Things To Do While Visiting NH | Travel
Updated: Dec 19, 2022
What To Do In NH: Mountains and Seacoast Exploring
I am not native to New Hampshire, I moved here 12 years ago. The first time I visited this great state I vividly remember constantly thinking, "wow there are a lot of trees here". I am an Air Force brat and I have moved all over the country and even outside of the country. I have experienced many different places and climates. Californian desert, Alaskan frozen tundra, and flat Illinois corn fields to name a few. I had never experienced being in the middle of a massive forest that is the North East of America. You can't quite understand what it is like to be in the Eastern Woodlands until you are here. There are trees everywhere. Even in the suburbs. Once we moved here and I began exploring our own "backyard" I absolutely fell in love. NH is by far my favorite place I have ever lived. Something about being in the woods and hiking mountains mixed with the rocky shore of the Atlantic makes my heart swoon. It's home.
All that to say, there is so much to do and explore in this little state of mine. New Hampshire is small but mighty. Whether it is up in the beautiful White Mountain National Forest or down on the Seacoast...you will find the natural beauty of this state breathtaking!
(For a quick glance list click here)
1. White Mountains
The White Mountain National Forest is highly saught after in every season here in New England. There are ski mountains to shred down in the winter, 4000 footers to hike up in the warmer months, and don't forget amazing peak foliage unlike you have ever seen in the fall. This range of mountains is part of the greater Appalachians and the Appalachian trail does run through NH on its way up to Maine where it ends.
The Kancamagus highway is a must see here in NH. At 34.5 miles long this highway goes straight through some incredible peaks following along the Swift River. The Kancamagus connects Conway, NH with Lincoln, NH. Two beautiful quaint historic towns. There are many stops on the way down the Kancamagus to pull over and check out the views, to park and hike down a trail, or to put your toes in the Swift River.
Conway and North Conway are great little towns that hold a lot of NH history. There are lots of hotels, restaurants, and shops to stop in and enjoy. My favorite site to stop at in North Conway is Cathedral Ledge which is a large slab of granite rock face. This is an incredible sight as you drive down the road, you can see it from afar. You can drive up Cathedral Ledge Road to stand on top and take in some magnificent views.
Lincoln, NH (on the other side of the Kancamagus) has its own fun. There are plenty of restaurants and resorts as well to stay in. One of which is Loon Mountain Resort. I recommend taking the gondola to the top and walking around for some panoramic views.
Now my favorite part of White Mountain National Forest...Franconia Notch State Park. This includes incredible hiking trails and views at Flume Gorge, Mt. Lafayette, and Cannon Mountain. I highly recommend the Cannon Mountain tram. There are several walking trails at the top and the views are unbeatable. The view of the notch from the top of Cannon is something everyone should experience at least once.
Just driving through Franconia Notch Parkway (which is interstate 93) is a treat in itself. The very first time I drove up that highway I instantly fell head over heals for this region. Click here for a video of our most recent trip to the Franconia Notch!
My second favorite area in NH is our beautiful stretch of seacoast! At less than 19 miles, these coastal lands really pack a punch. The culture and overall vibe of the Seacoast is drastically different than up in the mountains. First of all, there are beaches! Find all of my favorite NH Seacoast beaches here.
The heart of the seacoast is Portsmouth. This is such a culturally rich seacoast town with lots of shops, restaurants, and architecture to explore. It is one of my favorite places to visit. Planning a trip to Portsmouth? Check my top favorite things to do here. Don't miss the opportunity to take a boat down the harbor into the ocean waters!
There are lots of museums down on the NH Seacoast. The first settlers came here in 1623 (only 3 years after the Mayflower hit Plymouth). There is such rich history in Rye and Dover (two of the cities that were founded in 1623). There are also many forts that were built for the world wars in the seacoast area that you can visit and walk through. Another common museum you will find are marine wildlife museums. A favorite of ours is the Seacoast Science Center in Rye, NH.
Although hiking takes on a different meaning down on the seacoast where the elevation doesn't change as drastically as it does in the mountains, there are still so many trails to explore. The seacoast area is rich with wildlife and different landscapes. You will see thickly wooded areas, salt marshes, grasslands, sand beaches, and rock beaches. If you are looking for a list of some of my favorite seacoast hiking trails, find them here.
I can't stress enough how much there is to do in New Hampshire. From the mountains to the ocean's waters. I love this state of mine.
If you are looking for a list of things that I highly recommend you do while visiting NH...here it is:
Franconia Notch State Park