With towering Mount Washington (6,288 feet/1,917m) and the grandeur of the White Mountains (48 peaks over 4,000 feet/1,220m), the Granite State could be pigeonholed under ‘mountains’. But there are also hundreds and hundreds of lakes, most famously vast Winnipesaukee, one of America’s largest. Add in historic and lively Portsmouth, the sandy seacoast, tax-free shopping and New Hampshire really does offer something for everyone!
At 6,288 feet, Mount Washington is the highest peak in the northeast. No wonder New Hampshire’s soaring White Mountains are a huge attraction. Enjoy stunning views from the summit: drive up the Auto Road or take the world’s first mountain-climbing Cog Railway. As well as boasting two of New Hampshire’s four historic grand hotels, there are dozens of charming inns and bed & breakfasts nearby. Energetic hikers head for the Appalachian Mountain Club’s (AMC) High Huts, inspired by huts in the Swiss Alps. But there are also plenty of easy hikes. Stroll up to the famous Flume Gorge, a 2-mile self-guided walk through a beautiful natural ravine. Or, at one of the many four-season resorts, ride a gondola/cable car to the top: Loon Mountain’s 3,050 ft/980m summit or Cannon Mountain’s 4,080 ft / 1,244m summit. In winter, this area is a skier’s delight; the same resorts offer plenty of warm weather fun as well — with children’s theme parks, mountain rollercoasters, ziplining, mountain biking, and alpine slides.
Also see: Tuckerman’s Ravine, Conway Scenic Railway, The Polar Caves, Settler’s Green Outlet Village, Mount Washington Observatory’s Weather Discovery Center, The Hobo Railroad, Santa’s Village, Storyland, Six Gun City, Whale’s Tale Water Park, Clark’s Trading Post, Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves
With some 300 clean, clear lakes and ponds, as well as rivers and streams, the peaceful Lakes Region, surrounded by three impressive mountain ranges, has been a favorite vacation destination for centuries! The centerpiece is Lake Winnipesaukee, one of the largest lakes in the USA, is the centerpiece, popular with families and couples year round. Recreational activities abound, from boating, swimming, fishing, and cruises in summer, to great snowmobiling and ice fishing in winter. And the scenery is always spectacular. To experience the best views of water and the mountain, board the historic MS/Mount Washington, which offers day tours and, in summer, dinner cruises. Or drive up to Castle in the Clouds, a grand Arts & Crafts mansion perched on a mountaintop overlooking the lakes. In June, motorcyclists from around the country converge for Laconia Motorcycle Week, which includes races and a motorcycle hill climb competition.
Only an hour north of Boston, drive along the short but attractive New Hampshire seacoast. Start in Hampton Beach and end in what Forbes Traveler rates as one of “America’s Prettiest Towns”: historic Portsmouth. Admire the fine 18th-19th century houses, the one-of-a-kind shops and boutiques, outdoor cafés, and restaurants. Just a stroll away from the city center, don’t miss Strawbery Banke Museum, a living history museum. In and around the 43 historic buildings, interpreters recreate the everyday lives of former residents in this restored neighborhood. The museum is only steps away from Prescott Park. Overlooking the Piscataqua River, this lovely waterfront setting is popular in summer for its concerts and outdoor performances. Nearby, the Wentworth Hotel & Spa is one of New Hampshire’s four historic grand hotels. Presiding over the island of New Castle (with the state’s oldest settlement), the hotel has sweeping views over the Atlantic Ocean.
Deep in the Great North Woods, only 20 miles/32m from the Canadian border, Dixville Notch has a population of 75. Yet it hits the headlines for being one of the first communities to declare results during US presidential elections and the New Hampshire primary elections. This hamlet is also home to one of New Hampshire’s four historic grand hotels, the famous Balsams Grand Resort Hotel. On 8,000 acres/3,200ha, this stately hotel offers some 50 miles/80km of cross-country ski trails, an alpine ski area with 16 trails, two golf courses, and award-winning cuisine. All around are moose, bear, deer, and other wildlife — a must-see for nature lovers.
In September, New Hampshire welcomes the “leaf peepers” — the nickname for visitors from around the world, who come to see the dazzling fall/autumn foliage, when millions of leaves change color. The best way to see this intense tapestry of yellow, orange, and red is to drive through the mountains and valleys, dotted with picture-pretty villages. Pick from three National Scenic Byways: the Kancamagus Scenic Byway, the White Mountain Trail National Scenic Byway, and the Connecticut River Byway.
The White Mountains offer the most affordable skiing in North America: lift tickets are two-thirds the price of major Western resorts. Then there are excellent ski schools and consistent conditions, thanks to 97% top-to-bottom snow-making and world-class grooming. Popular resorts include Attitash, Bretton Woods, Cannon Mountain, Cranmore Mountain, Loon Mountain, Waterville Valley, and Wildcat Mountain. Read more about New Hampshire ski resorts.
Four Historic Grand Hotels
Destinations in their own right, New Hampshire’s four historic grand hotels whisk visitors back in time to the grandeur and elegance of another age; all have great golf courses. In the White Mountains, The Omni Mount Washington Resort & Hotel has hosted presidents and celebrities as well as the ground-breaking International Monetary Conference in 1944. Also in the White Mountains, The Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa contrasts 145 years of tradition with all the latest comforts, while the Balsams Grand Resort Hotel in the Great North Woods combines sophisticated lodging with outdoor adventure. With its spa and ocean-view restaurant, the Wentworth by the Sea, Marriott Hotel and Spa has fresh air to spare from the bracing Atlantic Ocean.
Shop till you drop in New Hampshire: there is no state sales tax! What you see is what you pay. Enjoy quaint country stores, unusual gift shops, and fine clothing boutiques, as well as two major outlets: the Tanger Outlet in the Lakes Region and Settler’s Green in North Conway in the White Mountains region. For high-quality souvenirs, made in New Hampshire, the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen has eight tempting stores throughout the state. For 9 days in early August, Mount Sunapee Resort hosts the Annual Craftsmen’s Fair, America’s oldest craft fair, perfect for that special souvenir.
What do 30,000 carved and lit pumpkins look like? Dazzling! In southwestern New Hampshire, visit Keene in mid-October when thousands of jack o’lanterns twinkle at night during the famous Pumpkin Festival. The town has set world records for the number of carved pumpkins lit up at once! Find a fun bargain at Keene’s Colony Mill Marketplace, a 150-year-old former wool mill with shops, restaurants and entertainment. Nearby, climb 3,165ft/965m Mount Monadnock, said to be the second most frequently climbed mountain in the world! Stop in charming Peterborough, the inspiration for Thornton Wilder’s play Our Town.
Open from June through October, this was the home, studio and gardens of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, one of America’s greatest sculptors. Explore the galleries and see 100 examples of his work, from famous public monuments (especially Abraham Lincoln) to the 1907 $20 Gold Piece. Enjoy summer concerts, explore nature trails, or join a sculpture workshop. Nearby, visit the quiet town of Hanover to stroll through the campus of Dartmouth College, one of America’s most prestigious small colleges.
For more information on visiting New Hampshire: www.visitnh.com