Discover the outdoor adventure and history of one of the original 13 colonies. New Hampshire became the 9th state on June 21, 1788, and was named after Hampshire, England, by Captain John Mason. The state is affectionately known as the “Mother of Rivers”, because five of the great rivers of New England originate in its majestic granite hills. The Connecticut River rises in the north; the Pemigewasset River starts in the Profile Lake in the Franconia mountains and joins the Winnipesaukee at Franklin to form the Merrimack River; the Cocheco and Salmon Falls rivers join at Dover to form the Piscataqua River; and two of the principal rivers of Maine, the Androscoggin and the Saco, have their beginnings in northern New Hampshire.
One of the state’s greatest natural treasures are the White Mountains which are a mountain range covering about a quarter of New Hampshire and a small portion of western Maine. Part of the Appalachian range, they are considered the most rugged mountains in New England with the highest peak being Mount Washington at 6,288 feet (1,917 m). It has become the favorite summer and winter getaway destination for all of New England because of its close proximity to Boston.
Take in the Outdoor Splendor
Traveling through the White Mountains is an exhilarating trek of a lifetime that fills the senses with incredible beauty that can’t help but humble even the most jaded city dweller! The Kancamagus Highway is one of New England’s most breathtaking scenic drives. The 26.5 mile road, a National Scenic Byway, cuts an east-west gateway from civilization to the 800,000-acre enchanted world known as the White Mountain National Forest. As you travel deeper into the heart of the land you are surrounded by the soft colors of oaks and maples and the darker contrast of granite mountain faces and dark green conifers. The twists and turns of the mountain highway climbs to nearly 3,000 feet at the peak of Mount Kancamagus where easily accessible trailhead entrances for hikers, and swimming holes, carved from sheer rock by erosion, beckon to all young and old for exhilaration and refreshment. The Kancamagus is often referred to as one of the best fall foliage trips in the United States.
There are many stops along this journey to take a break from the ride and enjoy some local ambiance. Some are quaint little pit-stops and others are amazing adventures for the thrill seeker or the family.
New Hampshire also has 18 miles of shoreline, and the star attraction is the family-friendly Hampton Beach and the modern little city of Portsmouth. Hampton Beach is an extravagant, old-time family beach that always has something going on day or night for people of all ages. If fresh water is more your thing then you may wish to take in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, a mid-state region that includes Lake Winnipesaukee, Squam Lake, Winnisquam Lake, Lake Sunapee, Ossipee Lake, and Newfound Lake.
A Sample of Fun Things to Do in New Hampshire
- Have Some Fun on a Lake – The already mentioned Lakes Region is a perennial vacationer’s favorite offering a myriad of water sports including boating, fishing, swimming and more.
- Get Above it All – See outstanding views of the White Mountains and into Maine, Vermont and even Canada on the Cannon Aerial Tramway; ride the Wildcat Mountain Gondola for views of Mt. Washington, Tuckerman Ravine, and the Presidential Range that will stay with you for a life time.
- Go to the Beach – New Hampshire’s small coastline offers tons of fun including free concerts, weekly fireworks, concerts at the Casino Ballroom, volleyball tournaments, children’s festivals, sand sculpting contests and white sand beaches.
- Go Cross Country Skiing – New Hampshire is a Nordic skiers paradise with hundreds of kilometers of trails ranging from rugged un-groomed expert trails to nice easy groomed trails for less accomplished cross country skiers.
- Go Downhill Skiing – Not to be outdone, fans of Alpine skiing and snowboard riding will find wonderful world-class ski resorts throughout the state.
- Go Spelunking – Cave lovers may want to take in Lost River Gorge & Boulder Caves in North Woodstock or Polar Caves Park in Plymouth.
- See a Covered Bridge– One of the most enduring symbols of New England, New Hampshire is home to nearly 40 covered bridges.
- Ride a Train – Ride the Mt. Washington Cog Railway to the top of New England’s highest peak (weather permitting), take in the scenery on the Conway Scenic Railroad, or travel in a picturesque setting along the Pemigewasset River on the Hobo Railroad.
- Stay at a Grand Hotel – New Hampshire is home to four 19th century grand hotels including the Balsams (“after the Civil War”), the Mount Washington Hotel (1902), the Mountain View Grand (1866), and Wentworth-by-the-Sea (1874).
- Take a Hike – In addition to all of the “other” hiking trails in New Hampshire, 160.9 miles of the Appalachian Trail make their way through New Hampshire.
- Go for a Paddle – A portion (72 miles) of the 740 mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail makes its way through New Hampshire.
- Take the Kids to a Theme Park – New Hampshire is home to several wonderful theme parks that are fun for all ages including Canobie Lake Park, Fort Splash Waterpark, Santa’s Village, Six Gun City, Story Land, and Water Country.
This is but a small sample of what the Granite State has to offer vacationers.
New Hampshire’s Major Cities
Not to be forgotten are New Hampshire’s Major cities:
- Concord – Concord is the capital of the State of New Hampshire.
- Manchester – Manchester is the largest city in the state and tenth largest in New England.
- Nashua – Nashua is the second largest city in New Hampshire and ranked one of the best places to live in America by Money Magazine.
- Portsmouth - Portsmouth is an historic port city with cobble stoned streets, a delightful downtown filled with charming shops and restaurants that overlook the harbor and the beautiful waterfront Prescott Park.