New Hampshire is the place to be if you need to breathe in that small-town charm everywhere you go. There are dramatic mountains, a beautiful coastline, and inspirational landscapes to explore here. You'll find excellent food, fascinating history, and great cultural activities, too. With over 200 small towns in idyllic settings, there are many places to inspire you on a journey through this beautiful part of the USA.
The beautiful town of Hanover is home to Dartmouth College, where you can take a history tour. It's also located on the famous Appalachian Trail, so you can hike along part of the route. In winter, skiing in the surrounding hills makes Hanover ideal for year-round sports. The food here is another talking point, with many wonderful restaurants using local produce.
Just 500 people live in Sugar Hill in Grafton County, but it's still the best place to come for spectacular views across the White Mountain National Forest. Come in June for the Sugar Hill Lupine Festival, when meadows of colorful lupines set against the mountain scenes are stunning. You'll also find lots of great cafes and restaurants in the town, including the famous Polly's Pancake Parlour.
North Conway is full of delightful shops and cafes, but the locally brewed beer is a big reason for visiting. Choose from the Sea Dog Brewing Company or the Tuckerman Brewing for unique beers and good food. You'll find more beer at the Moat Mountain Smokehouse and Brewing Company. And once you've enjoyed tasting all this food and beer, head down to the antique shops to browse the eclectic stalls.
Most people head to Jackson and the White Mountains for skiing. There are slopes for all abilities and many other winter sports, such as snowshoeing and snowmobiling. For alternate ski runs, head to nearby Wildcat Mountain or Black Mountain. Jackson is also famous for the Honeymoon Bridge over the Ellis River. It's said that if couples kiss under the bridge, it will bring them good luck.
Littleton has a reputation for great food. You'll find the world's longest candy counter in Chutter's and over 60 flavors of ice cream at Bishop's. In addition, there are many excellent restaurants where you can dine out on American and international cuisine. But, of course, with all that food, you'll need to walk off the calories — thank goodness for Littleton's beautiful hiking trails! The Curran Suspension Trail and Pine Hill Trail are just two of the pleasant walks in the area.
Everything is centered on the waterfront at Hampton Beach. The town is a popular vacation destination, but walk along the boardwalk, and you'll find great shops and restaurants all year. Naturally, there are watersports here, including boating, swimming, and surfing. You'll find concerts and other entertainment in the Ballroom and feel laid-back in this coastal town.
Although Exeter is famous for Phillips Academy, it was also right at the heart of the action during the Revolutionary War. To gain insight into the historical significance of this town, visit the American Independence Museum, where you'll see one of the first printed copies of the Declaration of Independence. In addition, some excellent hiking routes, including the Jolly Rand Trail, are just outside town.
Cornish is set in a farming community in New Hampshire, but it's best known for its beautiful gardens. Saint-Gaudens Park was the former home of the famous American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and today it's a center of artisan craftwork. The gardens are exquisitely maintained and a joy to walk around. You'll also find the world's longest two-span covered bridge here, where the Cornish-Windsor Bridge crosses the Connecticut River.
Laconia Motorcycle Week sees over 400,000 bikers head into town. This famous bike festival draws crowds from across the country who head to Laconia to meet up and enjoy the celebrations. However, you can visit this beautiful town without a motorbike, as there is plenty more to do. Weirs Beach on Lake Winnipesaukee is perfect for relaxing or watching a drive-in movie. You'll also find excellent places to eat in and around town.
Lincoln is located in the heart of the spectacular Franconia Notch State Park. The views are incredible, and the area is full of excellent hiking trails, such as Flume Gorge. In the fall, the site is transformed into one of the most colorful places to see the forests and foliage. There are scenic drives and lots of places to experience nature. In winter, the snowy mountain slopes are ideal for skiing.
Concord is New Hampshire's capital, but it's also a focal point for history and culture. Begin with the State House or the Canterbury Shaker Village to get a feel for the area. As you walk around, you'll also see street sculptures and murals that highlight the town's artistic vibe. Don't forget to visit the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center, which focuses on science. Concord is full of beautiful shops and places to dine out, making it the ideal base for seeing more of New Hampshire.
The gorgeous town of Shelburne is located among some of New Hampshire's most scenic spots. You'll have no shortage of hiking trails as Shelburne is part of the White Mountain National Forest and at the head of the Appalachian Trail. The town is close to the Androscoggin River and family-owned farms, so expect plentiful local farm-to-fork food. Mascot Pond is another charming place to explore in Shelburne.
Sullivan has a unique attraction in addition to its setting among forests and mountains. The Sullivan Public Library has old-world charm and is adorable. It is the meeting place for book clubs and for writing inspiration in this idyllic town. You'll also find the Surry Mountain Preserve and Calhoun Family Forest nearby for scenic views.
Harrisville is best known for its historic mills dating from the nineteenth century. The town is full of beautiful red brick buildings, and the area around Harrisville Pond frequently appears in pictures depicting a typical New England scene. Explore the historic mill buildings reflected in the waterways and enjoy the peace of the area. Nearby Cobb Hill is the highest viewpoint in the area at 1909 feet. Harrisville also has many interesting independent stores, which is ideal for a relaxing day out.
Keene is close to several beautiful covered bridges. You'll also find the Horatio Colony House Museum and Nature Preserve, specialty stores like the Hannah Grimes Marketplace, and art galleries. The downtown area in Keene is vibrant, with many good places to eat and explore. There's also bowling at Yankee Lanes, and skiing at the Granite Gorge Mountain Park is a 15-minute drive from Keene. Keene is also an excellent starting point for driving the Monadnock Scenic Loop.