Folks enjoy a warm summer day at an outdoor café in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Image credit James Kirkikis via Shutterstock

6 Coolest Towns in New Hampshire for a Summer Vacation in 2024

Considered by many to be the heartland of New England, New Hampshire is coveted by vacationers from across the globe for its stunning scenery and quaint communities. One of the USA’s original Thirteen Colonies and the ninth state to join the Union in 1788, New Hampshire is also rich in history and culture, with landmarks relating to both sprinkled liberally across the state.

This perfect blend of natural beauty and culture makes New Hampshire an ideal destination for a summer vacation. Whether it’s for outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or simply well-deserved rest and relaxation, these six coolest towns in New Hampshire offer plenty of fun things to do for those seeking a memorable New England summer vacation in 2024.


John Deere trailers drive down the main street of Wolfeboro, New hampshire.
John Deere trailers drive down the main street of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. Image credit ETustianPhotography via Shutterstock

There is no denying that Wolfeboro’s setting is stunning. Located on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee, this picturesque town has been proclaimed the "Oldest Summer Resort in America." It’s also one of the best. Lake Winnipesaukee, the largest lake in New Hampshire, is the big draw and is popular for its swimming, fishing, and boating, with a great marina offering rentals or lake cruises. The town's waterfront area, known as Wolfeboro Bay, is also fun for landlubbers with its charming shops and waterfront dining options, making it a perfect spot for a little downtime.

History buffs will also enjoy vacationing in Wolfeboro in 2024. Must-visits include the Wright Museum of World War II with its fascinating look into the wartime era, and the New Hampshire Boat Museum which celebrates the state's boating heritage with a collection of antique wooden boats and exhibits. Holidaymakers here for the outdoors will want to explore the town's hiking and biking trails, including the popular Cotton Valley Rail Trail, which offers scenic views of the surrounding countryside.


Downtown North Conway, New Hampshire.
Downtown North Conway, New Hampshire. Image credit Theresa Lauria via Shutterstock

Conway’s location in the White Mountains region of New Hampshire makes it an ideal destination for a cool summer getaway. A highlight of time spent here is taking a ride aboard the iconic Conway Scenic Railroad, a historic train that carries vacationers through the picturesque Mount Washington Valley.

Enjoy the outdoors? Conway offers plenty of outdoor fun thanks to its proximity to the White Mountain National Forest, which has over 800,000 acres of hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and kayaking trails. Popular hiking trails include the Mount Willard Trail and the Diana's Baths Trail, both of which offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains and numerous waterfalls. The Mount Washington Observatory Weather Discovery Center is a fun distraction, too.


Waterfront homes along the Winnipesaukee River in Laconia, New Hampshire.
Waterfront homes along the Winnipesaukee River in Laconia, New Hampshire.

Laconia is another cool lakeside town worth considering for a 2024 summer vacation. Set in New Hampshire's lovely Lakes Region between Lake Winnipesaukee and Lake Winnisquam, the big attraction here is Weirs Beach. This classic New England beach area features a sandy shoreline perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking, while the adjacent boardwalk is lined with arcades, shops, and eateries, offering something of a nostalgic seaside experience. Visitors can also take a scenic cruise on the M/S Mount Washington, a historic paddle-wheeler that has regular trips across Lake Winnipesaukee.

Enjoy motorcycles? Then, schedule a visit to coincide with Laconia Motorcycle Week in June. One of the world’s oldest motorcycle rallies, this spectacle attracts thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts from around the globe for a week of rides, events, and camaraderie. The atmosphere during Motorcycle Week is electric, with parades, live music, and bike shows cementing Laconia’s reputation as one of the coolest towns in New Hampshire (at least for a week!).


Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Waterfront in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Portsmouth’s coastal setting is beyond charming. This quintessential New England town is also home to one of the state’s most significant cultural sites, the Strawbery Banke Museum. In addition to its 39 restored original buildings, highlights of this sprawling 10-acre downtown site include charming gardens as well as exhibits that bring to life over 300 years of history from the early colonial period to the mid-20th century. Along the way, visitors can explore period-specific houses, meet costumed interpreters, and participate in fun, hands-on activities.

Market Square, the bustling center of Portsmouth, is another must-visit spot for its unique boutique shops, art galleries, and excellent restaurants. The square is also home to the North Church, an iconic landmark with a steeple that dominates the skyline. Market Square often hosts events, including live music and festivals, creating a lively atmosphere. Try to time a 2024 summer vacation to coincide with the Prescott Park Arts Festival. Held throughout the summer, it includes outdoor theater productions, live music, and family-friendly movies.


Ramunto's Brick and Brew Pizzeria in downtown Hanover, New Hampshire.
Ramunto's Brick and Brew Pizzeria in downtown Hanover, New Hampshire. Image credit Artaxerxes, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pretty Hanover is well-known for its Ivy League charm and has benefitted greatly as the home of Dartmouth College. Founded in 1769 and one of the country’s oldest educational establishments, vacationers are welcome to explore the college campus grounds to admire its Georgian-style architecture and expansive green spaces. Pop into the Hood Museum of Art, which houses an impressive collection of works spanning various cultures and periods, as well as the Hopkins Center for the Arts (AKA, "The Hop") for its theater, music, and dance productions.

Summer vacationers will also want to hit the Appalachian Trail, which passes through Hanover and provides numerous opportunities for hiking and nature walks. The nearby Mink Brook Nature Preserve offers serene trails that wind through woodlands and along streams, perfect for a peaceful escape into nature. Visiting in July 2024? If so, include the Hanover Street Chamber Music Festival with its live music, food vendors, and artisan booths.


New Hampshire-Peterborough-Nubanusit Brook in Peterborough, New Hampshire.
New Hampshire-Peterborough-Nubanusit Brook in Peterborough, New Hampshire.

Peterborough is renowned for its cultural and artsy appeal, making it a cool summer destination for those interested in the arts as well as outdoor activities. One of the town’s highlights is the MacDowell Colony, an artist residency program established in 1906 that continues to support artists from various disciplines and presents a series of free public performances known as MacDowell Downtown throughout the summer. Another great excuse to vacation here in 2024, the Peterborough Players will present their Summer Theater Season with a world-class lineup of professional theater productions in an intimate setting.

Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate the town's proximity to nature, with opportunities for hiking, biking, and exploring the picturesque Monadnock Region. Nearby, Mount Monadnock, one of the most climbed mountains in the world, provides breathtaking views and is a rewarding four-hour round trip.

These wonderful small towns in New Hampshire are an awesome choice for a 2024 summer vacation. Among the coolest towns in New England, they each boast a variety of attractions and summer events that showcase the unique character and charm of the Granite State and help ensure their place on many a summer travel itinerary. Whether you are seeking adventure, culture, or tranquility, these six cool towns in New Hampshire offer a rich and rewarding experience.

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