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There is so much to enjoy about fall in New Hampshire: the perfect weather, the most gorgeous colors surrounding you in nature, and of course, fall festivities. Yes, there are so many fantastic things to do in New Hampshire in the fall!
Throughout New England, the summers get hot, the winters are freezing, and Spring lasts about a week and is usually just plain muddy. This leaves Fall, the fan-favorite of New Englanders and for very good reason.
Unfortunately, New Hampshire is the state that is often missed or forgotten by people not only in other parts of the world, and even those from the United States. Just above Boston, it seems forgettable to many travelers. Well, I am here to tell you why you should explore the good ol’ Live Free or Die state, during its most amazing time of year.
Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to enjoy fall in New Hampshire!
Put your boots on and go pick some apples
Fall fun doesn’t have to wait until the pumpkins are ready! Kick the season off with a trip to one of the dozens of apple orchards in New Hampshire and bake a delicious pie or cook up some warm apple cider with your haul.
If you’re in the southern part of the state, don’t miss out on a trip to Alyson’s Orchard, one of the most popular in NH. Located near Walpole, this farm and event venue spans 450 acres, boasting not only 37 varieties of apples, but peaches, blueberries, pears, and more. You can find a list of their apples and estimated times they will be ready for harvest on their website, which comes in especially handy if you have a favorite! You can also visit some goats and let the (human) kids burn some energy on the playground to complete your visit. Pumpkins are available as well later in the season.
Located near the village of Contoocook, Gould Hill Farm is a quick 15-minute drive west of Concord. Offering a whopping 77 different varieties of apples, you’ll be sure not to go home empty-handed. Gould also offers PYO (pick your own) peaches and blueberries, has a store where you can pick up other tasty treats, such as ice cream and maple syrup, and for the adults in your party, stop by the Contoocook Cider Company for a tasting of their hard apple cider!
Check out our list for more of the best apple orchards across the state.
Get outside and go explore the mountains
You’ll be happy to know that you don’t need to buy a plane ticket out west to hike and get beautiful mountainous views – we have them here too. We have the White Mountains, and other smaller mountains all around the state. Once you get to the top, you’ll be awed by the painted looking colors beneath you. The trees turn to red, orange, yellow, or green – allowing it to be one of the most beautiful views you’ll ever see.
There are different hiking levels of difficulty, so make sure you check those out before you choose your destination. Here are a few of my favorite New Hampshire hiking trails.
- Mount Major – Alton, NH
- Artist Bluff – Franconia, NH
- Franconia Ridge Loop – Franconia Notch, NH
- Mount Chocorua – Near Conway, NH
Take a drive along the Kancamagus Highway
The Kancamagus is easily one of the most scenic places in NH and it’s a main road – imagine that! In the Fall, the colors are breathtaking, so leaf-peeping is an absolute must. Don’t be afraid to stop and take it all in every once in a while.
Have breakfast at Polly’s Pancakes – an essential Fall in New Hampshire activity
You have to have seen real maple syrup at the grocery stores. Maybe this is where you’ve seen hints of New Hampshire since normally it’s plastered all over the bottle. Then you know that maple syrup is kind of New Hampshire’s thing. If you’re a pancake person who also enjoys pure maple syrup, then you cannot miss Polly’s. It’s been a family-owned restaurant for decades.
While it is a bigger place, the small town family vibe still exists. Their menu consists of several options including the ability to mix and match your pancake choice. There is real maple syrup and maple syrup butter on the table waiting for you – for free. Can it get any better than that?
Bring out the child in you and head to the fair
Fairs aren’t the most glamorous, but you’ll have a blast seeing all the locals, eating tons of fried dough and hitting up your favorite childhood rides. I personally used to love going to the fairs to meet up with friends, eat and play games.
Don’t be afraid to spend a dollar or two to try and win a stuffed animal! Also get out of your comfort zone, smile, laugh and be a kid again. Some of the best fairs in NH are:
- Sandwich Fair
- Deerfield Fair
- Hopkinton State Fair
If you’re a beer fan, don’t miss NH Brewfest, an annual festival that takes place in October in Portsmouth.
Get lost in a corn maze
For some, fall activities are not complete until you’ve wandered around a corn maze for a few hours. Whether you’re going during daylight hours with the family or at night for a spooky, flashlight-guided experience, New Hampshire has a ton of corn mazes to keep you busy!
If you’re looking for somewhere to keep the family busy all afternoon long, Beans and Greens Farm, near Gilford, is just the place. The corn maze is one of the best in the state and changes yearly. If you scroll to the bottom of this page, you can see maze images of years past to get an idea of what to expect. You can meander your way through the day or opt for a nighttime run for even more of a challenge. Beans and Greens Farm has tons of other fun events and activities and plenty of produce and homemade goods to take home as well!
The Maize at Sherman Farm is another popular fall attraction in the Granite State. Their maize maze changes each year as well with a new design each year, with past years including themes such as “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”, “Alice in Farmland”, and “Patriots Superbowl Champs”. After your fun on the farm, be sure to grab some ice cream, cut flowers, or other meat and dairy products before heading home.
Enjoy a fantastic fall festival
Best Fall Festivals
Autumn feels even more invigorating and lively at a festival, doesn’t it? You’ll find no shortage of them in New Hampshire, ranging from pumpkin festivals to Oktoberfest celebrations!
You can find a pumpkin or fall festival going on somewhere pretty much every weekend in October. Start with the Milford Pumpkin Festival on Columbus Day Weekend, which features live entertainment, a giant pumpkin contest, variety show, and great raffle prizes.
The Monadnock Pumpkin Festival is also on the Saturday before Columbus Day. This celebration is especially fun because you can bring your own carved pumpkin to add to the huge display, which looks amazing after dusk! Tons of activities await, including a costume parade, kid activities (face painting, touch-a-truck, carnival rides, etc), arts and crafts vendors, and Fright Fest, if you’re up for a scare.
If you can’t make it that weekend, head over to the New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival in Laconia. This fair is jam-packed with activities for kids young and old, including a pumpkin bowling, duck derby, zombie walk, and, the cherry on top, a 34ft tower of jack-o-lanterns!
What could be better than spending a fall weekend in the White Mountains? You can do just that by heading to the White Mountains Oktoberfest at the Loon Mountain Resort outside of Lincoln. They offer something for everyone, so bring the whole family or plan an entertaining adults-only weekend with your friends. Oompah music, beer gardens, games, and more await in this absolutely breathtaking fall setting. Be sure to get there early while supplies last of their commemorative glass boots. Because really, who doesn’t want a glass boot to drink out of?
Be sure to check this list of fall festivals for even more fun around the state and specific dates. (It should be noted that many have been canceled this year due to Covid-19, so make sure you check event specific websites as well.)
Chase some waterfalls then have a picnic
NH has some amazing waterfalls that will keep you busy for hours. Most of them are just short walks from the parking lot and don’t require extensive hiking. Turn off your phone, pick a waterfall, grab a sandwich and go have a picnic under it. Just make sure to pick up all your garbage and not leave anything behind. Here are some stunning waterfalls you can visit:
- Diana’s Baths – Conway
- Glen Ellis Falls – Pinkham Notch
- Beede Falls – Sandwich
- Profile Falls – Bristol
Stay at an epic Airbnb
Airbnbs are my jam. Not only am I helping and supporting local businesses, it also makes me feel more at home than a hotel would. I also love that I am able to pick and choose the type of place I want to stay at. For example, I could stay at a treehouse, a house in the mountains or a luxury cabin. Here are a few I’ve stayed in and recommend and others that are on my bucket list.
- Treehouse – I stayed here in the winter, but would love to get back there in the Fall. I wrote all about my technology free experience here.
- Rustic Cabin – Also a winter weekend getaway up north. This Rustic Cabin is a great location for hiking and exploring the White Mountains.
- Yurt – Bucket list item – for sure! Staying in a yurt would be different and new, so this would be on the top of my to do’s.
More to choose from here: 10 Awesome Spots for the Best New Hampshire Airbnb Stay
Explore charming towns and cities
There’s a lot of cute towns and cities that are perfect for wandering about after exploring the outdoors. They all have shops, good restaurants, or entertainment nearby. These are a few of my favorites.
Littleton – this small town in my eyes is a hidden gem. With a population of a little over 5,000 people, you wouldn’t think there would be much there. However, it has the sweetest downtown with a river running alongside it. It also has a historic covered bridge to visit.
Portsmouth – this may be an obvious one, but it cannot be missed. Portsmouth is in a great location on the border of Maine and Massachusetts. The downtown has a generous variety of options to do, see and eat. It is also right next to Rye, which is a beautiful town on the ocean. I would add driving along the water to your driving route to see all of the mansions.
Jackson – I recommend staying in this town for at least one night. It has one of the best restaurants I’ve ever eaten at, and a quaint downtown area. It’s close to several mountains for hiking and a central location to explore more of the white mountain locations.
Meredith – Right on the lake, Meredith has transformed its downtown to satisfy the summer owners. It is beautifully redone with all-white exterior, shops, and delicious restaurants nearby.
Visit a pumpkin patch
Last but not least, be sure to visit a pumpkin patch when visiting NH in the fall!
Riverview Farm, located on the banks of the Connecticut River south of Hanover, like many others on our list, is a great place to visit even before you venture out looking for the perfect pumpkin. Stock up on blueberries, apples, and apple cider earlier in the season and come back in October for a hayride to find the perfect carving pumpkin!
If you prefer something a little more laid back, you’ll quickly fall in love with quaint McQuesten Farm in Litchfield. After you’ve taken a good ole fashioned hayride and picked the perfect pumpkins, say hello (and feed!) some of the animals on the farm. If that’s not reason enough to go, the fall foliage is said to be some of the best in the state in this area.
Known as the oldest farm in the country, Emery Farm has been around since 1660! There is plenty to do and see before and after the hayride to the pumpkin patch, including a petting zoo, corn maze, and cafe. If you’ve never tried an apple cider donut, do yourself a favor and pick some of these up too before you go!
For even more pumpkin patches and farms, check out this list from Halloween New England.
Stop by some spooky/haunted places
Being settled for such a long time in the grand scheme of modern America, New Hampshire is full of history, interesting encounters, and, well, spooky places. From widowed pirate wives to the wandering spirits of children, you’ll find an abundance of creepy ghost stories and haunted sites around the state!
If you’re a fan of Ghost Hunters or just ghost tours in general, you will love New England Curiosities. Roxie, the owner, is based out of Portsmouth and gives varying tours around town and in other New England locales, such as “southern Maine’s ghost coast”. There are trolley tours and grave tours as well, amongst many others. Prices are very reasonable and start at $14. Can’t make it for an in-person tour? Not a problem! Check out her virtual tour offerings!
Looking to do a little ghost hunting on your own? As we mentioned, there are plenty of places to check out! This list from NH Magazine is a great start for your research. As the article mentions, some of these places are private property, so they should be respected as such. However, you will find numerous public property sites as well, such as the Amos J. Blake House and Tilton Inn…If you’re feeling brave enough to spend the night there!
Check out more of the most haunted places in New England!
Now you see there is a variety of activities to do and sites to see in the Live Free or Die state. Get prepared, start your Fall bucket list, and add some of these must do’s to it!
Read these next:
- 14 Amazing Things to Do In New Hampshire in Winter
- Fall in New England: The Best Towns, Orchards, Farms, Foliage, & Festivals
- 60 Magical Autumn Quotes & Inspiring Sayings About Fall
Kelsey, otherwise known as The Tiny Traveler, is a New England based travel blogger writing about her adventures throughout the globe. Her ultimate goal is to inspire others to step out of their comfort zone to see the world. She does this by being upfront with trip costs, how to save and budget and helpful travel tips and tricks. When she’s not traveling, you’ll find her photographing adventurous couples, crushing pancakes smothered in real maple syrup or reading a good self-love book.