15 Best Things to Do in the White Mountains NH

There is so much to love about New Hampshire. From the quaint towns that ooze New England charm, to the picturesque covered bridges over clean, flowing rivers, to the beaches and lakes, we’ve got it all. But the natural wonders that steal hearts and draw crowds above all else? The White Mountains of NH. 

When you hear “the White Mountains,” you might think of the renowned Mount Washington… but there’s so much more! White Mountain National Forest encompasses a large region of New Hampshire, covering nearly a quarter of the state. Stretching 87 miles across central and northern NH into a small portion of western Maine, the White Mountains encapsulate state parks, unforgettable small towns, scenic parkways, mountain ranges, waterfalls, hiking trails, and so much more.

This region is paradise for anyone who loves being active outside in nature, taking scenic drives, or delighting in lush landscape views. In the summer, you’ll discover purple fields of lupines. In the fall, you’ll drive along vistas of bright yellow and red foliage. And in winter, you’ll be in awe of the tallest snow-capped peaks in the northeastern U.S. 

So if you’re ready to discover what makes this corner of the world so special and where the best places to visit in White Mountains NH are, dive into our list of the top things to do in the White Mountains. Let’s get to adventuring!

Take a scenic drive on the Kancamagus Highway

A street wet after the rain with fall trees on both sides
One of the top White Mountains scenic drives, the Kanc is a perfect way to see the gorgeous NH fall foliage!

Designated as an American Scenic Byway (and one of our top things to do in NH!), the Kancamagus Highway is a 34.5-mile White Mountain scenic drive along Route 112 that will leave you speechless. This winding road cuts right through the heart of White Mountain National Forest, and no matter what time of year you drive it, your eyes are in for a feast. 

In October, the “Kanc” is often considered one of the best places in the country to view some incredible fall foliage. Every bend in the road will reveal sweeping views of the White Mountains, Swift River, gorges and waterfalls, all decorated with brilliant reds, burnt oranges and golds. Traffic is a bit heavier during peak foliage season, so make sure to factor in at least 3 hours to drive the full length.

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See the Ice Castles

If you’re looking for White Mountains winter attractions, it doesn’t get much more impressive than the magnificent Ice Castles in North Woodstock New Hampshire! Made entirely of ice, this is a unique White Mountains thing to do in winter that will make for memories that will last a lifetime. There’s really nothing quite like making your way through an ice castle, you can check out this Ice Castles NH Guide here.

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Stay in a rustic cabin

A mountain chalet lit up with fall foliage around
Looking for where to stay in the White Mountains NH? Consider renting a cozy cabin!

One of the best ways to experience the White Mountains up close is by staying in a rustic, one-of-a-kind cabin. When it comes to White Mountain vacations, staying in a cozy cabin is just another part of this region’s charm! Some are deep in the woods at remote locations, where you can be truly immersed in nature and others are conveniently located in towns like North Conway, Lincoln, and Franconia. But it doesn’t matter; regardless of what level of seclusion you pick, the White Mountains are well within reach. Check out our curated list of White Mountains cabin rentals for some inspiration!

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Go on a Moose Safari

Yes, you can totally add going on a moose safari to your must do in the White Mountains list! There are several great moose safari companies in the White Mountains to choose from, including Pemi Valley Moose Tours in Lincoln, North Conway Moose Safari in North Conway (duh, we know!), and Dan’s Scenic Tours Moose Tours in North Conway, Gorham, and Jackson.

Any of those moose tours would be a great addition to a White Mountains vacation as they are some of the best moose tours in New Hampshire, but remember to keep a sharp eye out for moose as you drive the White Mountains roads at any time; moose are LARGE and in charge and if you run into one in your car, your car will take the brunt of the damage, not the moose!

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Ride the Alpine Slide at Attitash

Riding down the mountain in a small sliding sled
This New Hampshire alpine slide is one of the top things to do in the White Mountains!

Looking for a little adrenaline rush? The Alpine Slide at Attitash Mountain Resort in Bartlett is great fun! People bold enough to try this can take the chairlift to the top of Attitash Mountain and mount their plastic sled, which is cradled in a chute track. Then ride it like a bobsled all the way down the mountain, controlling your own speed with a lever. 

This New Hampshire alpine slide is a blast, and the prime opportunity to see amazing views and unleash some happy screams. Make sure to consider the age restrictions before going – it is relatively safe, but accidents can happen due to the detached sleds. 

Get out on the water with North Woods Rafting

If you’re looking for White Mountains things to do in summer, you’ve got to check out North Woods Rafting! Offering water activities for every skill and comfort level, there are many ways to get out and enjoy the gorgeous fresh water of the White Mountains!

Canoeing, kayaking, white water rafting, there’s sure to be something there that appeals to you! Their season runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day, so if you’re visiting the White Mountains in the warm weather months, check them out to see this gorgeous vacation destination from the water!

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Take a ride on the Conway Scenic Railroad

A train traveling through a colorful forest in the fall
Editorial credit: Bob Pool / Shutterstock.com; a train ride through White Mountains New Hampshire is the perfect way to see stunning fall foliage!

The Conway Scenic Railroad is the best way to enjoy the beauty of the Mount Washington Valley without actually having to hike a mountain. Departing from the charming yellow 1874 Station in North Conway, you’ll have a choice between two adventures, both providing some of the best views in the White Mountains. Take the Valley Train on a 1.5-hour heritage rail excursion through Conway and Bartlett, or take the Notch Train for an epic 5.5-hour trip to Crawford Notch, complete with vistas, rocky outcrops and open valleys. Add this one to the list of things to do in White Mountains in October; neither will disappoint!

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Take the kids to Story Land

Looking for the perfect thing to do with little kids in the White Mountains? Spend a day at Story Land, New Hampshire’s favorite kid play place! Located in Glen, you’ll find over 30 fairy-tale-themed, kid-friendly rides and attractions. For kids (and their adults!) who love aquariums,  Living Shores Aquarium is also on the grounds, with fun interactive experiences like tide pools and touch tanks! Story Land is a great kid friendly thing to do in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

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Explore Mount Washington

A snow covered mountain
Climbing the highest peak in the Northeast is definitely a unique White Mountains thing to do!

Ah, Mount Washington. The pride and joy of New Hampshire! This 6288’ mountain is the tallest peak in the Northeast and home to the fastest wind gust ever recorded on earth, at 231 mph. It’s also the muse for the famous “This Car Climbed Mt. Washington” bumper sticker. 

There are two spectacular ways to explore Mount Washington (besides just hiking it!). Take the historical Mount Washington Cog Railway for an unforgettable train ride to the summit. The Cog has been taking passengers up the mountain for over 150 years now. In less than an hour, this thrilling ride will bring you to the summit, where you can get out and take pictures or just enjoy the sights. 

If riding up a steep mountain on a 150-year-old railway isn’t your cup of tea, why not drive your own vehicle? The Mount Washington Auto Road is a scenic White Mountain drive that starts at the base and takes you along a winding path up to the summit. This historic drive is a 7.6-mile ascent that takes roughly 30 minutes, and every bend in the road will offer a unique view of the White Mountains. Keep in mind, there is a toll charge at the base of the road.

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Go chasing waterfalls

A large waterfall over a body of water
So many beautiful waterfalls in the White Mountains to be explored!

Would it surprise you to know there are over 100 waterfalls in the White Mountains? That’s enough to last you years of exploration!

For an easy trek with a beautiful waterfall, beginner hikers can visit Sabbaday Falls in Conway. Another option is the 3.2-mile hike to Arethusa Falls at Crawford Notch. Or embark on the moderate, 4.7-mile out-and-back hike at Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail in Jefferson, which features the incredible Ammonoosuc Ravine waterfalls. 

If none of those interest you, read our list of great waterfalls in NH for more inspiration.

Stay and play at Loon Mountain Resort

A ski lift traveling over a mountain in summer
Editorial credit: Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock.com; White Mountain gondola views are the best!

Loon Mountain Resort in Lincoln, open year-round, offers so many spectacular outdoor adventures in the White Mountains. The resort really comes to life in the winter, when people from all over flock to shred its four beautiful peaks. You can take skiing or snowboarding lessons, or turn your visit into a vacation and stay at their lodge. And if you’re not big into boarding, there are plenty of other options. The resort has its own zipline, Aerial Forest swing, mountain bike trails, and golf course. 

But the most unique activity at Loon is the gondola ride, NH’s longest scenic skyride. The 4-person gondola will take you on a 1.3-mile ascent from the base to the summit of Loon Peak. Savor that fresh alpine air at the top! 

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Zipline through the mountains at Alpine Adventures

A kid playing on the ropes at a playground
Want to try a White Mountain zipline or obstacle course?

If you’re an outdoor adventure seeker, Alpine Adventures in Lincoln is the place for you. This adventure company operates within 300 private acres of pristine nature in White Mountains National Forest. On the longest, highest, and fastest zipline canopy tour in New England, you can climb across obstacle rope courses and zipline through the sky. They also offer off-roading, tower climbing tours, and more. Check out their website if you’re looking for adventurous White Mountains things to do!

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Do some White Mountains hiking

A rocky mountain range
Looking for the best hikes in the White Mountains? You’ve got a TON of options!

There are so many mountain ranges in the White Mountains to hike and explore. The Presidential Range alone, made up of NH’s highest peaks, includes 13 mountains to hike! Other notable ranges are the Kinsman Mountain Range and Franconia Mountain Range. 

There are also some amazing loop trails in White Mountain National Forest. Diana’s Baths out-and-back loop is a beloved, easy hike with refreshing pools to splash around in. Welch-Dickey Loop is a gorgeous, somewhat challenging 4.3-mile trail with constant vista views. And recommended for experienced adventurers is the 8.6-mile Mount Lafayette and Franconia Ridge Trail Loop, which features a lovely waterfall.

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Explore Franconia Notch State Park

A large green field with a mountain in the background and a highway in the middle
Franconia Notch State Park is a definite must visit while in the White Mountains!

Franconia Notch State Park is a world all its own. Directly in the heart of White Mountain National Forest, this park has so much to do. 

Franconia Notch is a breathtaking mountain pass that can be traversed by driving down the winding I-93, which extends from Flume Gorge to Echo Lake. The famous ‘Old Man of the Mountain’ site is located here, as well as the Kinsman and Franconia mountain ranges, Cannon Mountain Resort and aerial tramway, New England Ski Museum, the Recreational Trail for bike riding, Cannon Cliff for climbing, and the Appalachian Trail. Seriously, you’ll never want to leave Franconia Notch State Park. 

Have a spa getaway at Christmas Farm Inn & Spa

This lovely White Mountains inn and spa is one of the best spa getaway destinations in New England, and the idyllic location in Jackson is just icing on the cake! With a full service Aveda spa offering scrubs, polishes, wraps, massages, and more, you’ll be sure to get that zen level stress relief that only the best spas can provide. The indoor heated pool and hot tub aren’t bad, either!

Christmas Farm Inn and Spa is an especially great place to stay in the White Mountains around Christmas–shocking, we know–and it’s less than an hours drive up the road to Santa’s Village, so if you’re looking for holiday family fun in the White Mountains, Christmas Farm Inn and Spa could be the perfect home base!

Click Here to Check Prices & Book!

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