31 Essential New Hampshire Bucket List Activities & Food

Updated

Are you thinking of visiting New Hampshire, the Granite State? Though this might not be one of the most glamorous states, it’s a New England gem for a reason. Whether you’re planning a road trip around the northeast or you’re looking to see that picturesque small-town charm, this is your essential New Hampshire bucket list. 

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Your bucket list is a reflection of the things you want to do. It’s a way to explore the world around you, accomplish more, and create memories. From covered New England bridges to gorgeous towns, there’s more to New Hampshire than meets the eye. Let’s share your essential New Hampshire bucket list so you can travel farther. 

New Hampshire Bucket List Trip Destinations

Your travel bucket list wouldn’t be complete without a list of destinations. Since most people aren’t familiar with the towns and cities in New Hampshire, this is a great starting point. 

1. Get lost in the college town of Hanover

Home to the prestigious Dartmouth College, Hanover is very much your stereotypical college town. This Ivy League school is one of the oldest in the country, and it’s a stunning place to visit no matter the time of year. 

2. Explore historic Concord

Next, Concord is the capital of New Hampshire. This charming town is home to the State House building, a bustling Main Street, and elegant old buildings. It’s also central to many state parks nearby.

3. Visit the museums in Portsmouth

Located along the Piscataqua River, this is the third-oldest city in the entire county. More than a bustling seaport, there are so many historic spots in Portsmouth. While there’s much to do, the best way to experience this city is through its many museums. 

4. Visit the White Mountains

Conway is a New Hampshire city smack dab in the heart of the White Mountains. Conway is made up of two villages in the same town, and the northern part is named New England’s top ski town.

5. Experience colonial New England

Lastly, Dover is New Hampshire’s earliest permanent settlement. Once a shipbuilding center, this was the focal point of colonial industry. Today, you can explore the history of these old mills, colonial garrison homes, and more. 

Outdoor Activity, Hike, and Adventure Bucket List Ideas for New Hampshire

Stunningly beautiful year-round, there are endless ways to spend time outside in New Hampshire. These are the best outdoor activities, hikes, and adventures to spark your next exploration. 

6. Crawl through caves

Though family-friendly, don’t underestimate this adventure. The Polar Caves in Rumney are a series of caves and passageways that will have you ducking, crawling, and squeezing. These are open year-round depending on the weather, but they’re best explored in the summer. 

7. Hike Mount Washington

Depending on your skill level, you might feel ready to take on Mount Washington’s summit. This is the highest peak in New England, topping 6,200 ft. Known for its unpredictable weather, it is a summit only experienced climbers should attempt. However, there are plenty of trails and hikes lower down the mountain suitable for all. 

8. Charter a boat

As a coastal state, New England is the perfect place to charter a boat for deep-sea fishing or exploring. If you’ve got your sea legs, leave from Portsmouth, Hampton, or Rye. 

9. Mountain bike in Pisgah State Park

The largest state park in New Hampshire is a popular place for mountain bikers. You’ll also find ATVs and snowmobiles on these trails depending on the weather, and this is somewhere you can explore for days. 

10. Ride the Mount Washington Cog Railway

Lastly, the Mount Washington Cog Railway is the first mountain-climbing cog railway in the entire world. It’s also the streets, and you can certainly feel the power during the ride. This 150-year-old railway still runs today, and you can book a family-friendly ride any time of year. 

Spring and Summer New Hampshire Bucket List Ideas

The spring and summer are the warmest months in New Hampshire, and this is when you’ll find the state coming to life. With endless outdoor activities, this is a family-favorite destination. 

11. Visit Story Land

Story Land is a theme park in New Hampshire that entertains young families and children. This magical place in Glen attracts tens of thousands of people each year, and it’s a fun place for family-friendly excitement. 

12. Dip in Diana’s Baths

While there is so much to do in the White Mountains, don’t miss Diana’s Baths. This series of small pools and waterfalls require a short hike, but it’s well worth it to wade into the clean, cool water from the mountain. 

13. Walk across a gorge

In Franconia Notch State Park, you can walk across the infamous Flume Gorge at the base of Mount Liberty. Named one of the most beautiful spots in the state, don’t miss walking up close to these 90-foot granite walls. 

14. Step back in time at the Strawbery Banke Museum

Located outside of Portsmouth, the Strawbery Banke Museum dates back to the 1600s. This is the oldest neighborhood in the state to be settled by Europeans, and the 10-acre outdoor museum is beautifully preserved. 

15. Stay in a remote cabin or inn

One of the best ways to get to know New Hampshire up close is by staying in a remote cabin or quaint inn. These are spotted near the state’s many parks, especially in the White Mountain region. Book early for the spring and summer months! 

16. Have a blast at Canobie Lake Park

Found in Salem, NH, Canobie Lake Park is the state’s biggest amusement park. With over 85 attractions and games, this is one of the biggest draws of the region. The best time to visit is during the summer months. 

Fall and Winter New Hampshire Bucket List Ideas

One of the best times to visit New England, especially New Hampshire, is during the fall and winter. When the seasons change and the foliage turns, the land really comes to life. 

17. Attend the Keene Pumpkin Festival

While Keene is worth the visit no matter the time of year, it’s especially magical during the annual Pumpkin Festival. Founded back in the 1700s, this cultural hub is full of old brick buildings, a historic downtown, and more pumpkins than you can imagine. 

18. Ride a snowmobile in Pittsburg

In the far north of New Hampshire, you’ll find thousands of snowmobile riders taking on the miles of trails between the state and Canada. This extreme activity isn’t for the faint of heart, but it sure is fun. 

19. Step inside an ice castle

This award-winning frozen attraction was created by professional ice artists using thousands of icicles. With LED-lit sculptures and frozen thrones, this is like stepping into a frozen world.

20. Drive through Kancamagus Highway

This 34-mile scenic drive is an amazing focal point for any road trip. Cutting through the White Mountain National Forest, this is the best way to see the changing fall colors up close. Don’t be afraid to stop along the way to take in the sights. 

21. Hit the ski slopes in Lincoln

Who said Vermont is the only place in New England where you can hit the slopes? New Hampshire has great places to ski and snowboard as well, and one of the best mountain ski resorts is found in Lincoln. 

Bucket List Foods and Restaurants in New Hampshire

While you might not think of food when you’re creating your New Hampshire bucket list, think again. There are so many delicious things to add to your food bucket list in this state. 

22. Visit a lobster shack

There’s no shortage of lobster to be found in New England. You’ll find rows of picnic tables amidst these iconic New Hampshire lobster shacks, and this is a meal you won’t forget. 

23. Stop for roadside ice cream

Popular in the summer months, ice cream is a New Hampshire pastime. You’ll find roadside stands along any town, and this is a delicious way to cool down on a warm summer day. 

24. Pig out on pancakes

New Hampshire is serious about their maple syrup, so it only makes sense for pancakes to be an important priority as well. You can find amazing homemade pancakes across the state, but few are as famous as the ones found at Polly’s Pancake Parlor in Sugar Hill. 

25. Chow down on poutine

With a strong French-Canadian heritage, New Hampshire is also one of the best places to snack on poutine. This gravy-slathered dish is a basic go-to in most bars and pubs across the state. 

26. Sip on apple cider

Lastly, New Hampshire is home to endless apple orchards. In fact, the oldest continuously operated apple orchard in the country is found here, so it’s only natural that there’s plenty of apple cider. For an adult twist on this delicious beverage, order a cidertini. 

Manchester, New Hampshire Bucket List Ideas

One of the most well-known cities in New Hampshire is Manchester. Located on the banks of the Merrimack River, this city is only 58 miles north of Boston. Packing the best of the city and nature into one place, this is the full package. 

27. See a show at the Palace Theatre

If you’re looking to catch a live show, few places are better than the Palace Theatre in Manchester. Aside from the world-class performances, this 1915 building is rich in its own charm and history. Some even say it’s haunted, and it’s been featured on many ghost hunting shows. 

28. Visit the Currier Museum of Art

Featuring renowned work from the likes of Monet, Picasso, and Matisse, this isn’t an art museum you want to miss. Named one of the best art museums in the country, the Currier Museum of Art is a gem. 

29. Tour the Zimmerman House

The Zimmerman House in Manchester is the only Frank Lloyd Wright home open to the public within New England, and the artwork in the home is all maintained and preserved. Tour the grounds and the home to see this work of art for yourself. 

30. Take in St. Joseph’s Cathedral

You don’t have to be Catholic to appreciate St. Joseph’s Cathedral located in downtown Manchester. Whether you attend a service or walk the grounds, all are welcome to take in this breathtaking church. 

31. Explore the historic downtown

Finally, it wouldn’t be a trip to Manchester without exploring the historic downtown. Home to the Millyard, this is a bustling center of life and activity. All of the revitalized mill buildings are now modern business, and you can enjoy endless cuisines at the many restaurants. 

Experience the Best of New Hampshire

Now that you know how to make a travel bucket list, you’re ready to experience the best New Hampshire has to offer. This might not be one of the most exciting states, but it’s certainly full of its own surprises. However, you’ll just have to visit for yourself to discover why this state is so cherished in New England. 

Have you created your own bucket list? Whether you’re planning family travel, a road trip, or life goals, a bucket list is key to identifying what matters the most to you.

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