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There are so many unique things to do in Manchester, NH! This underrated city is one of New Hampshire’s hidden gems. With so much arts and culture, there is always something interesting going on in Manchester.
Manchester is the largest city in New Hampshire as well as the largest city in Northern New England. Many people come to Manchester to enjoy urban life for a lower cost than
Manchester was once a historic mill town and has since flourished. There is a ton of historical significance in the city as well as rich culture, arts, and entertainment offering visitors so much to see and do.
And thanks to its strategic position — one hour from Boston, one hour from the coast, and 90 minutes from Portland, Maine — Manchester regularly welcomes visitors from all over New England.
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Travel to Manchester, New Hampshire
One of our favorite things to do in Manchester is to hang out along Elm Street and enjoy the restaurants, shops, and cafes. But there’s plenty more to enjoy in town.
You could explore Manchester in one day but you should give yourself a little more time than that if you want to truly immerse yourself in the city. Manchester would be the perfect long weekend destination.
Manchester can easily be accessed by car, Amtrak Train, and various buses. There is also an airport in Manchester and there is a service that will take you straight to the Manchester Airport to avoid taxi or shuttle waiting.
Fun Things to Do in Manchester, New Hampshire
So what are the actual good things to do in Manchester? Manchester is home to museums, historic sites, cool local businesses, and a thriving arts and culture community.
If you love museums consider visiting the Currier Museum of Art. If you love history check out the Manchester Millyard Museum. If you love sports, hightail it to a New Hampshire Fisher Cats game.
If you like exploring cities on foot, don’t miss Elm Street, home to some of Manchester’s best restaurants, bars, and cafes.
For those who want to enjoy the outdoors, spend time walking through Livingston Park or visit Lake Massebesic. Or even hit up McIntyre Ski Area during the winter months!
Below are some of our favorite things to do in Manchester NH:
Currier Museum of Art
The Currier Museum of Art is one of the greatest artistic treasures of New Hampshire, right in the heart of Manchester in a building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The collection includes pieces from artists all over the world, but specializes in decorative arts by American and European masters, including Hopper, Monet, Hopper, Homer, and Wyeth.
The museum is home to an Artist-in-Residence program, and they make efforts to bring art to underserved communities. It’s all about helping people understand the creative process.
A visit to the museum costs $15 for adults and $5 for ages 13 to 17. Anyone under 13 is free.
The Zimmerman House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, was built in 1950 during the heart of the mid-century movement. This unusual house has built-in furniture, large windows, and changes in ceiling heights to evoke spaciousness.
In 1988, the home was acquired by the Currier Museum of Art. The public can visit the house, a work of art in itself, as part of a guided tour, and it’s also home to the Zimmermans’ personal art collection and some worthwhile pieces to view.
The house is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Tickets to visit the two Frank Lloyd Wright houses in Manchester is a dual ticket sold by the Currier Museum, costing $35 for adults and $12 for children age 7 to 12. The tour gives you same-day entry to the Currier Museum.
Go to a New Hampshire Fisher Cats Game
The New Hampshire Fisher Cats is a minor league baseball team that plays at the Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. But don’t think that this is a lesser alternative to the Red Sox! Some of the best leagues in the US are minor league teams.
When you attend a minor league baseball game, get ready for tons of fun in the stands, with games, activities, and lots of cheering for New Hampshire’s baseball team. And you can always tell how thrilled the players are to be there.
Tickets to see the Fisher Cats play at their home stadium generally cost $10 to $25, making it an affordable day out for the whole family.
Alternatively, head to SNHU Arena to cheer on Southern New Hampshire University and their hockey and basketball teams.
See a Show at the Palace Theatre
The Palace Theatre in Manchester was built in 1914 and resembles the Palace Theatre in New York City. This gilded theater is the only one that has survived to this day, surviving since the days when vaudeville shows dominated the landscape. Harry Houdini, Bob Hope, and the Marx Brothers are all Palace Theatre performers!
Today, the performing arts center has shows including Broadway shows like Mamma Mia! and Bye Bye Birdie, ballet performances like The Nutcracker, other plays and musicals, comedians, live music, film festivals, improv troupes, and many great events.
The price of admission varies depending on where you sit and what show you’re seeing but typically ranges from $25 to $46. Don’t miss their other venues — the Rex Theatre, Forever Emma Studios, and the Spotlight Room.
Manchester Millyard Museum
Manchester, like so many cities in the northeast United States, is a former mill town, and the Millyard Museum is an interesting way to explore this heritage. The museum is located right in Amoskeag Millyard.
The main exhibit in the museum tells the story of the history of Manchester and the Indigenous people who lived here. After European settlers arrived, Amoskeag Manufacturing Company was created and became one of the largest textile producing companies in the world. This brought quite a bit of fortune to Manchester, establishing it as a major player in New England.
There are rotating exhibits at the museum, so keep an eye out for future visits. Admission costs $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 12 to 17.
Squeeze Into the Red Arrow Diner
Red Arrow Diner first opened in Manchester in 1922 and has become one of the most well-known diners in New Hampshire. This long, skinny diner looks like the inside of the tin can, packing locals in to enjoy hearty specials.
The menu is quite large, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner with tons of options to choose from. The food is very reasonably priced and well worth it. We at New Hampshire Way are big fans of their fries, and they even have a full poutine menu!
Manchester’s own Adam Sandler is a huge fan and the diner was even featured in two of his movies: Grown Ups 2 and 8 Crazy Nights! And that’s not all. The band Barenaked Ladies performed a song about the diner, and Guy Fieri even featured the diner on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. It was even the answer to a Jeopardy! question.
Like many New Hampshire diners, the Red Arrow welcomes many politicians during primary season. If you sit at the bar, you can see which politicians sat there. (Our editor Kate was bemused to learn she was sitting at the seat of a disgraced former Senator despised by both parties.)
For all those reasons the Red Diner is a must when in Manchester. As it’s a small place, you may have to wait in line — we recommend timing your visit at an off-peak time to get in quickly.
Relax at Lake Massabesic
Massabesic Lake is shared between Manchester and the town of Auburn, covering 2,500 acres and providing the drinking water supply of the region. While you can’t swim or skate here, it’s a beautiful place to relax and enjoy the views.
There is a 3.7-mile walking trail that loops around the lake and it’s super easy. Though popular, it never feels overcrowded.
Lake Massabesic is perfect for a light stroll and enjoying the view on a sunny day.
Visit the Manchester New Hampshire Breweries
New Hampshire is a fantastic state for visiting breweries, and trust us, it’s way more than just New England IPAs! Manchester is full of interesting breweries, and we love how each one of them are so different, but always friendly.
Candia Road Brewing Co. began as a home-brew shop in 2011 offering hops, yeast for beer, equipment, and other needs. Now Candia Road has a small taproom to ensure that all products being sold are as fresh as possible. The beers include stouts, sours, IPAs, pale ales, and more. It also offers an extensive food menu with tons of vegan options, thanks to their vegan chef, including tacos, pretzels, various hot dogs, and more delicious fare.
Great North Aleworks is a 20-barrel brewhouse and taproom. You can choose between 4 oz samples, 10 oz pours, 16 oz pints, and flights. The three main beers available year-round include a pale ale, a porter, and an IPA. The taproom has an extensive beer menu and offers food, cider, soda, and mead.
To Share Brewing Co has both beer and food on the menu. The beers range from ales, sours, lagers, IPAs, and ciders. Food items include Mac and cheese, pretzels, pizza rolls, and other delicious options that go great with beer. All the music in the bar is from the giant vinyl collection but feel free to bring your own if you have any song requests!
2023 Update: A previous version of this post recommend Swift Current Brewing Co which has since closed.
Read More: Best Breweries in New Hampshire
Visit Live Free Distillery
We love the distillery scene in New Hampshire, and there’s a nice one right in Manchester. Live Free is a distillery in Manchester with tons of homemade spirits worth trying.
Some of the drinks include Apple Pie Moonshine, Mountain Top Vodka, Riptide White Rum, Backroads Corn Whiskey, Backroads Flavored Whiskey, and Back Creek Bourbon Whiskey.
The distillery is only open on weekends from 10:00 AM-7:00 PM, but if you’re in Manchester on the weekend, it’s well worth a visit. Bottles of spirits make great souvenirs or gifts, too!
SEE Science Center
SEE Science Center is a museum in Manchester with interactive exhibits, demonstrations, programs, and fun events for people of all ages to enjoy and learn something.
Not only is SEE Science Center fun for kids, but there are also special events for adults. Science on Tap is a program for adults where informal discussions are led between local scientists and experts on various topics. There are various other events and ways to get involved as an adult as well.
To visit the museum costs $12 for anyone over the age of 3.
Manchester Scavenger Hunt
For adventurous people, explorers, game lovers, and locals who want a new take on their city, you’ll thoroughly enjoy going on a scavenger hunt around Manchester.
You’ll walk to landmarks and hidden gems while solving challenges and answering trivia questions. It’s a fun activity to do with friends as a competition or group and it’s even fun to do solo.
You can join an app-led scavenger hunt via this experience.
Livingston Park is a scenic part of Manchester and offers tons of activities for getting outside, exercising, and enjoying nature.
The park has a swimming pool and slide, two playgrounds, a running track, a baseball field, and a soccer field. It also has a grassy space for enjoying a picnic or relaxing.
Dorr’s Pond is right next to the park with a walking trail that circles it. The pond is also open for ice skating in the winter and fishing in the summer, making it as dynamic a four-season destination as Manchester itself.
Ski at McIntyre Ski Area
You don’t have to go all the way to the White Mountains to hit the slopes! McIntyre Ski Area is a popular ski mountain in Manchester. There is a terrain park, a beginner area, and nine trails. It’s a great place to learn how to ski with lessons being a large focal point at the mountain.
The mountain also has a 10-lane snow tubing area known as Thrill Hill with a lift that will easily bring you up the hill for another ride down.
There are nine trails on the mountain, two chair lifts, two carpet lifts, a terrain park, and a tube park. It’s the perfect mountain for a day of winter fun. It might not be the White Mountains, but you can’t beat the location!
Read More: Best NH Ski Resorts
Enjoy Tax-Free Shopping at the Mall of New Hampshire
The best part? All the shopping is tax-free! Depending on where you’re traveling from, this might be a destination to stock up on your favorite brands a bit cheaper. (Say hi to the Bay Staters shopping for their new Apple products.)
Mall hours change throughout the year so be sure to check their website before visiting.
Learn about French Culture at the Franco-American Center
Parlez-vous français? The Franco-American Center of Manchester, NH, is a nonprofit that promotes the French language, culture, and heritage. They offer a variety of classes, activities, and events.
There are quite a few people of French heritage in the Manchester area — you’ll notice New Hampshire’s welcome signs read “Bienvenue” on them — making this a rich place to dive into all things French.
If you’ve ever wanted to learn the beautiful and romantic French language, enjoy French food, or study French history or art, this is the perfect opportunity.
Where to Stay in Manchester, New Hampshire
The best place to stay in Manchester, New Hampshire is right in the heart of downtown. This area is near the Merrimack River and some of Manchester’s best restaurants. You can easily get around on foot, or grab an Uber when you want to go further afield.
The best places to stay in Manchester are below:
Best Luxury Hotel in Manchester: Residence Inn by Marriott Manchester Downtown is one of the nicest hotels in town, with lots of
Best Mid-Range Hotel in Manchester: Best Western PLUS Executive Court Inn & Conference Center has lots of comfortable amenities and great value for money.
Best Budget Hotel in Manchester: Sleep Inn Londonderry is right on the edge of Manchester, with a clean, safe place to sleep at night for a bargain price.
How Much Time to Spend in Manchester
How much time do you need in Manchester, NH? You can enjoy the best of Manchester in a single day, and many people do enjoy Manchester as a single day trip.
And if you have more than a day, you’ll really be able to immerse yourself in the city. It also makes a nice base for a southern New Hampshire road trip.
How to Get to Manchester, NH
Manchester is very easy to get to. Manchester-Boston Regional Airport is on the edge of the city and has nonstop flights to several cities within the eastern US.
A few bus lines pass through Manchester, including Greyhound and Concord Coach Lines. Manchester and Concord are the two hubs with routes all over the Granite State.
Driving to Manchester? Boston is one hour away, Portland, Maine, is 1.5 hours away, and Burlington, Vermont, is 2.5 hours away.
In terms of getting around Manchester, there are several bus routes. Uber is available in Manchester, NH.
Best Time to Visit Manchester
New Hampshire is very much a four-season state, and the same goes for Manchester. Many people relocate to New England for that reason!
Even so, we think the best time to visit Manchester is in the summer months when most activities and events are occurring in the city. The summer months are the busiest time of year, and summer is a great time to explore the outdoors in New Hampshire.
May, June, September, and October are lovely months to visit, and not as hot as the summer. October is when you can expect the best fall foliage; while it peaks in early October in the mountains, mid-October is a better bet for Manchester.
Manchester can be very cold during the winter months, with regular blizzards as early as November or as late as April, so unless you’re used to this kind of cold and have the right gear, we recommend avoiding winter if possible.
Finally, there’s primary season. As the state with the first primary in the nation, New Hampshire gets a TON of political events in the year leading up to the primary. We definitely recommend checking calendars during primary season to avoid traffic-filled streets and secret service convoys!
Is Manchester Worth It?
Of course Manchester is worth it! Hasn’t our post convinced you? Manchester is a vibrant yet underrated city with so much to offer.
So whether you come to Manchester on a day trip from Boston or use it as a base for exploring southern New Hampshire, you will enjoy yourself.
Have a great time in the Queen City!
More on Manchester:
- 12 Best Manchester NH Hotels and B&Bs
- Best Spots for Breakfast in Manchester, NH
- 12 Best Manchester Restaurants
More on Merrimack Valley;
- Best Restaurants in Concord, NH
- Where to Get Breakfast in Concord NH
- Best Hotels in Concord, NH
- 24 Cool Things To Do in Concord NH
- 28 Fun-Filled Things To Do in Nashua NH
Best of New Hampshire:
- 50+ Best Things to Do in New Hampshire
- The Best New Hampshire Breweries
- New Hampshire Fall Foliage: When and Where To Go
- 30 Unforgettable Things To Do In The White Mountains, NH
Have you been to Manchester, NH? What are your favorite things to do?