Whenever I think of New Hampshire, I think of fall.
Leaves of bright orange and golden yellow and pumpkin patches and apple cider. Yum!
But, there is so much more to this state than all things autumn. New Hampshire has Atlantic coastline to delight any visitor, the tallest peak in the Northeast for the adventurous hiker and tours of historic homes for the history geek in your group.
New Hampshire is a pint sized state, but it packs a big punch in things to do that are exciting, interesting and beautiful.
Read on for a list of the best places to visit in New Hampshire.
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To kick off our list of must-visit New Hampshire places, come see a city that dates back 400 years and get a glimpse of what America was like before it was America.
This beautiful port city in New Hampshire has a lot going for it, with Piscataqua River anchoring it to the main land and the Atlantic Ocean still bringing in fresh catches and other cargo from near and far.
With over seventy historic sites in this charming New England town, you will be able to satisfy your curiosity for all things historic. At the Strawberry Banke Museum, costumed docents will lead you through the centuries by showing you famous American’s homes as well as the wonderful New England architecture you are clamoring to view.
You can also take a harbor cruise on a whale watching tour or simply just enjoy the view of the town from the water.
While here, be sure to stop by one of the many beaches that surround the city and lounge around or frolic in the waves.
There are 800 lakes and ponds in the tiny state of New Hampshire, but out of all of them, Lake Winnipesaukee is the most beautiful. With 264 islands and 72 square miles of water surface to boat, fish and relax on, there are endless opportunities for fun.
Not only is the lake a draw, but the communities that surround this crystal clear, New England lake are out of a Norman Rockwell scene.
The town of Wolfeboro proudly boasts that it is “the oldest summer resort in America”, attracting patrons from as far back as the 1770’s.
Moultonborough is an attraction for many for its beautiful active beaches and the stately and historic “Castle In the Clouds”. This mansion that overlooks the lake and the mountains beyond is definitely worth a tour.
Choosing to flee to Lake Winnipesaukee is sure to satisfy your need to get away from the mundane at one of the best vacation spots in New Hampshire.
If you want to stand on the highest peak in the Northeastern United States, then you must visit Mount Washington.
With a summit of 6,288 feet, this mountain is the highest peak in the Northeastern U.S. and one of the best places to see in New Hampshire. Conquering a mountain of this magnitude is on many adventurists “to do” lists.
But, if you aren’t a climber and just want a relaxing day of sites, Mount Washington can be just that. Download the Autoroad App and it will take you up to the summit as you drive the historic Mount Washington Auto Road. The 7.6 mile route will take you up winding steep turns with breathtaking scenery, so make sure you bring your good camera.
If you are visiting with other activities in mind, biking and ATV fun may be on your radar. There are specific days that are set aside for ATV lovers, so reserve your time for fun on the trails.
There are also carriage roads to take your mountain bike on for some single track thrills. In winter, come with your skis handy as you can ski the famous White Mountain ski slopes.
At the end of the day, you can rest your head at the Omni Mount Washington Resort. Built in 1902, Thomas Edison was the first to turn the lights on in this historic hotel “built for a generation of American kings”. The hotel boasts 200 rooms with panoramic views of the mountainous range complete with 2 golf courses, four restaurants, a spa and an indoor heated pool.
You won’t want for anything at this famous resort at the foot of a mountain in the clouds.
The Conway Railroad
One of the most unique places to visit in New Hampshire is the Conway Railroad, which boasts some of the best scenic views that America has to offer.
Departing from a train station that dates back to 1874, you can pick from three different train experiences all with different trains and various scenic routes.
Options include the Mountaineer (which features vintage 1950’s era stream-lined passenger cars that saunter through the mountains), the Sawyer River Excursion (which will take you on a route that hugs the river banks through a beautiful riparian environment) and the Conway Valley Train (a short ride through the rural part of New Hampshire that is great for kids) .
You can’t go wrong with any route you choose on the Conway Railroad, and it makes a great introduction to the sights and sounds that make New Hampshire such a great state to explore.
Castle in the Clouds
Castle in the Clouds is an attraction near the great Lake Winnepesaukee that will have you swooning for days gone by. But, this historic place is so much more than a 16 room mansion set on 5,200 acres set on a mountaintop. There are so many things to do here after you tour this gorgeous craftsman-style estate.
Explore the more than 28 miles of hiking trails on the property that take you to dazzling scenic views and awe-inspiring waterfalls. If you want a low key day, stop by the stocked Shannon Pond and feed the rainbow trout that will jump out of the water to catch the food.
Or you can visit the exhibit gallery for an in depth look at the history and daily life of those that lived at the estate. Then, eat at one of the two restaurants on the property to fill your belly after a day of seeing the sites in the clouds.
Thirty minutes northwest of Mount Washington, you will find a gem that would make even the grumpiest Scrooge in your group smile.
Get a dose of Christmas in July or anytime of year with Santa’s Village. This is a Christmas themed amusement park that everyone should visit at least once.
Santa’s Village has rides such as the S.S. Peppermint Twist and the Yule Log Flume, along with many Christmas themed restaurants, stands and shops to get your fill of Christmas candy, fudge, ice cream and stocking stuffers.
In the summertime, you can get wet, too with Polar Paradise, an interactive water play area with spray zones and waterslides to cool off in the heat.
Who said you can’t enjoy Christmas when it’s hot? This place is definitely one of the coolest places to visit in New Hampshire anytime of year.
When looking for a place to visit in New Hampshire, you can’t pass up the Polar Caves.
It was here that ice covering America during the last Ice Age carved out huge boulders that fell to the ground below, creating passageways to explore 50,000 years later.
Polar Caves is a unique experience in that boardwalks and stairs have been built to create an experience like no other. Explore nine distinct caves and see places such as “the Polar Pinch” and “Lemon Squeeze”. There are also animals in the park to interact with and feed as well as a gift shop and a place to get some treats.
Polar caves is a great summer time outing and is an activity that you really can’t find anywhere else in America, hence why we consider it one of the most interesting places to visit in New Hampshire.
The North Forest Canoe Trail
If you love water and traveling through stunning forest lined rivers, ponds and creeks that run by cozy New England communities, then The North Forest Canoe Trail is something that you have to put on your list!
The North Forest Canoe Trail is a 700 mile historic route that pieces together traditional Native American, settlers and explorer routes used as our country was in its infancy. Enjoy the calm and serene isolation peppered with sight seeing in the numerous towns in which the route meanders.
You can camp along the trail or stay at one of the wonderful accommodations you’ll find in towns like Cambridge or Stark, New Hampshire. Try a cute bed and breakfast or a quaint Airbnb. Whatever you decide the North Forest Canoe Trail will be an experience of a lifetime.
Franconia Notch State Park
Franconia Notch State Park is nestled in the heart and soul of New Hampshire, the White Mountain National Forest. Here, you can do pretty much any outdoor activity there is. From skiing to snowshoeing in winter and boating and fishing in summer, this park can entertain the toughest critic.
Get high up on the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway and see New Hampshire as she unfolds before you. You can also stay low and hike the fifty trails available in the park to see the gorgeous New Hampshire landscape that is so famous.
However, the main event in the park is the Flume Gorge. Here, you can traverse between ninety foot moss covered walls that house waterfalls, crystal clear glacial pools and the huge ten-ton boulders. Undoubtedly, this two-mile trail will arrest your soul and leave you wanting to see more of what New Hampshire has to offer.
Imagine touring a place that was built by talented artists with hundreds of thousands of ice crystals. Well, there is such a spot in Woodstock, New Hampshire and in winter, it is hands down one of New Hampshire’s best places to visit.
Here, towers and archways lit with LED lighting create some of the most breathtaking winter scenes, featuring formations that weigh more than 20 million pounds.
It’s hard to imagine until you see it with your own eyes, but during your visit you’ll get to see how artists of all kinds conjured up creative ways to create thrones, waterfalls, tunnels, fountains and slides… all out of ice.
Make sure you get your tickets when they go on sale this winter and delight your senses with one of the prettiest winter destinations in New Hampshire.
We couldn’t end this article without mentioning the best place to see fall foliage, could we? New Hampshire is one of the best places in New England and the East Coast to see the most astonishing colors of the season… and there’s no better way to see it than by driving the Kancamagus Highway.
The Kancamagus Highway is a 34.5 mile scenic drive through Northern New Hampshire that cuts through the scenic White Mountains.
At 3,000 feet above sea level you will see waterfalls, gorges, rivers and the most beautiful fall colors in the country.
Make sure you gas up before you travel though, because there are no amenities on the drive as all commercialism has been kept away from this slice of heaven in the mountains.
So, gas up and plan a road trip down this heavenly highway. Drive the Kancamagus Highway and experience New Hampshire at its finest.
Did we miss any of your favorite places in New Hampshire?
Let us know in the comments if there are anymore places in New Hampshire you’d like to see on our list!