New Hampshire is known for a lot of things—scenic beauty, crystal clear lakes, and first in the nation’s presidential primaries. The Granite State is also home to a long history. It was the first colony to create a government that was independent from Great Britain. It is the state that gave America its 14th president, its first astronaut, its oldest man-made attraction – the Mount Washington Auto Road, The Old Farmer’s Almanac, Tupperware, the Segway, the alarm clock, and the spork (yes, that plastic utensil found at fast food restaurants.)
From mountain vistas to ocean beaches, natural attractions to professional sports teams and world-class museums to historical sites, there is always something for families to do in New Hampshire.
Here are 10 must-see attractions in New Hampshire.
This walkable city embraces both old and new. Portsmouth is filled with old homes and museums, plus sophisticated dining and eclectic boutique shops. You’ll have your pick of fascinating historic sites. Climb aboard the USS Albacore, a retired U.S. Navy submarine offering tours and exhibits. View an 18th-century garden, striking stairway and period furniture at the Moffatt Ladd House, the home of William Whipple, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, or follow a costumed guide through the John Paul Jones House, home of the Revolutionary War naval hero. Sit down for a meal at one of Portsmouth’s fine eateries or relax on a narrated harbor or whale-watching cruise. Shop in the fine boutiques for sales tax-free shopping.
Anheuser-Busch Brewery and the Clydesdale Hamlet
The Budweiser Clydesdales are the beer industry’s most recognizable mascots. You can meet these famous horses any day by visiting the Clydesdale Hamlet at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in Merrimack. Once each month, visitors have the best opportunity to see a Clydesdale up close and take plenty of pictures on Clydesdale Camera Days. Held the first Saturday of each month year round, from 1 until 3 p.m. visitors can meet and take pictures with a Clydesdale free of charge.
Free Budweiser brewery tours are offered year round in Merrimack. They’re open to all visitors, but you must be 21 or over to sample the beer at the conclusion of the tour. Snacks and soft drinks are also served.
New Hampshire only has 18 miles of shoreline, but it makes the most of this diminutive length of coast! Hampton Beach is the state’s largest sandbox. Few New England beaches can rival Hampton Beach for the sheer number and variety of amusements for ocean lovers of all ages. The boardwalk is lined with eateries, arcades, and myriad other amusements. Enjoy weekly fireworks and family-friendly movies on a blanket beside the Atlantic. Visit Hampton Beach during one of the major annual events such as the Master Sand Sculpting Competition, the Seafood Festival, and the Children’s Festival or just enjoy some fun in the sun. Or just come to take a dip in the clear blue waters and help your kids build sandcastles by the shore.
Scenic Railroads in New Hampshire
Riding the rails is an old-fashioned way to admire New Hampshire’s natural wonders. Several memorable excursions await Granite State visitors.
Ride to the top of Mount Washington on the world’s first mountain-climbing cog railway.—built in 1869. Mount Washington Cog Railway is an engineering achievement that is almost as impressive now as it was when it debuted in 1869. It climbs 6,288 feet along the steepest track in America to the summit of Mount Washington—New England’s highest peak.
For more old-fashioned railroading experience take a journey back in time aboard the Conway Scenic Railroad. There are round-trip excursions leaving the iconic 1874 station in North Conway Village to Bartlett and through Crawford Notch on tracks that once were part of the famed Mountain Division of the Maine Central Railroad.
All aboard for the Hobo Railroad! Ride in fully restored vintage coaches for a 15-mile, 80-minute excursion along the banks of the winding Pemigewassett River. Open Memorial Day weekend through late October, and late November through late December for Santa Express Trains.
You haven’t truly experienced New Hampshire until you’ve ridden the rails!
Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site
The Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site showcases more than 100 works of sculpture by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, one of America’s greatest artists. You could travel to major US cities like Boston, New York, Chicago and Washington, DC, to view them, or you can appreciate Saint-Gaudens’ most famous works during a single visit to the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in New Hampshire. You’ll have the unique opportunity to view replicas of many of Saint-Gaudens’ most intricate and important works, ranging from his impressive public monuments to the coins he designed for the US Mint. Enjoy summer concerts, explore nature trails, or indulge your hidden talents during a sculpture class.
Mount Washington Auto Road
Gorham, New Hampshire is home to America’s oldest man-made attraction: the Mount Washington Auto Road. Adventure can be found along the 7.6 mile Auto Road with five different ecological zones to explore. At the 6,288-foot summit enjoy panoramic views spanning distant mountains and valleys or experience the world-famous weather extremes that Mount Washington is so well known for. It’s best to ascend the Mt. Washington Auto Road on a guided van tour. That way, you’ll remember the spectacular views, rather than the white-knuckle driving experience. Bring your camera!
No visit to New Hampshire is complete without a visit to Lake Winnipesaukee, the state’s largest lake. Affectionately called Lake Winnie, this sparkling lake is surrounded by mountain ranges and offers some of the most spectacular scenery in New England. Lake Winnipesaukee also offers 240 miles of shoreline that has everything from multi-million dollar homes to campgrounds. There are many things to do around the lake, but if you do nothing else along Lake Winnipesaukee, be sure you take a cruise on the MS Mount Washington Cruise Ship!
The White Mountains offer a wealth of things to do for every taste and activity level. The White Mountains region offers visitors awe-inspiring sights and one memorable experience after another. There are easy walks and strenuous hikes, scenic drives, Donald-Ross designed golf courses, crystal clear mountain lakes and streams for swimming and boating, and sandy lakeside beaches just perfect for lying in the sun. The scenery is gorgeous and you can experience it any way you want—from the seat of your car to a bicycle seat or the back of a horse.
Enjoy exciting rides & entertaining shows, gingerbread cookies & ‘elfabet’ elves, Santa & his reindeer. Get refreshed in the HoHoH2O Water Park and joyride water slides. One low admission includes all features for the entire day, including parking, strollers and more. Santa’s Village has been a New England annual family tradition for over 60 years.
Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway
The 80-passenger aerial tramway whisks you above the timberline to the 4,080-foot summit in just 10 minutes. At the summit you will have outstanding views of 4 states—New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, New York—and Canada. Take as little as an hour or as long as a day to enjoy summit walking paths, an observation deck, cafeterias, swimming at Echo Lake, boat rentals, a free eight-mile recreation path, “Old Man of the Mountain” Museum, and the New England Ski Museum.
New Hampshire has history, proud traditions, classic New England towns, and that “Live Free or Die” spirit that sets it apart. It is naturally gifted with jagged mountains, lush river valleys, dense forests, crystalline lakes, ocean beaches, and offshore islands. You will make wonderful memories on your family vacation in the Granite State.