11 Must-Visit Quaint Towns In New Hampshire (2023)

New Hampshire is a playground for visitors looking for mountains, ocean, and lakes paired with old New England charm. The variety of landscapes from the Atlantic Ocean to the peaks of the White Mountains is interspersed with quaint villages nestled in valleys and sprawling pasturelands.

New Hampshire is home to luxury resorts, extensive hiking trails, farm-to-table restaurants, festivals, history, and gorgeous scenery. Experiencing the relaxing pace of life and natural beauty is tonic for your well-being.

1. Portsmouth

New Hampshire’s coastline is short but packed with seaside charm. Portsmouth, on the Piscataqua River, is a working fishing city with ocean access.

Downtown’s Market Square is the city’s restaurant hub, offering fresh coastal cuisine in small chef-run restaurants tucked away in 17th- and 18th-century brownstones. You will find amazing restaurants including the Black Trumpet Bistro, where the chef prepares unique dining options for their weekly prix fixe menu. As a James Beard Foundation semifinalist, their reputation for hospitality is first-class.

The Strawbery Banke Museum is an outdoor history museum and a lovely spot to spend a sunny afternoon. Explore their historic buildings, heirloom gardens, and costumed residents while learning about the history of the Portsmouth area.

Pro Tip: For more information on Portsmouth, consider how to spend a day in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

11 Must-Visit Quaint Towns In New Hampshire (1)

2. Hampton Beach

Hampton Beach is the vacation destination arm of the town of Hampton. The oceanfront village is packed with opportunities to play on the long, inviting beach. The boardwalk is loaded with fun things to do and see. The dining and bar scene is everything you would want from a fun resort area. Hampton Beach is a throwback to the old-style beaches where the main drag runs along the beach and parking is plentiful.

Pro Tip: To learn more about Hampton Beach, see my tips on how to spend a perfect day in quaint Hampton Beach.

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3. Exeter

Exeter is home to Phillips Exeter Academy, one of the oldest and most prestigious boarding schools in America. As you stroll the campus quad, the lush green space is surrounded by meticulously maintained antique brick buildings. It is easy to imagine spending your high school years in this close-knit community.

Exeter was New Hampshire’s Revolutionary War capital. You can visit the American Independence Museum to view one of the rare first printings of the Declaration of Independence. The museum houses many documents and offers several docent-led tours for your enjoyment.

If you are craving some contemplative time with nature, hike the Jolly Rand Trail. The 3.7-mile out-and-back trail is rated as moderate and winds through the wooded Kimball Reserve.

Pro Tip: Stroll down Water Street and stop at one of the many coffee shops to watch the stream of students and faculty grab their afternoon pick-me-ups.

11 Must-Visit Quaint Towns In New Hampshire (2)

4. Peterborough

Peterborough is a quintessentially quaint New England town. Situated in the valley of the Monadnock Region along the Contoocook River, Peterborough’s charm and panoramic views give it high marks when it comes to evoking a classic feel.

Take a drive up Pack Monadnock in Miller State Park. At the summit, climb the fire tower for a spectacular view of the Peterborough area. The access road is a short 1.3-mile ride to the top. If you are feeling adventurous, you can choose one of the hiking trails up the mountain for a good workout.

If you love poking around for antique art, stop at the New England Art Exchange. You can browse paintings, fine prints, sculptures, drawings, and photography.

Pro Tip: If you are planning to drive up to Pack Monadnock, reserve your parking spot ahead of time.

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5. Sunapee And Newbury

Home to skiing, lake life, state parks, and other natural areas, Sunapee and her lake neighbors are a necklace of jewels in the New Hampshire Lakes Region.

Visitors to Mount Sunapee State Park in Newbury can enjoy the beach, boating, camping, and hiking. The area is a popular vacation spot for many New Englanders.

Mount Sunapee Resort, also located in Newbury, is a family-focused ski resort and part of the Vail Resorts Epic Pass system. Operating 67 trails serviced by nine lifts, Mount Sunapee Resort is a great place for a multigenerational ski weekend.

Pro Tip: Sunapee is a popular destination with locals year-round. Plan on making reservations if you want to stay close to the lake.

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6. Cornish

Cornish is a small farm town in western New Hampshire. It is famous for the beautiful Saint-Gaudens Park, which was the summer home of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the great American sculptor. There are often artisans in residence, and demonstrations, tours, and classes are available. A popular place for events, the grounds, gardens, and buildings are beautifully maintained.

Pro Tip: Saint-Gaudens is a popular wedding destination, so check before your arrival to make sure the park is open for viewing the day you plan to visit.

7. Hanover

Home to Dartmouth College, Hanover is more than just a quaint New Hampshire hamlet. It is the center of an Ivy League college campus that embraces the great outdoors. The students and faculty take great pride in their Environmental Studies program.

The Hanover Inn, located on Dartmouth College’s campus, offers first-class amenities wrapped in historic charm. Dine at the Inn’s PINE Restaurant, where farm-to-table is a continued tradition. The chef offers Tuscan and American cuisine prix fixe or a la carte menus featuring ingredients sourced from local farms and encompassing seasonal products.

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Pro Tip: The Appalachian Trail runs through Hanover, offering residents and visitors a chance to “walk the trail,” even if it is just for a few short miles.

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8. Lincoln

Lincoln is home to the breathtaking Franconia Notch State Park. Mother Nature’s gifts are boundless, and she showcases many of them for the park’s visitors. Nature enthusiasts come here to unplug and breathe the crisp mountain air.

Editor’s Note: Franconia Notch State Park has earned its place on our lists of eight excellent hidden gems in New Hampshire and 15 best stops during a New Hampshire fall foliage road trip, too.

Drive down I-93 between the Kinsman and Franconia mountain range peaks for the most beautiful eight-mile drive in central New England. In the spring and summer, the greenery is so deep and saturated, it is almost unnatural. In the fall, the vibrant foliage is a riot of colorful patchwork. In the winter, the peaks sparkle when the sunlight reflects off the clean, white blanket of snow.

Flume Gorge, at the base of Mount Liberty, is a popular hiking spot. The trail is an easy two-mile loop. It is well maintained, but expect to climb some stairs and hills. There is an entrance fee, and you must reserve your parking spot online.

Lincoln offers many options for campers, hikers, boaters, and picnickers. It is a beautiful spot to spend an afternoon or a long weekend.

Pro Tip: Download your trail maps while you have Wi-Fi; connectivity is spotty in the White Mountains.

9. North Conway

The best way to see the country is by train. Conway Scenic Railroad offers you the chance to explore while riding the rails. The Mountaineer to the Notch runs from North Conway Village to Crawford Depot. You can travel coach or first class and add lunch service. The five-hour round trip showcases some of New Hampshire’s finest scenery, including sheer bluffs, steep ravines, and stunning panoramic views.

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If you prefer a more tranquil visit, stop at Echo Lake State Park. Enjoy swimming, picnicking, and some hiking. The Echo Lake Trail takes you in a loop for a beautiful, easy way to enjoy the lake. Alternatively, you can work out your legs with a moderate hike to Cathedral Ledge for a panoramic view of North Conway.

Pro Tip: If you don’t want to hike all the way to Cathedral Ledge, you can drive up the road to the gate and walk the last mile to enjoy the amazing views.

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10. Meredith

Lake Winnipesaukee is synonymous with New Hampshire fun. The largest lake in the Lakes Region, Winnipesaukee has everything you need for a lake vacation. Swimming, boating, hiking, or just relaxing on the beach are at your fingertips.

The Loop Drive around Winnipesaukee takes you on a 97-mile adventure through the lakes. The views are spectacular at any time of year. Bring your camera; there are plenty of panoramic photo opportunities along the way.

Bed and breakfast stays are synonymous with quaint towns. The Nutmeg Inn is a piece of Meredith history decorated with charming 18th-century appointments coupled with modern conveniences. With rooms named after spices, you get the feeling you are visiting your great-aunt’s homestead, complete with a rocking chair deck.

Pro Tip: The Loop Drive takes you through Meredith and Laconia (see more on this community below).

11. Laconia

Famous for Laconia Motorcycle Week, known to the locals as Bike Week, Laconia welcomes over 400,000 motorcycle enthusiasts each year in mid-June. If a bike festival is on your bucket list, start planning now for next year. Finding suitable accommodations can be tricky.

Weirs Beach on the western shore of Lake Winnipesaukee is a popular resort destination because of its family-friendly beach, boardwalk, and classic drive-in. Watching a movie at the Weirs Drive-In Theater will add a touch of nostalgia to your visit.

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Every trip to the beach requires ice cream, and Kellerhaus offers homemade ice cream, chocolates, and candy. With their goodies made on-site, they offer the freshest local ingredients. They also serve a Weekend Waffle Breakfast from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The breakfast is a great value, and you can even add a scoop of their sweet ice cream to your waffle.

Pro Tip: The week before Bike Week can be hectic with preparations, if you are looking for quiet and relaxing, you should choose a different time to visit.

The New Hampshire countryside is dotted with quaint towns and villages just waiting to be discovered.

FAQs

Does New Hampshire have small towns? ›

New Hampshire Has Many Great Small Towns You Need to Visit

These exciting small towns also exhibit early American history in local museums, as well as many downtown buildings that are over 200 years old.

What is the number one tourist attraction in New Hampshire? ›

Mount Washington Auto Road

Notably, Mount Washington Auto Road is at the center of the adventure. The nearly 8-mile road is New Hampshire's oldest and most visited attraction; it's a must see. Historically, the road opened in 1861 with horse-drawn tours to the mountain's summit.

Where do the rich live in New Hampshire? ›

New Hampshire communities by household income
RankCommunityMedian household income
1Hampton Falls, New Hampshire$129,531
2Bedford, New Hampshire$127,945
3Amherst, New Hampshire$127,246
4Brookline, New Hampshire$127,222
156 more rows

Where do people vacation in New Hampshire? ›

White Mountains, lake vacations, ocean beaches

Generations of families travel to vacation spots like North Conway, Lake Winnipesaukee, and Hampton Beach. In the Seacoast and White Mountains, outdoor activities go on winter and summer. It's a vacation land for all tastes.

What is the most popular city in New Hampshire? ›

Manchester

Where is the cheapest place in New Hampshire to live? ›

Whether you thrive best in small towns with an easygoing pace or a bustling urban city, New Hampshire has something for everyone.
...
  1. Conway. Home Price to Income Ratio: 3.84. ...
  2. Berlin. Home Price to Income Ratio: 2.35. ...
  3. Claremont. ...
  4. Rochester. ...
  5. Laconia. ...
  6. Somersworth. ...
  7. Concord. ...
  8. Manchester.

Where is the best place to retire in NH? ›

With that in mind, here are the best places to retire in New Hampshire.
  • Rochester. ...
  • Londonderry. ...
  • Concord. ...
  • Laconia. ...
  • Milford. ...
  • Dover. ...
  • Keene. ...
  • Hanover. This central New Hampshire town is less than an hour from the White Mountain National Forest.
8 Mar 2022

What is the safest town to live in in New Hampshire? ›

Atkinson is the No. 1 safest place in New Hampshire. It is a town in Rockingham County with a population of 7,196 people.

Is it cheaper to live in NH or MA? ›

The cost of living in Boston, MA is 38.7% higher than in Manchester, NH. You would have to earn a salary of $83,243 to maintain your current standard of living. Employers in Boston, MA typically pay 9.8% more than employeers in Manchester, NH.

Is it better to retire in NH or MA? ›

The personal-finance website says it compared all 50 states across 47 key metrics, including affordability, health care, and quality of life. New Hampshire tied with Arizona as the ninth best state to retire, while Massachusetts ranked 19th on the list.

What is the best month to visit New Hampshire? ›

Specifically, the best time to visit New Hampshire is between the months of April and June. The weather is perfect (usually around 58°F), which is perfect for a sweater or hoodie. Because the weather is so great, it's ideal for exploring the outdoor beauty that New Hampshire offers.

Is Vermont more beautiful than New Hampshire? ›

In terms of mountains, you'll certainly find both in either state. However, when it comes to the most mountains and lush greenery, the better bet is Vermont. It's not so much the fact that Vermont has more of it as much as it's the fact that many of the state's lands still remain undeveloped.

What meal is New Hampshire known for? ›

They often called it the 'gentlemen's dinner' if enhanced with meat stocks. We looked online and it's true that you will find the occasional article listing boiled dinner as New Hampshire's signature dish, although some other New England states might debate the claim.

What is the prettiest state in New England? ›

Rhode Island was ranked the most picturesque state because it has the largest number of historic places, national parks, and national landmarks registered for its small size, most famously The Breakers mansion in Newport.

How do I spend a day in New Hampshire? ›

Top Attractions in New Hampshire
  1. Mount Washington. 254. Mountains. ...
  2. White Mountain National Forest. 245. State Parks • National Parks. ...
  3. Kancamagus Highway. 3,546. Scenic Drives. ...
  4. Strawbery Banke Museum. 1,141. Historic Sites • History Museums. ...
  5. Clark's Bears. 1,130. ...
  6. Ice Castles. 533. ...
  7. Seven Birches Winery. 341. ...
  8. Market Square. 748.

What are 2 famous people in New Hampshire? ›

The following creative, inspiring, and heroic individuals claim(ed) New Hampshire as home.
  • Thomas Bailey Aldrich (1836-1907) ...
  • Amy Beach (1867-1944) ...
  • Jeremy Belknap (1744-1798) ...
  • Daniel Brown (1964- ) ...
  • Benjamin Champney (1817-1907. ...
  • Charles Dana (1819-1897) ...
  • Daniel Chester French (1850-1931) ...
  • Robert Frost (b.

Is there anything cool in New Hampshire? ›

The attractions that draw tourists to this part of New England include beautiful ocean and lake beaches, miles of kayaking waters, above-timberline hiking on the Appalachian Trail, sailing on mountain-ringed lakes, fun-filled theme and water parks for kids, exciting rides to mountaintops, and tours of historic houses.

Who is the richest family in NH? ›

His name is Rick Cohen, and according to Forbes Magazine's list of the 400 Richest People in America for 2022, him and his family are the wealthiest people in New Hampshire. Their net worth? $7.8 billion.

What state do most millionaires live? ›

In 2020, California had the highest number of millionaire households in the U.S., with 1.14 million households having one million or more in investible assets. This is nearly double the 650,216 millionaire households in Texas, the state with the second-highest number.
...
CharacteristicShare of total households
--
12 more rows
30 Sept 2022

What state do most billionaires live in? ›

As of March 2022, California was the U.S. state with most billionaires, with 186 billionaires calling the state home. New York was second, with 135 resident billionaires which was a larger jump over third-placed Florida, with 78.

Where is the best place to watch leaves change in NH? ›

The Kancamagus Highway

This is one of the most popular spots to view the changing colors for good reason. Not only is the drive itself jaw-dropping, but there are also several spots to pull off along the scenic byway in case you want to take some photos or walk between the trees.

What is the name of a small tourist spot in the mountains of New Hampshire USA? ›

The iconic Mount Monadnock is one of the best places to visit in New Hampshire. The views from the isolated mountain peak are unmatched anywhere in the state, considered among New England's best peaks. Mount Monadnock is the highest point in Cheshire County in the state's southern region.

Why should people visit New Hampshire? ›

Whether you enjoy hiking, biking, skiing, or simply exploring the great outdoors, you'll find plenty to do in New Hampshire. The state is home to numerous parks and recreation areas, such as Franconia Notch State Park and Mount Monadnock State Park.

What was a major town in New Hampshire? ›

New Hampshire

What is the least populated town in New Hampshire? ›

Located in Carroll County in the White Mountains Region of New Hampshire, Hart's Location is only 11 miles long and 1.5 miles wide.

Why are people moving to New Hampshire? ›

Low Crime Rate. If you are looking for a state with low crime rate then New Hampshire is the place for you! 80% of residents in New Hampshire reported that they feel safe where they live compared to 55% of other Americans. New Hampshire ranks 2 for the state with the lowest violent crime rates in the county.

Is it cheaper to live in NH or NY? ›

The cost of living in Nashua, NH is -38.4% lower than in New York, NY. You would have to earn a salary of $36,944 to maintain your current standard of living. Employers in Nashua, NH typically pay -9.9% less than employers in New York, NY.

What salary do you need to live in New Hampshire? ›

Average Cost of Living in New Hampshire: $51,760 per year

According to MERIC data gathered in the third quarter of 2021, New Hampshire has the 38th lowest cost of living in the country.

What is the most affordable New England state to live in? ›

New England consists of six states in the Northeastern U.S.: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
...
Top affordable cities in New England.
🏡 Best overallTorrington, Connecticut
🚴 Best small townBerlin, New Hampshire
👪 Best for familiesNaugatuck, Connecticut
3 more rows
9 Aug 2022

At what age do you stop paying property taxes in New Hampshire? ›

Criteria. Applicant must be 65 years old before April 1 of the tax year for which the application is being made.

Is Social Security taxed in NH? ›

Social Security Benefits: New Hampshire doesn't tax your Social Security benefits, either. Income Tax Range: For 2022, there's a flat 5% tax on interest and dividends only. The rate will be 4% for 2023, 3% for 2024, 2% for 2025, 1% for 2026, and 0% after 2026.

What New England state is best for retirees? ›

Tax & Financial Advantages

New Hampshire has historically been rated as one of the most tax-friendly states to live in, especially as a retiree. Some of the financial advantages include: No state income tax. No sales tax.

What's better New Hampshire or Vermont? ›

In terms of mountains, you'll certainly find both in either state. However, when it comes to the most mountains and lush greenery, the better bet is Vermont. It's not so much the fact that Vermont has more of it as much as it's the fact that many of the state's lands still remain undeveloped.

What is the rainiest month in New Hampshire? ›

The wetter season lasts 3.3 months, from May 9 to August 19, with a greater than 29% chance of a given day being a wet day. The month with the most wet days in Manchester is June, with an average of 10.3 days with at least 0.04 inches of precipitation.

What is the coldest month in New Hampshire? ›

The cold season lasts for 3.4 months, from December 3 to March 15, with an average daily high temperature below 43°F. The coldest month of the year in New Castle is January, with an average low of 21°F and high of 34°F.

Is it expensive in New Hampshire? ›

Average Cost of Living in New Hampshire: $51,760 per year

If New Hampshire exceeds your budget, don't bank on finding an affordable nearby state to move to. All of the states around New Hampshire — Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York — are some of the most expensive in the country to live in.

Which New England state is best for retirees? ›

Maine, Vermont, and Connecticut all raked just inside the top 30 best places to retire.

Is Maine better than New Hampshire? ›

In fact, Maine Ranks #1 overall for public safety among the 50 United States, with the lowest violent crime rate and the 4th lowest property crime rate. New Hampshire ranks in at #2 overall, with the second-lowest violent crime rate and the second-lowest property crime rate.

What is New Hampshire's favorite food? ›

Ice Cream. Ice cream is New Hampshire's favorite treat. What can be better than a creamy and rich ice cream cone from a charming roadside stand, Intervale Ice Cream in Henniker.

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