16 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in New Hampshire

Jul 22, 2021

The white mountains of New Hampshire form a gorgeous backdrop to the modern landscape of the United States. The storied countryside of rolling hills, deep rivers, and sprawling lakes offers a scenic wonder that inspires adventure-seekers and city folk alike to visit this attractive mountain state.

Explore the classic sites that inspire so many artists and writers, and let your vacation planning begin.

Many New Hampshire cities rank among the finest resort destinations in the country. Spend your vacation enjoying the secluded beauty of the White Mountain National Forest.

New Hampshire has a quirky sense of style, which is often seen in their signature granolas, soft drinks, and ice cream, as well as in the homespun furniture, tasty cuisine, and tranquil settings of so many of the state's towns.

Our full-service vacation planning service allows you to choose exactly where you want to go, when you want to go, and with who. And, it ensures that you're one step ahead of the vacation rush.

Get ready to embark on an exciting trip to the fascinating New Hampshire with our list of the top attractions in the state.

Mount Washington

Photo of Mount Washington
Mount Washington: en.wikipedia.org

This New England landmark, towering 6,288 feet above sea level, is the highest peak in the northeastern United States and can be accessed through Mount Washington Auto Road or the Mount Washington Toll Road. Visiting the area isn't just for thrill seekers: it's the perfect place for a scenic drive. Although Mount Washington is located in New Hampshire, it is part of the Massachusetts Greenway, an excellent route for bicyclists. It is quite a way to get to the top of the mountain: travel by train to North Conway and board a bus for the 90-minute trip to the summit. There is an information booth at the top where you can purchase tickets, as well as plenty of gift shops and restaurants to sample on the way up. After reaching the top, wander the steep trail to the summit, at 3,269 feet, for sweeping views of the region. Explore the meadows and observe the flora that is only found at the highest elevations. Next to the information center, the Mount Washington Cog Railway operates a seven-minute train ride, traveling 3,800 feet up the mountain, a scenic way to travel to the top of Mount Washington.

Lake Winnipesaukee

Photo of Lake Winnipesaukee
Lake Winnipesaukee: en.wikipedia.org

Named after the Iroquois word meaning "to fish", Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, at the southern tip of the state, is, in fact, a landlocked saltwater reservoir. The lake is surrounded by 30 or so miles of beautiful lakeside hiking and biking trails as well as wonderful recreational amenities, great eateries, festivals, and more. The Lake Winnipesaukee Scenic Byway begins in the lakeside town of Weirs Beach, New Hampshire, and goes past the Waterford Ponds Scenic Park and along Pemigewasset Lake. This 100-mile route is highlighted by quaint shops, art galleries, museums, and restaurants along the way. You can drive around the lake and see all the sights in one day. There are nearly 50 wineries with tasting rooms in this region, where the harvest season is at its peak. The New Hampshire Wine Festival is held annually and draws over 20,000 visitors to the area. Summer vacation time is in full swing, so be sure to reserve a room in advance during this time.

Monadnock State Park

Photo of Mount Monadnock
Mount Monadnock: en.wikipedia.org

Monadnock State Park is located within the White Mountains of New Hampshire. One of New England's most visited state parks, the location has trails for hiking and biking as well as other scenic views. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Monadnock State Park covers 16,863 acres and includes a granite monument that is the highest point in New Hampshire. In addition to Monadnock's status as a geological and natural wonder, it also has a cultural history of being a refuge for people escaping the original European settlers. Visitors can visit the Monadnock visitors' center for tours of the stone monument, information about the area and a café and gift shop. These activities are all free, except for parking fees for cars and motorcycles. No reservations are needed for any of these activities and there is no curfew for visitors.

White Mountains

Photo of White Mountains (New Hampshire)
White Mountains (New Hampshire): en.wikipedia.org

The White Mountains rise like gigantic sentinels from the surrounding region and with their scenic vistas, vast areas of snow and a lot of hiking opportunities, it's no wonder that over 200,000 people each year hike to these pristine peaks. A particularly interesting hike is the Keene Valley Trail, which stretches from downtown Keene, New Hampshire to the west end of the mountain range. Hikers can climb almost 2,000 feet on an 8-mile trail that winds through the forest and over the Knife Edge. Other trails in the region offer the opportunity to visit the highest peaks in the White Mountains: Mount Washington, Gorham Mountain, Mount Cranmore and Carter Mountain. However, the roads that run between the peaks are mainly scenic, making the area perfect for car trips, while several towns are worth visiting en route. One of the best ways to visit the region is to fly into Manchester, New Hampshire and drive to different parts of the region.

Portsmouth Harbor

Photo of Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Portsmouth, New Hampshire: en.wikipedia.org

Built on a shallow harbor on New England's southern coast, Portsmouth is one of the smallest and most intimate of the American seaports, with only 65,000 residents. Although it's named for its namesake, the great English city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Portsmouth's National Historic Landmark district is less a replica of Portsmouth than of a turn-of-the-20th century Portsmouth. The proud city offers visitors a great number of shops, art galleries and restaurants. Chapel Street, the city's main drag, is lined with galleries, antique shops, and a variety of restaurants serving everything from Italian to Chinese food. Follow the main road from downtown into the area known as the Historic District and you'll be greeted by a profusion of historical buildings, from old wooden churches to art deco mansions to grand old hotels. Portsmouth's deep harbor is home to the world's largest active battleship, the USS Constitution. On a scenic tour from May to October, enjoy a sightseeing cruise.

Keene Valley

Photo of Keene, New Hampshire
Keene, New Hampshire: en.wikipedia.org

The Keene Valley, a region of the state of New Hampshire about half an hour outside of Concord, is a natural wonderland, with quaint villages, rivers, ponds, woods, and beautiful natural scenery. Two of the state's major attractions are The Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, a living-history village recreating life in 1620, and Nashua, the state's capital city. Both cities are located along the Merrimack River, which is often described as America's version of the Seine. Explore the valley by taking a bike ride along the scenic quiet roads. The 22-mile-long Keene River Bike Path runs through the rural countryside along the banks of the Keene River. In summer, the Keene Valley Summer Music Festival, which attracts both famous and regional musicians, takes place in the lovely area.

North Conway

Photo of North Conway, New Hampshire
North Conway, New Hampshire: en.wikipedia.org

North Conway is one of the most visited of New England's small towns, owing to its fame as the getaway of the television and movie star, Katharine Hepburn. The films that were filmed here are not easy to find these days. A good collection of souvenirs and gifts can be found in the town's Main Street shops. Highlights of a visit to the area include the Mt. Washington Auto Road, as well as Cline's Lobster House and Mattie's Pancake House. Transportation includes access to North Conway Airport.

Seacoast Region

Photo of Seacoast Region (New Hampshire)
Seacoast Region (New Hampshire): en.wikipedia.org

The picturesque seaside village of Seacoast Region, New Hampshire was established in the 18th century on the grounds of an old mill that served the tidal rivers as a source of power. Its historic appeal is reflected in the narrow streets of many of the old homes and boutiques. The village is noted for its fascinating maritime history, such as the Old Port Lighthouse, and historical sites like the Mount Washington Valley. For a great day trip, head to Hampton Beach, just 25 miles east, for a scenic spot to view some of the pristine beaches of the area.

Phelps Lake

Photo of Dublin, New Hampshire
Dublin, New Hampshire: en.wikipedia.org

Located in the heart of the White Mountains, this lake provides fabulous hiking, swimming, and fishing throughout the year. In fact, in July and August, there's a waterborne festival in North Conway in celebration of the lake. In the winter, a visitors' center features exhibits, information, and programs on the history of the lake and the region. For more adventurous types, the mountains around Phelps are a paradise for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Franconia Notch State Park

Photo of Franconia Notch State Park
Franconia Notch State Park: en.wikipedia.org

Located just north of the White Mountains of New Hampshire, this spectacular state park along the Appalachian Trail (the famous, 1,000-mile, 2,000-foot-high North Country "Matterhorn" of the east coast is only 48 kilometers to the west), was named after the 12-foot-wide notch cut into a long limestone cliff by a glacier more than 10,000 years ago. A number of hiking trails in and around the park take you past old pines and hemlocks, some with the original native forests, and white pine and spruce that grew up after the ice retreated. The mighty Green River flows through the gorge, dropping 10-meter-high cliffs in its path, and has provided water for this land for more than 10,000 years. The park was designated as the last "wild and scenic" river in the United States in 1968 and is a National Recreation Area. Also of interest in Franconia Notch State Park are the Old Man Mountain Covered Bridge, a pedestrian suspension bridge that dates to 1864; the Bartolomeo Hackett Covered Bridge, which is sometimes open to walkers; the White Mist Trail; and the Mink Brook Falls, the highest waterfall in New Hampshire, reaching 32 meters. For visitors looking to stretch their legs, there are 20 miles of paved trails; the park also has nine miles of paved wheelchair-accessible paths, a 4.8-kilometer loop around a pond known as Blue Pond, a 2.4-kilometer circular walk around Mount Wachusett, a 1.8-kilometer self-guided loop, and the 1-mile Glen River Multi-Use Path.

Sand Beach

Photo of Hampton Beach, New Hampshire
Hampton Beach, New Hampshire: en.wikipedia.org

Situated on the same beach as Brookline Beach, Sand Beach offers the same views, pristine dunes, and calm waves. But this view is from the North. Sand Beach is also more rustic than other nearby beaches because the beach is owned by the town of Brookline and managed by the Brookline Department of Public Works. Despite the lack of crowd and tons of privacy, Sand Beach has just as much potential for family fun as other beaches in this list.

Tuckerman's Ravine

Photo of Tuckerman Ravine
Tuckerman Ravine: en.wikipedia.org

Located on Mount Washington (2,336 meters/7,930 feet) in New Hampshire, this trail offers visitors the best views of Mount Washington's cone and other surrounding peaks, including Mount Adams and New Hampshire's highest peak, Mount Lafayette. The trail's name derives from a story of a man named Ebenezer Tuckerman who, in 1810, became the first recorded person to ascend the Mount Washington Cog Railway. Tuckerman's Ravine, as the trail is known, was first designed as a trail for climbing, camping, and photography, but it's now also used for recreational snow sports.

Sharon

Photo of Sharon, New Hampshire
Sharon, New Hampshire: en.wikipedia.org

Sharon, the most unspoiled and arguably the prettiest town in New Hampshire, is situated about a 40-minute drive north of Boston and about half an hour east of Concord. It's filled with old Colonial architecture, small shops and excellent restaurants and good places to stay. The nearby Hamlet of Foxboro is reputed to be the birthplace of the American Football League. In town there is a daily Farmer's Market, Farmer's Cafe, whose owners pride themselves on being the only farm restaurant in New England. Also in town, stop by the Harnish Quality Market, a great place to buy local produce and provisions.

Franconia Notch

Photo of Franconia Notch
Franconia Notch: en.wikipedia.org

Nestled in the heart of New England, near the White Mountains, is Franconia Notch State Park, one of New England's most beautiful natural wonders. Here, a famous section of the Appalachian Trail meanders through a spectacular mountain vista. The majesty of the area includes 1,200 acres of mountains, valleys, brooks and meadows cut through by 75 miles of hiking trails. In its natural state, Franconia Notch is a beautiful, untrammeled landscape. But the area has been ravaged by man and nature, and many of the beautiful hardwood trees that once graced the area have been decimated. For more information about the Appalachian Trail, see the section about this trail here on National Geographic Traveller.

Hartford

Photo of New Hartford, New York
New Hartford, New York: en.wikipedia.org

Hartford, New Hampshire is a quintessential New England town, located just 30 minutes from the center of Boston. It has a reputation for being home to a large number of inns and restaurants serving the finest dining and drinking options in the state. During the Colonial period, Hartford's founder John Hartford helped the town adopt an early definition of liberty as freedom from the tyranny of alcohol and tobacco. This stereotype has stuck throughout the centuries. The town's famous eating establishments, taverns and hotels are mentioned in the stories of The Great Gatsby and North By Northwest. Its namesake, the Hartford, is a classic Art Deco building built in 1929 that features a ballroom, and several unique lounges. In addition to this impressive structure, there are plenty of charming shops and restaurants surrounding it, including the New Hampshire Chocolate Company, offering over 20 varieties of hot cocoa. The surrounding area is an excellent destination for biking and skiing. The Mountain Metro ski area is famous for having some of the best trails in New England and the summit offers a great view of the entire region. The village of Enfield, 10 minutes away, is the home of the Enfield Labor Day Parade, a traditional American celebration that dates back to 1885. The festival offers bands, horse parades, aerialists, historic vehicle displays and food vendors.

Long Island: The Hamptons

Photo of East Hampton (town), New York
East Hampton (town), New York: en.wikipedia.org

The Hamptons are the name of the more developed of two Long Island states, located in the southeastern corner of the U.S. The East End is bordered by Long Island Sound and includes the cities of Sag Harbor, Amagansett, and East Hampton. The center of the island is the affluent, suburban town of East Hampton, which is roughly in the center of the East End. The average summer temperature is 68 degrees Fahrenheit, with 70 degrees Fahrenheit being typical for summertime; while winter temperatures are a degree or two cooler. The main attraction of the East End is its famous beach, Montauk, which is also the largest in the area. Other things to do here include surfing, boating, golfing, swimming, and fishing.