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Rugged beauty, fiercely independent vibe, duty-free shopping… what more could a person possibly want in a vacation spot? New Hampshire can be a dream destination for indoor and outdoor play (and home to some of the finest skiing in the East), any time of the year… as long as you know where to go to look for it!
Here in this list of the best places to visit in NH, you’re sure to find all the information you need to choose your perfect New Hampshire getaway spot!
Places to Visit in NH
The Lakes Region is a gorgeous area of New Hampshire and is pretty huge and includes 273 bodies of water and a multitude of lovely little towns that make excellent destinations in and of themselves, but Lake Winnipesaukee is an easy stand-out.
You may immediately conjure up images of fun in the sun and splashing about in the bracing New Hampshire water (and heck yes, there’s plenty of boat rentals, watersports, and beach access, including ice-fishing in the winter) but there is so much more to do in this area than just play in the water!
On the west side of the lake, you can hike up to the summit of Mt Major (included in this list of 12 Best Hikes in New Hampshire) and then head up to Weirs Beach in Laconia, one of Lake Winnipesaukee’s most popular beaches.
Swim in the summer or simply take in the view while walking the 1300-feet boardwalk, playing in the arcades, checking out the shops, and eating at one of the region’s best restaurants, the Laconia Local Eatery, where eating local is taken very, very seriously, and carried out with a flair that pleases both the palate and the eye.
On the other side of the lake, you will find Wolfeboro, one of the 7 best places to spend spring in New England, and an excellent landing spot to be near several must-visit attractions, like Castle in the Clouds.
There are over 40 individual communities that surround Lake Winnipesaukee. All of them have their charms and are worth a visit, whether you’re looking for fun and frivolity or calm and quiet on your New Hampshire visit!
As for where to stay, consider booking yourself a lakefront vacation rental. It’s an ideal way to vacation by the lake!
North Conway was named one of the Top 10 Best Small Towns in America for Adventure, and boy, does this town deliver on adventure and aesthetics. Holding court in the heart of the White Mountains and just right up the road from one of the most scenic highways in America (the Kancamagus Highway) the scenery is stunning everywhere you turn.
Indoor and outdoor, there is so much to do. Are you a snow hound? In the winter, there is just So. Much. Skiing: Attitash, Bretton Woods, Cranmore, Wildcat, and more are easily accessible for snow sports, and many ski resorts offer four-season fun, too.
In the summer, North Conway’s REI rentals offer a convenient way to get out and get moving, whether it’s mountain biking, rock climbing, paddling, or one of the other equipment rentals they offer.
North Conway has more than just outdoor fun, too. Settlers Green Outlet Village is a shopping mecca, featuring tax-free New Hampshire shopping at designer outlets and local boutiques.
There are several fantastic dining options both at Settlers Green and beyond; North Conway has some great little restaurants!
There are plenty of awesome places to stay in North Conway and the surrounding Mt Washington Valley, but if you’re looking for a little extra pampering during your stay, check out North Conway Grand Hotel for lush accommodations, a full-service spa, and easy walking distance to Settlers Green shopping!
One of the most darling beaches in the region, Hampton Beach is the perfect New Hampshire place to go, especially in the warmer weather months. Hampton Beach State Park is absolutely beautiful, and the Hampton Beach boardwalk offers up all kinds of classic beachtown fun with unique boutiques and restaurants and attractions to help show you and yours a good time!
One of New Hampshire’s cutest little small towns, Keene is also home to Keene State College, so it has that small college town energy going for it, too! You’ll find a bustling little downtown with lots of great shops, cafes, and The Colonial Theater, a lovely historic theater that always has something happening on stage!
When looking for where to stay in Keene, there are the standard chain hotels and then there’s The Burrell House: full of historic charm and thoughtful amenities, this darling inn is beautifully situated downtown, convenient to lots of fun things to do and see in Keene.
The capital city of New Hampshire, Concord has a newly revitalized downtown and is a great mix of arts, history, and recreation, and is an all-around great place to visit! Take a stroll downtown and visit the Capitol Center for the Arts, which began as a Vaudevillian theater in 1927 and has undergone many evolutions to become the powerhouse 1,304 seat theater that it is today.
Just up the road is Red Rivers Theatres, the art-house cinema that screens independent films. New releases or cult favorites, there is always something thought-provoking showing at Red Rivers Theatres. On the same street is Gibson’s Book Store, the largest independent bookstore in Northern New England and one of the oldest shops in Concord, having been founded in 1898. Stop in and peruse their amazing selection before heading over to Lilise Designer Resale for some sustainable shopping with vintage and luxury fashion finds you can feel good about; there’s no “fast fashion” here!
Visit the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center to explore the interactive exhibits, observatory, and planetarium so you can be enthralled by a closer look at outer space, or visit Concord’s New Hampshire Historical Society’s headquarters for a peek back at New Hampshire’s past.
Once you’ve filled your head with a lot of cool science and history, get outside and clear it at Carter Hill Orchard, home of some of the best apple picking in New Hampshire, and be sure to pick up some of the scrumptious apple cider, maple syrup, and cider donuts made on site!
For dinner, head on over to one of Concord’s favorite restaurants, The Barley House Restaurant & Tavern. This hip and happening spot is known for its delicious locally-sourced grub and their regular live music and community events, like Trivia Nights and Music Bingo. Try the Dublin Burger, it has a whisky gravy!
There are plenty of options for where to stay in and around Concord, but The Hotel Concord will put you right in the thick of vibrant Main Street. This 38-room boutique hotel has a comfortable elegance about it that will leave you feeling revitalized, much as the rest of this cool capital city will during your visit.
Hanover is home to Dartmouth, one of the most prestigious Ivy League institutions in the country, and it’s one of the nicest college towns in New Hampshire. The campus is lovely and you can hop on a tour or simply walk the public grounds yourself, but it’s certainly worth a visit while you’re in town.
Hanover has a darling Main Street full of great shops and restaurants, like Lou’s Restaurant and Bakery, a town institution where Hanover residents and visitors come to grab a bite; the walls are decorated with photos of the community throughout the years, presenting a lovely glimpse into the history of this NH town.
Another lovely lake community in the New Hampshire Lakes region, Meredith is one of those small towns that delivers big on charm. Of course, there’s fun out on the lake, but there’s also the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad that takes off from Meredith Station on a two hour round trip scenic ride around the lake.
If you’re looking for other fun things to do in Meredith, consider catching a show at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse and doing a little dining and shopping at Mill Falls Marketplace. In fact, book a room at Mill Falls at the Lake resort and you can get a little taste of the sweet life in their luxury lakeside accommodations!
Known as the highest peak in the Northeast, Mount Washington is one of the top places to visit in New Hampshire, and there are multiple ways to do this! You can drive or hop on a tour bus, take The Cog (the train that runs to the summit spring through October), or if you’re in the right shape and state of mind, you can hike up it!
It is a heck of a hike, but once you reach the top you’re rewarded with magnificent New Hampshire views and the opportunity to spend a little time at the Sherman Adams building, the rest area/shop/post office found at the summit.
Check out this guide to Mount Washington so you can plan your ascent!
Known in part for being the former home of the Pollyanna author, Eleanor H. Porter, Littleton is a little New Hampshire town with a big presence! This darling NH place is known for its cute Main Street, beautiful covered bridge, and its bronze Pollyanna statue that graces downtown Littleton. In fact, it even won the Great American Main Street Award of 2003!
Grab a bite at the Littleton Diner before catching a show at the The Littleton Opera House, then take the time to peruse the extensive candy selection at Chutter’s, said to have one of the longest candy counters in the world!
Book a room at historic Thayers Inn, perfectly situated within walking distance of all the charming small town things to do in the quaint little town of Littleton!
The Zimmerman House
One of only five Frank Lloyd Wright houses in New England, The Zimmerman House is located in lovely Manchester, New Hampshire. Built in 1950 in the eclectic and unique style of the beloved architect, this Frank Lloyd Wright home is open to the public so you can admire both the inside and out!
Plymouth is one of those places in NH that just doesn’t get the press it deserves, or maybe its just a well kept secret… either way, it’s one of my favorite places to visit in New Hampshire because I went to college at Plymouth State University!
It’s a really beautiful area, with lots of gorgeous natural scenery in addition to all the fun college town type of things there are to do. There’s Tenney Mountain for skiing, the Flying Monkey for live entertainment, and a ton of great places to shop and eat around town.
Biederman’s is the iconic pub that absolutely can not be missed during a visit to Plymouth, so be sure to plan at least one visit to this incredible restaurant! If you’re looking for where to stay in this cool NH town, book a room at the Common Man. It’s got a great modern meets rustic inn vibe that perfectly encapsulates New Hampshire energy.
Nashua is the second largest city in New Hampshire, and it’s definitely bustling with plenty to do! You’ve got lovely trails to walk at Mine Falls Park, you can catch a game at Holman Stadium, and learn and pay your respects at the somber New Hampshire Holocaust Memorial.
Portsmouth is one of the Seacoast’s most popular destinations, and with good reason! Its lovely cobblestone streets and pretty downtown ooze charm, and it is one of those towns that looks like it came straight out of a Hallmark movie at Christmas, in part because it has one of the merriest Christmas celebrations in all of New England.
With all the things to see and do, it’s no wonder that Portsmouth is considered one of the top vacation spots in New England. There is a ton of fabulous boutique shopping downtown: Inside Out is a unique shop that carries everything from clothing to cocktail kits and is sure to have the perfect piece for you to take home as a keepsake from your trip.
Another unique shop to check out is Portsmouth Book & Bar; bookshop-meets-bar, Portsmouth Book & Bar offers live music, community activities, and yes, food and beverage! Portsmouth has a cool bar and brewery scene, too.
Beautiful 10-acre waterfront Prescott Park give great opportunity to take in some of that fresh seacoast breeze, and the huge outdoor living history museum, Strawbery Banke Museum, is renowned for both its incredible immersive glance into the past and the ice skating they open to the public each winter on lovely Puddle Dock Pond.
Pick up tickets for Music Hall or Seacoast Repertory Theatre for incredible live performances, and then grab something to eat at one of the fabulous restaurants Portsmouth has to offer. The Cure is always a good bet for some creatively inspired seacoast dishes like the Lobster Mac and Cheese, made with fresh lobster meat and white truffle oil… Yum!
There are some great options for where to stay while in Portsmouth, too! Beautiful B&Bs, historic inns, and happening hotels abound, but if you’d like to stay at a downtown boutique hotel that offers the best of all worlds, look no further than Hotel Portsmouth, a gorgeous little hotel with a stellar downtown location. Save room for breakfast, too!
One of the most popular hikes in New Hampshire and beyond, Mount Monadnock has a peak of over 3,000 feet that attracts thousands of hikers a year. To get to the top of the mountain is not an easy climb and the fastest hike is a round trip of at least 4 hours, but once at the top, hikers are rewarded with magnificent 360 degree views!
Canterbury Shaker Village
Canterbury Shaker Village offers a rare glimpse into the world of Shakers at this gorgeous historic village. Set on almost 700 picturesque acres, you’ll find dozens of historic buildings, nature trails, demonstrations, and more to show what the simple Shaker lifestyle is about.
Located in Rumney, New Hampshire, the Polar Caves were formed by glaciers moving over the landscape during the last Ice Age. Today, they are one of the most popular natural attractions in New Hampshire!
These gorgeous caves can be explored by any who are daring enough to descend into the earth, and above ground there is a small animal park and a mini lodge with souvenirs and tasty treats!
While Exeter is not as busy a Seacoast town as some of the other spots on this list, it’s still one of the top places in NH to visit! You’ve got the American Independence Museum to visit, the Swasey Parkway to stroll, and the historical Gilman Garrison House to explore, and lovely little shops and cafes like Charlie’s Ice Cream shop to help you refuel afterwards.
Lincoln is another lovely little town in the White Mountains with a gorgeous view and a wide return on fun things to do! First and foremost, Lincoln is the home of one of New England’s favorite ski resorts, Loon Mountain Resort.
If snow sports aren’t your thing, no problem! For winter fun, you can also find the magnificent Ice Castle installations up the road to ooh and awe over, then in warmer weather, check out the Pemi Valley Moose Tours, where you can go on a climate-controlled moose safari to get a great up-close (as close as you can get safely, of course) look at these magnificent creatures!
You’ll also find the Flume Gorge in beautiful Franconia Notch State Park. This is a 2-mile walk through a natural gorge that lets you walk right through some of the coolest scenery and natural features you’ll ever see, like moss-covered boulders, a scenic pool, and beautiful waterfalls. There are also adorable covered bridges along the way, and the entire loop through the Flume Gorge takes less than 2 hours.
Of course, just driving into Lincoln is a sight to see, because Lincoln is at one end of the Kanc (Conway is on the other), so the scenery here is stellar any time of year. While Lincoln is absolutely an outdoor adventurer’s paradise, there are fun indoor things to do here, too!
Jean’s Playhouse is a lovely indoor theater where you can catch a Broadway-style play or musical, a comedy show, a cover band, or a film showing. If you’re looking for live music, check out One Love Brewery for drinks, entertainment, and a full menu of delicious eats, too.
When it comes to where to stay in Lincoln, you have plenty of awesome options, but if you can swing the River Walk Resort at Loon Mountain, you will be positively pampered with hot tubs, fire pits, and the Solstice North Day Spa on-site. Major bonus? Seven Birches Winery is at River Walk Resort, too; can’t possibly get much better than that, can it?
Another lovely lake community in the New Hampshire lakes region that should be on your must visit list, Wolfeboro is a great laid back spot to visit, especially in the summer. Cate Park holds regular community events, and the Wolfeboro Art Walk during the warm weather months offers the perfect opportunity to view some local art!
Lake Wentworth has swimming beaches like Allen Albee Beach, and this lake is one of NH’s biggest, so there’s plenty of space to get out and enjoy the water. Looking to refresh after a day at the lake? Head to La Boca for a bite to eat, it’s one of the top restaurants in the area!
Are you familiar with the lupines of New Hampshire? Well, these tall, bold wildflowers are particularly concentrated in this lovely little town, and Sugar Hill celebrates this with its annual Sugar Hill Lupine Festival & Market!
The Live Free or Die state has a lot of cool places to see and explore, but if you’re picking between the spots on this list, you’re sure to end up in one of the best places to visit in New Hampshire!
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