Did you know that the New Hampshire border is just 40 minutes from Boston (okay, maybe more depending on lovely Massachusetts traffic–but you get the point). Which makes it a great location for a weekend New Hampshire getaway, whether you’re coming from somewhere local or flying into Boston.
While this is by no means an extensive list, here are our favorite cities and things to do in New Hampshire.
Portsmouth and Beaches
Portsmouth is a quintessential New England town (think, Portland, Maine without all the cobblestone streets). It has a great, walkable downtown with tons of shops and (more importantly) great breweries with local craft beer.
Some of our favorite Portsmouth breweries:
- Earth Eagle Brewings: cozy place with fast service and live music in the evening. They have a great selection of beers so there’s definitely something for everyone. And definitely grab some food while you’re there–we highly recommend the pretzel.
- Portsmouth Brewery: located right in downtown
- Smuttynose Brewing Company: Not in downtown, but definitely worth a stop in Hampton, about 20 minutes south of Portsmouth. Located on an old Victorian farm, it offers brewery tours and also features a retail store. Make sure to also check out the farm-to-table restaurant on the property, Hayseed Restaurant, serving Farmhouse-style American fare with craft draft beer from the adjacent Smuttynose Brewing Company.
If you want to check out some sites while you’re there, Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse is a 10 minute drive outside of downtown located in the island town of New Castle. Since the lighthouse is located on an active Coast Guard Station within Fort Constitution, the public is allowed into the grounds of Fort Constitution. The grounds immediately around the lighthouse are not open except during open houses and special events.
If you are looking to do some outlet shopping, drive north just across the Piscataqua River into Kittery, Maine.
To pick-up some high quality jams, jellies, and sauces, go to the Stonewall Kitchen Company Store located on the backside of the North Church in downtown. You can sample most of the products before buying them.
Depending on how hungry you are when visiting and don’t want to eat at the breweries listed earlier here are some more food recommendations:
- Flatbread Company, wood-fired pizzas with organic ingredients & free-range meats, made in traditional clay ovens.
- Surf Restaurant, nice seafood restaurant
- The Oar House, seafood restaurant with a colonial/old world tavern atmosphere
- Stop at Popovers On the Square for cake and pastries
White Mountain National Forest
The White Mountains in New Hampshire are most well-known for their ski resorts, but there’s plenty to do throughout the rest of the year as well.
Mount Washington is New Hampshire’s highest mountain and a place of some pretty extreme weather. You can hike to the summit, or there’s also an option to drive your car all the way up. We, like many people, opted for the car option.
One of the more well-known towns in the White Mountains is North Conway, a small village that swells significantly in size during the winter months. We’re not big skiers, but we do recommend Cranmore Mountain Resort (particularly if, like us, you’d rather go snow tubing than try your luck on the slopes). They also have a ton of summer activities such as a mountain coaster and summer tubing. Nearby is another ski resort that we would recommend checking out, Gunstock Mountain Resort.
Right near the White Mountains is Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire’s largest lake with a size of 72 square miles and 244 islands. The lake is very popular in the summer for swimming, fishing, and other water activities–including some cruises that we think are worth checking out. Mount Washington Cruises offers both daytime and evening cruises of varying length. We recommend the M/S Mount Washington day cruise, which takes you on a 2.5 hour tour of the lake. From the southern end of Lake Winnipesaukee, you can park at the nearby Weirs Beach area and walk over to the dock. Tickets can be purchased ahead of time online, or at the ticket booth prior to departure. People also enjoy the lake during the cold winter months for ice fishing, skiing, snowmobiling, ice skating, cross country skiing or ice boating.
Finally, if you’re looking for some typical New England sites for your photography collection, there are a couple of notable covered bridges in the region that are worth taking a drive to:
- Honeymoon Covered Bridge in Jackson
- Saco River and Swift River Covered Bridges in Conway
Hanover is a small but welcoming college town close to the border of Vermont and home to the Ivy League Dartmouth College. While there’s not much to do in town besides shop and walk around the campus, there are plenty of hiking opportunities nearby.
Mount Cardigan State Park, with its 3,155 ft (961 m) treeless granite summit affords outstanding views of west central New Hampshire, with a panorama that includes Mount Monadnock and the White Mountains, Camel’s Hump in Vermont, and Pleasant Mountain in Maine. The easiest access to the summit is via the 1.5-mile West Ridge Trail. You’ll know you’ve reached the summit when you get to the fire tower.
If you’ve visited New Hampshire, please let us know your favorite places to visit in the comments. And make sure to check back as we will continue to add to this post about planning a New Hampshire getaway over time.
This post is part of a series of blogs about New England weekend getaways. To view the other posts in this series, click the links below:
- New England Weekend Getaway: Maine
- New England Weekend Getaway: Vermont
- New England Weekend Getaway: Rhode Island