in Jackson, NH, too.
Jackson has a population of around 1,000, and if you squint a bit, you can imagine how the town looked 100 or 200 years ago. It’s gorgeous year-round, but especially during the fall foliage season. There hasn’t been too much overdevelopment here, and it’s a peaceful alternative to busy North Conway, just 10 minutes down the road.
Jackson is a true year-round destination. Like most of the White Mountains, summer and fall are busy times of year — but Jackson is also one of our favorite places to visit in the White Mountains in the winter thanks to the plethora of ski resorts, ice skating, sleigh rides, and the best cross-country skiing trails in New Hampshire.
Another nice thing about Jackson is that it feels very adult-oriented. New Hampshire is a phenomenally family-friendly state, but sometimes it can be nice to have a more adult atmosphere. Jackson has lots of B&Bs that cater to adults rather than families, and most of the local activities nearby are for adults (with the exception of Story Land in nearby Glen).
This post was most recently updated in May 2023.
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The Best Things To Do in Jackson
Jackson is all about enjoying beautiful nature in a peaceful environment.
Whatever you do, we highly recommend making a visit to White Mountain Puzzles, visiting the White Mountain Museum of Art, and having a picnic at Jackson Falls if the weather is nice.
Honeymoon Covered Bridge
The covered bridges of New Hampshire are beautiful little landmarks that offer scenic views and intriguing history. The Honeymoon Covered Bridge is no exception and is definitely worth checking out if you’re in the Jackson area. It’s one of the only two roads into town!
This bridge was built in 1876 and crosses the Ellis River. It features a charming, restored appearance, complete with red wooden paneling and white trim. The surrounding area is stunning and there is a nice footpath to explore.
However, the best part of the Honeymoon Covered Bridge is the tradition behind it. It received its name because local couples would kiss beneath it for good luck. This means if you’re on a romantic weekend away in Jackson, you’ll want to be sure you make a stop at this bridge!
Visit Flossie’s General Store
Right on the other side of the Honeymoon Covered Bridge is Flossie’s General Store. This adorable little Main Street country store is the perfect place to pick up any and every souvenir you need from your New Hampshire getaway.
The shop is named after Flossie Thurston, a town local who was revered as a pillar of the community. It honors Flossie’s legacy by allowing visitors to town to take a piece of Jackson back to their homes.
Flossie’s sells many different collectibles and pieces of memorabilia that appeal to many people. They also support Jackson by stocking lots of items that are handcrafted by local artisans. Plus, they update their wares and decor seasonally, so if you visit Jackson at different times, you might find a new version of Flossie’s waiting for you.
Picnic at Jackson Falls
Heading uphill from downtown, further up the Ellis River, you can find Jackson Falls. This is an ideal place to bring some tasty snacks and rest on the rocks while you enjoy the local scenery and relax in nature for an hour or two. It’s beautiful all year round, even as it gets chillier, so it’s always worth a trip.
Additionally, if you’re in Jackson during the summertime, you’ll really want to explore the falls. This is one of the most popular places to visit when it’s hot outside. On any given day you’ll see people sitting with their legs soaking in the water. Just remember to be cautious on the slippery rocks!
As Jackson Falls is quite an attraction, it can get pretty busy, especially when the weather is nice. So if you want to avoid crowds and just commune with nature, try hanging around the less-populated lower part of the falls and exploring the paths around this section.
Jackson Falls also features a few picnic tables and a portable restroom during the summer months. Just be sure to respect the earth and not leave behind any trash.
Read More: Tips for Visiting Jackson Falls
Stay in a Cozy B&B
One thing we love about Jackson is the collection of bed and breakfasts. These cozy and charming inns offer a welcoming atmosphere, nice accommodations, and a special way to experience the local Jackson community.
The Christmas Farm Inn is a favorite of the area. As you’d expect from the name, it’s festive during the holiday season, but this B&B is a great place to stay all year round! Guests will enjoy the numerous packages available, including romance and girls’ getaway packages. You can find a restaurant and a spa on site.
If you’re looking to experience some true luxury, look no further than the Inn at Thorn Hill & Spa. With decadent suites, cottages, and rooms, as well as a spa, tavern, and restaurant, this B&B offers such a complete experience, that you may never want to leave the grounds.
The Snowflake Inn is the place to go if you’re looking for romance. This adults-only bed and breakfast will go above and beyond to make your couples’ stay as perfect as possible. You can arrive at a room already decorated with candles and rose petals, and they even specialize in elopements and private weddings.
Visit White Mountain Puzzles
A little-known fact about Jackson is that it is home to one of the top puzzle companies in the entire nation! White Mountain Puzzles was founded in 1978 and has continued to grow and flourish since then, without ever leaving New Hampshire.
If you’re a hobbyist who loves puzzling and putting things together, this will be your new favorite store. While you can buy White Mountain branded puzzles online or in many other retail stores, there’s something special about being able to visit them in person.
We wish more small family-owned stores like this still existed!
There are hundreds of puzzles available in the shop. They feature tons of different beautiful designs and are made for all ages and difficulty levels, including a room with puzzles for young kids. A White Mountain Puzzle makes an amazing keepsake from your trip to Jackson!
Visit Story Land
There are a lot of things to do in the Jackson area focused on grown-up travelers, as it’s a prime spot for a romantic weekend away. However, it’s still a lovely place to bring the family. If you do visit this part of New Hampshire with young kids in tow, you’ll want to visit Story Land in nearby Glen.
This amusement park is themed with fairy tales and it truly offers a magical experience right out of a storybook. Your children will love the dozens of attractions, like Alice’s Tea Cups and the Buccaneer Pirate Ship. Story Land is specifically geared toward young children, under age 10 or so, and it makes a great day out for the whole family.
Story Land Tickets start at $39.99.
Visit the Museum of White Mountain Art at Jackson
If you’re an art or culture fan, the Museum of White Mountain Art is the ideal place to go. They offer rotating exhibitions, so there is often something new to see, and their displays are always beautiful and fascinating.
This facility is a teaching museum through Plymouth State University, which gives it a very unique approach to curating the collection. As the museum is associated with the college, its exhibits are often related to recent scholarship and/or feature work from students.
Even better is that the Museum of White Mountain Art is free to the public, so if you’re looking for a low or no-cost activity in Jackson, this is just the ticket. However, they are not open on Sundays or Mondays. Reservations are suggested (but not required).
Go Horseback Riding at Black Mountain
If you’re in Jackson during the fall, you may be looking for a way to explore the beautiful landscapes and take in the lovely fall foliage. If you come in the summer, you might be excited to just enjoy the great outdoors. Either way, horseback riding is the perfect activity for you.
Black Mountain, one of the popular ski resorts in the White Mountains, has guided horseback trail rides available in the summer and fall. You’ll be able to witness the spectacular sights and vistas and observe all of the wildlife that makes their home in the White Mountains.
Rides are $70 a person and are available seasonally every day from 9:00 AM-5:00 PM. Be sure to peruse their age and weight limits before booking. Groups of four people max are allowed.
If you’re in Jackson from May to October, and you like to golf, you won’t want to miss some of the most beautiful golf courses in New England. Surrounded by the White Mountains, these golf courses have breathtaking views from every hole and are incredibly well-maintained.
The Wentworth Golf Club is nestled right in the heart of Jackson Village and sits at the site of the Wentworth Inn, an amazing location for weddings, meetings, and delicious cuisine. All 18 holes of this course offer views of the Presidential Range and Wildcat and Ellis Rivers that run through the course. Green fees range from $35 to $85.
Eagle Mountain is the other golf course in Jackson, and it is just as spectacular as Wentworth with its pretty 9-hole course featuring elevated tees that offer mountain views. This course also boasts a ton of history as it sits on the site of the historic Eagle Mountain House Resort, which has provided lodging since 1879 and has been renovated several times since then, adding private bathrooms, a swimming pool, and the golf course. And if you come during the winter, the golf course is part of a cross-country skiing course! Green fees range from $18 to $27.
Ski Black Mountain
For lovers of snow activities, Black Mountain is a must-visit location in Jackson. A family-friendly, affordable ski area, Black Mountain offers alpine skiing in the White Mountains for skiers of all levels, from novice skiing slopes to black diamond trails for experienced skiers looking for a challenge.
Kids love it here as they can explore and experiment with the calmer trails, and even cruise along some of the longer pathways. Experienced skiers love the rugged feel of the more adventurous routes. Black Mountain has been in Jackson for more than 75 years now.
Season pass prices range from $25 for kids 5 and under to $649 for adults, with huge discounts for locals. Daily lift tickets start at $25 and are posted each season on the site.
Read More: The Best NH Ski Resorts
Go Cross-Country Skiing
Thanks to the Jackson Ski Touring Foundation, also known as Jackson XC, Jackson is home to some of the best cross-country skiing trails in the United States! Offering 50-plus trails of over 100 miles altogether, the entire area is well-maintained and regularly groomed. You can ski — or just snowshoe if you’d like — and you can even rent all the gear necessary through Jackson XC.
Even if you have no idea what you’re doing, but you always wanted to check out cross-country skiing, Jackson is the place to learn. Jackson XC has a ski school with top-quality instructors to guide you through every step of learning this fun winter activity that may have you coming back every year for more.
Take a Sleigh Ride at Nestlenook Farm
If you don’t have Christmas plans yet, make them at Nestlenook Farm! From mid-November through December 31st, this cozy and delightful farm has Santa greeting all guests from a sleigh in their gazebo. And the sleigh is what Nestlenook is all about. Guests can reserve a unique sleigh ride on a custom-built sleigh from Austria, pulled by horses.
A guide will pull you through the lantern-lit forest and along the Ellis River for about 30 minutes, stopping along the way to tell you about the history of the property. After your ride, you can warm up next to one of several bonfires and even purchase a s’mores kit to go with your complimentary hot chocolate.
And if you’re up for making a full day of it at Nestlenook, they also offer ice skating and snowshoeing on the property.
Sleigh rides are $20 per child under 13 and $25 for 13 and up. Ice skating is $7 for kids and $10 for adults plus $15 for skate rentals. The snowshoe trails are free, and you can rent gear at their shop.
Enjoy a Comforting Meal
Of course, you have to enjoy all the food Jackson has to offer while you’re here. You have many options for comforting food after a long day of activities, or just a quick breakfast before you head out for a day of exploring. The town of Jackson takes its food very seriously as restaurant owners know they are catering mostly to tourists who they hope will return again and again. And it looks like, so far, it’s working!
Rated one of the top 10 Irish Pubs in New England, the Shannon Door Pub sits right in Jackson Village and offers award-winning thin-crust pizza, a great kid’s menu, and tons of other comfort food to enjoy. The pub has been serving the people of Jackson since 1953 and has earned its reputation as one of the best.
The ideal sports bar, Red Fox Bar and Grille boasts wide-screen plasma TVs, a kid’s playroom and movie room, and wood-fired everything! You can get anything from organic Shetland salmon to Black Angus hangar steak, and all their food is made from scratch. Red Fox is memorable for many reasons, and so worth the trip while in town.
If you’ve got more time and want to check out additional eateries, Yesterdays, also known as Sarah’s Yesterdays, is the place to go for breakfast and brunch, and the Wildcat Inn and Tavern is a wonderful throwback to the good old days of traveling and eating great food along the way.
Visit North Conway
If you’ve got time, you must travel just 10 minutes up the road to the busiest little town in New Hampshire, North Conway. North Conway Village feels like one of those classic New England small towns with brick-lined sidewalks and hanging signs over every business doorway. Full of color and life, you would never guess this town only boasts a population of 2000.
North Conway is great any time of year, and it is super family-friendly – especially more so than Jackson. You can river tube in the summer or hike to a waterfall. Or visit a distillery, take a ride on the Conway Scenic Railroad, drive the Kancamagus Highway, or check out the view from Cathedral Ledge. In the winter, there are great mountains to ski and even snow and ice climbing — all while taking in the sights and sounds of this lovely town.
You might even decide to simply head south to North Conway for a day of shopping at the outlets at Settlers Green or in the small gift shops and enjoy the food at one of several breweries, distilleries, and coffee shops. If you haven’t been to North Conway before, you need to see what it’s all about!
Read More: The Best Things to Do in North Conway
Visit Glen Ellis Falls
10 minutes in the opposite direction, north of Jackson, you’ll find Glen Ellis Falls, a hidden gem of a waterfall found along a beautiful winding trail that leads you through the forest along the Ellis River. The Glen Ellis waterfall is 64 feet tall and splashes through a rocky ravine into the river below. You’ll access it after climbing down a stone staircase perfect for getting your heart rate going on a pretty autumn afternoon.
You can make this trip in a single morning or afternoon as the hike to the falls is only 0.3 miles from the parking lot. It took us about 10 minutes, not including the stops for photos. Plan to pay the $5 parking fee for the White Mountain National Forest, and bring good shoes for hiking over those stones that can get slippery. Unfortunately, this trail is not stroller- or wheelchair-friendly.
The best time to make this trip is on a weekday, preferably earlier in the day, and you might have it all to yourself. Glen Ellis is not the most popular waterfall in the area, with others certainly outshining it, but it is a nice little bite-sized hike with great views along the way.
Read More: Tips for Visiting Glen Ellis Falls
Drive the Mount Washington Auto Road
Finally, if you’ve come up to Glen Ellis, you might as well travel a few more miles north for one of the top adventure activities in the Granite State: the Mount Washington Auto Road. These 7 miles of road take you through several different environments and ecosystems, from lush greenery at the base to a barren moon-like landscape at the summit.
This drive has been in existence since the 19th century, when it was built for carriages! Today it’s one of the most fun ways to get to the top of Mount Washington — as long as you’re not afraid of heights!
If you’d rather not drive your car yourself, you can book a 2-hour guided tour in a van, where a Mount Washington ambassador will discuss the unique history of the area and give you time to take pictures and enjoy the summit at 4,200 feet. During the winter, you can book the Snow Coach for $40 for kids and $70 for adults that will take you up to the summit on tracks rather than wheels.
For even more adventure, you can wind your way to the other side of the mountain to climb to the summit on the Mount Washington Cog Railway. Keep in mind that this leaves from Bretton Woods, about an hour’s drive from Jackson, not near the Auto Road entrance.
Where to Stay in Jackson, NH
Jackson has a variety of accommodation, but listen to us — this town especially excels at small B&Bs. Here are a few of our favorites:
Inn at Thorn Hill — If you’re looking for an elegant, upscale option in Jackson, this is where to stay. Enjoy spacious, comfortable rooms with thick linens and large bathtubs. The restaurant is special occasion-worthy.
Christmas Farm Inn and Spa — This inn is one of the coziest places around, with big fireplaces. The full-service spa uses Aveda products and there’s an indoor pool and jacuzzi to enjoy year-round.
Wildcat Inn and Tavern — Staying here feels like staying with a good friend in Jackson Village. The rooms have beds with homemade quilts, and downstairs you can enjoy hearty pub fare with other Jackson visitors.
In addition, check out our guide to New Hampshire cabins with hot tubs, which includes several cabins in Jackson and nearby Glen and North Conway.
How Much Time to Spend in Jackson, NH
If you’re just dropping in, you can see all that Jackson has to offer in a few hours. (Though of course you can spend longer if you’re going downhill or cross-country skiing.)
But in terms of exploring the White Mountains, we highly recommend planning for a weekend or longer of exploring the surrounding area, using Jackson as your base.
It also works well for a weeklong trip or even longer. Plenty of people have vacation homes near Jackson for a reason!
Best Time to Visit Jackson, NH
Jackson excels as a year-round travel destination in the White Mountains. The most beautiful time of year is during fall foliage, which usually peaks in early October, but keep in mind that this is the busiest and most expensive time of year. It’s imperative to book your fall accommodation early, as most of the small B&Bs fill up quickly.
Fall brings Return of the Pumpkin People, a Jackson tradition where local businesses build fun, costumed characters out of pumpkins throughout town.
Summer is another popular time to visit Jackson, and is popular for families with Story Land right down the road in Glen. Jackson is an excellent hub for hiking in the White Mountains and exploring the many outdoor sights.
If you’re visiting the White Mountains in the winter, Jackson might be the best base of all! We love Jackson in winter — in fact, Jackson is one of our favorite New Hampshire winter getaways.
Jackson’s hub as a cross-country skiing location and proximity to three ski mountains (Black Mountain, Wildcat Mountain and Cranmore Mountain) make it an ideal hub for winter. But even if you’re not into skiing, we love the romantic B&Bs for a cozy winter getaway.
From late November through Christmas, Jackson puts on the Jingle Bell Chocolate Tour — a fun tour via Austrian sleighs that takes you to various spots in town, each giving you a chocolate treat. We attended the tour in 2022 and enjoyed it enormously!
How to Get to Jackson, NH
Jackson is located along Route 16, about a 10-minute drive from North Conway. As for other White Mountains destinations, Jackson is 25 minutes from Gorham, 35 minutes from Bretton Woods, one hour from Littleton, and a little over an hour from Lincoln (though we recommend taking the slightly longer scenic route via the Kancamagus Highway if you have the time).
If you’re flying in, the closest airport is in Portland, Maine, which is about a 90-minute drive from Jackson. Manchester, NH is about two hours and 15 minutes away, while Boston, MA is closer to 2 hours and 45 minutes away.
Is Jackson Worth It?
Oh, we love Jackson so much! Jackson is most definitely worth visiting while you’re in the White Mountains!
This lovely little town has a way of getting under your skin. And once you’re hooked on Jackson, we’re pretty sure you won’t stay in North Conway again!
More on Jackson and North Conway:
- Visiting Jackson Falls, NH
- Why We Love the Jingle Bell Chocolate Tour in Jackson, NH
- 31 Fun Things to Do in North Conway
- 12 Best Restaurants in North Conway
More on the White Mountains:
- A Guide to Driving the Kancamagus Highway
- 27 Epic Things to Do in Lincoln, NH
- A Guide to Glen Ellis Falls, NH
- A Guide to the Mount Washington Cog Railway
- Hiking the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire
- Snow and Ice Climbing in the White Mountains, NH
- A Guide to Driving the Mount Washington Auto Road
- 23 Fun Things to Do in Littleton, NH
- 30 Unforgettable Things To Do In The White Mountains, NH
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 Jackson, NH? What are your favorite things to do?