On a recent road trip through New Hampshire, our team had the opportunity of exploring the natural beauty and incredible landscapes the state has to offer at every turn. From the small-town feel of their major cities to the endless rivers and falls throughout the White Mountains to the incredible lakes, the state of New Hampshire packs a huge punch despite its small land footprint.
Following our recent trip, we put together 10 places you MUST VISIT on a trip to New Hampshire this year:
Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s largest port city, lies in the South East near the state’s coastline and across the Piscataqua River from Maine. Although the town only inhabits about 22,000 residents, it has plenty to do and see for those stopping by for a few days, such as gorgeous waterfront views, historic homes to see, and a thriving restaurant scene to indulge in.
We got a taste of all three of these on our day trip to Portsmouth, as we parked on Congress Street, and took a stroll along the main streets of Market, State, and Pleasant.
We took our appetites over to Portsmouth Gas Light Co. where we tried a delicious Fried Haddock Sandwich with Fries and were not disappointed. From there, we checked out Cup of Joe Coffee Bar across the street, which is a quaint, warm coffee bar with an array of coffees brewed in-house—perfect for a cooler, rainy day!
The most populous city in New Hampshire and also the largest city in Northern New England, Manchester is a bustling urban center with a rich history and an even brighter future on the horizon on the global map.
Situated alongside the Merrimack River, Manchester provides a great place to wind down at after long days at nearby attractions such as Bear Brook State Park, Monadnock State Park, and the coastline on Hampton Beach.
We spent an entire day in the city and thoroughly enjoyed walking around, visiting coffee shops, and taking in some scenic views of the river from higher vantage points. We ate at the restaurant Republic Cafe, where we tried a flatbread of the day (little brook farm grilled steak tips, fire roasted tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil, arugula) as well as a falafel salad with tahini sauce. It was DELICIOUS! Highly recommend trying this place out, although it is a bit on the pricier side (plates from $12-25).
Manchester is a charming city with many economic opportunities, in addition to its many attractions such as winter and summer outdoor activities, museums, New Hampshire Fisher Cats ball games, and plenty of good places to eat.
In addition, Manchester was ranked #1 in the US by CNNMoney.com for small businesses in 2015, and in 2007 Kiplinger voted the city the 2nd most tax-friendly city in the US. New Hampshire’s favorable tax structure (zero income taxes and zero sales tax), along with Manchester’s proximity to larger cities such as Boston, make it an attractive place to visit and potentially spend some more time in!
Glen Ellis Falls are situated in the White Mountains, just south of Mt. Washington and one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the state with a huge 64ft fall!
Right off the White Mountain Rd., the Glen Ellis Falls Trail is about a 0.6-mile roundtrip hike into the forest and is easily achievable in about 10 minutes to the falls. All in all, with parking, hiking, and visiting the falls, plan to spend an hour or two here to enjoy the several viewpoints these wonderful waterfalls have to offer!
Concord is the capital of New Hampshire. Although it is a very small town sitting at a population just under 50,000 people, it has a cute, charming town that is a perfect stop for a half-day.
Concord is home to several iconic state buildings that are well worth a visit, such as the State Library, the New Hampshire Historical Society, and the State House—a beautiful gold-domed building dating from 1819 and the oldest state house in continuous use in the US!
Everything you’ll want to see in Concord is within walking distance, so park your car along North Main Street close to the State House and take a stroll on Main Street to check out the charming downtown and to grab a bite to eat!
The Flume Gorge, located in the White Mountains in Franconia Notch State Park, is a natural gorge extending 800’ horizontally at the base of Mt. Liberty. It is an incredible sight to see and well worth the $16 entrance fee.
With a short span from one end to the other, you will have plenty of time to see the gorge in a half-day, giving you some time to spend the rest of the day in the Franconia Notch State Park or the nearby town, Lincoln.
The largest lake in New Hampshire, Lake Winnipesaukee is an absolute must-visit in the state! The lake is centrally located and easily accessible from every corner of the state.
Lake Winnipesaukee has a surface area of over 72 square miles or 44,500 acres and boasts 258 islands within the lake. It is a hot spot for those looking to cool off in the summer and take a boat out for the day and begins it high season starting in June. Prices for accommodation and attractions are higher then, but the surrounding lake area is busier with more people to meet!
If you prefer a quieter time, the lake is also available to visit during the winter months with plenty of activities such as hockey, sledding, ice fishing, ice skating, and so much more!
Although we had not heard anything about this place, we saw a sign off the side of the road just North of North Conway so we decided to check it out for ourselves. This place was incredible to say the least!
Diana’s Baths are a collection of waterfalls nestled right in the middle of the forest In the White Mountains and have tons of holes to swim in! This place is perfect for a day-trip or to spend a half-day here. It is accessible enough for people who are not big hikers (only a 10-minute hike to the falls) and safe enough for families as long as children are supervised near the water!
This place has become increasingly popular in the recent years, so we recommend visiting during the weekdays if at all possible as there is not much parking space at the trail entrance.
Kancamagus Highway is a 34-mile scenic highway that splits the White Mountains, and stretches from Conway, New Hampshire to Lincoln, New Hampshire. Although there is only a handful of designated areas you may stop along the highway to take in views like this, I would HIGHLY recommend stopping at each of them as they are so worth it!
The Swift River runs alongside most of the Kancamagus highway and makes for amazing photo opportunities and a great place to sit quietly and take in the sounds of the flowing river and surrounding wildlife.
The White Mountain National Forest, located in Northern New Hampshire, is an 800,000-acre multiple-use forest covering about a quarter of the state, offering countless waterfalls, rivers, and mountains to visit!
During the winter, the main attractions include skiing, snowmobiling, and sledding, while the warmer summer months allow for hiking, swimming, boating, and much more! Driving through the forest will be enough to take in some incredibly scenic views, but you’ll definitely want to stay at least a couple of days to really enjoy the wonderful attractions the mountains have to offer!
Mt. Washington, located in the White Mountains, is the highest peak in the Northeast region of the US, with its summit reaching 6288’. Despite being one of the state’s greatest attractions during the summer months, the mountain is deceivingly dangerous for the majority of the year.
Mt. Washington is considered to be the place with the worst weather in the world, and for good reason.
Don't believe us? For more than 100 days out of the year, the summit at Mt. Washington experiences hurricane-force winds or higher. And to top it off, on April 12, 1934, the highest wind ever observed by man on earth was recorded on Mt. Washington with an unbelievable 231mph (372kph).
There are several ways to get to the summit—hiking, taking the Cog Railway, or driving up the Auto Road. We decided to drive up the Auto Road and it was a great compromise for those wanting to see some incredible views, but who don’t have enough time to hike up.
The price to drive up is $31 for a single person in a car, $9 per additional adult passenger, and $7 for each child passenger 5-12—children under the age of 5 are free! The price might seem high if you are going on your own, but it is definitely well worth it for the amazing views that you witness along the drive up, and especially at the summit.
Luckily, we visited on a mild summer day with a cool 35 degrees and 40mph winds at the summit. As long as you visit during the summer or early fall, you should be in for an incredible time here!
With these 10 stops on your New Hampshire itinerary, we are confident you are in for a wonderful treat in this beautiful state—simply driving between these places will leave you amazed on the countless scenic drives. If your GPS says 1 hour to your destination, budget for two because you will be stopping more than you expect to take in the incredible rivers, forests, lakes, and mountains alongside the highways throughout this beautiful state.
If you get the chance to explore New Hampshire, don’t pass up the opportunity to take in so much natural beauty in every corner of the state—you will not be disappointed!
Disclaimer: In collaboration with NH Division of Travel and Tourism Development. This is a sponsored post, however all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are our own and not influenced by the developing company, and/or its affiliates, in any way.