New Hampshire might be one of the smaller states in the US, but it packs a punch with its diverse regions and incredible natural beauty. It’s an outdoor lover’s paradise with its picturesque river valleys, scenic coastline, and soaring peaks offering endless opportunities for adventure.
Beloved for its stunning fall foliage vistas, its picturesque roads lead to charming New England villages and postcard-worthy rural landscapes. History is around every corner of The Granite State, with the chance to explore its past at fascinating living history museums and natural wonders that date back to the Ice Age.
New Hampshire is a beautiful destination year-round. You’ll find plenty of hiking, paddling, and lake-viewing opportunities in warmer months and skiing, ice fishing, and other winter sports excursions in winter. Families will find a range of exciting kid-friendly activities to add to their list, from themed amusement parks and train rides to beach destinations.
With so much to see and do in New Hampshire, you’re spoiled for choice with adventures and activities. We’ve compiled a list of the best of the best, highlighting the top outdoor excursions, fall foliage viewing spots, and family destinations you should add to your New Hampshire bucket list. The best part of this small US state is that its attractions are all nearby, making an adventure-packed vacation to New Hampshire easily accessible!
Don’t forget to check out our web story: The 25 Best Things to Do in New Hampshire
- 25 cool and unique things to do in New Hampshire
- 1. Reach the Summit of Mount Washington
- 2. Go Hiking in Franconia Notch State Park
- 3. Follow the Boardwalk Path at Flume Gorge
- 4. Take a Scenic Drive on Kancamagus Highway
- 5. Go Skiing in North Conway
- 6. Visit a Frozen Attraction at the Ice Castles
- 7. Enjoy Saco River Valley Views at Echo Lake State Park
- 8. Hop Aboard the Conway Scenic Railroad
- 9. Marvel at Waterfalls in Lost River Gorge
- 10. Enjoy Water Sports at Lake Winnipesaukee
- 11. Explore Underground at Polar Caves
- 12. Take a Refreshing Dip in Diana’s Baths
- 13. Play at the World’s Largest Arcade
- 14. Admire Art at Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site
- 15. Visit America’s Stonehenge
- 16. Walk Through Period Homes at Strawbery Banke Museum
- 17. Wander Market Square in Portsmouth (& Prescott Park)
- 18. Stroll the Shoreline at Rye Beach
- 19. Learn About Marine Mammals at Seacoast Science Center
- 20. Escape to the Coast in Hampton Beach
- 21. Day Trip to the Picturesque River Town of Exeter
- 22. Plan a Family Day Out at Story Land
- 23. See the Highlights in Manchester
- 24. Take a Trip Back in Time at Canterbury Shaker Village
- 25. Enjoy Panoramic Views From the Top of Mount Monadnock
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase or booking through one of our links we may earn a small commission (don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you).
25 cool and unique things to do in New Hampshire
1. Reach the Summit of Mount Washington
Hiking enthusiasts can add Mount Washington to the top of their New Hampshire bucket list, as this is the highest peak in the northeastern US at over 6,000 feet. It offers spectacular vistas from the top, where you can marvel at landscapes in Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Maine, Quebec, and the Atlantic Ocean on a clear day!
At the top sits Mount Washington State Park, a 60-acre slice of land that borders the White Mountain National Forest. If you’re not up for the strenuous adventure, you can also reach the summit of this towering mountain via the Mount Washington Cog Railway or the Mount Washington Auto Road.
While both are worthwhile adventures, the Mount Washington Cog Railway is one of the most popular options. In operation since 1869, it’s often referred to as “the cog” and was the world’s first mountain-climbing railway of its kind. Taking about three hours, your round-trip journey includes a chance to marvel at the incredible panoramic views from a deck at the summit.
Located on the scenic NH Route 16, the Mount Washington Auto Road is one of the most popular driving routes in the northeast. You can drive yourself from May to October or sign up for a guided tour to take in spectacular views into the Great Gulf Wilderness and the Presidential Mountain Range along the way.
2. Go Hiking in Franconia Notch State Park
Set in the heart of the White Mountain National Forest, Franconia Notch State Park is an outdoor oasis in New Hampshire. In addition to its natural wonders, it offers scenic vistas around every corner and historic sites to explore.
Spanning an eight-mile portion of Interstate 93 between the high peaks of the Kinsman and Franconia mountain ranges, this park is home to popular attractions like Flume Gorge and Echo Lake. It’s one of the best things to do in New Hampshire if you love the outdoors, as it offers endless recreation such as swimming, boating, kayaking, fishing, hiking, as well as a range of winter activities.
Walk through the renowned Flume Gorge, then ride the exciting Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway or browse exhibits in the New England Ski Museum. In warmer months, you can swim, canoe, and kayak at Echo Lake, ride your bike on the Recreational Trail, or hike the 1.5-mile Artists Bluff Trail for some of the best views of Franconia Notch.
Other popular activities include fly fishing at Profile Lake, while those looking for a thrill can try rock climbing. Alternately, opt for a leisurely day of bird watching to see if you can spot hawks and falcons at Cannon Cliffs. Lafayette Place Campground and Cannon Mountain RV Park offer a base for overnight adventures.
3. Follow the Boardwalk Path at Flume Gorge
Deserving of a spot of its own, Flume Gorge in Franconia Notch is one of the coolest things to do in New Hampshire. A natural gorge that extends over 800 feet at the base of Mount Liberty, this natural attraction is a must-see.
Open to the public from mid-May through mid-October, its two-mile loop goes one way. Along the way, you can marvel at the moss and fern-covered granite walls that rise up to 90 feet in height. The walls are about 12-20 feet wide, which provides a unique walkway where you can experience this natural wonder.
The path is two miles in length and will take you approximately 1.5 hours to explore. It’s worth taking the time to admire the photogenic natural surroundings, which include cascading waterfalls, historic covered bridges, glacier pools, and boulders.
While you hike the trail’s wood boardwalks and stairs, make sure to take note of some of the highlights. Stop to see the bright red Flume Covered Bridge, massive Table Rock outcropping of pinkish Conway granite, 45-foot-tall Avalanche Falls, and boulder-roofed Bear Cave.
4. Take a Scenic Drive on Kancamagus Highway
If you’re up for a scenic road trip in New Hampshire, plan a trip on the Kancamagus Highway from Conway to Lincoln. The 34-mile journey along Route 112 is not only an American Scenic Byway, but it’s also considered one of the best fall foliage viewing areas in the entire country!
This picture-perfect road winds across the state and through the heart of the mountainous White Mountain National Forest, offering a number of vistas along the way. Especially scenic in the fall months, you’ll have the chance to capture views of the White Mountains, Swift River, Lower Falls, Sabbaday Falls, and the Rocky Gorge.
Most travelers come here to get a glimpse of New Hampshire’s famous fall colors that offer a snapshot of quintessential New England scenery. With its tongue twister name, it’s known to locals as “The Kanc,” offering impressive vistas of the state’s bright red and orange landscapes and covered wooden bridges.
If you want to get out and explore, the region is known for its variety of memorable hiking trails and natural wonders. Stop at Covered Bridge Campground and walk across the wooden Albany Covered Bridge or add a visit to Lower Falls Scenic Area, Rocky Gorge Scenic Area, and Sabbaday Falls to your itinerary.
5. Go Skiing in North Conway
Nestled in the picturesque White Mountains, North Conway is a hub for skiing in New Hampshire. Come winter, the area’s range of powder-fresh slopes and ski mountains are perfect for expert skiers and beginners alike.
The most popular destination is Cranmore Mountain, a family-friendly spot with slopes for all ages and skill levels. This winter wonderland offers a long list of activities, including 56 trails with a variety of terrain as well as a snow tubing park, year-round Mountain Adventure Park, and ski and snowboard lessons. Only a quick five-minute drive from downtown, it’s also the area’s most accessible mountain.
Attitash Mountain is another favorite ski spot nearby that is spread across two connected mountains, featuring 68 trails and 11 running ski lifts. Catering to novice skiers and experts, Wildcat Mountain is loved for its impressive views of Mount Washington, Presidential Range, and the Tuckerman Ravine.
If you’re looking for a laid-back ambiance, head to King Pine Ski Area. More off the beaten path, this family-friendly ski resort offers a range of fun winter sports options, including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, tubing, and ice skating. Last but not least, Bretton Woods is the largest ski resort in New Hampshire, with 464 acres of skiing and snowboarding on 63 trails.
6. Visit a Frozen Attraction at the Ice Castles
One of New Hampshire’s must-do things in winter, the Ice Castles in Woodstock is a unique winter wonderland that is fun for the entire family. Each year, this attraction creates a giant ice fortress that is roughly an acre in size, with its tallest points reaching about 25 feet in height.
This popular winter attraction is a must-see, featuring interactive castles with intricate details, including LED lights frozen inside the 25 million pounds of ice. Adding to its magical ambiance, the castles feature ice-carved tunnels, fountains, slides, and frozen thrones.
While you can visit during the day, at night the spectacle is extra-special with the multicolored lights that allow it to glow from within. Other fun things to do at Ice Castles include a sledding hill, sleigh rides, and the Mystic Forest light walk.
After you explore the life-size fairytale playground, take a scenic stroll along an enchanting forest path or hop on a romantic horse-drawn ride. Along the way, you can marvel at the various ice sculptures that artisans spent hours shaping and discover an array of fun photo opportunities!
7. Enjoy Saco River Valley Views at Echo Lake State Park
One of the best places in New Hampshire to enjoy the outdoors, Echo Lake State Park in North Conway is a delightful spot for recreation. In addition to its beautiful scenery, it’s an excellent destination for swimming and picnicking and boasts several hiking trails that wind around the lake and connect to Cathedral Ledge State Park.
Follow the one-mile trail that wraps around the park’s natural wonder for spectacular views of the 700-foot-tall Cathedral Ledge, which towers over the lake. If you want to climb atop Cathedral Ledge, follow the hiking trails or the mile-long auto road to the summit, where you can enjoy panoramic views across the Saco River Valley to the White Mountains.
Water sports are also popular on the lake, with canoeing, kayaking, and swimming being the area’s top activities. Formed during the retreat of the last Ice Age, the sheer granite face of Cathedral Ledge and White Horse Ledge is also a hotspot for rock climbers. In winter, activities like snowmobiling and ice fishing are available.
If you want to camp overnight, head to the Saco River Camping Area in Mount Washington Valley. About five miles from Echo Lake State Park is the Beach Camping Area, a family-friendly spot set along the Saco River with a scenic view of the mountains.
8. Hop Aboard the Conway Scenic Railroad
At the top of many New Hampshire bucket lists, a ride on the Conway Scenic Railroad offers a scenic journey through the state’s most stunning landscapes. Departing from an 1874 Victorian Station in North Conway Village, these round-trip excursions are one of the best ways to see the Valley, no matter what time of year.
There are various train trips to choose from here, starting with the kid-friendly Conway Valley Train, which is a 55-minute classic rural train journey that will take you back in time. For something a little longer, the Bartlett-Sawyer Excursion Train Ride takes you on a leisurely adventure through the Saco River Valley to Bartlett or Sawyer River.
However, those looking for an epic train ride can hop aboard the Mountaineer, a five-hour excursion through the Mount Washington Valley and over the rugged Crawford Notch. The 1950s-era streamlined passenger recreates the experience of a post-World War II Transcontinental streamlined train, with upgrades including a premier travel class with panoramic views from its Upper Dome.
This ride is particularly striking in fall when you can capture views of New Hampshire’s dramatic natural scenery at its peak. Along the way, you can marvel at sheer bluffs, steep ravines, cascading brooks and streams, and panoramic mountain vistas.
9. Marvel at Waterfalls in Lost River Gorge
Lost River Gorge is considered one of New Hampshire’s greatest natural wonders, offering a self-guided journey past picture-perfect cascading waterfalls. Along the one-mile boardwalk, you can also take in stunning views of jagged rock walls, gigantic boulders, and rock-strewn glacial boulder caves.
Located in Kinsman Notch, this area is noted for its picturesque natural beauty. The family-friendly destination appeals to all ages, featuring a wooden boardwalk trail carving through the gorge as it winds its way along the Lost River.
Not only that, but the area also features a Forest Adventure Trail, treehouse, and suspension bridge. You can also test your bravery by climbing into the Giant Bird’s Nest, which offers endless views of the lush forest that surrounds it.
After taking in the views, kids can pan for gemstones or fossils at the Lost River Mining Company. The unique mining experience allows you to search for treasures, which include shark’s teeth, amethyst, calcite, and pyrite.
10. Enjoy Water Sports at Lake Winnipesaukee
Lake Winnipesaukee is one of the top destinations in New Hampshire if you want to unwind and relax. Of the 273 bodies of water in the Lakes Region, this natural wonder is one of the most picturesque, sitting at the foot of the White Mountains and offering access to quaint villages and public beaches.
You can get out on the water on a dinner cruise and see why this gem is said to be the most scenic lake in New Hampshire, charter a boat to explore one of the larger islands nearby, or bring your rod and reel and lure in salmon, trout, and bass. In summer, swimming is popular, while winter brings ice fishing adventures!
Nature lovers can stay on land and explore one of the preserves or learn about the Lakes Region’s flora and fauna at Squam Lakes Natural Science Center. Hiking is abundant, with trails offering views of Belknap Mountain, Mount Major, and West Rattlesnake Mountain. When snow arrives, snowmobiling and ice skating are available.
There are over 40 communities surrounding the lake, with Weirs Beach, Wolfeboro, and Laconia being some of the highlights. For an overview of the area, follow the almost 100-mile Lakes Region Tour Scenic Drive around the lake to explore the collection of charming towns.
11. Explore Underground at Polar Caves
Polar Caves is one of the most unique things to do in New Hampshire, offering a fun day of exploring. Family-owned and operated for 98 years, this outdoor experience offers a chance for you to adventure through boulder caves that were formed during the last Ice Age when a glacier moved over the White Mountains.
Offering a series of caves and passageways for exploring, self-guided tours at Polar Caves get you up-close with a series of fascinating ancient formations. Connected by boardwalks, the granite boulder caves at the base of Hawk’s Cliff are easily accessible.
You can duck, squeeze, and shimmy through the nine caves, then learn the history behind attractions like Polar Pinch, King’s Tut, The Bear’s Den, and Orange Crush. Afterward, you can enjoy lunch in the picnic area or pick up treats and trinkets in the Main Lodge.
Kids will also love the park’s nature trails and rock garden, while an on-site animal park features a collection of rare and domestic animals. Say hello to white-tailed deer and Fallow Deer and bring quarters to feed them corn!
12. Take a Refreshing Dip in Diana’s Baths
Located in the southeastern corner of New Hampshire, Diana’s Baths is a series of cascades on Lucy Brook, nestled within the White Mountain National Forest. A must-see at any time of year, this natural attraction in Bartlett is fed from Big Attitash Mountain.
In summer, this hidden wonder is a great spot for a refreshing dip and a great place for kids and grown-ups alike who want to enjoy the natural water park. Featuring a tranquil setting, it is surrounded by boulders, ledges, swimming pools, and cascading falls.
After a fairly easy 1/2-mile hike on a flat, wide gravel path, you’ll reach the base of the cascading falls and a shallow area. Once here, you can look upstream and capture a view of the photogenic cascades in all their glory.
In addition to a group of rock formations, you’ll find a series of shallow pools where you can dip your toes in the water or take a soak. After your swim, enjoy a lunch and waterfall view from the picnic area or bask in the sunshine on the smooth rocks.
Diana’s Baths is currently suffering from over-tourism which is causing parking challenges, overcrowding, and an excess of trash from tourists. There are plenty of other amazing spots along the 32-mile byway that are less touristy and worth a visit including Rocky Gorge (pictured below).
13. Play at the World’s Largest Arcade
One of the coolest things to do in New Hampshire if you’re a video game lover is visit the world’s largest arcade. Located in Laconia, this Funspot Arcade is officially ranked in the Guinness Book of World Records.
The arcade actually caters to all ages, offering a collection of vintage video arcade games and pinball machines. You can expect to see throwbacks like Space Invaders, Frogger, and Pong that will take you back to the golden age of video games from the 70s and 80s, with the floor lined with row after row of vintage options like Tetris, Tron, and Toobin’.
You won’t get bored here, as there are over 600 games, 300 of which are classic arcade games. Not only that, but visitors of all ages will love the 20-lane 10-pin and candlepin bowling center, cash bingo, and 18-hole indoor mini-golf.
After hours of gaming, you can grab food at one of the arcade’s on-site restaurant options. The family-friendly Braggin’ Dragon is known for its 17-inch pizzas, while D.A. Long Tavern features craft beer, darts, and pool tables.
14. Admire Art at Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site
You can step into the world of one of the greatest American artists at Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, which includes the home, studio, artwork, and garden of Augustus Saint-Gardens. Learn more about this famous American sculptor, then follow one of the scenic hiking trails that wind through the woods.
Located in Cornish, this 190-acre site features more than 100 of the sculptor’s artworks exhibited in its galleries. Get up close to expressive portrait reliefs and full-size bronze casts of some of his most famous works in New Hampshire’s only national park.
Don’t miss the “Shaw Memorial,” which is widely considered his masterpiece and took him 14 years to complete. Also on display are the $10 and $20 gold pieces commissioned by President Roosevelt, which were minted from 1907 to 1933. Many consider the $20 gold piece to be the most beautiful of American coins!
The area is also noted for its natural beauty, surrounded by a picture-perfect mountainous landscape. Capture the nature views that inspired Saint-Gardens by following one of the hiking trails, which feature interpretive panels about the area’s natural history. The short 0.25 Ravine Trail takes you to a swimming hole used by Saint-Gardens, while the two-mile Blow-Me-Down Trail ends at a millpond.
15. Visit America’s Stonehenge
Nicknamed America’s Stonehenge, this archeological site in North Salem is one of New Hampshire’s long-time treasures. It first opened under the name “Mystery Hill Caves” in 1958 and is now a unique attraction for history enthusiasts.
While it looks nothing like the actual Stonehenge in England, it does include a series of manmade chambers and stone walls. In addition to unique stone arrangements, there are ceremonial meeting places and a one-acre granite outcropping with a collection of rock structures built on top of it. It’s said the site is over 4,000 years old!
The site is shrouded in legend, with its origin and purpose debated by scholars and amateurs alike for years. Most people believe that a native civilization must have made use of this area, as fragments of bowls and stone tools, as well as fire pits, have been unearthed during various excavations.
Wherever it came from, there are ancient mysteries locked within this site that make it a cool day trip to see the winding maze of stone structures. History buffs won’t want to miss the giant astronomical calendar made of standing monoliths, while a hike around this area reveals a peaceful path with panoramic views of the lush forest.
16. Walk Through Period Homes at Strawbery Banke Museum
Set in the heart of historic downtown Portsmouth, the Strawbery Banke Museum is a fascinating outdoor history museum. Within the 10-acre property, this popular New England attraction is dedicated to bringing 300+ years of American history to life.
It’s one of the best things to do in New Hampshire if you’re a history buff, offering a glimpse into centuries of Portsmouth’s past. The 10-acre attraction is named after the first settlement here on the Piscataqua River, featuring almost a dozen historic homes filled with vintage furnishings.
Representing four centuries of history, the houses offer insight into what life was like in this time period. Explore the area and you’ll find all sorts of homes – from the grand 1811 Federal-style mansion to a 1762 Georgian home. Some houses are adorned with furnishings that represent the era, while others feature cutaway displays and exhibits highlighting the tools that were used to construct them.
Staffed with costumed role players, you can learn more about the rich history of the Puddle Dock neighborhood as you explore buildings from the late 1600s until the 1950s. See the fully-stocked Marden-Abbot House and Store that depicts life in the wartime 1940s, then catch one of the live trade demonstrations that include authentic cooking and weaving.
17. Wander Market Square in Portsmouth (& Prescott Park)
After a visit to the Strawbery Banke Museum, you can explore more of the charming coastal city of Portsmouth. Once one of the most important ports of the Colonial Era, this popular day trip from Boston is now one of New England’s most popular port towns.
Start your visit in the buzzing Market Square, which is filled with boutique shops, cafes, and art galleries. You can also take a break in the leafy Prescott Park, a tranquil area set along the banks of the Piscataqua River, where you’ll find a collection of beautiful blooming flowers. It’s particularly noted for its tulip displays in spring!
History lovers will find plenty to explore in Portsmouth. The Moffatt-Ladd House is considered one of America’s finest Georgian mansions (where two signers of the Declaration of Independence lived), while the 1716 Warner House boasts the oldest painted murals in the US.
Alternately, the Black Heritage Trail is a self-guided walking tour through the historic center that offers insight into the Black culture of the Colonial and Federal periods. For a scenic journey, hop on one of the cruises from Portsmouth Harbor to the Isles of Shoals for an excellent view of the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse and historic Fort Constitution.
18. Stroll the Shoreline at Rye Beach
One of New Hampshire’s most charming seaside towns, Rye offers stunning ocean views and a laid-back atmosphere. This coastal gem has 17 miles of coastline where you can enjoy beautiful beaches, delicious seafood, and easy access to nature.
In summer, the coastline is a popular draw with local surfers, with surf shops dotting its main road. Catch the surfers in action or ride your bike to Rye Harbor, where you can catch a fishing tour or cruise to the Isles of Shoals and Star Island.
Go swimming, picnicking, and seashell collecting at Jenness State Beach, or drive 10 minutes to nearby Wallis Sands State Beach to hike its rocky walking paths and enjoy views of the Isles of Shoals in the distance. If you’re on a family vacation, head to Odiorne Point State Park and visit the kid-friendly Seacoast Science Center.
Make sure to wrap up your day with a seafood dinner, as you’ll find some of New England’s freshest offerings served at casual restaurants. Petey’s Summertime Seafood and Ray’s Seafood are two local favorites with items like lobster rolls, chowder, and jumbo shrimp on the menu.
19. Learn About Marine Mammals at Seacoast Science Center
Located on the grounds of Odiorne Point State Park in Rye, the Seacoast Science Center offers science education through hands-on learning. At this family-friendly attraction, you can get up close to aquatic life, explore woodland paths, discover inhabitants of a tide pool, and learn about how to save seals and other marine mammals.
One of the most popular exhibits is the Tide Pool Touch Tank, where you can actually hold a sea star, green sea urchin, and hermit crab. You can also observe fascinating live animals in the Gulf of Maine exhibit, including lobsters, mussels, dog whelks, and winter flounders.
Learn about whales through Tofu’s story, a humpback that lived in the Gulf of Maine, and marvel at the 32-foot whale skeleton on display. The Edge of the Sea allows you to see animals under a high-powered microscope, while Working Underwater highlights the challenging world of undersea exploration.
Little ones can explore the Discovery Dock, where they can become fishermen at sea. After you visit the museum, get outside and enjoy the picturesque rocky coastline that defines the 330-acre Odiorne Point State Park. In addition to a wooded picnic grove, there is a playground and miles of walking trails.
20. Escape to the Coast in Hampton Beach
Nestled on a small strip of sand on the Atlantic Ocean coastline, Hampton Beach is just a short drive from Rye and one of the most popular beach destinations in the state. In addition to its sun-kissed beach, you’ll find an array of family-friendly activities to enjoy in this small town.
Visiting Hampton Beach’s Funarama Arcade is a must, with video games, skeeball, and pinball machines lining this venue since 1905. For some adults-only fun, head to Hampton Beach Casino and try your luck at Craps, Poker, Black Jack, and Roulette. Other popular attractions in Hampton include the Casino Ballroom, which hosts world-class concerts and comedy acts.
Hampton Beach State Park offers year-round outdoor recreation, offering Atlantic Ocean-facing facilities and miles of sandy coastline to enjoy. Pack your sunscreen and enjoy a fun day of swimming, fishing, picnicking at this outdoor oasis. You can even stay overnight in the RV park.
Pick your own apples and purchase homemade pies at Apple Crest Farm Orchards, the oldest and largest farm in New Hampshire. If you want to learn more about the ocean and its marine life, visit the Blue Ocean Discovery Center, where you can explore its large touch tanks filled with crabs and periwinkles.
21. Day Trip to the Picturesque River Town of Exeter
A popular stop on most New Hampshire bucket lists, Exeter is a picturesque river town located about 10 miles inland from the coast. Once a Revolutionary War capital, this town is rich in history and known for its beautiful scenery and small-town ambiance.
You can take a step back in time with a visit to the American Independence Museum, which is a National Historic Landmark that boasts an original copy of the Declaration of Independence. If you time your visit right, history buffs can also attend the annual American Independence Festival in summer with battle reenactments.
Take the afternoon to browse Exeter’s picture-perfect tree-lined streets, including the main stretch of Water Street with its collection of quaint boutique shops, antique stores, and art galleries. Pick up produce at the seasonal Exeter Farmers’ Market at Swasey Parkway, then sit and enjoy the tranquil water views by the Squamscott River.
Exeter is home to a range of charming eateries, including Trackside Cafe with its tasty breakfast options. The Green Bean is an Exeter favorite with its homemade soups, salads, and sandwiches, while Laney & Lu Cafe serves fresh food made with local ingredients.
22. Plan a Family Day Out at Story Land
Absolutely one of the coolest things to do in New Hampshire if you’re traveling with kids, Story Land is an exciting theme park attraction in Glen. This children’s theme park is packed with fun for the entire family, offering rides and entertainment for over 65 years.
There are over 30 kid-friendly attractions at Story Land to keep you busy for an entire day, including the Roar-O-Saurus wooden roller coaster and the Bamboo Chutes ride that ends with a big splash. Hop on the Huff Puff & Whistle Railroad tour or ride in a Pumpkin Coach, then battle it out at the Splash Battle or say hello to the farm animals.
If you’re more of a Christmas fan, make sure to add Santa’s Village in Jefferson to your New Hampshire itinerary. Designed for kids 13 and younger, this Christmas-themed amusement park has fun winter-themed rides like Rudy’s Rapid Transit Coaster, Santa’s Express Train, and The Great Humbug Adventure. There’s also an on-site water park for summer fun.
Canobie Lake Park in Salem is another popular family destination in New England. With more than 85 attractions to choose from, including family and kid-friendly rides, water rides, and games, this park has been open for over 100 years. It also features a huge collection of arcade games and a range of family-friendly live shows.
23. See the Highlights in Manchester
Manchester is the largest city in New Hampshire and is considered a must-visit destination when exploring The Granite State. Serving as the state’s center of art and culture, it’s also beloved for its leafy parks and historic sites.
Start your Manchester adventure at the Currier Museum of Art to see a collection of European and American artwork. You don’t even have to be an art enthusiast to appreciate masterpieces from the likes of world-renown artists like Matisse, Picasso, and Monet.
You can also take a guided tour of the Zimmerman House, the only Frank Lloyd Wright home open to the public in New England. One of the city’s most historic landmarks is The Palace Theatre, which was built in 1914 and now hosts a range of live performances and plays.
If you prefer to get outdoors, enjoy New Hampshire’s natural beauty at Massabesic Lake. This natural area is a great spot for fishing, biking around the lake, hiking, and paddling via kayaks and canoes. Sports lovers can also catch a game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, which is home to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats baseball team.
24. Take a Trip Back in Time at Canterbury Shaker Village
A National Historic Landmark and museum, Canterbury Shaker Village sits among the picturesque rolling hills of central New Hampshire. A short drive from Boston and just south of the New Hampshire Lakes Region, this unique village serves to preserve the heritage of the Canterbury Shakers.
Sign up for a guided tour of this historic venue for an insider’s look at the property from knowledgeable guides, or explore the village on your own on a self-guided adventure. You can browse the village’s beautifully preserved 25 original and reconstructed Shaker buildings.
It’s like a step back in time, where you can get an in-depth view of the daily life of the Shaker Community from long ago. Admire the architecture, as well as the vintage Shaker furniture, crafts, and objects on display. You can even visit a Bee House and Infirmary.
Spread across almost 700 acres, you’ll also discover the village is home to beautiful forest and nature trails, as well as scenic gardens and ponds. In fall, the countryside scenery is picture-perfect with the changing colors of the leaves!
25. Enjoy Panoramic Views From the Top of Mount Monadnock
Those up for a hiking challenge should add Mount Monadnock to their New Hampshire bucket list. One of the most popular hikes in the region, this 3,165-foot beauty towers 1,000 feet higher than any other peak in the area.
The mountain is accessible from several towns and trailheads, each varying in degree of difficulty. Overlooking the lush forests and shimmering bodies of water and with views that extend all the way to the Boston skyline and Mount Washington, it’s easy to see why this is such a popular trek in New Hampshire.
You can follow trailheads in Dublin, but the most popular option starts at Monadnock State Park in Jaffrey. The two-mile White Dot Trail is a common route up to the summit, while the 2.2-mile White Cross Trail offers a convenient way down.
Along the way, you’ll have to traverse a variety of terrain. In addition to rock stairways, there’s part of the trail that becomes steep and includes large boulders that require some climbing. However, the stunning nature views will keep you motivated, especially as you reach the summit. Fall is a particularly photogenic time to hike this scenic trail.
There you have it! The 25 best things to do in New Hampshire. What’s your favorite thing to do in The Granite State?
Planning a trip to New Hampshire? Check out our favorite books and travel guides!