Tucked between historic Massachusetts and down-east Maine, New Hampshire is a place of lakes and mountains, a good place to decompress from city life and one of the most beautiful places in New England to enjoy the fall foliage.
While most of my trips north are bookended by Massachusetts and Maine, you can definitely make a vacation just in New Hampshire. Below I’ll share the couple of places I know well enough to recommend.
Fly into Manchester, New Hampshire and rent a car. Manchester is a very manageable and pleasant airport to use as a base for any New England trip. Driving is one of the best parts of this trip, especially if you planned for fall foliage season. Option 2 is to fly into Boston and spend a few days there before driving north.
The quintessential New England town in the white mountains of New Hampshire. This is a great hiking getaway in the spring or summer and a romantic off-the-beaten path ski destination in the winter.
Mt. Washington sets the scenery and also provides ample options for hiking and outdoor recreation. Click the picture for a link to North Conway’s travel page to read more and plan.
Where To Stay
This area is a good place to stay in a Bed & Breakfast. There are a handful of very modest accommodations along the Kancamagus Highway, but that’s not really necessary since the drive is a single day. You’ll want to anchor in North Conway or try the Kennedy-esque Omni Mt. Washington Hotel in Carroll. A true former playground of the rich and famous, it maintains the elegance and class while now being accessible to everyone. They have a wide range of accommodations, fancy restaurants and a speak easy. The grounds are lovely for wandering after a long day in the car. This hotel is also located near Bretton Woods ski area.
The Kancamagus Highway
A beautiful 34.5 mile drive on NH route 112 through the white mountains of New Hampshire, especially stunning at fall foliage time. Easily done in a day even if you stop every few minutes to take more and more pictures as the scenery unfolds in front of you and gets more magnificent around every turn. Click the map below to link to a helpful planning website.
Mt. Washington Observatory
A tourist attraction with a purpose! The Mt. Washington Observatory is a non-profit institution that studies weather and climate patterns. They maintain a weather station that you can visit, and for the more adventurous they offer exclusive day and overnight snowcat trips.
Don’t want to go quite that high? Try the Mt. Washington auto road instead. The 8.6 mile drive claims to the the oldest continuously operating attraction in the U.S. and is famous for its amazing scenery and wildly changing weather patterns. There is a hotel on site that is trailside to the Great Glen Trails Outdoor center, a premier Nordic ski center in winter and mountain bike destination in summer.
There are lots of ski resorts around New Hampshire’s White Mountains. They are smaller than what you’ll find in Colorado, with narrower trails but with so many to choose from it spreads the crowds out. I’ve skied Cranmore Mountain. Great for beginners and adult lessons.
This area offers ample hiking. I’m not an expert at all, so sharing only the hikes I’ve done.
- Alethusa Falls, Crawford Notch – a 1.1 mile hike to New Hampshire’s largest waterfall
- Mt. Willard (entrance behind Conway Scenic Railroad). An aggressive uphill hike over large boulders with a huge payoff.
- Cathedral Ledge, Bartlett – a 2.1 mile out and back trail leading to a fenced overlook of North Conway – did this for sunrise
- Black Cap – a 2.3 mile loop trail, very scenic, crosses many other trails so have a map
- Diana’s Baths, Bartlett – a 1.3 mile out and back, handicap accessible, easy hike to a cascading rock waterfall
If you happen to visit in winter, you’ll want to check this place out for sure. Hopefully there is snow on the ground which turns this little farm into a magical winter wonderland. They have outdoor ice skating, snow shoeing and sleigh rides plus plenty of hot chocolate to warm you up. A must-do with kids, and an ultra romantic evening for couples.
This is all for now on my New Hampshire travel page. If you are planning a New England getaway, check out my pages for Massachusetts and Maine too!