If you are looking for a relaxing, enjoyable New England getaway, you may just want to book a trip to New Hampshire. New Hampshire is a beautiful, natural state with a lot of history under its belt. One of the original 13 colonies of the United States, New Hampshire has cemented its place in our nation’s history. New Hampshire tends to be looked over as a vacation spot in favor of New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. But what it lacks in urban flair, it more than makes up for in rural charm and natural wonder. Known as the “Granite State”, New Hampshire is a great state for mountaineering and hiking, as well as skiing and snowmobiling. The summer is the perfect time to visit one of the many lakeshores or spend some time on the seacoast.
Here, we will share with you our 10 must-see attractions that you will want to add to any New Hampshire getaway. Take advantage of as much of what this beautiful state has to offer. It is sure to be a new favorite on your list.
Here are 10 must-see attractions in New Hampshire:
McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center
Two of New Hampshire’s residents were out of this world. Alan Shepard and Christa McAuliffe both contributed to our nation’s venture into space exploration. Mr. Shepard was the first American to travel space and was one of a handful of human beings to stand on the moon. Mrs. McAuliffe was selected to become the first “Teacher in Space” on the Challenger mission. Unfortunately, McAuliffe lost her life when the shuttle exploded soon after launching. Both of these individuals had a passion for exploration and science, and their passions are shared with you in this amazing museum. With hands-on exhibits and outdoor learning labs, the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center is a must-do for your own little explorers.
Story Land and Santa’s Village
Story Land is a popular amusement park in Glen, New Hampshire. A wonderful place for family fun, Story Land has endless kid-friendly attractions. There are plenty of rides, games, and play areas to keep everyone happy. Plus, the storybook themed park is sure to keep young minds engaged.
About an hour northwest of Story Land lies Santa’s Village . With plenty of rides and a water park to boot, Santa’s Village is a great little stop. Make sure to visit Santa’s House and say “Hi!”. Feed the reindeer special treats and go on a scavenger hunt at Elf University.
Both of these parks have plenty of surrounding lodging options, from hotels to resorts to campgrounds. These are perfect places to have a little crazy fun.
Squam Lakes Natural Science Center
If you are looking for nature, New Hampshire is the place to be. And if you want to get close to nature, Squam Lakes Natural Science Center is the place to be. With two miles of hiking trails, a live animal exhibition trail, and a lake offering various types of nature cruises, a stop at Squam Lakes is a must. Make sure to take a Lake Explorers Family Cruise and see how science and nature go hand in hand. A visit to the Kirkwood Gardens is also in order, if you are looking for a spot to relax and take in the view.
Scenic Railroads in New Hampshire
I don’t think it matters how old you are, there is just something exciting and fun about a train ride. Slowly moving through scenery while looking out the windows on either side, listening to the wheels on the rails as they cross over trestles and through tunnels….it’s just a unique experience. New Hampshire has plenty of opportunities to ride the rails and see the sights.
Since 1869, the Mount Washington Cog Railway has been transporting passengers up to the summit of Mount Washington. Not only is the Railway the first mountain-climbing cog railway in the world, it is also the second steepest! Sure to thrill every rider in your family, The Cog takes about three hours round trip. This time includes a one hour layover at the summit for pictures and exploration.
For more old-fashioned railroading experience take a journey back in time aboard the Conway Scenic Railroad. This scenic experience will take you back in time to when railroad was king and traveling by rail was the norm. You will be in awe of the natural features that come across your journey, including steep ravines, mountain views, and gorgeous streams. You can also book a dining excursion and have lunch while you travel. The Valley Train excursion doesn’t go up into the mountains, but still provides a beautiful view and relaxing ride.
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.
Mt. Washington and the Mt. Washington Auto Road
Mt. Washington is the highest peak in the Northeast and surrounded by the White Mountain National Forest. Views from the summit of Mt. Washington are a sight to behold and can extend for miles. Mt. Washington State Park is home to plenty of hiking trails, to the summit, as well as the Mt. Washington Observatory. The Observatory is a weather station at the top of the mountain that is open to visitors. While hiking is always an option for reaching the top, The Cog railway and the Mt. Washington Auto Road are alternatives. The Auto Road is a narrow road with no guardrails, so if you don’t feel brave enough to take it on yourself, you can always choose to participate in a guided tour.
Lake Cruises and Whale Watching
There is plenty of adventure on the waters of New Hampshire. With several operators offering ocean and lake cruises, you are sure to find something to catch your interest. Checking out the coast of New Hampshire aboard a ship, you are guaranteed to learn a bit of the history of New Hampshire’s ports. You are sure to see lighthouses, forts, submarines, and you may even catch a glimpse of a whale or two.
Many of the area lakes also offer lake cruises, giving you breathtaking views of the mountains and lush foliage. Lunch and dinner cruises are also offered and would be a wonderful addition to your vacation.
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. Check out Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves and walk through natural history. With plenty of trails and walkways, the Gorge area is an amazing destination for every level of outdoor adventurer.
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.