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Curious about the best things to do in Lincoln NH? We’ve got plenty of tips for you! While many travelers visit Lincoln as a base for exploring the White Mountains, there are so many other cool things worth doing in and around the town as well.
Lincoln is located in the southwest of the White Mountains, right off Route 93 and one end of the Kancamagus Highway. Lincoln and its sister town next door, North Woodstock, are home to Franconia Notch State Park, the Flume Gorge, Loon Mountain, and much more.
Whether you’re coming for hiking in the summer, leaf-peeping in the fall, or skiing and snowboarding in the winter, Lincoln is absolutely worth visiting. Let’s talk a look at our favorite things to do in Lincoln NH!
Travel to Lincoln, New Hampshire
Lincoln makes a great standalone weekend getaway in New Hampshire. It works as your solo foray into the White Mountains, or just one base of many (we also like North Conway as a base to explore the eastern side of the White Mountains).
It doesn’t take very long to explore the town of Lincoln itself, but try to spend at least three days exploring the local surroundings.
Arriving by car is best. Lincoln is two hours from Boston, 90 minutes from Manchester, NH; and 2 hours and 15 minutes from Portland, Maine. There are limited buses.
We at New Hampshire Way love visiting Lincoln in September, after the kids have gone back to school but before peak foliage has set in. Other than that, June to October is peak season in Lincoln, though don’t overlook winter ski season!
Things to Do in Lincoln, NH
Most things to do in Lincoln, NH are outdoor activities. You can expect to spend most of your time outdoors when visiting this mountain town. Lincoln neighbors the town of North Woodstock and they’re practically connected so some of the activities may actually be in North Woodstock but the two towns are just minutes apart.
Below is a collection of some of our favorite things to do in Lincoln, NH.
Explore Franconia Notch State Park
Franconia Notch State Park is the heart of Lincoln and surrounding Grafton County, and it’s home to both the Flume Gorge and Echo Lake (the western one). Many of the best hikes in the White Mountains, like Artist’s Bluff, take place within the borders of this state park.
The state park sits along Interstate 93, which snakes through the Franconia Mountain Range.
Admission to a state park in New Hampshire costs $4 for adults and $2 for children ages 6 to 11 for day use. Keep in mind while in Franconia State Park that there are additional fees for visiting the Flume Gorge or Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway.
The Flume Gorge is one of the most beautiful sights in the White Mountains and an absolute must on a trip to Lincoln, NH. Located at the base of Mount Liberty, a two-mile hike will take you through the stunning gorge, huge walls of granite on each side.
The gorge is a natural phenomenon that formed millions of years ago during the Jurassic Period. As the Earth’s surface eroded, water was able to pass through and create a valley which is now the gorge. It’s a perfect low-stakes afternoon hike and very family-friendly. If you’re tired once you get to the top of Avalanche Falls, there’s a bus that can bring you back to the entrance.
There are a few other attractions at the Flume Gorge, including an adorable little red covered bridge.
Visiting the Flume Gorge costs $18 for anyone over the age of 13 and $16 for ages 6 to 12.
Alpine Adventures is a year-round adventure company located in the White Mountains. What began as a snowmobile tour company in 1997 has turned into an innovative outdoor adventure company.
There are tons of activities to partake in including ziplining, snowmobile rides, and snowshoeing to name a few. The Zipline Canopy Tour is the longest, highest and fastest in New England. There are tons of ziplining options at Alpine for all members of the family to enjoy.
Alpine Adventures also offers safari tours and off-roading adventures in a Swiss Army transport vehicle. You can enjoy these tours year-round.
Other activities include a challenge course, where you’ll go over bridges, nets, and rope ladders. Lastly, BigAirBag Stunt Zone is great if you’re an adrenaline junkie. You’ll take a snow tube down a ramp and fly into an airbag!
If you’re looking to enjoy the outdoors and get out of your comfort zone, Alpine Adventures is a great choice!
Drive the Kancamagus Highway
Starting in Lincoln and going to Conway, the Kancamagus Highway is a 35-mile long road part of New Hampshire’s Route 112. This lovely stretch of road was named an American Scenic Byway because of its natural beauty and history.
Driving along the Kancamagus Highway, also known as the Kanc, you’ll go through the White Mountain National Forest. You’ll have the chance to view and stop at many scenic points along the way including rivers, hikes, waterfalls, gorges, and historic sites.
The most popular time to drive through the Kancamagus Highway is during fall to see the colorful foliage. While it only takes an hour to drive end to end, trust us, you’ll be stopping constantly to take pictures!
The road has no gas stations, restaurants, or any other establishments, so be sure to fill your tank and bring a picnic lunch.
This scenic drive is an absolute must while visiting the White Mountains. And you don’t have to make the entire 35-mile trek to enjoy the scenery. If you have some time, drive along and make some stops along the way to take in the views.
Read More: Ultimate Guide to the Kancamagus Highway
The Hobo Railroad is a tourist railroad based in Lincoln and takes guests on 80-minute old-fashioned train rides along the Pemigewasset River. The historic train consists of restored vintage cars and the rail system is from the 1800s.
The train can be enjoyed throughout all seasons, rain or shine, and journeys run from May to October and Thanksgiving to December. During the fall, you can enjoy lovely scenes of foliage; during the summer, keep your eyes peeled for quintessential New England scenes along the river.
The Hobo Railroad train ride costs $19 for adults and $14 for children ages 4 to 12.
And if you love this ride, don’t miss the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad, one of the best things to do in Lake Winnipesaukee!
Lost River Gorge & Boulder Caves
Located in North Woodstock, right next door to Lincoln, Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves are a very similar attraction to the Flume Gorge — with the addition of caves! Some of the caves are large, some are kid-sized, and one even has a waterfall inside it. We think this is one of the best things to do in Lincoln NH with kids.
The trail to the gorge is along a 1-mile wooden boardwalk that will also bring you along the 11 boulder caves in Kinsman Notch, including the infamous Lemon Squeezer. You’ll explore Lost River, rock walls, large boulders, caves, and waterfalls. Everything is fresh, green, and gorgeous.
Tickets cost $22 for everyone over the age of 4 when booking online and $25 if you’re buying tickets at the door. For an add-on to your admission price, you can mine for fossils, shark teeth, and gemstones at Lost River. Fun for all ages!
The Basin is a bit of a natural wonder anthologized in literature for quite some time. This large pothole has a waterfall originating from the Pemigewasset River that turns it into a bit of whirlpool. The pothole is 30 feet in diameter and made of granite. Scientists believe it was formed 25,000 years ago at the end of the Ice Age.
The Old Man’s Foot is a popular rock formation at the basin and there are various walking paths and hiking trails to explore the area. There are also picnic benches so pack a lunch or snack and enjoy the view. Visiting just the Basin is a quick activity, but if you want to stay longer, you can easily join several hiking trails, including the popular trail to Kinsman Falls.
The Basin is free to visit. Parking is free too, but a bit complicated if you’re not ready for it — just follow the signs on Route 93 for the Basin, and they direct you to a parking lot on the eastern side of 93, then you walk through a tunnel underneath the highway to reach the Basin itself. (Don’t be like our editor Kate who kept looking for a nonexistent parking lot on the west side!)
Hike in the White Mountains
There are a ton of hikes throughout Lincoln, especially since it sits in the heart of the White Mountains. If the weather is nice and you have the time while visiting, you should highly consider going on a hike. It’s a great way to get out and enjoy nature from a different perspective.
Lincoln Woods Trail is a 9.8 mile moderate out and back hike in Lincoln. You definitely could hike a mile or two and turn around if you don’t want to hike the whole thing. Eventually it turns into the Franconia Falls Trail and ends with a swimming hole — the perfect relief on a hot day!
Pemigewasset Trail is a 3.7 mile moderate out and back trail in Lincoln. It’s located in Franconia State Park, which has an admission fee of $4 for adults and $2 for children.
Artist’s Bluff Trail is a 1.5-mile moderate out and back trail near Lincoln. This is an easy hike with a big payoff — an overlook with one of the most spectacular views in the White Mountains.
These are just a few of the many hikes around Lincoln.
Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train
The Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train is one of Lincoln’s most special dinner settings. You’ll take a beautiful two-hour train ride and enjoy a five-course meal. The train station is located in North Woodstock, just over the town line from Lincoln.
The train has 1950s rail cars that have been restored to vintage perfection. The train travels 20 miles along the Pemi River Valley, goes over three bridges, through a golf course, and a Christmas tree farm before returning to the station. It makes for a scenic and memorable dinner.
The train runs from May to October and costs $95 per person for the main level or $120 per person for the dome level. This includes train fare and the five-course meal. It’s the perfect romantic dinner date or a way to mark a special occasion.
Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway
The Aerial Tramway on Cannon Mountain was New England’s first aerial tramway and is the only one in New Hampshire today. A cable car brings visitors up to the summit of the mountain in under 10 minutes. At 4,080 feet, the views are fantastic. At the top, there are tons of walking paths, a 360-degree viewing area, and a cafe.
If you’re lucky, on a very clear day you can see 4 states including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York — as well as Canada! Enjoy views of the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the Green Mountains of Vermont simultaneously, then wonder who makes the better maple syrup.
The Aerial Tramway is located in Franconia State Park just outside of the town of Franconia which neighbors Lincoln. It costs $25 for adults, $20 for youth ages 6 to 11, and free for children under 6. The tramway is open from the end of May until mid-October.
Old Man of the Mountain Memorial
The Old Man of the Mountain was the symbol of New Hampshire: anatural rock formation that resembled an old man’s profile on the side of a mountain in Franconia Notch State Park. Millions of guests flocked to New Hampshire throughout the years to see the Old Man for themselves. His profile is on the New Hampshire quarter and on some highway signs.
In May 2003, the Old Man of the Mountain tumbled down. New Hampshire immediately went into mourning. Years later, Granite Staters commemorated the Old Man’s legacy at Profile Plaza, which opened in 2011.
Profile Plaza is a great viewing point of where the Old Man once stood. Steel poles with sculptures of The Old Man have been put in place at varying heights so visitors can see an artistic rendition of the Old Man where he would have appeared on the mountain. Visitors can stand on footprints that align with their own height to get the perfect view.
If you want to understand New Hampshire culture, this is a great place to visit. It’s located just outside of the town of Franconia, near Lincoln, and pairs well with a trip on the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway.
Pemi Valley Moose Tours
Ever dreamed of spotting a moose in real life? Pemi Valley Moose Tours, based in Lincoln, will take you up to the Great North Woods with a chance to spot these majestic beasts in the wild. Whether you see a small female in the wallows or a large buck with antlers, this is one of New Hampshire’s most exciting activities.
(Editor’s note: We recommend Gorham Moose Tours in Gorham, as it’s much closer to Moose Country with less driving time, but if you’re only visiting Lincoln on your trip, Pemi Valley is a solid option.)
Pemi Valley Moose Tours last 3.5 hours and bring guests into Moose Country on the bus. You’ll also have an expert tour guide who will teach you about moose and how to spot them. Keep in mind that not every tour sees moose; the guides do the best they can but sometimes Mother Nature outwits you.
Pemi Valley Moose Tours costs $40-45 for adults and $30-35 for children 12 and under, depending on the time of year. Tours run from May through September.
New England Ski Museum
Since 1982, the New England Ski Museum has been open in Franconia State Park. There is another NESM in North Conway, which has been open since 2018. The Franconia location is located at the base of the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway and pairs well with a visit there and the Old Man of the Mountain Memorial.
The museum aims to educate and inspire its visitors on the history of skiing by sharing research, knowledge, and various artifacts. It has everything from vintage ski posters and equipment to Bodhe Miller’s actual Olympic gold medals!! Miller is a Franconia native who grew up skiing Cannon Mountain.
This little museum is a delight to visit, and admission is free (donations accepted).
If you love craft beer, there are a few great breweries worth checking out right in Lincoln. Both breweries double as restaurants so you can enjoy a few bites along with your brews.
Woodstock Inn Brewery is more than just a brewery — it’s a lodge and restaurant as well. Brew tours occur every day at noon, where you’ll learn about the history of Woodstock before tasting the beer. There are four pubs at Woodstock Inn, all with a different vibe to them and serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Woodstock Inn also has 40 cozy rooms across the six buildings on the property. Woodstock Inn is located in North Woodstock, which is just a few minutes’ drive from downtown Lincoln.
One Love Brewery, located in downtown Lincoln, has a menu serving innovative lagers, pilsners, and IPAs as well as cocktails and food. It’s more than a brewery with a very extensive food menu including appetizers, entrees, desserts, and even gluten-free and kid options. The shaded patio is a great place to dine outdoors, even on a rainy day.
Read More: The Best New Hampshire Breweries
Go Wine Tasting at Seven Birches Winery
Seven Birches Winery is located in the Lincoln Village Shops and at Riverwalk Resort at Loon Mountain. The grapes used in the wine come from all over the world, but the wine production is done at the resort. (Not that you can’t grow wine in New Hampshire! Many people do!)
You can take a tour of the winery and learn about the wine-making process from the winemakers. You’ll enjoy a tasting of a wine flight, you’ll get to try young wine that is still in progress, and you’ll visit the production room.
If you love wine and need a break from all the hiking and adventure, this activity is for you. Seven Birches Winery has also started a craft cider company called Rhythm that is worth checking out as well.
Shop for Outdoor Gear
Lincoln may not be known for designer fashion — but there are a lot of great outdoor gear shops here, especially right on Main Street.
Lahout’s is a family-run business to shop at during the holiday season or any time of the year for outdoor gear. There are eight locations throughout Littleton and Lincoln that partner with big brands like North Face, Patagonia, and Columbia, among others. Lahout’s has continued to sell affordable outdoor gear for four generations for outdoor sports fans.
Burgeon Outdoor is a brand that sells outdoor apparel made locally right in Lincoln, New Hampshire. The goal is to create a genuine connection between the outdoors, nature lovers, and the economy to help mountain communities flourish.
Sport Thoma has earned a six-time Gold Medal award for being one of the best ski shops in New Hampshire. It has great inventory and expert staff who aim to help visitors find the products they need. They even have a staff Pedorthist, or footwear specialist, who will help you make proper selections for your feet. They do custom fittings, too. If you’re looking for ski gear this is a great place to search.
There are many great outdoor shops throughout Lincoln and the surrounding area. The best part? Shopping in New Hampshire is tax-free!
Whale’s Tale Waterpark
Whale’s Tale Waterpark in Lincoln is a 17-acre outdoor water park with 360-degree views of the White Mountains. One of the best known New Hampshire water parks, Whale’s Tale has lots of attractions for kids of all ages.
Attractions at the waterpark include slides and pools. There is also a large, continuous wave you can boogie board or surf on. They also have a ride with a trap door at the bottom that will drop you onto a water slide. There’s also a gentle area for young kids.
Tickets to Whale’s Tale Water Park cost $50 for general admission and $10 for toddlers ages 1-3 as well as seniors.
Visit the Ice Castles
And now we’re getting into things to do in Lincoln NH in the winter, which is completely different from a summer or fall visit! The Ice Castles are located in Woodstock, just outside of Lincoln. The frozen attraction is built in five locations across the US including New Hampshire, New York, Minnesota, Utah, and Wisconsin.
The ice castles consist of hundreds of thousands of icicles that create LED-lit sculptures, thrones, tunnels, ice slides, fountains, sleigh rides, and a mystic forest night walk. The attractions change every year, so be sure to see what they have this year! Try to time your trip close to sunset so you can experience the landscape both by day and by night, which are very different.
Visiting the Ice Castles costs $20 on weekdays and $27 on weekends for age 12 and up. It costs $15 on weekdays and $22 on weekends for children age 4 to 11.
Snowmobiling is a popular activity during the winter season in New Hampshire. If you’re looking to try snowmobiling for the first time, this is a great place to do it. There are tons of trails throughout the state and it’s a great way to enjoy winter. There are plenty of cross-country skiing trails too.
Sledventures is a top-rated snowmobile rental shop in Lincoln. They’ll take you on guided tours from beginner to expert riders on the best and newest snowmobiles.
Sledventure offers snowmobile tours from $100 for an hour to $300 for four hours of riding.
Ski at Loon Mountain Resort
Loon Mountain is a one of New Hampshire’s top ski resorts with great slopes for both beginner and expert skiers. (In general, we recommend Loon Mountain for visitors to Lincoln as it has something for everyone, while Cannon Mountain is more suited to experienced skiers.)
Loon Mountain Ski Resort is on 370 skiable acres with 61 trails, six parks, and 10 chairlifts. The mountain also offers snow tubing, cross country skiing, gondola sky rides, and snowshoeing in the winter. Another winter sport offered at Loon is Sno-Go, which is like riding a bicycle, but on skis.
And don’t overlook Loon Mountain at other times of year, where you can hike, try mountaintop yoga, or take the gondola sky ride for a view from above, or hit up the bungee trampoline at the adventure center.
Read More: The Best New Hampshire Ski Resorts
You may have noticed that we did not recommend Clark’s Trading Post and their show featuring trained black bears. Here at New Hampshire Way we believe that animals deserve to live in peace, rather than perform for crowds, and there are so many better things to do in the Granite State.
Where to Stay in Lincoln, New Hampshire
Be sure to check out our top picks for the best Lincoln NH hotels. Below are the best places to stay in New Hampshire at each price range:
Best Luxury Hotel in Lincoln: InnSeason Pollard Brook Resort — Located in the White Mountain National Forest across from Loon Mountain. All the rooms are 1 to 3 bedroom suites with kitchens, baths, and balconies or patios. Everything in downtown Lincoln is within a 5-minute drive and the property has an indoor and outdoor pool and hot tub as well as a gym, WIFI, and shuttles to Loon Mountain.
Best Mid-Range Hotel in Lincoln: The Woodstock Inn Brewery — located in a renovated train station in the White Mountains of Woodstock, NH, and under a 5-minute drive from Lincoln. There are 6 buildings on the property all with individually furnished and decorated rooms. Some of the rooms have fireplaces, mini-fridges, and tubs depending on which one you choose. Breakfast is complimentary and there is a restaurant, Woodstock Brewery, 4 pubs, and a spa on the property.
Best Budget Hotel in Lincoln: Inn 32 — located in North Woodstock just outside of Lincoln. Some rooms have mountain views and there is onsite access to the Pemigewesseet River. The affordable accommodation is great for exploring the White Mountain area where there is so much to do. All rooms have Wifi, a tv, mini-fridge, microwave, air conditioning, and a private bathroom.
Read More: The Best Lincoln NH Hotels
How Much Time to Spend in Lincoln NH
How much time do you need in Lincoln? If you’re exploring downtown and considering a small hike or hitting up an attraction or two, one day should be sufficient. But if you want to see some of the natural beauties in Lincoln like the Flume Gorge, the Basin, Lost River Gorge, other attractions around Cannon Mountain, you’ll need a few days.
The Kancamagus Highway, which runs from Lincoln to North Conway, is also worth spending half a day to a full day, depending on how much you want to do.
A weekend trip to Lincoln would be the perfect amount of time to explore the top things on your list. However, you can always spend more time if you love the outdoors and want to go on some longer hikes.
How to Get to Lincoln NH
Like most destinations in New Hampshire, the best way to get to Lincoln NH is by car. By car, it’s a 90-minute drive from Manchester, NH; two hours from Boston, Massachusetts; and two hours and 15 minutes from Portland, Maine, all three of which are home to major airports.
Locally, Lincoln is 30 minutes from Littleton, one hour from North Conway, one hour from Concord, two hours from Keene, and two hours from Portsmouth.
There are limited buses to Lincoln on Concord Coach Lines.
Best Time to Visit Lincoln
The best time to visit Lincoln, NH, is during the summer months if you want hiking, the fall months if you want fall foliage, and the winter months if you want to go skiing and snowboarding. Of course, that doesn’t narrow it down much!
We at New Hampshire Way actually enjoy visiting the White Mountains in mid-to-late September. This time of year has beautiful, clear weather and is much quieter than usual, as it’s after kids have gone back to school but before peak foliage hits. You’ll have early glimpses of bright colors on the trees.
Fall foliage in the White Mountains tends to peak around early to mid October. Keep in mind that peak foliage is the most expensive time of year to visit the White Mountains, particularly when it comes to accommodation, and the region will be crowded with visitors from around the US and abroad.
Depending on the year, you can usually ski at Loon Mountain or Cannon Mountain from December through April.
Is Lincoln Worth It?
Of course Lincoln is worth it! North Conway may get all the fame and glory, but Lincoln is home to even more impressive nature, in our humble opinion. And its great location makes it a fabulous base for exploring all over the White Mountains.
More on Lincoln, NH:
- The Best Lincoln NH Hotels
- Where to Find the Best Breakfast in Lincoln, NH
- 12 Best Restaurants in Lincoln
More on the White Mountains:
- 21 Tips for Driving the Kancamagus Highway
- A Guide the Mount Washington Cog Railway
- Hiking the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire
- 25+ Cool Things to Do in North Conway, NH
- Tips for Visiting Glen Ellis Falls
Best of NH:
- 50+ Best Things to Do in New Hampshire
- 13 Best New Hampshire Beaches (Ocean & Lake!)
- The Absolute Best New Hampshire Breweries
- New Hampshire Fall Foliage: When and Where To Go
Have you been to Lincoln? Have tips to share?