New Hampshire is one of the gems of New England that you’ll have to see in person to truly appreciate it. It’s a charming state with lots of beautiful places to see everywhere you look. From natural landmarks like the White Mountain National Forest to architectural wonders like the state capitol building, there are plenty of things to see and do.
No trip to New England is complete without visiting some of the most beautiful places in New Hampshire.
When is the best time to visit New Hampshire?
While it’s true that fall foliage season in New Hampshire is out of this world beautiful, it’s also the time of year that everyone else is rushing to the Live Free or Die state to see the stunning color display for themselves! If you’d like to see a side of beautiful New Hampshire that is just as spectacular but slightly less popular, consider visiting NH in spring! You’ll find that instead of blazing fall foliage, you’ve got dazzling purples and blues of the lovely lupines that blanket this region in spring, and vibrant greens as the earth springs back to life. Plus, it really is a little less crowded so that could mean it’s easier for you to check out all the best places to visit in New Hampshire!
Mount Washington is the most prominent peak in New Hampshire as the state’s tallest mountain. It’s one of the most beautiful sights you’ll see from either below or atop the summit.
Famed as the highest peak in the Northeast, this NH mountain is one of the top hiking destinations. Visitors can also take the scenic Auto Road or ride the cog railway. The picturesque views from the top are definitely worth the trip.
You’ll be surprised at how much the weather changes as you ascend the mountain. If you’re lucky to visit on a clear day, you’ll have an unbelievable scenic view that includes New York, Massachusetts, Canada, and the Atlantic Ocean.
White Mountain National Forest
Take time to enjoy the outdoor beauty of New Hampshire with a visit to White Mountain National Forest; this will be the highlight of your trip, and there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy all year round.
White Mountain National Forest expands across New Hampshire and Maine with its mountainous landscape covered in forests. Popular activities include nature hikes, horseback riding, boating, and camping. In the wintertime, you can also ski.
You’ll encounter lots of scenic overlooks as you explore the forest. The fall is one of the best times to visit to see the stunning colors of the fall foliage. Plus, if you’re looking for where to stay in the White Mountains NH, you can rent out one of these adorable cabin rentals!
Read Next: 10 Best Things to Do in the White Mountains NH
Climb aboard a boat and go for a Portsmouth Harbor cruise to discover its history and beauty. The Piscataqua River forms one of the most important harbors in New Hampshire. It has a rich heritage of shipbuilding and shipping.
The harbor cruises offer narrated tours around the harbor. You’ll see many historical sites along the shore, from mansions to forts to the Portsmouth Harbor Light. You’ll also see lots of ships cruising in and out of the harbor.
Take a sunset cruise for a picturesque view of the harbor then head out to enjoy one of Portsmouth’s best restaurants! Oh, and if you’re looking for where to stay in Portsmouth, you’ve got some pretty cool options!
Read More: 11 Terrific Things to Do in Portsmouth NH
Although New Hampshire has a small coastline, it makes good use of it with destinations like Hampton Beach. It’s one of the cleanest beaches you’ll visit in the US and a very popular vacation spot for locals and tourists alike! When it comes to New Hampshire things to do in the summer, head to the beach is at the very top of that list.
Hampton Beach is an approximately one-mile stretch along the coast that’s a perfect destination to enjoy the beach atmosphere. Spend the day on the pristine sandy beach and go for a swim in the Atlantic Ocean.
The boardwalk lines the beach, where you’ll find delicious ice cream parlors. Grab a few scoops and stroll the boardwalk to check out the shops and entertainment. Check out this list of the top places to stay in Hampton Beach for some great hotel and inn suggestions, too.
Did you know that New Hampshire has close to 1,000 lakes? Since you can’t see them all, I recommend visiting Lake Winnipesaukee, the largest of them all. Located in the lake region, it’s a favorite lake getaway destination for locals, and you’ll quickly see why.
Lake Winnipesaukee has a shoreline of nearly 300-miles that’s lined with trees. It creates incredible scenery as you enjoy lakefront activities. Relax on the beach or rent a boat and go fishing out on the lake.
If you can’t get enough of the lake during the day, stay overnight in a scenic lakefront hotel or camp along the shore. Summer in NH should be spent at the lake!
Isle of Shoals Light
New Hampshire has several lighthouses, but none as picturesque as the Isle of Shoals Light. Also called the White Island Light, it’s located on White Island in the Isles of Shoals. It’s only accessible via ferry that you can take from Portsmouth Harbor, but what a charming NH view!
The island is not open to the public, but the views from the water are perfect for capturing its beauty. It’s a stunning 58-ft white lighthouse built in the 1800s. You’ll get to see the light flashing and hear the fog signal.
Prescott Park Garden
Delight in the fresh smell of flowers as you take a leisure walk through the Prescott Park Garden. Located on Portsmouth waterfront, you’ll have beautiful views of the colorful flora while looking out to Portsmouth Harbor.
Visit the garden from the spring to the fall to enjoy the flowers and trees’ vibrant colors. The park is filled with decorative fountains and paved walkways to see the sites. It’s a popular photoshoot site, so don’t forget your camera; definitely one of the top Portsmouth NH things to do.
There are plenty of places to sit to have a picnic in the garden, and this is one of the top scenic spots in New England to enjoy flowers blooming, too!
Conway Scenic Railroad
The Conway Scenic Railroad takes passengers through some of the most scenic areas of New Hampshire. Board the vintage railcars and go for a ride on the historic railroad to see beautiful sights along the entire journey.
The attraction lets visitors ride on fully restored railcars and you can choose an open-air car for spectacular views or sit in the dining car which serves meals during the trip.
Enjoy sights out the window as you witness the landscape transform before your eyes – from the rural landscape to valleys surrounded by the White Mountains. This is one of the best views in NH for fall foliage, too, so if you’re visiting New Hampshire in fall and looking for the best ways to sit back, relax, and take in the magnificent autumn scenery, this is it!
Are you looking for lesser known, secret places in New Hampshire? If you find yourself near Rumney, New Hampshire, you’re in for a treat if you visit the Quincy Bog. It’s a nature preserve that’s undeveloped so that you can experience one of the state’s unique natural landscapes.
A majority of the landscape within the Quincy Bog is wetlands and wooded areas. It’s made accessible with boardwalks, bridges, and more to navigate the scenic nature trails. It’s a fun place to visit for hiking and birdwatching and feels like it’s all tucked away from the rest of the world.
This beautiful bog is home to diverse wildlife and flora. Keep your eyes peeled to spot moose living within the area.
As you explore New Hampshire, you’ll notice the distinct covered bridges dotting the state. There are over 50 covered bridges in New Hampshire, most of which are built in the 1800s and remain beautiful sights to see in NH.
The covered bridges were built for functionality to protect the bridge from the weather but now create beautiful sights while driving around the state. You can find bridges of all shapes and sizes in New Hampshire.
A few of the famous bridges to see in the state are:
- Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge
- Swiftwater Covered Bridge
- Honeymoon Covered Bridge
You can still drive through many of the bridges, but it’s worth the time to hop out and explore the wooden structures and take photos of the scenery. If you’re looking for aesthetic places and instagrammable spots in New Hampshire, covered bridges are perfect!
Town of Exeter
Exeter is a beautiful riverfront town that makes you feel relaxed and welcome as a visitor. It has a few thousand people but is always warm and friendly towards visitors who come to see the charming scenery.
Exeter is named for the Exeter River flowing through town. You’ll see lots of historical buildings like the Town Hall and a church dating back to the 1600s. It’s a place for leisure as there are several public parks to have a picnic.
Walk past some of the antique homes or explore the artifacts kept in the local museums. It’s one of the best New Hampshire towns for a fun day trip!
New Hampshire State House
State capitol buildings are always must-visit attractions, and the New Hampshire State House is one of the most beautiful buildings you’ll see. It’s hard to miss the monumental gold dome at the top, but that’s only the beginning of exploring the unique architecture.
New Hampshire State House was built in 1819 in the capital of Concord. It’s home to the state government offices, including the governor and senate. It’s open to the public to take guided tours inside to learn about New Hampshire’s history.
Be sure to stop by the gift shop on the way out for souvenirs, and spend some time exploring New Hampshire’s capital city!
Kancamagus Scenic Byway
The Kancamagus Scenic Byway is the most famous scenic drive in New England. Located along a section of NH Route 112, the drive runs through a pass of the White Mountain National Forest to see several natural landmarks and scenic overlooks of the landscape. You will find this gorgeous scenic drive on basically aaaall of the New Hampshire travel guides!
Kancamagus Scenic Byway is a stretch of 34.5-miles between Lincoln and Conway. It’s declared a National Scenic Byway and known for the beautiful scenery. The fall is a favorite time to visit for one of the best views of New Hampshire’s colorful fall foliage.
Bring the family along and go for a hike through the Flume Gorge, one of the most beautiful tourist attractions in New Hampshire. The gorge is located in Franconia Notch State Park, where you can hike a trail leading directly through the scenic gorge.
The hiking trail is a 2-mile trek through the park, with a section of it ascending the gorge via a boardwalk. Not only is the route unique, but you’ll have views of the gorge and the waterway that continues to shape it. You might need a rain jacket because you’ll walk right next to the water flow.
Lakes of the Clouds Hike
Lakes of the Clouds are some of the most memorable lakes you’ll discover during a trip to New Hampshire. The collection of lakes (also known as tarns) is named for their high elevation, more than 5,000-ft above sea level. In fact, they’re so high that they have perfect reflections of the clouds above.
Of course, you’ll have to hike to get to these. Intrepid hikers can hike the 4.5-mile trail (a difficult hike, FYI) up to the lakes.
Swimming is permitted in the lakes, so you’ll feel like you’re swimming in the clouds. The lakes look like natural infinity pools that provide an incredible view over the White Mountain landscape. Talk about the natural beauty of New Hampshire!
Mount Washington Hotel
Built-in the 1900s, the Mount Washington Hotel remains one of the most iconic hotels in New Hampshire. It’s recognized as one of the Historic Hotels of America and officially a National Historic Landmark. Check out the hotel to see what makes it such a popular retreat for presidents and celebrities and why this is one of the top vacation spots in New Hampshire!
As soon as you approach the hotel, you’ll be blown away by the grand architecture. The white façade and red roofs make it a sight to see!
The hotel offers many amenities like luxury guest rooms, a golf course, and skiing. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to get a reservation to stay in one of the most beautiful places in New Hampshire.
Click Here to Check Prices & Book!
Strawberry Banke Museum
New Hampshire is one of the original 13 colonies in the United States. You can get a glimpse into the past by visiting the Strawberry Banke Museum, an outdoor museum consisting of the state’s first settled neighborhood.
Strawberry Banke Museum is located as part of the Portsmouth Historic District. It’s a well-preserved neighborhood where you can see buildings dating back over 300 years old!
A few of the museum highlights are seeing the beautifully preserved gardens and interacting with actors portraying colonists who display their way of life. Visiting during Christmas is absolutely magical, as this is one of the coolest ways to experience an old New England Christmas seemingly come to life!
Dartmouth College Campus
Dartmouth College is one of the most prestigious schools in the country. Established in 1769, it’s one of the nation’s oldest universities. Visit the main campus in Hanover to see the preserved historical buildings.
The Dartmouth College campus is truly amazing. It seems like education isn’t the only attractive part of attending the ivy league school. But the good news is that you don’t have to be enrolled to walk the grounds.
Many of the buildings have a uniform appearance in Georgian-style – even the oldest buildings are still in use today; this is definitely one of the cool things to see in NH if you’re a fan of early American architecture!
If you don’t mind the crowds, the Sabbaday Falls is definitely a place to check out. It’s not the tallest waterfall in New Hampshire, but it’s easily one of the most beautiful. It’s a popular NH destination and easily accessible for all ages.
Sabbaday Falls is located inside the White Mountain National Forest along the Kancamagus Scenic Byway. No tickets are required; just park and hike! You can reach the falls within minutes from the road.
The falls have a drop of 35-ft. A bridge extends above the falls for an aerial view or climb down to see an eye-level perspective of the site.
Castle in the Clouds
Location means everything when it comes to real estate, and the Castle in the Clouds mansion has perhaps the best spot in the entire state. Take a trolly to the mountain summit in Moultonborough to see a beautiful estate with an even better view.
The mansion was built in the 1900s and is now open to the public. The attraction offers mansion tours to see the preserved furnishings. You can also dine at the restaurant with terrace views; if you’re looking for interesting things to do in New Hampshire, add this to the list!
The site has excellent views looking over Lake Winnipesaukee and the rest of the lake region. There are also trails to see nearby waterfalls.
Remember how we said that the best time to visit New Hampshire might just be the spring? Well, a visit to Sugar Hill NH in June will show you exactly why!
Not only is the ground carpeted in the stunning blue and purple blooms, but the adorable little town of Sugar Hill hosts a Lupine Fields Festival to celebrate this annual explosion of spring color in mid June, so if you’re looking for picturesque places to visit in NH, Sugar Hill absolutely must be on that list!
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- 50 Things to Do in New Hampshire: The NH Travel Guide
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- 10 Beautiful Locations for Cross Country Skiing in NH
- 15 Dreamy Lake House Rentals in New Hampshire to Book Now!
- 15 Fantastic Scenic Drives in New England for your Next NE Road Trip
- Your Guide to Mt Washington NH: The Highest Peak in the Northeast!
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, son, and cats, & drinking a maple latte.