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Looking for the best things to do in New Hampshire? Have we got the list for you! Here at New Hampshire Way, we are a team of New Hampshire travel experts dedicated to helping travelers plan better New Hampshire trips.
New Hampshire is way more than Portsmouth and North Conway — though we love both of those places! — and it’s way more than hiking and skiing (though again, we love both of those too!).
Some of the top New Hampshire attractions, from the Flume Gorge to Diana’s Baths, from Lake Winnipesaukee to Mount Monadnock, from the Conway Scenic Railroad to Strawbery Banke, are the kinds of places you’ll remember for a lifetime.
No matter how old you are, who you’re traveling with, or how long you’re visiting the Granite State, we’ve got plenty of New Hampshire adventures for you!
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Things to Do in NH
New Hampshire is a stunner when it comes to the great outdoors, but even the less outdoorsy ones among us can have a great time in the Granite State. There is plenty of fun all over the state.
Explore the Flume Gorge, take the Mount Washington Cog Railway to the top of the mountain, hike to Artist’s Bluff or one of the many waterfalls, and hit up one of the local breweries at the end of an active day!
Pick out a bunch of glass objects and smash them to smithereens at the Rage Cage in Nashua! Go on the Black Heritage Trail in Portsmouth. And the M/V Sophie C is an unusual take on cruising Lake Winnipesaukee — via USPS mailboat!
Spend an afternoon exploring the best of Portsmouth: the living museum at Strawbery Banke, visit Portsmouth’s best craft breweries, and check out the local shops on Market Square.
And now for our list of some very fun things to do in New Hampshire!
Take a Ride on a Lake Winnipesaukee Mailboat
As New Hampshire’s largest lake, Lake Winnipesaukee has quite a few options for getting out on the water. You can paddle your own kayak, sail to your heart’s content, or even hop on a steamboat cruise — but the coolest option by far is taking a ride on the oldest floating post office in the United States!
The M/V Sophie C is an actual USPS mailboat that delivers mail to several of the lake’s inhabited islands during the summer months. And visitors to Weirs Beach can come along for the ride.
Not only do you get a beautiful tour of Lake Winnipesaukee, the Ossipee mountains rising in the distance, but the small mailboat is able to sail through narrow channels to access harder-to-reach islands.
On board you can fill out postcards and send them right from the boat! On the islands, watch the mail carrier do hand-offs to island residents — sometimes sailing by a dock and exchanging mailbags with a smiling person on shore!
We loved every minute about the Sophie C, and we think it’s one of the best unusual things to do in New Hampshire.
Hopping on the Sophie C is strictly seasonal, from late June through early September. Cruises are two hours and start at at $40 per person.
Read More: Best Things to Do in Lake Winnipesaukee
See Moose in the Wild on Gorham Moose Tours
Have you ever seen a moose in the wild? New Hampshire is a great place to go moose-spotting! While there aren’t as many moose as there used to be, moose tours give you a chance to see these majestic animals in the wild.
On a moose tour, you jump in a bus and head north, your driver showing you the “wallows” where the moose hang out and heading for their favorite spots.
Tour companies tend to have moose-spotting success rates of over 90% — some as high as 98% — so your chances are sky-high. And once you actually see a moose, your heart will sing!
While there are three moose tour companies operating in New Hampshire, we love Gorham Moose Tours for their small size, fun guides, high success rate, and strategic Great North Woods location. Tours from $35, June through September. Be sure to book ahead.
Ride the Mount Washington Cog Railway
Mount Washington is not only New Hampshire’s highest peak, it’s the tallest mountain in the northeast United States (6,288 feet/1,916 meters). And while you can climb the mountain, or drive to the top, there’s nothing like taking “the Cog” — the Mount Washington Cog Railway.
The Cog was the first mountain-climbing railway in the world — and the only one that still exists in North America today. Get into your curiously angled seat on the old-fashioned train and soon you’ll be chugging up the mountain past scraggly trees and wildflowers.
Climbing the mountain as steeply as 38 degrees in points, this is the second-steepest railway on the planet. On your climb, your guide will tell you all about this railway’s history. P.T. Barnum called it the second greatest show on Earth!
Once at the summit, you’ll have an hour to explore the surrounding landscape. If you’re lucky, you’ll get views of the surrounding Presidential Range — but even if it’s a typical cloudy, windy day at the summit, there’s no better way to get there! We think the Cog is one of the best New Hampshire attractions.
Not up for the Cog? Consider driving to the top of Mount Washington instead, and earning the right to display one of the THIS CAR CLIMBED MOUNT WASHINGTON bumper stickers that are ubiquitous throughout New England.
Read More: A Guide to the Mount Washington Cog Railway
Visit Madame Sherri Forest
One of the most mysterious places in New Hampshire is Madame Sherri Forest, located in Chesterfield, a stone’s throw from the Vermont border in Chesterfield, New Hampshire. Set on 513 acres on the slope of Wantastiquet Mountain (Rattlesnake Mountain), some of which lead all the way to Mount Monadnock.
People come here for the hiking trails, but the showstopper of the place is Madame Sherri Castle. Madame Antoinette Sherri, a costume designer from Paris, built a French-inspired stone house in the Chesterfield Forest in the early 1900s. She and her husband were socialites known for their epic parties.
Over time, Madame Sherri lost her fortune, and the house fell into decline. In 1963, it burned down. All that remains is a stone staircase perched among the trees. It makes an excellent Instagram backdrop, especially if you’re aiming for a spooky shoot.
The castle is a short walk from the parking lot on Gulf Road. Please don’t walk on the staircase; it partially collapsed in 2021.
Explore Downtown Keene
The White Mountains, Lakes Region, and Seacoast might get most of the attention in New Hampshire — but one of the nicest towns in New Hampshire, Keene, happens to be nestled in the southwest corner of the state. It’s not as popular as Portsmouth or North Conway — but people who know Keene know how special it is.
Main Street in downtown Keene is simultaneously a New England throwback and thoroughly modern, with pho shops and microbreweries sharing space with bed and breakfasts and Keene State College’s buildings. There’s even an advertisement for Parrish Shoes on one brick wall — a throwback to Robin Williams and the film Jumanji, which was filmed in Keene.
Don’t miss the Urban Exchange, a secondhand shop featuring high-end women’s clothing, even one rack devoted to cashmere. Hannah Grimes Marketplace features unique items and gifts, all made within 150 miles of Keene.
As far as food goes, we’re huge fans of Lindy’s Diner, serving up breakfast to locals and would-be presidents alike. Prime Roast Coffee dishes up excellent lattes and pastries. If you’re into beer, we highly recommend a stop at Modestman Brewing and Elm City Brewing — the latter of which also dishes up a tasty cajun chicken and sausage plate.
We wouldn’t be surprised if Keene is the next great weekend destination for New Englanders — especially if you pair it with exploring the Monadnock region.
Read More: 27 Cool Things to Do in Keene, NH
Drive the Kancamagus Highway
If you’re looking for a scenic drive in New Hampshire, look no further than the Kancamagus Highway. Winding through the White Mountains from Lincoln to Conway, this is perhaps the best drive in the Granite State, taking you past waterfalls, gorges, and stunning viewpoint after stunning viewpoint.
The Kancamagus Highway, affectionately known to locals as the Kanc, is 34.5 miles long. You could drive it from start to finish in about an hour if you wanted to. But the magic here is stopping at the outdoor sites along the way, from Sabbaday Falls to Rocky Gorge to the Albany Covered Bridge.
You can safely drive the Kancamagus Highway year-round, but there’s nothing like doing it in the fall when the leaves are changing. This is arguably the perfect place to view fall foliage in New Hampshire! (Just know that fall is when the Kanc is at its busiest!)
We recommend driving the Kanc with an audio guide to learn about the area while driving hands-free. This one is connected to your GPS and narrates based on your current location, which is a nice way to enjoy the drive.
Soak Up the Sun at Hampton Beach
If you’re looking for a fun beach getaway, Hampton Beach is New Hampshire’s seaside playground! Come here to explore the best of the New Hampshire seacoast — with a side of good kitschy fun.
When most locals think of Hampton Beach, they think of the arcades, fried seafood, live music shows at the Hampton Casino Ballroom, the sand sculpting festival over Labor Day Weekend, and lots of family and friends enjoying their time together.
If you’re looking to kick back and relax, you can stake out a spot on the beach and luxuriate; you can also use Hampton Beach as a base for exploring the Seacoast, from the excellent breweries to chilled out Rye and funky Portsmouth.
Hampton Beach State Park technically includes the entire beach zone, as well as a campground further south. The Atlantic Ocean can be on the chilly side, but all the local New Englanders will assure you that it’s worth it!
Read More: The Best Beaches in New Hampshire
Hike to Artist’s Bluff
Most hikes have a trade-off of some kind. The most beautiful hikes are often extremely challenging, long, or tough to access; the easier hikes often don’t have scintillating views.
However, Artist’s Bluff in Franconia Notch State Park breaks all the molds. It has an incredible view for a payoff — one of the best views in the White Mountains, in our opinion — but it’s a simple easy-to-moderate hike, one that you can easily access just off 93.
The trail is 1.5 miles altogether and we recommend doing it counterclockwise — the scramble up a brief rocky area is easier going up than down. Get there in the late afternoon for beautiful light across Echo Lake and Franconia Notch.
If you’re interested in hiking but don’t have a lot of hiking experience, we heartily endorse Artist’s Bluff. Perhaps this will be your gateway to more hikes in the White Mountains!
Explore the Flume Gorge
If you enjoy waterfalls, geology, plants, or beautiful places where Mother Nature seems to be showing off, you will love the Flume Gorge. This natural wonder is one of the highlights of Franconia Notch State Park, easily one of the best parts of the White Mountains.
The Flume Gorge is a natural passageway between two enormous walls of granite, set at the base of Mount Liberty in Franconia Notch State Park in Lincoln. Through the gorge, you walk along wooden pathways and staircases, ascending to the source of the rushing water until you reach Avalanche Falls.
The White Mountains are full of beautiful places to visit, but the Flume Gorge is one of our favorites. Greenery seems to spring up from every spare piece of Earth, and the air is misty and fresh. It’s also one of our favorite spots for Instagram photos.
There are several other attractions at the Flume Gorge: the Flume Covered Bridge, one of the loveliest small covered bridges in the state; the Wolf Den, a cave you can crawl through; and the Glacial Boulders, some of these enormous rocks dating back 25,000 years.
Read More: 27 Epic Things to Do in Lincoln, NH
Attend a Powwow
When most Americans think of experiencing Native American culture on their travels, they head to the Southwest or the Plains. But you can absolutely experience Native American culture in New England — and one great way to do so is to attend a powwow in New Hampshire!
Powwows are celebrations of local Indigenous culture, featuring dancing, music, and celebration. They are generally open for all to attend, and you’ll meet people from dozens of tribal nations throughout North America. It’s like a big family reunion of interesting people.
In New Hampshire, our team enjoyed a powwow put on by the Laconia Indian Historical Association in Sanbornton in the Lakes Region. You can also check out the event calendar of the Ko’asek Abenaki Nation and see what’s going on at the Mt. Kearsage Indian Museum in Warner. Dartmouth College puts on a local powwow too.
You can see a full schedule of New Hampshire powwows here. Bring your comfiest shoes and be ready to talk to everyone!
Stroll the Gardens at Saint-Gaudens National Historic Park
Looking for a true hidden gem in New Hampshire? Just a stone’s through from Vermont in the town of Cornish, Saint-Gaudens National Historic Park celebrates the life of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, one of America’s greatest sculptors.
Saint-Gaudens lived in Cornish from 1885 until his death in 1907. He was best known for his works commemorating hero’s of the American Civil War, including Abraham Lincoln, the sculpture of whom is on the premises at Saint-Gaudens today.
At the park you can see several of Saint-Gaudens’ bronze sculptures and visit Aspet, his glorious, idyllic country home. There are hiking trails through the woods and even a small cottage for the artist-in-residence. It’s the perfect place for an afternoon getaway from Dartmouth or Lake Sunapee.
The Dartmouth-Sunapee region may be one of the undersold regions of New Hampshire — but Saint-Gaudens shows that this is a region worth visiting.
Ski and Snowboard the Slopes
Dreaming of fresh powder? New Hampshire is one of the best skiing and snowboarding destinations on the East Coast! Whether you’re a seasoned skier or looking to take your first lessons, New Hampshire has resorts that cater to all levels. See our full ski resort guide here.
If you’re looking to splurge, head to Bretton Woods, right in the heart of the White Mountains. This upscale resort is the largest ski zone in the Granite State, with 63 trails on 464 acres, and we think the scenery is among the very best in New England.
We’re also a big fan of Mount Sunapee, further south in the Dartmouth-Sunapee region. Far away from the attractions of the White Mountains, Sunapee is all about ski and sun and has a huge network of trails to explore.
Loon Mountain, near Lincoln, and Attitash, near North Conway, make great options if you want to mix skiing with enjoying the winter activities of the White Mountains, from Ice Castles to snowmobile tours to shopping and dining.
New Hampshire’s ski season runs from mid-November through mid-April (if the snow cooperates!), so you can spend almost half the year on the slopes!
Read More: The Ultimate Guide to NH Ski Resorts
Try a Pancake Flight at Polly’s Pancake Parlor
If you’re a pancake fan in the slightest, there’s a place in Sugar Hill waiting for you: Polly’s Pancake Parlor. This legendary pancake house has been dishing up flapjacks for more than 80 years.
You can mix and match different pancake batters — including classic buttermilk, cornmeal, gingerbread, and gluten-free — with fillings like blueberries, walnuts, and chocolate chips.
Can’t decide? Get a pancake flight! Three different pancakes on your plate. Go with the classic New Hampshire maple syrup, or try Polly’s homemade maple cream.
And if you’re not into pancakes, there are plenty of other options on the menu: omelets, waffles, Eggs Benedict, quiches, and lunch sandwiches.
We are huge fans of the cornmeal coconut pancakes and highly recommend going for lunch on a weekday to avoid the crowds.
Bring the Kids to Story Land
If you have young kids, one of the best places you can take them in New Hampshire is Story Land. Located in Glen, near Jackson in the White Mountains, Story Land is a small, sweet, and manageable amusement park built with young families in mind.
Story Land is built beautifully into its forested surroundings, and most of the attractions are built around fairy tales. You can ride in Cinderella’s pumpkin coach, fly in a Dutch wooden shoe, or sail through the Arctic on the Polar Coaster.
When so many theme parks try to push extreme rides and nonstop ads, Story Land is a wonderful, relaxed throwback. Just feeding the goats at Heidi’s home or sitting with Humpty Dumpty can be the highlight of the day — though there’s the Bamboo Chutes flume ride when you need a kid-sized dose of adrenaline!
Story Land is best suited for elementary school-aged kids, preschoolers, and toddlers. You can see the bulk of the sites in a half day visit, getting back in time for nap time.
Go on a Snowmobiling Adventure
Interested in snowmobiling? New Hampshire has more than 7,000 miles worth of snowmobile trails for you to explore! Thanks to New Hampshire’s long winter season, you can zoom through the mountains and valleys from November through April.
One of the best areas for snowmobiling in New Hampshire is in Pittsburg, up in the North Country at the very top of the state. For bragging rights, you can even snowmobile across the Canadian border into Quebec!
Other than that, the state is covered with trails. The Mount Washington Valley a favorite spot — especially parts of Crawford Notch that close to traffic over the winter.
Spend a Day in Downtown Portsmouth
We at New Hampshire Way are huge fans of Portsmouth — it’s a beautiful city with lots to do, excellent shopping, restaurants, and bars. Whether you come for a weekend or just a day trip from Boston or Portland, there is so much to enjoy here!
Start in the Market Square area and hit up Cup of Joe for a coffee and pastry (we love their lavender latte). Check out the surrounding shops — we recommend RiverRun Bookstore for your latest read, Attrezzi Fine Kitchen Accessories for upscale kitchenware, G. Willikers for wonderful toys, and Off Piste for weird and quirky gifts you won’t find anywhere else.
Head back in time at Strawbery Banke, a living museum of 300 years of Portsmouth history, where the actors fully commit to their roles. We think it’s one of the best things to do in Portsmouth for history fans. Alternatively, take a harbor cruise along the water, exploring the coast of New Hampshire and Maine.
We recommend checking out The Black Trumpet, Durbar Square, or one of the other best Portsmouth NH restaurants for a meal to remember. And we love the brewery scene here — you can’t beat the outdoor area at Great Rhythm or the ever-changing selection at Portsmouth Brewery!
Finally, don’t miss live music at one of the local bars or Portsmouth’s Music Hall.
You might come to Portsmouth on a whim — but we think you’ll be hooked.
Read More: Fun Things to Do in Portsmouth, NH
Take a Scenic Railroad Ride
At first glance it looks like New Hampshire has no trains — take a look at a rail map and the only commuter train briefly skims along the Seacoast between Boston and Portland. But New Hampshire still has many working railroad tracks that have been repurposed to scenic railroad journeys.
The Conway Scenic Railroad is one of the most famous New Hampshire attractions, and for good reason. This North Conway-based journey takes you up through Crawford Notch with gorgeous views throughout the White Mountains. A variety of journeys are available — but if you’re a train enthusiast, you’ll love the five-hour Mountaineer journey!
The Hobo Railroad, based in Lincoln, takes you on an 80-minute train ride along the Pemigewasset River and through the White Mountains in restored vintage train cars. Alternatively, take Lincoln’s Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train for a two-hour train ride and five-course meal.
Not to be outdone, you can take a scenic train ride through the Lakes Region. The Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad has journeys from Meredith (two hours) or Weirs Beach (one hour) along the western edge of Lake Winnipesaukee, turning around in Lakeport.
While we wish New Hampshire had a more extensive train network for public transportation, we’re happy to have these scenic train tours in the Granite State.
Whatever you do, we recommend booking as far ahead as possible for fall foliage season, as they often sell out.
Visit the Currier Museum of Art
Manchester, New Hampshire’s largest city, is home to some excellent cultural treasures. Perhaps the best is the Currier Museum of Art, housed in a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building and home to a truly astounding collection of works.
The Currier Museum particularly excels when it comes works by American and European masters like Monet, Hopper, Wyeth, and Homer. But more than that, the museum’s mission is to bring art to diverse audiences — including underserved communities — and teach art as a way to understand the creative process in all fields.
For an extra treat, book a tour to visit the Zimmerman and Kalil Houses, two Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes in Manchester. This tour, which has limited time slots, includes admission to the Currier Museum with your ticket.
Stay in a Cozy Bed and Breakfast
Is there any better way to wake up in New Hampshire than lying in a cozy bed in a small country town, a hearty home-cooked breakfast awaiting you? It may be a New England stereotype, but it’s good one.
New Hampshire has so many wonderful bed and breakfasts all over the state. They range from very affordable to sky-high luxury, so there’s something for everyone.
We love Kinsman Lodge Bed and Breakfast in Franconia, New Hampshire. Owner Sue takes all her guests under her wing, remembering everyone’s names and backstories, and making sure everyone stays safe while hiking! It’s easy to wile away the hours on the front porch. This B&B is great value for money.
If you want to stay in a perfect Norman Rockwell village, we love the Monadnock Inn in Jaffrey Center, a town that looks like it was built inside a snow globe. The cozy rooms and wraparound porch make a wonderful respite after a day of climbing Mount Monadnock or antiquing in Peterborough.
And if money is no object, The Manor on Golden Pond in Holderness brings the luxury B&B treatment, with rich bed linens, in-room fireplaces, jacuzzis, delicious cookie treats after meals, and views over Squam Lake.
Visit New Hampshire Breweries
If you enjoy craft beer, you are going to love New Hampshire. We are huge fans of the interesting brewing scene in New Hampshire — and they make way more than just New England IPAs.
So which breweries are worth visiting? There are several dozen throughout the Granite State, and our team has been to most of them, collectively tasting a few hundred beers. Here are a few of our favorites:
Down in Monadnock, we love Branch & Blade Brewing in Keene for their incredibly creative, often bizarre, ever-changing beers, and Post & Beam Brewing in Peterborough for its full-flavored beers and cozy atmosphere.
In the Lakes Region, we love the welcoming, family-run Woodman’s Brewery, set in a cottage in the woods in Bristol, and Twin Barns Brewing in Meredith, with its outdoor patio and board game collection plus fun beers making for a nice afternoon.
Located in the Merrimack Valley, White Birch Brewing in Nashua is an absolute must for sour beer fans, because nobody else in New Hampshire does sours like these! And Candia Road Brewing Co. in Manchester serves a clever collection of rotating brews alongside plenty of vegan food options, next to a piano and fireplace.
Along the Seacoast, we love sitting outside on the farm at Throwback Brewery in North Hampton, arguably one of the best outdoor breweries in New Hampshire, and trying their outlandish and classic beers. Portsmouth Brewery in Portsmouth is a classic for a reason, and over the years we’ve never had a bad beer there.
But that’s just a fraction of what New Hampshire has to offer.
Read More: The Best New Hampshire Breweries
Pay Tribute to the Old Man of the Mountain
The Old Man of the Mountain was one of New Hampshire’s most recognizable symbols — a rock ledge shaped exactly like a man’s profile. You’ll find the Old Man on everything from road signs to souvenir mugs.
When the Old Man crumbled unexpectedly in 2003, it felt like all of New Hampshire went into mourning. But by today, the Old Man has been memorialized beautifully throughout the state.
The Old Man of the Mountain Memorial in Franconia allows you to stand at a spot based on your height and squint at a sculpture that adds the Old Man’s face back to the mountain.
At the same time, the free Old Man of the Mountain Museum at the base of the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway gives you plenty of history and information about this New Hampshire landmark.
The Old Man may be gone — but he’ll never be forgotten.
Sit at the Counter at an Old-Fashioned Diner
Which state has the best diners? (Well, just asking that question is a good way to get into an argument with New Jersey.) But New Hampshire has some of the best diners in the nation. Rather than going modern, these diners have chosen to embrace vintage style, making them as Instagrammable as they are delicious.
So which diners in New Hampshire are worth visiting? Plenty.
We love the Red Arrow Diner in Manchester, set in a long, narrow tin can that can barely fit seats beyond the counter. You’ll find diner favorites on the menu, plus an excellent selection of poutine made with their extra-crispy French fries.
You’ll notice the bubblegum-pink Tilt’n Diner in Tilton from a mile away! This diner brings on the retro decor and serves breakfast to an affable crowd of New Hampshire regulars in the Lakes Region.
The Peterborough Diner in Peterborough is set in an emerald-green train car that was once a Worcester Lunch Car from the 1950s. They make a great French toast and have a gluten-free version, too!
And then there’s Lindy’s Diner in Keene. They say the road to the White House goes through Lindy’s Diner — and indeed, many presidential candidates stop there. Be sure to try their chicken-fried steak and gravy, a southern favorite that’s tough to find in New England.
Climb Mount Monadnock
One of the most climbed mountains in the world happens to be in New Hampshire: Mount Monadnock! This mountain, in the southwest of the state, is 3,165 feet tall (964 meters) can be safely climbed by novice hikers and even kids.
Mount Monadnock is part of Monadnock State Park in Jaffrey. Just under two hours’ drive from Boston, Mount Monadnock draws outdoorsy people from all over New England. It’s a great first mountain to climb, and you’ll have many first-time-climbers among you.
There are several routes up Mount Monadnock, but most popular climb from Mount Monadnock headquarters should take about 2-2.5 hours up and 1.5-2 hours down. If you’re climbing with kids, be prepared for it to take longer. We recommend starting after breakfast to enjoy a picnic at the summit.
Be sure to bring enough food and more water than you think you need (there are no facilities on the mountain). The views from the summit with spellbind you, especially on a clear day. Once you’ve tackled Monadnock, you might be ready for one of New Hampshire’s 4000-footers!
Reward yourself with a beer at one of the excellent breweries in the Keene area.
Tour the Black Heritage Trail in Portsmouth
The Black Heritage Trail aims to tell New Hampshire’s forgotten stories — ones that are too often swept under the rug in one of America’s whitest states. On this cultural journey, you will learn about the Black New Englanders that left an imprint on Portsmouth, from those who were enslaved to leaders of the Civil Rights Movement.
The guided tours of the Black Heritage Trail are outstanding — and rather than one universal tour, there are several different tours given throughout the year. You could learn about the lives of Black seafarers, or the history of the abolition movement in Portsmouth, or stories of Black families in households that included both enslaved and free people. It’s easily one of the best things to do in Portsmouth, NH.
You can also take a self-guided tour right on your smartphone. The trail winds you through the city from Governor John Langdon House to the African Burying Ground, and plaques along the way share the history with you.
Be sure to check the Black Heritage Trail’s calendar for ongoing events — talks, lectures, poetry readings, as well as the annual Juneteenth celebration. Their team is doing some of the best historic events in New Hampshire!
With endless evergreen forests, tall rising mountains, and lakes around every corner, New Hampshire makes a wonderful destination for camping. We grew up camping in New Hampshire and it makes a wonderful way to enjoy the nature of the Granite State!
New Hampshire is home to dozens of campgrounds, 23 of which are at New Hampshire State Parks. Before you book, consider what kind of trip you want to have. Do you want to be close to local attractions, or stay in the woods the whole time? Are you a tent, camper, RV camper, or are you looking for cabins?
We especially love camping in the White Mountains, but there are campgrounds all over the state — even within the city limits of Manchester!
If you’re looking to get away from everything, head to the Great North Woods. You can even do camping canoeing trips on Lake Umbagog with Northern Waters Outfitters.
If you want to stay overnight on the Kancamagus Highway, camping is your only option. Several campgrounds occupy this part of the White Mountain National Forest.
Marvel at the Ice Castles
Every winter, a community of ice and snow springs up in the White Mountains. Welcome to Ice Castles! Every year, a dedicated crew spends thousands of hours building a wonderland of snow and ice in North Woodstock, New Hampshire.
Ice Castles is one of our favorite things to do in New Hampshire in winter. The complex is family-friendly with something for everyone. Marvel at the castles of ice and photograph the lights of the Mystic Forest right Walk — or zoom down ice slides, crawl through ice tunnels, and go tubing.
You can visit at day or night, but we recommend visiting after dusk to enjoy the best of the light shows.
If you have your heart set on Ice Castles, be sure to pencil in a date in January or February! By March, the ice begins to melt, not to be seen again until the end of the year.
Read More: Things to Do in New Hampshire in the Winter
Hunt for Antique Treasures
Looking for a new and interesting piece to add to your home? New Hampshire, like all of New England, is a gold mine for antique shops. Antique Alley is a driving route along Route 4 from Portsmouth to Concord and is home to several excellent shops and markets.
We recommend concentrating on towns like Lee, home to Firebird Farm Antiques; Northwood, home to Eagle Antiques, and Chichester, home to Thos. Bartlett Antiques and Oddments. (Don’t miss the cider donuts at Chichester Country Store while you’re up there.)
But Antique Alley is far from the only antiquing option in New Hampshire! We at New Hampshire Way are fans of the Monadnock region for antiquing. Downtown Peterborough is a treasure itself, home to Grove & Main and Remarkable. Be sure to drive to nearby Fitzwilliam for Bloomin’ Antiques, set on one of the prettiest town commons in New Hampshire.
Be warned…some of New Hampshire’s antique shops inspired us to redecorate our entire homes!
Hike to Waterfalls
Whoever said you shouldn’t go chasing waterfalls clearly hasn’t been to New Hampshire! The White Mountains region is especially rich in waterfalls. Some of them are easy to get to, some require a bit more effort, but all of them add a little beauty to the showstopper that is New Hampshire.
Sabbaday Falls is one of the easiest waterfalls to visit — it’s about a 15-minute walk from the trailhead, right on the Kancamagus Highway. Diana’s Baths also give you set of fun waterfalls after a short walk.
Arethusa Falls is requires more effort, with a moderate-to-somewhat-challenging hike (three miles round-trip or a five-mile loop). You’ll be rewarded with a view of a waterfall on a wide rocky wall.
Zealand Falls is an excellent waterfall right on the Appalachian Trail in Bethlehem. Hike up to see the falls, and you can even overnight at the nearby AMC hut if you’d like!
Looking for more falls? The Flume Gorge is home to powerful Avalanche Falls, and if you’re driving down Route 302 in Crawford Notch, you’ll drive right past the Silver Cascade, long and narrow and visually spectacular.
Try Mead at Sap House Meadery
By now you know that New Hampshire has plenty of breweries, wineries, and distilleries — but that’s not all. Mead is starting to become popular in the Granite State, and Sap House Meadery in Ossipee is a delightful place to try it out.
Mead, a type of fermented honey wine, isn’t just for medieval reenactments or renaissance fairs — nor is it cloyingly sweet. It’s a gentle beverage that you sip like beer or wine, and in the hands of a thoughtful brewer, it can take on many different flavors.
Sap House Meadery is always trying out new and interesting mead blends, along with their classics. Drop in for a mead tasting — or even stay for lunch! They also offer hive-to-bottle tours on Saturdays, and you can buy mead to take home.
It’s also worth visiting for its fabulous, well-curated interior, an Instagram backdrop that you’ll love.
Shop at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen
Throughout the Granite State, you’ll come across galleries with an intriguing sign: the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen. Sounds a bit intimidating, right? Almost like a secret society?
Don’t be intimidated! The League of New Hampshire Craftsmen is a community of brilliant creators. Their galleries, which you can find in locations from Nashua to Littleton to North Conway, feature works created by local artists and artisans in New Hampshire.
At these shops you’ll find both traditional and contemporary works. You can find handmade jewelry, woven scarves and hats, prints and photography, housewares, pottery, sculptures, and objets d’art. And it’s all high-quality items that you’d want to display in your home.
The mission of the League is to advance, cultivate, and champion excellent in fine craft. And the results are gorgeous. Here at New Hampshire Way, we encourage you to support small businesses in New Hampshire whenever possible. The League is the perfect place to find a New Hampshire souvenir you’ll cherish forever.
Visit Funspot, the Largest Arcade in the World
Did you know that New Hampshire is home to the largest arcade on the planet? It is! Funspot Arcade is located in Weirs Beach in Laconia, right by Lake Winnipesaukee.
Funspot is home to more than 600 arcade games. It also hosts the American Classic Arcade Museum, filled with 250 classic arcade games like Asteroids, Donkey Kong, and of course Pac-Man.
And it’s far more than just arcade games. There’s bingo, a bowling alley, and even an indoor mini golf course! You could easily spend the whole day here.
Funspot is one of our top picks for things to do in Lake Winnipesaukee on a rainy day, and one of the best New Hampshire attractions if you’re looking to chase Guinness Book of World Records-cited places. It’s open every day but Christmas and Thanksgiving.
Tube Down the River — or a Snowy Hill
Imagine yourself enjoying New Hampshire’s nature from an inner tube. Whether you want to be floating down a lazy river in the summer or screaming down a mountain in the winter, we have plenty of options for you!
The Saco River is arguably the top spot for summertime river tubing, and you’ll find this one of the best things to do in North Conway on a hot day! The river here is nice and shallow, so you can easily stop for a swim or pull your tube up on shore.
We also love tubing the Ammonoosuc and Pemigewasset Rivers in the White Mountains. Even the Connecticut River can be tubed in some regions, New Hampshire on one side and Vermont on the other!
For snow tubing, most of the big ski resorts have a hill reserved for tubing: Bretton Woods, Loon Mountain, Waterville Valley.
But if you want an unusual snow tubing experience, nothing tops Cosmic Snow Tubing on Saturday nights at Granite Gorge in Keene! You’ve got neon lights and music and it feels like a party!
Meet Your Political Idols
New Hampshire famously hosts the first primary in the United States, leading to virtually every presidential candidate visiting the state dozens of times. And yes, this can be annoying — especially when political ads take over every TV station.
But if you’re interested in politics and have some politicians you admire, you can take advantage of the primary frenzy to meet your favorite politicians face to face.
Whether it’s a big rally in Manchester or an event at Lindy’s Diner in Keene — they say the road to the White House runs through Lindy’s — this can be your chance to say hello, have a quick conversation, and get a selfie. Especially at the smaller events.
Here’s a tip — even if your favorite Senator or Congressmember isn’t running for president, they often show up in New Hampshire as surrogates for candidates who are running. So keep an eye out for that young House representative who inspires you.
Visit the Hood Museum of Art
One of the treasures of the Dartmouth-Sunapee region is the Hood Museum. This art museum on the Dartmouth College campus hosts one of the most thoughtful and interesting collections in the Granite State.
Most famous are the museum’s massive Assyrian stone reliefs from the palace of Ashurnasirpal II, dating back to 900 BCE, and José Clemente Orozco’s The End of American Civilization fresco, now a National Historic Landmark. The museum also has a superb collection of Indigenous art.
What we love most at the Hood Museum are the student-led and curated collections. Art students at Dartmouth are given free reign to curate interesting collections, and thanks to their youth, you often get a point of view that you don’t get in museums led by older curators.
We especially love the student-curated the Alvin P. Gutman gallery. One pre-med student curated an exhibit on PTSD and art; another curated an exhibit called “Butt of the Joke” about art, humor, and the human body.
Best of all? Admission to the Hood Museum is free. It’s one of our favorite free things to do in New Hampshire!
Hike the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire
The Appalachian Trail winds through 14 states from Georgia to Maine, but one of the most picturesque parts of the trail is in New Hampshire! And that’s not our bias — plenty of Appalachian thru-hikers share that the New Hampshire trail was one of their favorite parts.
The New Hampshire portion of the Appalachian Trail begins in Hanover on the Vermont border and ends in Berlin on the Maine border, which takes most thru-hikers around eight days.
But you don’t need to be a thru-hiker to enjoy New Hampshire’s slice of the Appalachian Trail. There are plenty of excellent day hikes along the trail for all hiking levels. Hike up to waterfalls, stop for refreshments in the AMC huts, and be a “trail angel” to thru-hikers, offering encouragement or snacks.
For beginner hikers, hiking to Zealand Falls is an easy, nearly flat journey throughout. If you’d like something a bit more challenging, North Kinsman is a great hike that can get you to check off one of the NH 48.
And for the advanced hikers, Franconia Ridge is a tough but incredibly rewarding hike, not to mention one of the best places to enjoy fall foliage in the Granite State.
Explore Downtown Littleton
Downtown Portsmouth and North Conway might get all the attention — not to mention huge tourist crowds — but here at New Hampshire Way, we think Littleton might be even better. This town in the White Mountains, close to the Vermont border, is home to our favorite downtown in the Granite State.
Right away Littleton feels like a throwback — a walkable New England downtown lined in red brick. Right on Main Street you’ll find a small movie theater, Victorian houses, a covered bridge, even a statue of Pollyanna by the library (author Eleanor H. Porter was a Littleton local).
But the shops are what makes downtown Littleton truly special. Little Village Toy and Book Shop is superb; Chutters Candy Shop is home to the world’s longest candy counter.
Perhaps most famous is Schilling Beer Company, a brewery that draws beer aficionados from all over New England. This brewery specializes in European beers, where you’ll find more Czech pilsners than IPAs.
For dinner, enjoy one of Schilling’s excellent pizzas, or head to Tim-Bir for local farm-to-table cuisine. Staying overnight? Don’t miss the famous pancakes at Littleton Diner.
Shop Until You Drop — Tax-Free!
New Hampshire has no sales tax — so the state is a very popular place to do some shopping! Sales tax might be tiny, but it can really add up when you buy something particularly expensive.
Where are the best places to go shopping in New Hampshire? There are a few places for outlet shopping. Our favorite outlets are the Merrimack Outlets in Merrimack, near Nashua, where you can find plenty of designer shops along with the mid-range finds.
North Conway has its own collection of outlets along with a very cute shop-filled downtown area; Portsmouth is a great place to shop for gifts and only-in-New-Hampshire treats. Border towns like Salem and Nashua are full of furniture and electronic stores, serving many Massachusetts residents looking to get a deal.
Finally, New Hampshire is home to three Apple Stores — one in Nashua, one in Salem, and one in Manchester. Not bad for a state with a population of 1.36 million. Think of how much you’d save if you got that new iPhone in New Hampshire.
Read More: The Best Outlets in New Hampshire
Enjoy New Hampshire’s Best Coffeeshops
We know, there seems to be a Dunkin’ everywhere you look in New Hampshire, but think beyond Dunkin’. New Hampshire is home to plenty of fun and interesting coffee shops, each of them dishing up delicious specialties!
The Met Coffee House is one of our favorite places to start the day in North Conway, with a great coffee menu and a fun interior. We love their inventive creations, like the pecan pie latte.
And Portsmouth has so many! Enjoy a coffee with a new novel at the Portsmouth Book and Bar, people-watch from an outdoor seat at Popovers on the Square, or head to Cup of Joe for a lavender latte with macadamia milk.
And good news for those who avoid dairy: we are pleased to see that non-dairy milks, including oat milk, are easy to find at small coffee shops in rural parts of New Hampshire. That wasn’t the case five years ago!
Try a Taste of Nepal at Base Camp Cafe
Who knew that there was fantastic Nepalese food right in New Hampshire? Base Camp Cafe in Hanover is a favorite of Dartmouth’s international students, serving delicious and flavorful dishes from the Himalayas.
Located in the basement of a shopping center and filled with Nepalese decor, this restaurant is the perfect place to escape a chilly or roasting day. It also makes a nice detour from the traditional American dishes that dominate menus in New Hampshire.
Not sure what to get? We recommend trying momos, Himalayan dumplings, and a tarkari, a Nepalese curry, with a pot of chai to wash it down.
Base Camp Cafe is also a great option for vegetarians and vegans, featuring dishes made with with potatos, sweet potato, eggplant, mushrooms, and more.
Explore Diana’s Baths
One thing we love about the White Mountains is how many natural wonders are easily accessible. Diana’s Baths, just outside North Conway in Bartlett, are a series of pools connected by waterfalls.
It just takes a mostly flat 0.6 mile walk through the woods — about 15 minutes — and you’re rewarded with gorgeous cascading waterfalls, most leading to shallow pools. Unlike many of New Hampshire’s waterfalls, swimming is welcome here.
Diana’s Baths were originally a location of a sawmill in the 1800s — well, until tourists discovered it! Today, it makes a great destination year-round. Spring brings the most flush waterfalls, summer is the perfect weather for taking a dip, fall brings brilliant foliage, and the frozen winter waterfalls are a sight to behold.
We recommend pairing Diana’s Baths with a visit to nearby Cathedral Ledge, with a rewarding panoramic view over the countryside. Finish up with a short walk around Echo Lake if you want to do the region right! Three of the best things to do in North Conway, just a stone’s throw from each other.
Read More: Best Things to Do in North Conway, NH
Smash Things Up at the Rage Cage in Nashua
Have you ever felt like smashing a bunch of glass to smithereens? Whether you’re angry or frustrated, we understand that urge. In New Hampshire, there’s a way to do so safely: the Rage Cage in Nashua.
The Rage Cage offers a chance to get out your aggression in a safe, controlled environment — and have a one-of-a-kind night out with your friends!
Pick out several smashable items, from vases and plates to lamps, teapots, even small electronics, and choose your music for the session. (Whether your taste tends more toward 90s hip-hop or death metal — or even “My Heart Will Go On” — you can listen to whatever you’d like!) Put on a jumpsuit and face shield and you’re good to go!
Once you’re in the room, you can go wild smashing your items with hammers, sledgehammers and crowbars. Go nuts! (Our recommendation? Choose some large ceramic items. It’s tougher to smash than glass, and much more satisfying.)
The Rage Cage also offers sessions in their paint splatter room, where you can throw paint around. All in all, you’re up for an activity you’ll be talking about for months.
Sip and Swirl at New Hampshire Wineries
Isn’t it great that you don’t have to go far to try great wine in New Hampshire? In the past 20 years, wineries have sprung up in the most surprising of locations, and New Hampshire’s northern location hasn’t put it off the list.
Most of New Hampshire’s wineries tend to be in the southern part of the Granite State — though you will find a few in the Lakes Region and even the White Mountains!
Fulchino Vineyard in Hollis looks like it could almost be in Tuscany — yet it’s right outside Nashua! We love their outdoor garden area, an idyllic setting for wine tastings, and especially loved their dark, spicy Malbec.
Hermit Woods Winery & Deli in Meredith is one of our favorite spots for lunch on Lake Winnipesaukee. There’s nothing like a wine flight and a charcuterie board to wile away the afternoon. They have some lovely rosé wines in particular.
As unlikely the White Mountains are for a winery setting, we enjoyed Seven Birches, with grapes grown at the RiverWalk Resort. Tour the winery or visit their location at Atrium Wine Bar in downtown Lincoln, along with some picnic snacks.
Find Your Inner Elf at Santa’s Village
You don’t have to go all the way to the North Pole to find Santa — sometimes New Hampshire’s Great North Woods is close enough! Up in Jefferson, Santa’s Village is a Christmas-themed family theme park that brings holiday cheer year-round.
Here you’ll find rides, a water park, an “Elfabet Game” scavenger hunt where kids can track down elves from A to Z, live reindeer, and of course, Santa!
Speaking personally, we think Santa’s Village is exceptionally well-run with a wonderful staff, and unlike New Hampshire theme parks, you can visit through December. Sometimes you can enjoy the rides underneath a light snowfall — a truly unique New Hampshire experience.
And while Jefferson may look fairly far north in the Granite State, it’s an easy journey from Lincoln, North Conway, or any of the other hubs of the White Mountains.
Visit the Castle in the Clouds
If you’re looking for things to do in Lake Winnipesaukee, we highly recommend driving up to Moultonborough to visit the Castle in the Clouds. This massive estate is far more than just the mansion atop the hill
The Lucknow Mansion was built by Thomas Plant, who rose from factory worker to the owner of the largest shoe factory in the world. An unusual example of Arts & Crafts architecture, the home was designed to be in harmony with nature.
Take a self-guided tour of the mansion to see a sliver of life in New Hampshire in the early 1990s — for wealthy people, at least! From the top floors, you have an excellent view of Lake Winnipesaukee with all its shapes and contours. On a clear day, you can’t beat the view from here.
The estate is home to plenty of hiking trails, viewpoints, and a cafe and restaurant. It’s a wonderful way to spend an entire afternoon in the Lakes Region. Be sure to hit up the Country Store afterward — it’s a general store that dates back to 1781.
Ride the Thrills at Canobie Lake Park
Ah, Canobie Lake Park. We at New Hampshire Way have so many wonderful memories of this theme park that caters to every age group! Whether you go for a middle school band trip (hello!), a getaway with your twenty-something friends, or a trip with your kids, Canobie Lake in Salem, New Hampshire, has something for everyone.
For thrill-seekers, Canobie Lake Park has the spinning and soaring Xtreme Frisbee, the Untamed roller coaster with a beyond-vertical 97-degree drop, and the Yankee Cannonball, a traditional wooden rollercoaster with lots of climbs and dips.
There are plenty of easier, family-friendly rides, from spinning teacups and bumper cars to a carousel and the Sky Way, taking you across the park from above.
And on a hot day, you can cool off at Castaway Island, the water park of Canobie Lake. You can enjoy water slides, the lazy river, or on the Boston Tea Party, a flume ride that creates a 50-foot wall of water onto a bridge of people waiting to be soaked!
Whether gentle or wild, Canobie Lake Park makes for a truly fun day out!
Read More: Best New Hampshire Water Parks
Squeeze Through the Caves at Lost River Gorge
Lost River Gorge in North Woodstock often gets compared to its neighbor, the Flume Gorge — and you can see why. Both are wonderful outdoor attractions where you climb wooden footpaths through a misty river gorge, greenery popping up in every direction around you.
But Lost River Gorge has the bonus of the Boulder Caves! These caves, with names like the Bear Crawl and the Devil’s Kitchen, are along the edges of the gorge, some easier to squeeze into than others. (Not a cave fan? No problem. They’re all optional.)
Lost River Gorge is great for people of all ages, but this is a place kids LOVE. Not least because many of the caves are perfectly kid-sized. Good luck squeezing through the “Lemon Squeezer” cave if you’re an adult! (And if you fail, you can buy “I tried and failed to do the Lemon Squeezer” merch at the gift shop!)
We especially recommend exploring the Judgment Hall of Pluto, which has a waterfall inside the cave!
Photograph the Covered Bridges of New Hampshire
There’s nothing like photographing a covered bridge surrounded by autumn leaves, one of the archetypal images of rural New England. If you’re in New Hampshire, you’re in luck — we have so many covered bridges that tracking them down feels like a treasure hunt!
If you’re keen to photograph covered bridges, we recommend focusing on the White Mountains region, the Dartmouth-Sunapee region south of Hanover, or the Monadnock region south of Keene.
Which covered bridges are especially worth seeing? We love the Cornish-Windsor Bridge in Cornish, which is the only covered bridge crossing the Connecticut River between New Hampshire and Vermont.
And the Honeymoon Covered Bridge in Jackson seems to be plucked from a fairy tale, a must-visit in one of New Hampshire’s prettiest small towns.
Then there’s the Albany Covered Bridge, a bridge with a lot of history and one of the best stops along the Kancamagus Highway.
Wherever you go, there are plenty of bridges to see!
Try Out the New Hampshire Distilleries
You’ve heard of New Hampshire breweries and New Hampshire wineries — but what about New Hampshire distilleries? New Hampshire is going through a craft spirits revolution, and there are several unique distilleries that are fun to visit.
Most New Hampshire distilleries happily welcome visitors for tastings of their craft spirits. And a bottle of handcrafted New Hampshire liquor makes an excellent gift.
Tamworth Distilling is a truly wonderful find in a rural part of the Lakes Region, and the fabulous design of the distillery will delight you. Stop by to sample their award-winning spirits and gawk at the displays. If you’re lucky, pick up a bottle of their excellent Old Man of the Mountain Bourbon, which tends to sell out as soon as they bottle it.
Cathedral Ledge Distillery in North Conway, an organic distillery, is a fun spot to visit in between your outdoorsy adventures in the White Mountains. This place touts their vodka and gin, but we particularly loved their horseradish vodka (perfect for Bloody Marys!) and their sweet, dessert-like maple liqueur is the ultimate New Hampshire souvenir.
And at New England Sweetwater Distillery in Winchester, near Keene, you’ll be warmly welcomed by co-owner Kenny, a man with many stories. Sit down to sample their Ashuelot vodka, Kingfish rum, and even Monadnock Moonshine (!). Don’t be surprised if you and Kenny end up gabbing for an hour or more!
Conquer the NH 48: New Hampshire’s 4000-Footers
If you like to challenge yourself, the ultimate New Hampshire achievement is completing the NH 48! New Hampshire is home to 48 4000-Footers — mountains that exceed 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) in elevation and 200 feet (60 meters) in prominence.
Mount Washington is New Hampshire’s highest peak at 6,288 feet (1,916 meters) — but keep in mind that NONE of these mountains are easy hikes. Even the entry-level 4000-footers like Cannon Mountain and Mount Whiteface can kick your butt if you’re not in good shape.
For most people, completing the NH 48 can take years, sometimes decades. But some truly determined hikers manage to pull it off within a year, taking entire weekends to hike and climbing multiple peaks in a day.
No matter how long it takes, when you finish the challenge, you’ll be rewarded with a 4000-footer club patch from the Appalachian Mountain Club! Not to mention lifelong bragging rights.
Relax at White Lake State Park
Sometimes, all you need is a nice place to relax in a beach chair, breathe in the scent of pine trees, swim in a peaceful lake, and just enjoy the great New Hampshire outdoors. If that’s the case for you, we highly recommend White Lake State Park in Tamworth.
This campground, located right where the Lakes Region converges with the White Mountains, is home to a glacier-carved lake with silky water, edged with soft sand and evergreen trees, and topped with views of the Ossipee Mountains in the distance.
Come here to camp for a few days, or just come here for the day, setting up on the beach and enjoying that wonderful water. We think White Lake is one of the best swimming spots in the Granite State, as well as one of the best lake beaches in New Hampshire.
In addition to enjoying the beach, you can rent canoes and hike the trail around the lake.
White Lake is where our editor Kate grew up spending her summers, and it’s still wonderful to this day. That said, the word is out about White Lake, and it’s increasingly popular with visitors, especially on the weekends. If you’re looking for a quieter, less crowded experience, we recommend visiting Monday through Friday.
More Things to Do in New Hampshire:
- Best Things to Do In Portsmouth, NH
- Best Things to Do in North Conway, NH
- Best Things to Do in New Hampshire in the Winter
Best of New Hampshire Way:
What’s your favorite thing to do in New Hampshire? Share away!