Traveling in 2021? Please check with each state/destination for its current COVID-19 guidelines, as these are constantly changing and the most accurate, up-to-date information may not be reflected here.
Ah, New Hampshire. This New England state is filled with natural beauty, from the beaches in the Seacoast region to the White Mountains. The Granite State also has incredible lakes that’ll simply take your breath away. Plus, there’s a little something for everyone to do along these lakes, whether it’s boating, fishing, kayaking, or hiking. Make sure you add these 10 best lakes in New Hampshire to your travel bucket list this summer.
Location: Belknap and Carroll counties in east-central New Hampshire
Activities: Boating, swimming, fishing
The Granite State’s largest lake is also one of the best lakes in New Hampshire to visit. Lake Winnipesaukee (pronounced Win-a-pe-sock-ee) is 21 miles long and sits in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, just south of the White Mountains Region. The clean water combined with the beautiful mountains and forestry surrounding the lake make it a popular place for locals and tourists to swim, boat, and fish.
If you’re looking to rent a boat during your trip to Lake Winnipesaukee, check out Anchor Marine Corporation in Laconia or Goodhue Boat Company in Wolfeboro. Depending on what you find, you can take friends and family on the lake and make great memories. You can also explore the beautiful communities surrounding Lake Winnipesaukee, including Wolfeboro, Meredith, Moultonborough, and Gilford.
Location: Grafton, Carroll, and Belknap counties in central New Hampshire
Activities: Swimming, fishing, kayaking
You’ll find another one of the best lakes in NH northwest of Lake Winnipesaukee. Squam Lake is six miles long and is surrounded by the lake communities of Ashland, Holderness, Sandwich, Center Harbor, and Moultonborough. It’s a lovely spot where people can spend a calm day kayaking, swimming, or fishing for bass, salmon, and perch.
Squam Lake is located south of the White Mountains, and there are plenty of places to hike around the lake. Eagle Cliff in Sandwich offers great views of Squam Lake, and Five Finger Point and Mount Morgan, both located in Holderness, provide excellent scenic views of the Lakes Region. There are also plenty of winter activities to participate in around Squam Lake, including snowshoeing under a full moon and the New Hampshire Ice Carving Championship, typically held in February.
Location: Grafton County in central-western New Hampshire
Activities: Swimming, boating, fishing
This pristine lake is easily one of the best lakes in New Hampshire to visit. You’ll find Newfound Lake in Grafton County, surrounded by the towns of Bridgewater, Bristol, Hebron, and Alexandria. It’s six miles long and has incredibly clean water (some even say it’s among the cleanest water in the world). You can spend the day swimming, boating, and fishing in one of New Hampshire’s best gems.
One of the coolest things about Newfound Lake is that there are plenty of places to hike around it. There’s a fantastic view of the area if you hike Mount Cardigan in Alexandria. You can also head to Wellington State Park in Bristol for swimming, fishing, and hiking. You’ll be planning your next trip to Newfound Lake before your first one ends!
Location: Belknap County, next to Lake Winnipesaukee
Activities: Fishing, boating, swimming
Lake Winnisquam is located next to Lake Winnipesaukee in the Lakes Region of the Granite State. It’s 10.5 miles long and is surrounded by the communities of Sanbornton, Belmont, Laconia, Tilton, and Meredith. In addition to Lake Winnipesaukee being only just minutes away, Lake Winnisquam offers public beaches in Laconia for tourists and locals to enjoy (Ahern State Park and Bartlett Beach). The lake is a great spot for kayaking, swimming, and fishing.
There are also some great places to explore around Lake Winnisquam. The town of Tilton has the Tanger Outlets, where you can enjoy tax-free shopping. Laconia has a number of places to dine at, including Laconia Local Eatery and Tavern 27. If you’re in the mood to hike, head to Hamlin Trail near Meredith to get a nice 4.5 mile hike in (dogs are welcome). There’s a little bit of something for everyone during a trip to Lake Winnisquam.
Location: Sullivan and Merrimack counties in western New Hampshire
Activities: Kayaking, fishing, boating, swimming
You’ll find one of the best lakes in the western part of the state. Lake Sunapee is around 10 feet long and is surrounded by the communities of Sunapee, Newbury, and New London. There are a couple places for boat access, including Lake Sunapee Public Boat Launch on Lake Avenue in Sunapee. Bring the boat, or a kayak, to spend your days on Lake Sunapee’s beautiful water. You can head to Mt. Sunapee State Park in Newbury for a fun day of lakeside activities like picnicking and swimming.
Lake Sunapee has a very rural feel to it, making it a perfect spot to do some hiking. Mt. Sunapee State Park has great hiking trails, and you can also head to Newbury Trail in Newbury for wonderful views. Beautiful views from the forest and the lake—what more could you want?
Location: Carroll County in eastern New Hampshire
Activities: Swimming, boating, kayaking, fishing
This small but mighty lake is a lovely spot to visit in New Hampshire. This three-mile long lake is found amid the towns of Effingham, Freedom, Madison, Ossipee, Sandwich, and Tamworth. In addition to boating, fishing, kayaking, and swimming, there are public beaches where you can visit to soak up the sun. Head to White Lake State Park in Tamworth for a great spot to catch some rays and swim.
There’s also plenty of things to do in the area surrounding Ossipee Lake. Head to Center Ossipee to check out local eateries like Indian Mound House of Pizza, Ossipee Mountain Grille, and Mountain View Station. The food and natural beauty surrounding Ossipee Lake will have you coming back for more.
Location: Carroll County in the town of Wolfeboro
Activities: Swimming, canoeing, kayaking, fishing
You’ll find another one of the best New Hampshire lakes in the eastern part of the state. Lake Wentworth is nearly four miles long and is a great place to swim, kayak, canoe, and fish with loved ones. You can get public access through Wentworth State Park in Wolfeboro, where you can also picnic. Parking is limited here, though, so make sure you make a reservation before heading to the park. You’ll cherish the memories you make at this New Hampshire lake!
Location: Coos County in northeastern New Hampshire
Activities: Swimming, boating, kayaking, canoeing, fishing
This wilderness lake is one of the best you’ll find in New Hampshire. Umbagog Lake, which goes beyond the New Hampshire border into Maine, is a large lake that is considered by many as one of the most pristine lakes in the Granite State. You can head to this lake and enjoy plenty of activities, including swimming, boating, and fishing. Visit Umbagog Lake State Park in Cambridge for lakeside fun and camping. You can also rent boats at the state park.
Don’t forget to plan a hike near Umbagog Lake. Check out the trails within Umbagog Lake State Park and Magalloway River Trail in nearby Errol for some fantastic views.
Location: Rockingham County in southeastern New Hampshire
Activities: Fishing, kayaking, swimming
You’ll be planning a trip to Pawtuckaway Lake before you know it. This beautiful lake is located right near the town of Nottingham in New Hampshire. You’ll actually find access to the lake in Pawtuckaway State Park, where you can swim, kayak, fish, and camp. If you don’t have a kayak, don’t worry—you can rent kayaks at the park. These activities, along with the hiking trails (and even some horseback riding trails), will make your trip to Pawtuckaway Lake one to remember.
Location: Coos County in northern New Hampshire
Activities: Swimming, boating, kayaking, fishing
You’ll find one of the best lakes in New Hampshire in the far northern part of the state. Lake Francis is five miles long and surrounded by the beauty of the Great North Woods region. Many people visit Lake Francis State Park in Pittsburg to camp and spend time by the lake. You can boat, swim, kayak, and fish at the park. There’s even a spot to rent kayaks if you don’t have your own. After a day on the lake, hit the trails within the park and take in the Great North Woods beauty.
Pittsburg is a tiny town in northern New Hampshire, but there are some restaurants to check out. If you’re in the mood for some Granite State grub, head to Rainbow Grille & Tavern on Beach Road or the burg. on Back Lake Road. Grab some food and create memories to top off a nice rural getaway to the lake.
Looking for more things to do in New Hampshire? Check out the top ways to have a fun summer in New Hampshire.
You might also like:
- 10 Waterfalls in New Hampshire That Will Make Your Jaw Drop
- Fall in New Hampshire: Fun and Festive Things to Do
Amy is the founder of New England with love. A proud Vermonter, she hopes to share her love of New England and help you find the best adventures in the region. Amy is also blogger/founder at Two Drifters, where she writes alongside her husband about romantic and couples travel, relationships, honeymoons, and more. When not working on websites, Amy is probably reading, cuddling with her husband and cats, & drinking a maple latte.