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Growing up in southern New Hampshire, my worst mistake was neglecting wide variety of adventure opportunities in my own backyard. Perhaps it was a good thing, because now that I’ve spent some time missing home, I find myself exploring and appreciating the ‘Live Free or Die’ state in a new way each year.
If you happen to find yourself in New Hampshire visiting home (like me), or wandering in for the first time ever this winter, here are just a few of my favorite things to do in New Hampshire in winter. I’ve included a few bucket list items as well!
Cut down your own Christmas tree
For those who celebrate the holiday, you’ve never truly kicked off the Christmas season if you haven’t cut down your Christmas tree from the tree farm. In college, I was so surprised to find that none of my friends had ever tromped through the snow to find the perfect Christmas tree, cut it, dragged it to the car, and into the house. Skip burning the evergreen scented candle this year and leave your artificial tree in the closet!
Channel your inner Goldilocks as you evaluate each tree’s height, width, fullness, color, etc., until you find the one that is just right. If you’re lucky, you might just find a leftover bird’s nest too!
(If you go the live tree route, I offer two suggestions: 1) know how tall your ceilings are, and 2) have a vacuum handy.)
As you pull up to Forsters Christmas Tree Farm, Gardens and Gift Shop, you’ll see their dozens of acres of trees standing tall, sprawled over the countryside. Friendly faces greet you over a bonfire, offering hot cocoa and warm apple cider. No need to worry about tools – they’ve got you covered with hand saws, carts and free wrapping to get your tree easily back to the car! Their gift shop is not to be missed, with every ornament and winter decoration you can think of – and more.
Headed a little further north? Check out The Rocks in Bethlehem. A conservation and education center, this beautiful and historic farm is nestled into the foothills of the White Mountains, and isn’t to be missed. Thousands of people head there for their annual Christmas tree, but if you can’t make it in the winter, check out their maple syrup tours, nature trails, and formal garden later in the year!
Ride the mountain coaster
Are you missing Disney World? Try the Mountain Coaster at Gunstock Mountain! Guaranteed to make your tummy flip flop, each two person cart swoops around the mountainside at speeds up to 25 miles per hour. If you prefer a slower, more scenic experience, the carts come equipped with brakes, allowing you to set the pace.
Hop into a horse drawn sleigh
Its both the perfect romantic winter escape or a fun afternoon family adventure to be pulled through the snow adorned paths on a horse drawn sleigh ride. Charmingfare Farm has options for both as you cuddle up under a blanket and let yourselves be led by the clop-clop of the horses’ hooves. Why watch a Hallmark movie, when you could star in your own?
Give dog sledding a try
Ever want to complete your own Iditarod? (Does everyone learn about the Alaskan sled dog race in fifth grade, or is that just in New Hampshire?) Neil, Kasey and Alexis at Dog Sled NH can help you achieve your dreams with the help of their furry four legged friends. The 1.5 hour tour will give you the chance to learn about the history of dogsledding, meet the dogs, and go on a 45 minute guided adventure within the cosiness of your own dogsled. Belly rubs (for the four legged staff) encouraged.
See incredible snow sculptures
Check out master snow sculpturists at the annual Jackson Snow Sculpting competition in…you guessed it, Jackson, NH! These master sculptures from all over the Northeast will turn a giant 8 foot by 4 foot snow tube into a masterful work of snowy art by the end of the weekend – you just have to get there before it melts! The competition is held at Black Mountain Ski Resort, so you can always get a few runs in while waiting for the final results to be unveiled. These aren’t your neighborhood snowmen – prepare for some awesome additions to your instagram feed. (Depending on weather, the sculptures usually last around one week.)
Go snowmobiling in the NH woods
If you’re looking to really get off the beaten path, the North Country awaits. Renting a snowmobile from Tall Timbers or Lopstick Lodges will allow you to travel miles and miles through snowy trails with scenic mountain views of Vermont, Maine, Canada and New Hampshire. You’ll ride through both public and private land (even some maple syrup farms!), and over roads inaccessible to vehicles. On behalf of the local residents, please obey the rules of the trail! Finish the night over dinner and a bucket of brews at The Buckrub Pub, and you might even be able to catch a glimpse of a moose on the way home!
Stand in awe of the Ice Castles
Channel your inner Ana and Elsa at the larger than life Ice Castles that have taken over social media in the White Mountain region. Thousands of icicles and lights combine to make a wintertime wonderland filled with tunnels, slides and more.With both daytime and nighttime options, the Ice Castles can be both family friendly and a romantic getaway.
Hit the slopes!
A classic New England wintertime activity, the ski and snowboarding options abound from southern NH to the Lakes Region. Mount Sunapee, Cannon Mountain, Attitash, Bretton Woods, Loon Mountain offer something for all wintertime adventure seekers. Don’t have equipment, or need a brush up on some skills? The mountains have you covered. Call ahead for lesson availability.
Shop tax free
For those who aren’t as excited to jump onto a ski lift, take advantage of tax free shopping! Shopping the Outlets in Tilton, North Conway, and Merrimack offer great deals nearby to all the best winter adventures. Whether you need an extra pair of gloves or an entire wardrobe, you’ll find it.
Go ice fishing
Ever caught a fish on Lake Winnipesaukee? How about through 12 inches of ice? Check out the Ice Fishing Derby in Meredith on February 9-10. The Rotary Club’s annual event is a fun opportunity to hang out on the ice and compete for prize and bragging rights if you bring in the biggest catch. The Tackle Shack can get you set up with equipment and a fishing license!
If ice fishing isn’t your style, still take a drive by to check out the festivities! It’s always fun to see the bob houses on the iced-over lake with snowy mountains in the background.
New Hampshire is home to the largest breweries like Budweiser and dozens of craft breweries just waiting to be discovered. You can put together a brewery tour through Portsmouth alone, or a longer road trip all over the region to taste some of the best local brews.
Go snow tubing
Whether you’re four feet tall or six feet, nothing beats sliding down a snowy hill on an inflated tube. Pats Peak has you covered for hours of tubing on their groomed hills made for everyone to have fun. Don’t forget to warm up with hot chocolate and one of their famous giant cookies in the warming hut when you’re finished!
Stay in style
The most iconic hotel in the state, the Mt Washington Resort’s grandeur attracts folks from all over for its classic Currier and Ives style and superior accommodations. While you’re there, don’t forget to reserve a horse-drawn sleigh ride! Nearby to one of the top rated ski resorts in the world, Bretton Woods promises days worth of challenging and fun ski adventures and views.
If you’ve got an extra afternoon, consider “climbing” Mount Washington. As the highest peak in Northeast, the summit experiences some of the worst weather in North America. Outfitted with four tracks instead of wheels, the Snowcoach takes guests up to the treeline (about 2/3s of the way up) of the mountain, and stops for the ultimate photo opp. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can ski or snowshoe back down the mountain!
No matter where you go, ask the locals where to get the best food. New Hampshire isn’t necessarily known for its diversity of fine foods, but you can count on its honesty and good home cooking. If you’re craving Irish food, prepare to wait for a table at May Kelly’s Cottage in North Conway – its well worth it. While you’re getting where you’re getting to, tell Cowboy I say hello at Almost There, the roadside pub that feels like home. If its pancakes for breakfast, try Polly’s Pancake Parlor in the mountains, or Parker’s Maple Barn with their selection of fresh maple syrup. Either way, you can’t go wrong. Cotton has a fabulous dinner menu where everyone can find something they’ll like, and you’ll only hear fabulous things about the Common Man restaurant family all over the state.
Whether you’re coming for a family adventure or a romantic getaway, New Hampshire has a winter activity for everyone. Grab a warm coat and a change of clothes, because you’ll want to stay for one more day!
Read these next:
- Fall in New Hampshire: The Best Foliage & Places to Go
- 9 of the Coziest and Best Winter Getaways in New England
- 5 Magical New England Christmas Towns that are Straight Out of a Hallmark Movie
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 blogs 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 cat, & drinking a maple latte.