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Here in New Hampshire, when it gets cold out, that’s when the REAL fun begins! Some of the best things to do in New Hampshire take place during the winter months.
Oh, and don’t worry if you don’t ski! A lot of people think that New Hampshire in the winter is only about skiing — and while we have the best ski resorts on the East Coast, skiing and snowboarding are not the only things to do in New Hampshire in the winter.
Are you looking for an outdoor athletic winter activity? Try snowshoeing, ice climbing, mountaineering, or jumping on a winter zipline.
How about an easier outdoor winter activity? You could try sleigh rides or dog sledding in New Hampshire, or hit up one of New Hampshire’s winter festivals.
Do you want to stay indoors and be cozy? Visit one of New Hampshire’s small niche museums, cozy up in a nice brewery or distillery, try hot chocolate at a local cafe, or enjoy the best of New Hampshire’s tax-free shopping.
Here are the best things to do in New Hampshire in the winter! We put everything we could think of on this list.
And if you’re trying to figure out where to go, don’t miss our favorite New Hampshire winter getaways!
New Hampshire Winter Activities
SO MANY THINGS! Go snowshoeing, take a sleigh ride, go ice skating, take a snowmobile tour, go shopping, visit museums, or just cozy up in a nice brewery.
North Conway is a great winter getaway, and not just for skiing. In North Conway you can go snow tubing, shop at the outlets, visit breweries and distilleries, and sleigh rides and dogsledding are a short drive away.
We love the Franconia Notch area, which is home to hikes for all levels, like the Flume Gorge for new hikers and Franconia Ridge for experienced hikers. Pack your snowshoes in winter!
Your kids will never forget dog sledding. Snow tubing is a great activity for kids of all ages, as well as ice skating and sleigh rides.
Do you really know what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh? If not, it’s about time you learned! Sleigh rides are one of our favorite things to do in the winter in New Hampshire. It’s also one of the easiest things to do with no equipment required!
There’s nothing like bundling under a layer of blankets, sitting back in a cozy seat, and watching the forest whirl by as you hear hooves clop-clop-clop in the snow.
So where are some good places to go on a sleigh ride in New Hampshire? Plenty, it turns out. If you’re in the White Mountains, take a look at Nestlenook Farm in Jackson, which also has ice skating and access to snowshoe trails.
If you’re looking for somewhere in southern New Hampshire, there are several — like Charmingfare Farm near Manchester in Candia, which has a variety of rides on offer, and Stonewall Farm in Keene, which knows how to bring the winter wonderland atmosphere.
Read More: The Best New Hampshire Sleigh Rides
Gaze at New Hampshire’s Ice Castles
Every year, the town of North Woodstock becomes a mystical land of ice and snow. Ice Castles is a national phenomenon — part winter garden, part art installation, part family-friendly outing — that takes place in several states. Though we think the New Hampshire version is the best!
Ice Castles is different every year, but they always bring back the popular activities, including snow tubing, ice slides, ice tunnels, and sleigh rides! Plus the gorgeous castles themselves, and the mystic forest light walk.
Here’s a tip: book a ticket for the late afternoon, shortly before sunset. That way you’ll be able to appreciate the blue tones that you can only see during the daytime and the illuminated creations that are best at night. You can’t leave and come back, so around sunset is best.
Ice Castles begins in January and ends in March, always in North Woodstock, New Hampshire. Find ticket info here.
Make it a getaway: We love staying at the Woodstock Inn and Brewery in winter — New Hampshire at its coziest! It’s right in North Woodstock, close to Ice Castles.
Curl Up in a Cozy Brewery
We are huge fans of New Hampshire’s brewery scene, and even more so in the winter months. There’s nothing like heading inside to have a delicious brew — perhaps a dark porter or a double IPA — and enjoy good conversation with your friends.
So what breweries bring the cozy-on-a-winter-day factor? We can’t not mention Schilling Beer Company, pictured above,a toasty oasis in the town of Littleton that brings lots of European-style beers you can’t find elsewhere in the Granite State.
We also love Post & Beam Brewing in Peterborough, which is all natural wood and iron with big windows and little lights making everything feel warm around you. Peterborough is a lovely town to explore on a chilly day, too.
Granite Roots Brewing in Troy has heated outdoor beer tents! The best way to enjoy the outdoors while staying as cozy as possible. And they have quite the nice beer selection, too.
Looking to enjoy a beer by the fireplace? Candia Road Brewing Co in Manchester, Woodman’s Brewery in Bristol, Kelsen Brewing in Derry, and Woodstock Inn Brewery in North Woodstock all come with fireplaces.
Read More: The Best New Hampshire Breweries
Ski and Snowboard Your Heart Out
In New Hampshire we are proud to have some of the best ski resorts on the East Coast! Whether you’re all about the skiing or you switched to snowboarding a few years back, you will find plenty of excellent ski mountains throughout New Hampshire.
The White Mountains are home to most of New Hampshire’s top ski resorts. Loon Mountain and Bretton Woods are two family-friendly spots with far more to do than just skiing. If you’re an advanced skier looking for a challenge, check out Cannon Mountain in Franconia Notch or Wildcat Mountain in Pinkham Notch, both of which have insane scenery.
Beyond the White Mountains, we’re fans of Mount Sunapee Resort, a bit off the beaten path with many devoted fans who come back year after year.
And if you’d like to ski but not just ski, many of these resorts have plenty of other winter activities to try on-site.
Read more: The Best NH Ski Resorts
Try Dog Sledding in NH
Imagine sitting back in a sled as a team of fearless huskies races ahead of you through the snowy wilderness. But you don’t have to go to Alaska for this experience — New Hampshire has plenty of opportunities for dog sledding!
You have to head north for dog sledding — most of New Hampshire’s dog sledding operators are based in parts of the state that get reliable snow. If you’re based in the White Mountains, you can head up to Muddy Paw in Jefferson, or Mountain View Grand in Whitefield. You can be sledding within an hour of North Conway or 30 minutes of Bretton Woods.
And if you’re on the fence, know that these animals are treated SO well. Get ready for a New Hampshire winter activity you’ll never forget.
Book a Cozy Cabin in the Woods
Is there anything better than curling up on a snowy day, dressed in flannel, reading a book by the fireplace, enjoying a cup of tea or hot chocolate and watching fat snowflakes fall outside your window?
Sitting back and enjoying the snowy silence is one of our favorite things to do in New Hampshire in the winter. Why not rent a cabin in the woods and experience it for yourselves?
There is a wide variety of cabins in New Hampshire. You can find outstanding luxury options that can fit the whole family, budget options that bring the charm, or small cozy cabins that are perfect for a romantic winter getaway. And you can find them all over the state, especially the White Mountains.
Our recommendation? Check out our list of New Hampshire cabins with hot tubs. Because that’s the only way you can top sitting by a fireplace!
Go Fat Tire Biking in the Snow
You may have done some street cycling and mountain biking — but how about fat tire biking in the snow? This epic sport is one of the best things to do in New Hampshire in the winter if you’re looking for an athletic adventure that doesn’t involve skis or snowboards!
If you’re eager to try this out, you can rent a fat tire bike at the Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods. This resort has just about every winter sport you can imagine — and there are plenty of trails to explore in the shadow of the Presidential Range.
If you already have a fat tire bike, the New England Mountain Bike Association maintains well-groomed trails throughout the state, from southern New Hampshire through the Great North Woods. Many cross-country trails are open to fat tire bikes.
Take the Mount Washington Cog Railway
Did you know that the Mount Washington Cog Railway is a year-round attraction? We at New Hampshire Way were surprised to learn this, but it operates seven days a week throughout the winter!
The Cog is a feat of engineering and truly one of the most special things to do in New Hampshire — but there’s nothing like chugging up New Hampshire’s highest peak during a fresh snowfall.
It’s a bit different from the summer experience — it doesn’t go all the way up to the summit (the Mount Washington Auto Road is also closed in winter). But it does go as high as Waumbek Station, where you disembark to enjoy a bonfire, warming huts, and refreshments.
If you’re not up for the journey but want to check it out, Marshfield Station, the departure point of the train, is open year-round and home to the Mount Washington Cog Railway museum.
Make it a getaway: Just around the corner from the Cog is the Omni Mount Washington Resort, arguably the best winter resort in the Granite State.
Read More: Best Things to Do in North Conway, NH
Go Snow and Ice Climbing in New Hampshire
Fancy doing a bit of climbing in the snow? Maybe even upping the ante and climbing a wall of ice? New Hampshire has plenty of options!
Snow climbing and ice climbing are similar to mountain climbing, only dealing with different (and much colder) conditions. If you’re new, it’s best to take some lessons with local guides, who can show you the best spots and keep you safe!
International Mountain Climbing School in North Conway offers a variety of ice climbing, mountaineering, avalanche awareness, and mountain rescue courses. If you’re an athlete, these are one of the best things to do in North Conway in the winter for sure!
North Ridge Mountain Guides in Bethlehem has a variety of courses focused on Mount Washington: guided ascents, ice climbing, rock climbing, and a variety of hiking, plus a lot of cool courses for the summer months like waterfall rappelling.
Eastern Mountain Sport Schools in North Conway offers courses in ice climbing, winter hiking, and mountaineering courses for all skill levels, including badass courses like glacier skills and crevasse rescue! Not a bad skill to pick up along the way.
Find a New Book and Enjoy It in a Cafe
New Hampshire has fantastic independent bookstores and equally fantastic independent coffeeshops. Why not pair the two together? Find your new favorite read at a local bookstore, then enjoy it with the hot beverage of your choice. Two New Hampshire small businesses supported!
Here are some independent-bookstore-and-beverage combinations we recommend:
Gorham: Pick up a new book AND enjoy your hot beverage at White Mountain Cafe and Bookstore.
Go Snow Tubing
Forget having to navigate skis or a snowboard — how about just sliding down a hill in a giant tube? No lessons or equipment necessary? Fabulous!
Snow tubing is an activity for the whole family, but we’re not above going as adults on our own! Luckily, there are plenty of snow tubing places in New Hampshire, many of them tied into ski resorts.
Gunstock Mountain Resort in Gilford, right on Lake Winnipesaukee, is known for family-friendly fun, and they somehow manage to make their nine lanes of snow tubing EVEN MORE fun with a “magic carpet” that brings you to the top of the hill — no uphill walking necessary!
Cranmore Mountain Resort in North Conway is one of the top snow tubing spots in the Granite State, with 10 lanes of tubing down their snow mountain. And it’s close to all of the entertainment that North Conway, one of our favorite New Hampshire winter getaways, has to offer.
Bretton Woods also offers snow tubing in the heart of the White Mountains, a densely packed and well-manicured hill sending you on a fun snowy voyage.
Enjoy a New Hampshire Winter Festival or Carnival
Just because it’s cold, it doesn’t mean you’re hibernating! Granite Staters love getting outside for festivals year-round.
Here are a few of our favorite New Hampshire winter festivals:
Keene Snow and Ice Festival brings brilliant artists to downtown Keene, creating gorgeous ice creations and celebrating with food and music. This festival takes place in early February.
Remick Ice Harvest and Winter Festival brings you historic winter fun from the Remick Museum in Tamworth. Learn how to harvest ice from the lake, take a sleigh ride, see if you can hoist an enormous block of ice, or enjoy winter crafts and food. This festival takes place in February.
Jackson Snow Sculpting Competition welcomes snow sculpting teams from all over the United States to the White Mountains to compete their hearts out. This is where you see the elite snow sculpting, and there are lots of family-friendly activities on site to. This festival takes place in late January.
Hit the Snowmobile Trails in New Hampshire
Did you know that New Hampshire is a major snowmobiling hub? It certainly is! Snowmobile trails criss-cross all over the Granite State, and some winter travelers use this as their mode of transportation instead of cars!
If you’re new to snowmobiling, we recommend taking a guided tour. Several tour operators in the White Mountains offer tours on single or double snowmobiles, including Sledventures in Lincoln and Northern Extremes in Bartlett and Bretton Woods.
And if you’re an experienced snowmobiler, you already know what you like — but we would suggest you head up to Pittsburg, the northernmost town in New Hampshire (and one of our favorite New Hampshire winter getaways if you love solitude).
Pittsburg has plenty of snow throughout the winter, and the Pittsburg Ridge Runners keep a network of snowmobile trails in excellent condition. If you want bragging rights, you can even snowmobile across the Canadian border!
Drive Through a Small Town Winter Wonderland
Some of New Hampshire’s villages look straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting — and that goes double for when snow is on the ground. One of the best cheap things to do in winter is simply to drive around a beautiful area
The White Mountains are magical (and well-documented as such). We especially love the area around Franconia with towns like Sugar Hill, Franconia, and Littleton looking beautiful on winter days. From there you can drive further north to more lovely small towns.
The Dartmouth-Sunapee region is often overlooked, but we love checking out the Dartmouth campus in Hanover and driving through small towns like Cornish, Newbury, and Sunapee.
And we especially love driving through the Monadnock region in the snow. Swanzey, Winchester, Chesterfield, Peterborough, and of course Keene.
But Jaffrey Center may be the best winter wonderland at all, all eighteenth-century farmhouses and rolling hills. You might be wondering if you’re actually in a snow globe!
Make it a getaway: The Monadnock Inn is a lovely B&B right in the prettiest part of Jaffrey Center.
Warm Up at an Indoor Water Park
Yes, New Hampshire is home to several indoor water parks! You don’t have to wait for warm days to hit the waterslides!
There are three indoor water parks in New Hampshire: Kahuna Laguna at the Red Jacket Mountain View Resort in North Conway, which is a full-on indoor water park resort for their guests exclusively; the Hampton Inn in North Conway, which has a smaller but still fun water park, and Skyventure in Nashua, which has indoor surfing to try.
These are very much kid activities — but they provide a lot of fun for the whole family. We may not be able to have winter sunshine, but a splash in the pool is the next best thing!
Read More: Best New Hampshire Water Parks
Winter hiking is a wonderful way to get outdoors — but not the easiest thing in 18-inch-deep snow. Throw on some snowshoes and you’ll be crossing the trails with ease!
Snowshoeing is enormously popular in New Hampshire, thanks to the ubiquity of snowshoe rental spots, the beauty of New Hampshire’s trails, and how easy it is for newcomers to pick it up.
Whether you’re new to shoeshoeing or experienced, it can be fun to join a tour! The Appalachian Mountain Club of New Hampshire offers guided snowshoe experiences throughout the state, as do Alpine Adventures in Lincoln and Great Glen Trails in Gorham — the latter of which offers evening snowshoe tours as well!
More independent? Just rent a pair of shoes and poles and set off on the local hiking trails. We’re partial to Franconia Notch, but there are so many beautiful places to explore in the Granite State.
Do Some Winter Tax-Free Shopping NH
Whether you’re doing holiday shopping in December or looking for discounted end-of-season winter gear in March, one thing’s for sure — New Hampshire has great shopping! And it’s always tax-free shopping, to our delight.
If you love the idea of walking through an adorable New England downtown and perusing independent stores, we love shopping in downtown North Conway, Portsmouth, Littleton, and Keene.
For power shoppers, we recommend hitting up the outlets — the Merrimack Outlets in Merrimack tend to have the best high-end products — along with Settlers Green in North Conway. Tanger Outlets in Tilton are yet another option.
And if malls are calling your name, hit up the Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester, the Mall in Rockingham Park in Salem, or Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua. Yes, all three malls come with Apple Stores filled with Massachusetts residents looking for tax-free deals!
And then there’s antiquing, which is a whole different world of shopping! New Hampshire’s Antique Alley runs from Portsmouth to Concord along Route 4 and features more than a dozen antique shops. Peterborough and Fitzwilliam in the Monadnock region are two antique hotspots.
No matter what you’re looking to buy, New Hampshire is full of treasures.
Climb Mount Washington in a SnowCoach
Looking to visit Mount Washington in the winter? The Auto Road may be closed to cars, but the Mount Washington SnowCoach is how you get up there in the winter!
An SUV outfitted on tracks rather than tires, the SnowCoach traverses the Mount Washington Auto Road up to the treeline, about two thirds of the way up the road or 4,200 feet. At the top you can take photos and enjoy views over the Presidential Range.
And if you want a real adventure, you can choose to descend on your own by snowshoe or free-heel Nordic skis! Now, that’s a winter adventure you’ll always remember.
Try Your Hand at Cross-Country Skiing
Let us tell you something — cross-country skiing is NOT just a second-tier option to downhill skiing. It’s fun, it’s scintillating, it can get quite fast, and it’s a hell of a workout. And it’s very easy to learn as a first-timer.
If you’re looking to try out cross-country skiing in New Hampshire, you’re in luck — almost every major New Hampshire ski resort has plenty of cross-country trails. Additionally, several hiking trails are suited for cross-country skiing in the winter.
So where are good spots to hit up? Jackson has an extensive collection of cross-country trails; they’re some of the best in the state. JacksonXC is a great resource to plan your trip.
And if you’d like to learn from the best, why not train with an Olympian? Great Glen Trails in Gorham offers lessons with Olympian Sue Wemyss, and Waterville Valley Resort Adventure Center offers lessons with Olympian Kris Freeman!
Try the Best Hot Chocolate in New Hampshire
Winter is the season for hot chocolate — but who makes the best hot chocolate in New Hampshire? That questions is largely subjective, but we’re happy to share a few of the top hot chocolate spots in the Granite State.
L.A. Burdick in Walpole is a chocolate shop and cafe that dishes up sinfully delicious drinking chocolates. You can also pick up some packets to bring home with you. Well worth a detour to this town in the Connecticut Valley, a beautiful village that looks like a winter wonderland!
In Manchester, Dancing Lion Chocolate dishes out a thick, creamy hot chocolate. Mayan Heat is spiced beautiful; Creamy Dark is rich and gentle. And you’re welcome to add a shot of espresso if you’d like!
Ava Maria Chocolates in Peterborough is worth a stop in one of our favorite small towns in New Hampshire. This is one of the best hot chocolates around, thick and creamy and delicious. Their motto? “Life’s too short for ordinary chocolate.”
Go Ice Fishing on a New Hampshire Lake
Ever thought about trying out ice fishing in New Hampshire? Considering how many lakes we have in the Granite State (nearly 1,000!), you’re spoiled for choice. Once the lakes freeze over, you can catch some fish of your own.
You can find all the gear you need at shops like North Conway Angler in North Conway, The Tackle Shack in Newbury on Lake Sunapee, or Tim Moore Outdoors, which sells gear and offers guided ice fishing tours on Lake Winnipesaukee.
Every February, the Greater Meredith Ice Fishing Derby takes place on Lake Winnipesaukee — in addition to competition, there are on-shore events and family-friendly activities.
Either way, ice fishing can be dangerous if you’re not prepared, so be sure to read New Hampshire’s ice fishing safety guide before you get started.
Read More: Things to Do in Lake Winnipesaukee
Visit a New Hampshire Museum
New Hampshire has so many delightful museums to visit — and it’s a satisfying way to spend a cold, gray winter day. You know how you’re always saying you’re going to visit that museum someday? Take this as a sign to go!
The Currier Museum of Art in Manchester gets a lot of attention, and for good reason — it has an impressive collection of works by European and American Masters. (Keep in mind the Frank Lloyd Wright houses don’t have tours during the winter.)
We’re also fans of the Hood Museum in Hanover, featuring interesting collections curated by Dartmouth College students; and the New Hampshire Historical Society in Concord, telling stories how New Hampshire has changed over the past several centuries.
We at New Hampshire Way are fans of the small, quirky museums — they are true treasures. Some that are open over the winter include the Mariposa Museum in Peterborough, which features folk art from around the world; the New England Ski Museum in Franconia, which features local Bode Miller’s Olympic gold medals, and the American Arcade Museum at Funspot in Laconia, featuring hundreds of classic arcade games that you can play.
Winter Zipline in New Hampshire
When it comes to ziplining, most people picture themselves soaring through a forest on a hot, sunny day. We love ziplining year-round in New Hampshire — but there’s nothing like doing it on a winter day surrounded by Evergreen trees covered with snow!
Alpine Adventures in Lincoln offers a winter zipline tour covering six zips from three of their most popular tours, a fun tour for both first-timers and experienced zipliners.
You can also zipline through Bretton Woods, which offers a canopy tour with views of Mount Washington.
Get ready to see the White Mountains from a new winter angle! This is definitely one of the most badass things to do in New Hampshire in the winter.
Go Ice Skating
Year-round, you can find some nice skating rinks around the Granite State — but in the winter months, it’s all about outdoor skating! There are lots of outdoor skating options throughout New Hampshire.
Nestlenook Farm in Jackson offers plenty of winter fun options, like sleigh rides and snowshoe trails, along with a beautiful ice rink lit up in lights. Doors Pond in Manchester is another great skating pond that feels so removed from the big city.
But perhaps our favorite place to go ice skating in New Hampshire is Puddle Duck Pond at the Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth. Surrounded by 18th century buildings, it feels like you’re ice skating as people did centuries ago! It’s definitely our favorite things to do in Portsmouth in the winter.
While New Hampshire is full of frozen lakes during the winter months, we recommend sticking to official rinks for safety reasons.
New Hampshire Winter Camping
Winter camping in New Hampshire?! Yes, it’s possible! This is an activity that we only recommend to very experienced campers who have the experience and equipment to stay safe in low temperatures. Trust us, you don’t go winter camping on a whim!
Some New Hampshire state parks offer camping throughout the winter. Monadnock State Park in Jaffrey offers campsites throughout the winter (reservations required).
A little too hardcore for you? No worries. Coleman State Park in Stewartsville, up in the Great North Woods, offers lodges that you can book out in the winter months.
Visit a New Hampshire Sugar Shack
Finally, New Hampshire’s winter season concludes with the start of maple sugar season! Maple sugaring season takes place primarily in March, which some might consider spring, but we New Englanders know it’s DEFINITELY still winter!
There are several sugar shacks where you can learn about the process of making maple syrup (it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup!) and take home some New Hampshire maple syrup to enjoy on your pancakes.
Benton’s Sugar Shack in Thornton, near the Waterville Valley, has been making maple syrup for six generations, and you can visit for breakfast or pop in to learn more about the process.
Ben’s Sugar Shack in Newbury, near Lake Sunapee, offers free 30-minute tours throughout the season (January to April!) along with delicious treats like maple donuts, maple nuts, and maple cotton candy.
Stuart & John’s Sugar Shack in Westmoreland in the Monadnock region has plenty of maple goodies on offer, along with a restaurant and ice cream parlor.
More Winter Fun in New Hampshire:
See all winter in NH posts here.
Have you been to New Hampshire in the winter? What do you recommend?