From the tallest mountains in the northeast to the sandy beaches on the coast, the diversity of landscapes, seasons, towns and cities in New Hampshire defines its extraordinary beauty. Visitors to the “Granite State” come for a variety of outdoor activities. Some come for winter sports like skiing or snowboarding, while others spend their summer vacation relaxing by the lake or hiking to the summit of the highest peaks.
The golden colours of the fall foliage always attract a rush of travellers from southern states, eager to catch the first changing of the leaves. As diverse as the landscapes and seasons are, the towns and cities in New Hampshire also feature distinct and unique qualities, adding to the appeal of exploring the state even more.
From the quaint and charming small towns filled historic buildings to the expansive New Hampshire cities filled with shopping malls, theatres, and hundreds of restaurants, New Hampshire has something for everyone to enjoy.
- New Hampshire Cities And Towns
- Top Tours
- 20 Towns And Cities In New Hampshire
New Hampshire Cities And Towns
20 Towns And Cities In New Hampshire
1- Laconia/Weirs Beach
The summertime brings people from all over New England to the Lakes Region for their vacations.
Weirs Beach, an area in the northern part of Laconia, attracts the most visitors with a marvellous sandy beach on the shores of the largest lake in the state, Lake Winnipesaukee.
In the middle of June, Laconia hosts the famous “Bike Week’ when over 100,000 visitors from around the country flock to the city for the wild motorcycle events.
On the main drag next to the beach, thousands of motorcycles line each side of the street.
Spectators wander up and down the main drag, examining all the various bikes, while the riders exchange stories about their best trips and motorcycle maintenance.
Visitors to the Lakes Region also adore going on boat cruises offered by the MS Mount Washington, which launches directly from the docks of Weirs Beach.
The 2.5-hour scenic cruise passes by the most prominent features of Lake Winnipesaukee.
You can choose between going in the daytime or taking the dinner cruise which allows you to enjoy fine dining on the lake while watching the sunset.
2- North Conway
Nestled in the heart of the White Mountains, North Conway attracts visitors year-round for skiing in some of the state’s best resorts, or for shopping in outlet shops, or the boutique stores located near the historic train station in the old part of the town.
North Conway also serves as the gateway to the tallest peak in the northeast, Mt. Washington.
Known as one of the most dangerous mountains in the world to climb, the unprecedented views from the summit are breathtaking.
During the summer, you can drive up the Mt.
Washington Auto Road to reach the top where you will find a restaurant, visitors centre, and the weather station that registered the highest wind speed ever recorded in the country, at 407 kph (253 mph)!
If you would like to take a trip back in time, the historic Mt.
Washington Cog Railway on the other side of Mt. Washington has been bringing visitors to the summit since 1869.
Enjoy the impressive mountain scenery in style while the steam-powered locomotive inches its way to the highest point in the northeast.
For some excellent views of North Conway and surrounding areas, head to Cathedral Ledge.
There is an access road and hiking trail that leads you to a massive 213-metre (700-foot) sheer cliff overlooking the city and lake below.
Protective barriers allow you to walk right up to the edge and see straight down to the bottom of the ledge and observe the rock climbers making their way up.
3- Hampton Beach
In the southeastern part of New Hampshire, the 29 km (18 miles) of seacoast attracts thousands of travellers each year eager to swim in the ocean and relax on the beach.
After a fun day in the sun, they rush to their favourite seafood restaurants for a delicious dinner.
Hampton Beach is well-known among New Hampshire’s residents as the best place to unwind and let loose.
In the southernmost part of the city, you will find Hampton Beach State Park with calm sandy beaches away from the busy city.
For those wanting to be in the centre of the action, go further north and park right on the strip right next to the beach.
Thousands of people wander up and down the lengthy seafront boardwalk checking out incredible views of the Atlantic on one side, and loads of bars, restaurants, and beach shops on the other.
During the summer, you can listen to live music at the Sea Shell stage or try your luck in the Hampton Casino.
Just south of the state park, across the large drawbridge, you will the find best seafood restaurants in Hampton Beach along with whale-watching tours that depart at high tide.
The small city of Keene in the southwestern part of New Hampshire offers both a small-town vibe with many local events, combined with big-city shopping.
The city serves as a hub connecting visitors to outdoor activities in this region of the state.
Its most famous event, the Keene Pumpkin Festival in late October, attracts large crowds of people eager to witness the thousands of carved Jack-O-Lanterns on display.
In 2013, the city broke the world record with a staggering 30,581 pumpkins!
Overlooking Keene from a distance, Mt. Monadnock’s bald peak towers over the region.
Known as one of the most frequently climbed mountains in the world, Monadnock’s stunning 360° views from the summit are certainly worth the two-hour hike.
Recommended tour: Cycling New Hampshire’s Covered Bridges
Home to the prestigious Ivy League Dartmouth College, Hanover boasts some of the best fine arts exhibits and cultural events in New Hampshire.
In the town centre, you will the historic buildings of the college surrounding “the quad” the famous grassy area where students go to relax, bask in the sun, and catch up on some studying.
Adjacent to Dartmouth, you will find many world-class restaurants and hotels on the vibrant city streets.
During the day, discover the spectacular exhibitions at the Hood Museum of Art, and at night, catch a live performance at the Hopkin’s Center for the Arts.
For more cool stuff in New Hampshire, check out:
- 20 New Hampshire State Parks
- 16 New Hampshire Beaches
- New Hampshire National Parks
- 20 Landmarks in New Hampshire
- 20 Towns and Cities in New Hampshire
- 20 Things To Do In Portsmouth NH
- 20 Things To Do In Concord NH
- 20 Things To Do In Nashua NH
- 20 Things To Do In Manchester NH
- 20 Things To Do In Lincoln NH
In the quieter part of the state, the Lake Sunapee region presents plenty of natural green areas and a variety of activities for all four seasons.
During the winter, Mt. Sunapee State Park features great skiing and snowboarding for all levels, and during the summer, swimming in the cool lake waters at the beach.
From May to the end of October, you can take the chairlift to the top of the mountain and see the impressive panoramic views of the Lake Sunapee area.
You can also hike to Lake Solitude on the backside of Mt. Sunapee to be fully immersed in the tranquillity of nature.
Just a few miles away, Newbury Harbor is another great place to swim and relax, and watch the motorboats park at the docks.
Across the street, the local restaurant serves up some great dishes for lunch and dinner.
On the opposite side of the lake, the charming small town of Sunapee and its harbour is a great place to take a stroll and get some ice cream or listen to live music while you relax in the grass next to the bandstand.
The MV Lake Sunapee tour boat offers both lunch and dinner cruises in the summertime.
It’s a great way to see the most beautiful parts of the lake and learn interesting facts about the small town.
Just before reaching the Franconia Notch on Interstate 93, stop at the resort town of Lincoln and take a breath of the fresh mountain air.
In the winter, Loon Mountain attracts over two million skiers and snowboarders each year.
Many people come to Lincoln to explore the Flume Gorge.
A series of easy hiking trails and boardwalks lead you through the lower section of a natural granite gorge at the base of Mount Liberty.
The town also serves as the entry point to Kancamagus Highway, the most scenic road in New Hampshire that connects Lincoln to Conway.
On the 54 km (34-mile) road, you can stop to swim in the river, or take a short hike to stunning waterfalls.
This road is especially magnificent in the fall when the foliage is at its peak.
Recommended tour: Meet the Winemakers – Seven Birches Winery Tour
8- Franconia Notch
Going north on 93 after Lincoln, you will reach one of the most astounding sections of the White Mountains, the Franconia Notch.
On either side of the highway some of the highest mountains in the state reign overhead.
To the right, you can see the sharp peaks of Lafayette, Little Haystack, and Mt. Liberty and to the left, the imposing sheer cliffs just below the summit of Cannon Mountain.
Along this scenic highway, you can visit the Franconia State Park with a variety of hiking trails.
If you are an experienced hiker, climb the Old Bridle Trail which traverses across the ridgeline of the tallest mountains in New Hampshire, and is part of the Appalachian Trail.
There is one point along the scenic route you can pull off the highway and see where the famous “Old Man on the Mountain” used to be.
Just before exiting Franconia Notch, stop at Echo Lake to take a swim or take a quick hike up Artist’s Bluff to get stunning views of the landscape from above.
If you would like to see the notch from the top of Cannon Mountain, take the 10-minute ride on Cannon Mountian Aerial Tramway to the 1,222-metre (4,008-foot) summit where you will find an observation deck, restaurant and walking paths.
On the banks of the Connecticut River which forms the natural border between New Hampshire and Vermont, the small town of Cornish links the two states together with one of the most iconic covered bridges in New England.
Cornish holds one of the best-hidden gems other than the historic bridge built in 1866, the St. Gaudins National Historical Park, the home of the famous sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
The estate contains his well-preserved house and a fantastic collection of his bronze statues and other works.
The fountains and gardens are enchanting, and around every set of carefully trimmed hedges, more surprises await.
If you are looking for one of the most iconic small towns in all of New England, stop off Interstate 89 in Warner just before entering the Lake Sunapee Region.
Its main attraction, the Warner Fall Foliage Festival, which is held in October each year, celebrates the arrival of the magnificent golden colours of autumn with a large parade on Sunday and a weekend full of fun events.
The real centrepiece of this idyllic town is Mt. Kearsarge, just 10 miles north of the centre.
After a quick drive up the steep and narrow winding roads after the entrance you will arrive at the parking area.
From there, hike up the one-mile trail to reach the bald granite peak summit and fire towers overlooking the forests in all directions.
On the way up to the mountain, be sure to stop by the Mt.
Kearsarge Indian Museum and check out their impressive collection of Native American artefacts, one of very few in New England.
The resort town of Meredith, on the northwest corner of Lake Winnipesaukee, serves as a perfect base camp to visit the Lakes Region’s best attractions.
In the old part of town, you can walk along the long promenade and grab lunch at some of the best restaurants in town.
In late July, Meredith hosts the Antique and Classic Boat Show featuring some of the finest wooden boats ‘woodies’ from the area.
If you are travelling with children, the activities at Funspot will keep them entertained for hours.
In 2008, Funspot was declared the largest arcade in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records.
Outside of the building, you will find a challenging ropes course for kids and a go-cart racing track across the street.
12- New London
One of the most luxurious and attractive small towns in New Hampshire, New London boasts some of the best views of Mt.
Kearsarge to the south and the Lake Sunapee region to the west.
These historic and elegant 19th-century buildings line both sides of Main Street and inside them, you will find small boutique-style shops and some great local restaurants.
On the edge of the town, the Philbrick-Crecenti bog trail allows you to explore one of the more interesting natural features of the forests of New Hampshire.
The boardwalk paths wind back and forth and signs along the way help you to better understand how the bog originated.
Watch your step however, stepping off the boardwalk can have disastrous results.
Not far from the more popular spots in the Lakes Region, you will find the laid-back scenic areas around Squam Lake, and in its centre, Holderness.
As you drive through this charming old town, time seems to slow down as you see people relaxing on their summer vacation by sitting on the dock, or fishing on the lake in small boats.
Just a few miles from the main intersection in Holderness, take a short 45-minute hike up West Rattlesnake Mountain to get amazing panoramic views of Squam Lake below.
To learn about native plants and animals in the area, visit the Squam Lakes Science Center.
Several short hiking trails and animal exhibits offer a fun way for families to spend the afternoon.
Known for being home to one of the oldest colleges in the state, the town of Plymouth supplies a vibrant nightlife to an otherwise quiet area.
During the school year, the population of the town nearly doubles boosting the excitement of the town.
A great way to enjoy the region north of Plymouth is by tubing down the Pemigewasset River from several spots upstream before getting out at Livermore Falls.
As the biggest city in the state, Manchester almost seems like it should be the capital.
The bustling downtown area, international airport, and extensive shopping districts create an atmosphere very different from the rest of the cities in New Hampshire.
The Mall of New Hampshire certainly attracts the most traffic to the city offering over 100 stores on two levels.
For those seeking a cultural venue to explore, the collection at the Currier Museum of Art will certainly keep you entertained.
The permanent works on display even include a Monet!
Not far from downtown Manchester, the Zimmerman House opens a window into the unique architecture designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Two separate houses now owned by Currier Museum illustrate his innovative modern home designs.
Recommended: Manchester Scavenger Hunt: The Granite State’s Rock
16- Alton Bay
Tucked into a narrow stretch at the southernmost point of Lake Winnipesaukee, you will find the small but welcoming town of Alton Bay.
Right along the last part of the road before you leave the lake many great restaurants offer mouthwatering fresh seafood.
It’s a good place to have dinner and watch the bay light up at night.
In the middle of August, don’t miss the town’s most popular event, the annual boat show located near Alton Bay’s boat museum.
During the winter keep your eyes out for planes landing on the ice runway, one of very few in the U.S.
Right on the banks of the Piscataqua River that separates New Hampshire from Maine, the city of Portsmouth and its historic seaport has attracted summer visitors since its early beginnings.
Formally known as Strawberry Banke, it dates back to 1623 as one of the earliest coastal towns in the state.
The first place to see in the city is Market Square located in the centre of the downtown area filled with 17th-century buildings, cafes, restaurants, and boutique shops.
Then take a trip to the 18th-century Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion next to Little Harbor to see the only existing residence of a Royal Governor in the U.S. or learn more about the city’s origins at the Strawberry Banke Museum.
- Tea Blending in Portsmouth
- Portsmouth Scavenger Hunt: Pretty Portsmouth
- Self-Guided cycling tour on a 21-speed hybird (3 hours)
Near the geographic centre of New Hampshire, Concord serves as both the capital and an intersecting point to all the different regions of the state.
One of the city’s most distinguished venues, the Capitol Center for the Arts, is where you can attend live performances from nationally touring Broadway shows, popular musicians, and comedians.
If you want to learn more about the wonders of our universe and space travel, visit the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center.
This museum’s exciting interactive exhibits on aviation, astronomy, and space science capture the imagination of visitors of all ages.
Make sure and get a ticket for the state-of-the-art planetarium show which allows you to explore the wonders of space from the comfort of your seat.
When it comes to inviting small towns tucked into the White Mountains, Jackson ranks as one of the best in the state.
With a population of under 1,000 people, you wouldn’t think there is much to see here, but in reality, the best-kept secrets remain hidden in the wilderness.
If you love chasing waterfalls, Jackson is the gateway to some of the largest.
Just down the road, you can gaze at the 20 metres (64 ft) Glen Ellis Falls or the even taller 30 metres (100 ft) Jackson Falls.
In the winter, skiers and snowboards come to Jackson to enjoy the slopes of Black Mountain and Wildcat Mountain.
In the summer, kids love letting their imaginations run wild through the Storyland theme park.
Make sure to check over this historic Honeymoon Covered Bridge off Main Street before you go.
As the proud home of the University of New Hampshire, the town of Durham provides an almost endless number of events to attend from sports matches to art exhibitions.
The town itself features a diverse medley of restaurants and cafes to check out.
Twice per month in the evening, the UNH Observatory hosts viewing events open to the public.
It’s a fantastic way to learn more about the universe and get a glimpse of some of the planets in our solar system through their impressive telescope.
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