20 Things To Do In Manchester NH

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This New England city is the largest urban area north of Boston. New Hampshire’s Manchester, named after Manchester, England, is a fantastic city to visit. There are several things to do in Manchester, including visiting art galleries, museums, theatres, parks and science centres.

Manchester was a historic mill town but has grown into a rich cultural, arts and entertainment hub. A good reason to visit Manchester is its convenient location, an hour’s drive from Boston, close to the coast, and around 90 minutes from Portland, Maine.

Manchester, New Hampshire

20 Things To Do In Manchester

free things to do in manchester nh
Looking for things to do in Manchester NH? Here are 20 of the best. Picture of the highway running on one side of there Merrimack River and the city on the other side.

1- Admire Art At Currier Museum of Art

Visiting this museum, a gem of New Hampshire, is one of the best things to do in Manchester for art lovers. So, if you’re interested in art, make sure this museum is on your to-visit list.

American architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed the building, and over 70 years, he also designed more than 1000 sculptures.

Inside this museum of art, you’ll find an impressive 11,000 pieces of drawings, paintings, sculptures and furniture.

Famous artists who have work on display are Matisse, Georgia O’Keefe and Picasso.

As well as these critically acclaimed names, the Currier Museum of Art also focuses on and aims to elevate local New Hampshire artists’ works.

The museum of art supports the works of those from the White Mountain School of Artists.

2- Hike Rock Rimmon

Rock Rimmon is a 150-foot boulder and a popular hiking and hangout spot.

Climbing to the top of the boulder gives you great views of Manchester.

It’s a super easy hike to the top, so you can bring the whole family, even the little ones.

This is a lovely spot for a picnic, or why not head there at sunset?

3- Visit Manchester Millyard Museum

things to do in manchester nh
Visiting the historic Amoskeag Mill buildings is one of the things to do in Manchester, New Hampshire, today.

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Manchester’s textile industry was booming, and people were attracted to the city by the prospect of jobs, resulting in Manchester’s population exploding.

If you visit Manchester’s business district today, you will find this is the exact location of the historic Millyard.

At the Manchester Millyard Museum, you can learn about the city’s history and how people used to live and work.

Discover the area’s largest manufacturing company and how this became one of the biggest textiles-producing companies in the world.

This museum is excellent for history buffs and those wanting to know more about the city they are visiting.

4- See An Exhibition At New Hampshire Institute of Art

Another of the best art buildings in Manchester is the New Hampshire Institute of Art, a well-established design school that is one of the state’s oldest.

It was originally established at the beginning of the 19th century.

Inside, you will find several curated exhibitions showcasing a range of artists’ works – from local to international – in various mediums.

The New Hampshire institute of art is an impressive building in itself.

Its six tall, pillared columns at the front of the building make it look regal and enticing.

5- Shop At The Mall of New Hampshire

What’s a vacation without a spot of shopping?

The Mall of New Hampshire is a tax-free shopping centre with more than 100 retail outlets, including clothing stores, electronic shops and home goods stores.

Because it’s tax-free, you can stock up on all your essentials and favourite brands at a lower price.

Whether you’re looking to purchase some Manchester souvenirs or fill your wardrobe, the Mall of New Hampshire is the perfect retail therapy escape.

Once you’ve finished your shopping, head to the large food court for some delicious lunch or dinner.

6- Explore The Lee Scouting Museum

Manchester certainly has its fair share of museums, including unusual ones.

Founded in 1969, the Lee Scouting Museum showcases a unique part of American history.

The sole aim of this museum is to preserve America’s scouting history.

This is one of the more unusual museums in Manchester. But those who have been scouts or have children in the scouts will find this museum interesting.

Since its commencement in the late 1960s, the museum owners have been collecting artifacts, publications and a lot of uniforms from collectors nationwide.

Several cool patches are on display, including one that went to the moon with New Hampshire Boy Scout Allen Shepherd.

If you have a Girl Scout among your group, there’s a fascinating exhibit on the American Girl Scouts too.

7- Go Skiing In McIntyre Ski Area

things to do in manchester nh in winter
If you’re looking for things to do in Manchester nh in winter, try skiing.

If you know anything about New Hampshire, you will know that the skiing opportunities in the area are brilliant.

But there’s no need to go to Bretton Woods or the White Mountains to get your skiing fix, you can ski right in the heart of Manchester.

While it might not be as big as some of the ski resorts in the state, there is a terrain park, an area for beginners and nine trails to explore.

Turn your Manchester city break into a ski trip, as the McIntyre Ski Area is a fun spot to learn how to ski and to go snow tubing on their 10-lane course.

8- Discover The Historic Downtown

Mount St Mary's Manor in Hooksett
Admiring the beautiful New England architecture is another thing to do in Manchester, NH. This is Mount St Mary’s Manor in Hooksett. It’s not downtown but worth the visit. 

Manchester’s downtown area is packed with history, even though the former mill yard is now a vibrant entertainment centre.

If you had strolled down these streets centuries ago and the place would have looked quite different.

Many of the buildings in downtown Manchester are revitalised mill buildings that have been converted into modern apartments and businesses.

Stroll along the shop-lined streets, peek your head into the quirky boutiques, and enjoy local culinary offerings.

At night, Manchester’s historic downtown transforms into a lively scene.

If you’re visiting with friends, head to some of the bars and meet the locals.

9- Visit The Amoskeag Fishways

fun things to do in manchester nh merrimack river
The Manchester skyline and the Merrimac River.

Manchester is home to the Merrimac River, which was fundamental in powering Manchester’s 19th-century textile mills, allowing the New England economy to flourish.

Not used for the textile industry today, the Merrimac River’s top attraction is the Amoskeag Fishways.

The fishways is a safe passage created during the 19th century to allow fish to navigate the dam.

Today you can visit the centre, which teaches about the history and ecology of the local area and view thousands of fish that make their way along the dam passages.

This is a highly unique and interactive centre and it’s strange to think that during the industrial revolution, people were still concerned about the safe passage of the Merrimac River’s fish.

10- See A Show At The Palace Theater

Are you looking for something fun and entertaining to do in Manchester?

Located in the historic downtown, the Palace Theatre is the best place to go and watch a show.

The Palace Theatre was built in 1914 and the beauty of the building still shines through.

The theatre puts on a program of performances, including jazz and blues music and hit Broadway shows.

There is something for all theatre-goers to enjoy and the perfect date night activity in Manchester.

11- Go Skating At Dorrs Pond

Add skating at Dorrs Pond to your itinerary if you visit Manchester in winter.

So, rent a pair of skates and enjoy New England’s winter wonderland on the ice.

Skating at Dorrs Pond has been a local tradition since 1934.

There’s something about skating that brings everybody closer together and creates a real community feel.

After you’ve skated, if you’re feeling a bit nippy, warm up by the wood stoves across from the pond at Livingston Park.

12- Watch A Game At Northeast Delta Dental Stadium

Are you a fan of baseball? Then why not catch a local game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium?

This stadium is home to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats AA Baseball Team and is not far from other important city landmarks.

The New Hampshire Fisher Cats might not be the Red Sox’s, but these minor baseball league teams play some of the most enthralling games.

So, grab tickets, a cold beer, some greasy food, and a good seat and enjoy a baseball game.

13- Channel Your Inner Picasso At Muse Paintbar

Muse Paint Bar is a unique art experience. This is not your regular art class but more like a paint party.

You’ll be provided with canvas, paints, brushes, instructions from a teacher, and most importantly, food and wine.

And who cares if you’re not good at art? Once you’ve enjoyed an evening of red wine, you’ll probably think you’re Pablo Picasso, and who will disagree with you?

If you’re low on inspiration on the artistic front, there are samples of paintings that you can copy.

14- Admire The Architecture Of St Joseph’s Cathedral

Another of Manchester’s downtown district attractions is Saint Joseph’s Cathedral.

This church is super welcoming whether you want to attend a service or admire the cathedral’s architecture and history.

Manchester’s residents are very proud of the cathedral, founded to serve Irish immigrants’ spiritual needs.

15- Visit The Franco-American Center

The Franco-American Center showcases and preserves the heritage of French settlers.

This nonprofit organisation showcases the French language, heritage, culture and cuisine with regular classes, events and activities related to French culture.

About three percent of the New Hampshire population is French-speaking due to the migration of French Canadians from Quebec who moved across the border from 1840 to 1930.

Spoken French in Manchester and other New Hampshire mill towns is peppered with French-inflected English words that describe work activities in 19th-century mills.

16- Explore Zimmerman House

things to do in manchester nh zimmerman house
One of the things to do in Manchester NH is to pay a visit to Zimmerman House.

Another building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright is the Zimmerman House, which was built in 1950 and it’s an unusual sight.

The Currier Museum of Art purchased the building in 1988, now, it is open to the public and almost a work of art in itself.

The house is registered on the US National Register of historic places.

17- Have A Laugh At Headliner’s Comedy Club

If you’re looking for a good time, head to the Headliner’s Comedy Club.

This is one of Manchester’s hidden entertainment gems.

A variety of comics are hosted at the club each night and they never fail to make the audience laugh.

The comedy club’s rooms are small and intimate, which creates a fantastic atmosphere and ensures you’ll always have a great seat.

There is nothing better than forgetting about day-to-day life and howling until tears form in your eyes.

18- Take Part In Discussions At SEE Science Center

The SEE Science Centre is an interactive learning experience, all in the name of scientific discovery.

This centre aims to engage people of all ages in everything to do with science.

A ton of hands-on exhibits focus on topics such as light, electricity, sound, space, and more.

Whether you are into dinosaurs or robotics, there is something for you to enjoy at this New Hampshire Science Centre.

Though the museum caters for both adults and children, there are several special events just for adults.

The ‘Science on Tap’ program allows visitors to partake in informal discussions run by local scientists and experts on a variety of topics.

19- Walk Around Lake Massabesic

things to do in manchester nh this weekend massabesic lake
Enjoying the scenery around Massabesic Lake is one of the tranquil things to do in Manchester NH.

Manchester and Auburn share the beautiful Massabesic Lake, which covers 2500 acres and is used to supply the region with drinking water.

Because it’s used for drinking water, there is no swimming or skating on the lake but it’s a beautiful and picturesque place to relax in nature.

If you are searching for some walking trails, then there’s a 3.7-mile (5.9km) walk that loops right around the lake, it’s super easy and flat, so everyone is welcome.

Whether you are enjoying a gentle walk around the lake or a relaxing picnic by the water, Lake Massabesic is a beautiful place in Manchester.

20- Picnic In Livingston Park

best things to do in manchester nh piscataquog river
One of the free things to do in Manchester nh is to enjoy nature along the Piscataquog River.

Livingston Park is filled with fun things to do for active travellers.

There’s a swimming pool with slides, two playgrounds, a baseball field, a soccer pitch and even a running track.

There’s also a large, pleasant grassy area for you to unpack a picnic and relax.

You’ll find that Dorrs Pond is next to the park, so if you’re visiting in winter, you can take a nice stroll before heading onto the ice.

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harriet comley
Harriet Comley is a travel enthusiast, freelance travel writer and a lover of safaris. Since 2017 she has been travelling the globe living in the UK, Canada, Vietnam, China and now Zambia, where she is completing her PhD in Sustainable Tourism. For 3 1/2 years she taught English in Vietnam and China. Now she has turned her attention to writing, having contributed to a number of travel blogs and websites always focusing on what she loves most…exploring!