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The Best Places to Visit in New Hampshire

The beautiful state of New Hampshire, in the heart of New England, offers something for everyone. Whether you are a downhill skier, a cross country skier, a thrill-seeker, a hiker, a camper, a shopper, a swimmer, a nature lover, or a theme park lover, there are activities for families in every season. Combined with the tax-free shopping, it really is a fantastic family destination.

A trip to New Hampshire can be combined with a trip to other destinations in New England. However, there’s enough to do on its own, if you’d prefer to just stay in New Hampshire. You may want to stay in one hotel/region or travel around to several, depending on your plans. Although you can take a day trip to New Hampshire from Boston, we’d generally recommend staying there.

As you drive through the state, you’ll definitely want to look around at the scenery. It really is one of the most beautiful places, with mountains, covered bridges, rivers, lakes, historic buildings, ski resorts, and more.

If you are flying to New Hampshire, there’s an airport in Manchester, serviced by American, Spirit, Northwest, and United. Boston’s Logan International Airport is also fairly convenient. You will definitely want to rent a car if you are flying because you need a car to get around.

Disclosure: I’ve visited some of these destinations at limited/no cost, and have paid my way many other times. This post contains affiliate links and a purchase/click through one of these links may result in a commission paid to me at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own.

The White Mountains in the summer

The Best Places to Visit in New Hampshire

Lakes Region of New Hampshire

The Lakes Region of New Hampshire is the area containing Lake Winnipesaukee, Lake Winnisquam, Squam Lake, and Newfound Lake. In addition to many lakefront activities in the area, like swimming and boating, there are lots of other things to do here. As you’d expect, the best time to visit the Lakes Region is in the summer months when you can take advantage of the lakes in the warmer weather.

Popular activities include Weirs Beach (including FunSpot, the largest arcade in the world), Kellerhaus (German-themed ice cream and candy shop), horseback riding, M/S Mt. Washington Cruises, the Bretton Woods Adventure Center, Castle in the Clouds, Gunstock Mountain Resort, the Tilton Outlet Mall (take advantage of that tax-free shopping), and Polar Caves Park.

Expect to find a variety of lodging options in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. If you want to stay right on the waterfront, you’ll find resorts, inns, and vacation homes to reserve. There are also chain hotels and independent hotels in the area.

Popular hotels and resorts in the Lakes Region include:

Story Land balloon ride ferris wheel ride with fountain in foreground

North Conway

North Conway, a town located in the White Mountain National Forest, is one of my favorite places in New England. It’s the larger town surrounding other destinations including Bartlett and Glen, NH, and offers many shops, restaurants, and hotels.

Story Land, a fairy-tale theme park in Glen, NH is the most popular attraction in the area among families with young children. It’s open in the summer months, and can generally be visited in one day. Story Land offers rides, character greetings, themed dining, and so much more.

The rides at Story Land are generally best for younger kids (elementary aged and younger). Many generations of families have enjoyed visiting this theme park for years. It’s a lot of fun.

There’s also a new aquarium adjacent to Story Land that recently opened. You can purchase combo tickets including both if you’d also like to visit the aquarium.

Attitash Mountain Resort is a popular ski mountain area located in Bartlett, NH, a short drive from North Conway. During the winter, you can ski on the two connected mountains (Attitash and Bear Peak) which offer 68 trails and 9 lifts While it has, in the past, offered summer activities, those are closed will be closed this upcoming summer.

Cranmore Mountain is located right in North Conway. In the winter, it offers 56 trails and 8 lifts for skiing, along with a snow tubing park. During the summer months, there is a downhill mountain bike park.

Departing from a historic train station in the heart of downtown North Conway is the Conway Scenic Railroad. There are several different train journeys offered, including an hour journey that is great for families with train-loving kids. The main street area is also such a quaint town, with shops and restaurants.

Travel about an hour from North Conway to Jefferson, NH, home of Santa’s Village. This Christmas-themed park is so much fun and is great for families with young kids. I recommend doing a day trip to Santa’s Village from North Conway because there are more hotel and restaurant options there.

Santa’s Village is a popular destination that offers character interactions, Christmas and North Pole-themed rides, shops, and more. We especially love to see the real reindeer that live there. There’s also a water park on the property, which is included in your admission ticket. Pack your water park bag, and plan to spend almost a full day at Santa’s Village.

Mount Washington, the tallest peak in the Northeast United States, is located about 25 minutes outside of North Conway. If you want to travel to the top, you can either drive yourself on the Mt. Washington Auto Road, or book a 2-hour guided tour. The auto road is open seasonally and is closed in the winter months. As the highest peak, it offers spectacular views.

Love to shop? Settler’s Green Outlet Village offers outlets and restaurants in a huge complex. You’ll find some of your favorite brands here, including Kate Spade, New Balance, Adidas, and more.

We typically stay at a hotel in North Conway, but there are also motels, inns, B&Bs (not as kid-friendly), and vacation home rentals in the area. Popular hotels include:

The exterior of the Mountain Club at Loon with mountain in the background

Lincoln

Cross the scenic Kancamagus Highway on a short scenic drive from North Conway to the beautiful small town of Lincoln. This town offers a number of tourist attractions for visitors in all four seasons.

If you enjoy skiing, Loon Mountain Resort is a great place to visit. In the winter, it offers cross country skiing, snow tubing, shoe showing, and gondola rides, in addition to downhill skiing.

In the spring and summer, the Loon Mountain Resort offers other activities. These include an activity center with a bungee trampoline, climbing wall, and zipline, along with mountain biking, disc golf, and a gondola sky ride.

For families with younger kids, Clark’s Bears (formerly known as Clark’s Trading Post) is a must-visit. It offers a beloved show featuring trained black bears. There are also other fun things to do there, including the White Mountain Central Railroad, a water raft ride, a gift shop, five mini-museums, and water blaster boats. It’s a New Hampshire institution, and kids love it.

Looking to cool off? The Whales Tale water park is also located in Lincoln and offers a wave pool, numerous thrill waterslides, and splash areas for younger kids. It’s a great place to visit during the hot summer months.

Located down the street from Lincoln in North Woodstock, NH is the popular tourist destination, Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves. This beautiful attraction includes a mile of boardwalk trails and eleven boulder caves, so be sure to dress appropriately (with comfortable, sturdy shoes).

One of the most popular places to go in New Hampshire is Franconia Notch State Park. This beautiful park, located in the White Mountain National Forest, includes several attractions including the Flume Gorge, the New England Ski Museum, and the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway. There are also lots of outdoor activities and lake activities, such as swimming, kayaking, and boating, on Echo Lake. It’s perfect for nature lovers

Popular hotels and resorts in Lincoln include:

Portsmouth, NH boats in harbor

Portsmouth, NH

Along the Piscataqua River, tucked between the Massachusetts and Maine borders, is Portsmouth, NH. This seaside town offers shops, restaurants, and museums in a beautiful waterfront location.

Much of downtown Portsmouth can be explored on foot, so it’s nice to stay in a downtown hotel and then walk to the shops, art galleries, and restaurants. Popular attractions in the area include Strawbery Banke living history museum, Water Country water park, the USS Albacore Museum, the Isles of Shoals, and Prescott Park.

You’ll also be located very close to Kittery Maine, which offers restaurants and outlet shopping.

Popular hotels in Portsmouth, NH include:

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