New Hampshire Holiday Planning Guide
One of the country's smallest and least populous states, New Hampshire's wealth of recreational offerings makes it a popular vacation destination. Its many pristine natural areas attract skiers, snowmobilers, hikers, and mountaineers from around the world. Named after a county in England, New Hampshire was the first of the North American colonies to establish a government independent of Great Britain's authority. Though New Hampshire's official nickname refers to its extensive granite formations and quarries, the state's license plates carry the motto "Live Free or Die," reflecting the sense of independence prized by the famously terse natives. Find out why America's artists continue to find inspiration in New Hampshire by taking a trip to its quaint villages and sightseeing in the area's old colonial towns.
Places to Visit in New HampshirePortsmouth
: America’s third oldest city and part of New Hampshire’s growing metropolitan “Seacoast” area, Portsmouth draws scores of tourists annually due to its mix of charming small-town ambience, cosmopolitan culture, restaurants, and nightlife.White Mountains
: Covering a quarter of New Hampshire, this mountain range is an ever-popular tourist destination for hikers and campers known for its rugged terrain as well as a number of state parks and a huge national forest.North Conway
: Set amid the nearby scenic White Mountains, North Conway is one of many places to visit for those who love to go hiking and fishing. There are also numerous outlet stores stocking goods from the world’s most recognizable brands, so a North Conway holiday is additionally ideal for retail therapy.Lincoln
: A remote village ideally located for welcoming hikers along the Appalachian Trail. The quaint charms of the town and its independent businesses run by locals is also a notable, winning feature of Lincoln, and this lends well to a New Hampshire holiday.Jackson
: A town steeped in the American folklore traditions and ideals of the Western, Jackson acts as a good anchor for visiting beautiful national parks, numerous ski resorts, and a natural elk reservation--ideal for a summer vacation in New Hampshire.Franconia
: With the White Mountains serving as an idyllic backdrop, Franconia draws hikers and sightseers because of its proximity to White Mountain National Forest and the Appalachian Trail. It’s also one of the premier ski spots in New Hampshire due to the Cannon Mountain Ski Area.Manchester
: A popular annual tourist destination for those in neighboring New York and Connecticut, the pull of Manchester’s outlet stores for fashion giants such as Ralph Lauren has proved a big pull for those looking to partake in a retail therapy holiday in New Hampshire.Bretton Woods
: A town most well-known for being the venue of the creation of the IMF and the World Bank, Bretton Woods offers plenty of outdoor activities and is famous for its golf courses and leisure and recreation centers.
Things to Do in New Hampshire
Popular New Hampshire Tourist AttractionsKancamagus Highway
: Running through the scenic White Mountain National Forest, the Kancamagus Highway follows the Kancamagus Pass River, where many visitors enjoy going for a swim or hiking amidst the trees.Alpine Adventures Outdoor Recreation
: An ideal spot if you’re after an outdoor holiday in New Hampshire, the park’s renowned zipline canopy tours send visitors soaring along some of the highest ziplines in the U.S. The park also offers off-road safari-style trips.Conway Scenic Railroad
: Two railway routes through picturesque, idyllic sections of the White Mountains wind through valleys amid forests, rivers, and mountain vistas.Story Land
: This child-friendly and playful theme park centered around story books features attractions and rides based on the likes of Cinderella and includes more than 20 rides, water-based adventures, and kid play areas.The Mount Washington Cog Railway
: Travel via steam engine coach to the top of the world’s first mountain-climbing cog railway and enjoy the views stretching out over New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Canada, and the Atlantic Ocean.Mt Washington Auto Rd
: Take this winding road to the summit of Mount Washington for glimpses from the highest peak in the Northeast.Canobie Lake Park
: Discover more than 100 rides at this amusement park, including a huge array of thrilling rollercoasters and live entertainment.Santa's Village
: This Christmas-themed park manages to capture the imagination and magic of Christmas with its themed rides and water park. Flume Gorge
: Accessed via hiking trail, this deep gorge contains several picturesque waterfalls and cascades. The route and length taken varies, with trails accessible for all levels.Clark's Trading Post
: This railway gives visitors the chance to take a ride with a steam locomotive on a classic railroad amidst the scenic mountain ranges of New Hampshire and surrounding forests.You can also try your hand at riding a segway and seeking out the famed trained bears that belong to the complex.
Planning a New Hampshire Vacation with Kids
Places to Visit in New Hampshire with Kids
There are a number of family-friendly places to visit in New Hampshire that offer a range of outdoor, indoor, cultural and lively endeavors for the whole family. Go to North Conway
for a thrilling time in one of the amusement parks and enjoy rides which cater to all ages, or try sports-based activities like climbing courses. New Hampshire also offers museums that cater specifically to kids but can be enjoyed by the entire family. If you’re planning a Christmas holiday in New Hampshire, then visit the idyllic snowcapped peaks of the White Mountains coupled with Lincoln
’s christmas-themed park. If a relaxed, inquisitive approach is what you want from your New Hampshire holiday however, then seek out the museums, educationally enriching science centers, and historic sites of Portsmouth
Things to Do in New Hampshire with Kids
A New Hampshire holiday is definitely one that can be enjoyed by the whole family. The thrill seeker in you will find Canobie Lake Park
an excellent day’s diversion, as it features more than 100 rides. Young kids gravitate toward Story Land
an alternative amusement park, themed around classic stories and like Cinderella. To quench the natural curiosity of the young ones, Mount Washington Valley Children's Museum
lets them dress up or explore toys and games from the past. For families that require an active, recreational holiday that contains plenty of hiking and swimming, visit White Mountains
. An adventurous alternative could be Alpine Adventures Outdoor Recreation
, which offers the highest zipline canopy tours in the whole of the U.S., as well as giving visitors the chance to take part in some wildlife-spotting via off-road safari-style tours.
Tips for a Family Vacation in New Hampshire
With its pristine forests, impressive mountain ranges, clear lakes, cultural and historical gravitas, New Hampshire offers a variety of options. If your family enjoys sporty activities then a New Hampshire holiday could prove enticing, giving you the chance to hike, swim, ski, kayak and climb to your heart’s content. The state is however also well-stocked with interesting educational endeavors as well, with its choice of museums and historical port towns to discover. Another thing to consider is the considerable portion of amusement parks in New Hampshire, which should definitely keep the adults and kids equally occupied with their imaginative ideas and themes, and of course, thrilling rides.
Dining and Shopping on Holiday in New Hampshire
Cuisine of New Hampshire
New Hampshire's generations of settlers, its coastal position, and the state’s proximity to Canada, have all mixed to influence cuisine in the area. Locals love to cook with the abundant fresh fish and shellfish in New Hampshire’s coastal resorts and towns. If you’re passing through North Conway
, known nationwide for it’s lobster, try Jonathan's Ogunquit
for a relaxed and understated fine-dining experience. Try lobster bisque if you’re interested in sampling the delicious seafood of the area. A lot of New Hampshire’s traditional fish dishes can be found here, as well as apple crisp, another staple of New Hampshire cooking. For a rustic flair, visit The Oar House for burgers, fries, and a range of seafood dishes that Portsmouth
, the nation’s third oldest port city, is known for.
Shopping in New Hampshire
A New Hampshire holiday is one replete with bountiful options for shopping, from world-recognized brands to locally made delicacies. Chutters
is one of the latter, an excellent option for those with a sweet-tooth. Browse through the massive selection of jars stocking sweets, fudge, and chocolate made within the Granite State. If you’re in the town of North Conway
, take the time to visit Zeb's General Store
, which is filled with delicacies and goods, both locally produced and of a rarer nature. The state is excellently equipped with malls and outlets. Manchester
’s The Mall of New Hampshire
provides a huge, varied selection of stores like Sears and Macy’s in a fully air-conditioned building, also loaded with fast food establishments. Alternatively there is the Settlers Green
, a retail site with more than 30 stores for clothing brands like Ralph Lauren and Banana Republic.
Know Before You Go on a Trip to New Hampshire
History of New Hampshire
First settled by English fisherman in 1623--just three years after the pilgrims landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts--New Hampshire is characterized as a terse, fiercely independent state. New Hampshire’s role in the American Revolution and the abolition of slavery helped to build proud, self-reliant Granite Staters. As one of the Thirteen Colonies that opposed British rule in the 18th century, New Hampshire became the first of those to set up independent government in 1776, establishing the foundation for what would become the United States of America. American Independence Museum
provides an excellent introduction for those who want to know more about New Hampshire’s role in America’s independence.
As one of the founding fathers of the nation and an early and avid supporter of the Revolutionary War, John Langdon was an involved politician, including several stints in the Continental Congress. In his hometown of Portsmouth
, one of the U.S.’s oldest and most historic cities, you can visit the grand Historic New England Governor John Langdon House
, which has been restored to its 18th-century look and style by Langdon’s descendants. To delve deeper into the history of the rich and well-storied background of this old port city, head to Strawbery Banke Museum
for an example of a colonial-era neighborhood. Here you will gain insight into how people lived in Portsmouth
through four distinct centuries. A self-guided tour will take you from the 1600s to the 1950s with lessons in colonial, federal, and Georgian architecture, as well as outlining traditional clothing and crafts through the ages via restored buildings and reenactments of key events in the history of the city.
The famous American poet, Robert Frost, resided in New Hampshire for a time in his adult years. After Robert dropped out of his studies at Harvard University in neighboring Cambridge, Massachusetts, his grandfather purchased a plot of land shortly before his death for Robert and his wife Ellinor. Frost worked the land as a farmer for nine years, while writing his prose and poetry in the early hours, and would go on to produce some of his most famed and well-regarded work in this period. Add Robert Frost Farm State Historic Site
to your New Hampire itinerary for the chance to see how one of the state’s most famous residents lived. A tour guide will take you through the home, austerely decorated as was befitting of farmers in this period, and will also attempt to create links between the rooms themselves and Frost’s poems.
Additionally, for a glimpse into the life of another famous Granite Stater, Franklin Pierce Homestead
is a worthy inclusion for your New Hampshire holiday. The 14th president of the U.S.’s stately home and grounds have been fully restored to its beautiful past grandeur. Visit for the chance to learn about Pierce’s younger days spent in the Mexican-American. war, and his controversial support of the anti-abolitionist movement.
Though Wright Museum of World War II
is more related to national rather than state history, the museum’s detailed exhibitions, intuitive layout and restoration of wartime vehicles may prove enticing for World War II buffs, or as a family-friendly educational tool for those looking to learn more about America’s efforts in the war.
Landscape of New Hampshire
Exceptionally mountainous, green and filled with pristine lakes and gorges, a New Hampshire holiday is definitely one filled with beautiful scenery. The state’s White Mountains cover a quarter of New Hampshire and are exemplified by high, snowcapped peaks and national forests. Franconia Notch
showcases rock formations that many trekkers find interesting. From Echo Lake, the park’s scenic body of water leads out into various regional rivers. The state’s landscape lends well to sightseeing and produces magnificent aerial views. Take the The Mount Washington Cog Railway
for a scenic route climbing to the top of Mount Washington, from which you have a vantage point over New Hampshire and surrounding areas. The Lakes Region and Seacoast, as well as the White Mountains, make a New Hampshire holiday an attractive option for scores of national and international tourists annually. The diversity of the landscape is what makes the Granite State an interesting getaway, offering numerous opportunities for time on the beach, by the lake, or in the mountains. Head to the mountainous landscapes of North Conway
for activities ranging from hiking to mountain biking. For beach and seacoast activities you have the historic port city of Portsmouth
for plentiful opportunities in the summer to explore four of the nine shoal islands surrounding the coast, as well relaxing beach and harbor activities. Explore the pristine lakes of Laconia
where activities such as SUP-NH Paddleboard Rentals
will keep you occupied. If you are after a secluded,nature-centered holiday in New Hampshire, venture beyond the White Mountains
to Connecticut Lakes Region
, an isolated part of the state in the far north, just below Canada, where among a backdrop of the mountain range and lakes, you are nearly as likely to encounter indigenous wildlife, such as moose, as you are human beings.
Holidays & Festivals in New Hampshire
Like the rest of the country, New Hampshire celebrates all major U.S. holidays. Visits to museums like American Independence Museum
for special guided tours on Independence Day. Connecticut Lakes Region
proves to be a popular New Hampshire holiday destination, especially for Independence Day. The numerous towns and in and around the state also hold foliage and pumpkin festivals, heralding the arrival fall, a beautiful time of the year in New Hampshire. Consider a visit to Santa's Village
, a Christmas-themed amusement park, during the holidays.
New Hampshire Travel Tips
Climate of New Hampshire
New Hampshire enjoys warm, humid summers and cold, wet winters. Consider the summer months as ideal for trekking--you’ll have plenty of opportunity to explore the national forests, parks, and gorges in the state. Despite the cold, New Hampshire tourism also remains popular in the winter because of the great skiing conditions. Visitors also flock to Santa's Village
for holiday cheer.
Transportation in New Hampshire
Two main bus lines service much of New Hampshire, but the easiest mode of transportation is by car. Though distances are relatively short, you’ll need your own vehicle to travel between the various cities, mountain resorts, and amusement parks.