View of Market Square, the main economic and commercial center of the city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, via quiggyt4 /

6 Breathtaking Towns to Visit in New Hampshire

It is no surprise that New Hampshire has earned its nickname as the “Switzerland of America”, considering its abundance of lush mountains, rivers, and lakes. Additionally, despite its small land area, it boasts an impressive 48 mountains, drawing in nature lovers and hikers from all over the world. Nestled within this natural paradise are a variety of towns filled with culture, history, and natural marvels. Continue reading to learn about the six most breathtaking in the state and begin planning your next unforgettable adventure.


Aerial view of downtown Meredith.
Aerial view of downtown Meredith.

Meredith is the perfect town for those wanting to spend a weekend on the lake. The town sits on the edge of Lake Winnipesaukee, a 72 square mile (186 square kilometers) lake that is the largest in New Hampshire and the third largest in New England. It is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, and it has crystal-clear water and a wooded shoreline. Along Lake Winnipesaukee, make sure to check out the highly rated Leavitt Beach, a sandy beach with barbecue grills, a playground, picnicking, kayaking, and canoeing. Continuing the water adventures, Meredith Marina is an excellent place to rent a boat and spend the day out on the lake.

To finish off an eventful day, swing by the Hermit Woods Winery & Eatery, a boutique winery in downtown Meredith. Visitors will be impressed with the wide variety of wines and the delicious local honey produced by the joint. If possible, visit from Thursday through Saturday to enjoy some live music on the premises! While Meredith is a great location to beat the summer heat, it is also a great place to visit in the fall! The stunning fall foliage will impress any visitor, and the Annual Pumpkin Festival kicks off the fall season in the best fashion.


Odd Fellows Hall, Exeter, New Hampshire
Odd Fellows Hall, Exeter, New Hampshire. Image credit Wangkun Jia via

Exeter is a town that has made strides to preserve its town heritage, whose efforts are evident while visiting the downtown historic district. A visit to the Town Hall should be on every traveler’s list, as it provides the opportunity to see where Abraham Lincoln stopped during his 1860 Cooper Union Tour. The Exeter Historical Society is also a great spot to see the town’s early beginnings.

The best way to start the day in Exeter is by visiting the Green Bean for breakfast. Visitors will love the food, sunny rooms, and walls filled with art. The town’s Phillips Exeter Trail is a breathtaking second stop, hosting 7 miles of trails for runners, bikers, and hikers, and has many opportunities to appreciate local New Hampshire wildlife. Check the calendar to see if it is possible to visit the farmer’s market during your visit-- the town has an outdoor farmers market during the summer and an indoor one periodically during the winter.


Historic buildings on Congress Street near Market Square in downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Historic buildings on Congress Street near Market Square in downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Image credit Wangkun Jia via

Founded in 1623, history fills the air in the charming town of Portsmouth. Downtown, visitors can see a variety of original 17th-century buildings, hosting bookstores, art galleries, antique shops, and diverse restaurants. Sitting along both the Piscataqua River and the Atlantic coast, it is a very scenic town filled with natural beauty as well. Take a boat trip out to the isolated Islands of the Shoals, which are filled with history and feature a gorgeous lighthouse. Prescott Park is also a wonderful, free, 10-acre public park worth visiting due to its extensive collection of gardens and sculptures.

Portsmouth hosts many annual events across the town. These include a Greek Festival, where visitors can immerse themselves in Greek culture and eat traditional foods such as baklava and gyros, and a Jazz and Blues Festival, which is free and open to the public. Over 70,000 participate in Portsmouth’s Market Square Day every year as well, which features art, live music, food, and crafts in the town’s main square.


The Main Street in Lincoln, New Hampshire.
The Main Street in Lincoln, New Hampshire.

Situated in the White Mountains, Lincoln is a great starting base for hikers and travelers wanting to explore the surrounding natural wonders. Nearby trails to consider include Lincoln Woods, Georgiana Falls, and Mount Pemigewasset, all waiting with spectacular views and diverse wildlife. Additionally, at the base of Mount Liberty is Flume Gorge, an 800-foot-long gorge that nature lovers will appreciate immensely. For families, Clark’s Bears is an interesting amusement park that will keep visitors of all ages entertained for hours. It has a variety of park rides and even a bear show.

Wine lovers must visit Seven Birches Winery, a cozy spot for tasting wines made with grapes from all over the world. For visitors with a flexible schedule, try to visit during the Lincoln Woodstock Town-Wide Murder Mystery event, a family-friendly event that makes both towns come together to solve a fascinating mystery!

North Conway

Railroad Museum, North Conway, New Hampshire
Railroad Museum, North Conway, New Hampshire. Image credit Nick Beer via Shutterstock

Although North Conway has a population of just slightly over 2,000 people, it has everything a vacationer could want, between great dining, shopping, skiing, and hiking. While Cranmore Mountain Resort is an excellent destination for skiing in the winter, don’t skip over it in the summer! It turns into an elaborate mountain adventure park in the summer with ziplining, a mountain coaster, tubing, and more. Diana’s Baths, part of the US National Forest system, will leave visitors breathless when they see the park’s cascading falls, measuring 75 (23 meters) in total height.

For rock climbers, White Horse Ledge and Cathedral Ledge are two unmissable destinations. Cathedral Ledge especially is great for those who want a panoramic view across the Saco River Valley. For visitors who are not big fans of the great outdoors, North Conway is home to the beautiful Settles Green Shopping Village! Stop by during the town’s annual Spring Fling to partake in a series of activities and events in the Village.


Artist Bluff Trail in the Franconia Notch State Park in Franconia, New Hampshire.
Artist Bluff Trail in the Franconia Notch State Park in Franconia, New Hampshire.

At the foot of mountains, lakes, and state parks, Franconia is truly a natural oasis. Visitors must take a trip out to Franconia Notch State Park, a mountain pass situated within the White Mountain National Forest, where hawks and falcons soar over the trails. Visitors also have the opportunity here to walk on part of the famous Appalachian trail.

Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway consists of cable cars that take visitors to the summit of the 4,080-foot (1,244-meter) Cannon Mountian. An observation deck with a 360-degree view awaits, along with pristine walking paths and a cafe. Near Cannon Mountain also lies Artist Bluff Trail, a 1.5-mile loop with amazing views of both Franconia Notch and Cannon Mountain, and Echo Lake Beach, a great stopping point for a summer swim. Ski fanatics must drop by the New England Ski Museum, where they can learn about New England Olympians, ski pioneers, classic skis, and more. The nearby Sugar Hill Inn Bed and Breakfast is recommended for lodging and spending a cozy night.

Final Thoughts

As we reflect on the wonders of New Hampshire, it's clear that this state holds a special charm for those seeking natural beauty and small-town life. From the serene shores of Lake Winnipesaukee in Meredith to the rich historical character of Exeter's downtown, each town offers a unique slice of New England life. So, whether you're drawn to the tranquil lakeshores, the rugged mountain trails, or the vibrant town squares, New Hampshire's six most breathtaking towns stand ready to welcome you on your next unforgettable adventure.

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