Last Updated on October 4, 2022 by admin
Although New Hampshire is one of the smallest states in the country, it’s packed full of things to do. The state is home to the White Mountains, has 18 miles of coastline, and plenty of quaint New England towns. New Hampshire is filled with colonial history, covered bridges, and outdoor recreational opportunities. During the fall, the state draws thousands of tourists that are interested in seeing the fall foliage. In this post, we’re sharing our picks for the top 27 things to do in New Hampshire.
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About New Hampshire
New Hampshire is home to 1.3 million residents (2020 census). It’s known as the “Granite State” due to the numerous granite rock faces and quarries in the state. The state motto, “Live free or die,” references the state’s role in the Revolutionary War.
Each year, millions of tourists visit New Hampshire particularly for its outdoor recreational opportunities. New Hampshire is one of the best places to see fall foliage in the country, and because of its numerous mountains, it’s also one of the most popular winter sports destinations in the East Coast.
How to Get to New Hampshire
The primary airport in New Hampshire is the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT).
The three primary interstate highways that pass through New Hampshire are I-89, I-93, and I-95. If possible, we recommend exploring the state by car. You’ll be able to park at trailheads, state parks, and more.
27 Things to Do in New Hampshire
1. Explore the White Mountains
The White Mountain National Forest is one of New Hampshire’s crown jewels. The forest contains over 148,000 acres of wilderness and forest. You’ll definitely want to drive through the Kancamagus Scenic Byway as you explore the forest. (More on that below!)
Some areas of the forest you might want to check out include Mount Chocorua, Mount Hedgehog, Evans Notch, and the Lincoln Woods.
2. Kancamagus Highway
Take the scenic Kancamagus Highway (Route 112), which will take you through the heart of the forest. The Kancamagus Highway (or “the Kanc” as locals call it), is filled with picturesque stops. You’ll want to check out the Albany Covered Bridge (first constructed in 1858), Falls Pond (quiet pond surrounded by forest and mountains), and the Pemigewasset Overlook (sprawling vista of the forest), to name a few. Just be sure to stop by a ranger station and make sure that you purchase a parking pass so you can park in all forest service parking areas. You can also purchase this Kancamagus Scenic Byway Audio Driving Tour Guide to learn more information about all the stops!
3. Visit a Winery
We recommend that you stop by Seven Birches Winery, which is a boutique winery with two different locations. If you book a tour, you’ll even get a chance to meet with the winemakers and see the wine production room. The tour also includes a tasting flight. You’ll get to sip on wine and learn all about the wine-making process.
4. Bike Along the Coast
If you join this biking tour, you’ll get to bike all along New Hampshire’s coastline. You’ll see summer cottages, lighthouses, and seafood shacks. It’s a great way to get the feel of the coast.
5. Explore Portsmouth
The seaport town of Portsmouth is known for its culinary scene, craft breweries, and historical charm. There are a number of tours you can take to help you explore Portsmouth! You can take a guided bike tour, a garden tour, and even a self-guided haunted walking tour. Be sure to check out Market Square and the North Church.
6. The Mount Washington Cog Railway
Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeast, and the best way to see Mount Washington is to take the Mount Washington Cog Railway. The scenic train travels slowly (6 mph) through the forest and up the mountain. The train will take you all the way up to the summit, where you can often see above the clouds. The total trip duration is about 3 hours.
The railway has been operating for more than 150 years. The railway is open year-round, but with a shorter route during the winter months. (Reaching the summit is not possible during the winter.) Reservations are recommended. You can book tickets here.
7. Strawbery Banke Museum
Before Portsmouth was officially established, there was a settlement built in 1623 that was called Strawbery Banke. The Strawbery Banke Museum is dedicated to preserving its history. The museum has several historical buildings and gardens, and it sits on 10 acres of land. The museum preserves an authentic neighborhood, with most of the 32 buildings still standing on their original foundations. The oldest home was built in 1695!
There’s plenty to do at the museum, such as exploring the exhibits, talking with costumed role-players, and even ice-skating on their ice rink!
The museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm. At the time of this writing, and adult ticket costs $19.50.
8. Ice Castles
If you’re visiting New Hampshire during the winter, you’ll want to be sure to check out the Ice Castles! You can visit the ice castles during the day or night. During the day, you’ll be able to see the various blue hues and the finer details. During the night, you’ll see the castles lit up with LED lights. Be sure to book your reservations in advance. In addition to the castles, you can also see a mystic forest night walk, you can go snow tubing, and you can go down ice slides.
9. Covered Bridges
Seeing a covered bridge is a bucket list New England experience. New Hampshire has at least 66 covered bridges, so chances are you will see at least one! The longest covered bridge (449 feet!) in the state is the Cornish-Windsor covered bridge. The oldest covered bridge, built in 1829, is the Bath-Haverhill Bridge. It’s currently only open to pedestrian traffic.
10. Currier Museum of Art
The Currier Museum of Art is located in Manchester, New Hampshire. The museum officially opened in 1929. At the time of this writing, an adult ticket costs $15. If you visit during the Art After Work event (every Thursday evening from 5pm-8pm), admission to the galleries is free.
11. Palace Theatre
The Palace Theatre, located in the city of Manchester, has been open since 1914. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. See here for their current performance schedule.
12. USS Albacore Museum
If you’ve ever wanted to explore the inside of a submarine, then you should head to the USS Albacore Museum. You’ll be able to look through the periscope, walk through the control room, and see the bunkrooms. The submarine was donated by the United States Navy. At the time of this writing, an adult ticket costs $9.
13. Hampton Beach State Park
New Hampshire has 18 total miles of coastline, and Hampton Beach State Park is one of the best places to enjoy the beach. During the summer, visitors enjoy swimming. There’s even a campground on-site that’s open seasonally. During the month of June, there’s a sandcastle sculpting contest.
14. Canobie Lake Park
Canobie Lake Park is an amusement park that’s located in New Hampshire. The park contains numerous attractions, including antique car rides, a train, waterslides, a ferris wheel, a carousel, and rollercoasters.
15. Russell-Colbath House
The Russell-Colbath house is a historic home that is open seasonally. It was built in 1832, and it’s the only surviving structure from the town of Passaconaway. Near the home is the Rail N’ River trail, which is a half mile ADA-accessible trail that contains interpretive signs about logging.
16. Prescott Park
Prescott Park is a waterfront park located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It’s located within walking distance of the Strawbery Banke Museum. The park was gifted to the city by Josie F. Prescott, who wanted to create a free public space for everyone to enjoy. During the summer, there are free garden tours open to the public. See their website for more information.
17. Lake Winnipesaukee
Lake Winnipesaukee is an extremely popular spot for visitors. The lake is 72 square miles and contains 264 islands. In addition to spending a fun day at the lake, you can also cruise the lake on the Mt. Washington boat or see the world’s largest arcade at Funspot.
18. Wright Museum of World War II
The Wright Museum of World War II is dedicated to preserving history from World War II. There are a variety of exhibits and special events hosted by the museum. At the time of this writing, an adult ticket costs $14.
19. Try Rail Biking
Ever bike along railroad tracks? At the Hobo Railroad, you can sit in a specially-made bike to pedal along railroad tracks. The Hobo Railroad also has an 80-minute train ride along the Pemigewasset River if you prefer to sit back and relax. The company also offers seasonal rides, like the Fall Foliage train and the Santa Express train.
20. Diana’s Baths
If you’re up for a short hike, you can head to Diana’s Baths to see a series of small waterfalls in the forest. The trail is only 1.3 miles roundtrip, with 118 feet of elevation gain. Full trail information is here. When hiking, always Leave No Trace and bring the 10 Essentials.
21. Isles of Shoals
The Isles of Shoals are located off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine. (Technically there are 4 islands that belong to New Hampshire, and 5 that belong to Maine.) No one lives on the islands year-round, but they’re a beautiful place to visit. The islands have quite the history. Many people have visited over the years, including pirates, fishermen, and artists. Typically there are cruises from Portsmouth to the islands, but for the 2022 season you can only book a private charter.
22. Whale’s Tale Waterpark
Whale’s Tale Waterpark is a fun family-friendly attraction that is open seasonally during the summer. There are tons of waterslides and pools to enjoy.
23. Flume Gorge
Another popular spot to visit in New Hampshire is the Flume Gorge State Park. The gorge extends 800 feet and has walls of granite that range from 70 to 90 feet tall. (The granite walls range from 12 to 20 feet apart.) You can take the Flume Trail to explore the gorge and walk along the boardwalk. The trail is about a 2-mile loop. There’s a small fee to enter the state park. If you make your reservation in advance online, you can save $3 a ticket. The flume was discovered in 1808 by a 93-year-old woman while she was fishing. Since she shared her discovery, it’s been a popular New England trail.
24. Enjoy a Cup of Tea
25. Go Ziplining
At the Morningside Flight Park, you can zipline though the treetops. (This would be the perfect activity for fall! There’s no better way to see the fall foliage than zipping through it all!) Booking information is linked here.
26. Crawford Notch State Park
Another place to visit in New Hampshire is Crawford Notch State Park. This area has more reduced cell service, so be sure to plan in advance. It’s a great place for fall photos by the lake. The park is over 5,000 acres with tons of hiking trails, so there’s definitely space to find some solitude in the forest.
27. Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway
You can also take the tramway up Cannon Mountain. The Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway takes passengers up to the 4,080 foot summit of Cannon Mountain. It’s a great way to see an aerial view of all the fall foliage! We recommend that you make online reservations in advance of your visit. At the summit, there’s an observation deck, walking path, and a cafe.
Where to Stay in New Hampshire
Here’s a few places we recommend that you look into:
- White Mountain Hotel and Resort: This hotel is located in North Conway and is surrounded by forests. Take a hike up Cranmore Mountain for the best views!
- Omni Mount Washington Resort: This 4-star hotel in the mountains has zip-lining, horse stables, and a spa.
- The INN Downtown: The rooms at this inn in Portsmouth come fully equipped with a kitchen.
For a full list of hotels in Portsmouth, click here.
For a full list of hotels in Manchester, click here.
What to Pack for a Trip to New Hampshire
Here are a few things you might want to pack with you to enjoy the state:
- Comfortable Walking Shoes: You’ll be doing a lot of walking around town, so make sure you pack comfortable walking shoes. I’ve been wearing Brooks brand shoes for years and have loved them. I’ve linked them here for women, and here for men.
- Power Bank: We always keep a fully-charged power bank with us while we’re out exploring. That way, if our phone battery is running low, we can easily plug it in and re-charge on the go. We rely on our phones heavily for navigation and photography, so this product is a must for us.
- Water Bottle: We prefer to bring an insulated re-usable water bottle when we are out exploring.
- Travel Guides: When I moved to Connecticut, I brought a travel guide and it gave me so many ideas for weekend adventures. It also provided good historical background to the places I visited. I’ve linked a couple below.
(Click on any of the above images for current pricing and shipping information!)
Our Adventure in New Hampshire
I lived in Connecticut for several years, so I spent many weekend trips exploring New England. My husband and I visited New Hampshire as part of a road trip through New Hampshire, Maine, and Quebec. Driving through the forest roads was definitely a highlight! I also really enjoyed walking around the town of Portsmouth.
New Hampshire is a beautiful state to visit, and we recommend that you visit during the fall if at all possible. I hope this article inspires you to get out and explore New Hampshire!
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Disclaimer: We always strive for content accuracy. Since the time of publishing, travel-related information regarding pricing, schedules, and hours may have changed. Please see individual websites embedded in this post for the most current trip-planning information.
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