Portsmouth historic downtown aerial view at Market Square with historic buildings and North Church on Congress Street in city of Portsmouth, New Hampshire

9 Cutest Small Towns In New Hampshire

From beaches to mountains, New Hampshire is a renowned state for the variety of pursuits and natural attractions. These nine towns in New Hampshire take cute to the next level, boasting modern features behind a facade of tradition.


Ladd-Gilman House aka Cincinnati Memorial Hall is a historic house in Exeter, New Hampshire
Ladd-Gilman House, aka Cincinnati Memorial Hall, is a historic house at 1 Governors Lane in the historic town center of Exeter, New Hampshire. 

Set south-east in the state, Exeter is a picturesque town that shines with history, hospitality, and even a beach. The charming downtown calls for strolls along with the antique stores, restaurants, centuries-old sites, and art installations, while Exeter's past as the state's capital during the Revolutionary War is reminiscent of the stately brick buildings. Among the historic homes, one must pay a visit to the Ladd-Gilman House-turned American Independence Museum with artifacts. For a cute day spent, one can pick up some chocolates at the very-famous chocolate store to go along with a new favorite book from the classic book shop down the street. For the active, there's a hiking, biking, and water sports, along with many golf courses in the vicinity. The vibrant colors of the fall take the lush town from cute to overbearingly adorable. 


The Baker-Berry Library on the campus of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire
The Baker-Berry Library is on the campus of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Editorial credit: James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

Located on the Connecticut River in the Upper Valley, the cute college town presents something unique for everyone. The vibrantly cultural downtown, wrapped-in scenic natural surroundings, enchants from the first glance. Despite hosting the center of the Ivy League, the Dartmouth College, Hanover remains a quaint New Hampshire town of under 9,000 residents. Valuing tradition, they embrace the great outdoors, just like the college takes great pride in its Environmental Studies program. The food scene is renowned for farm-to-table eateries, like the PINE Restaurant serving seasonal Tuscan and American cuisine made with ingredients sourced from native farms. The Hanover Inn on campus offers first-class stay behind a historically charming facade. The stroll-worthy Main Street is full of pretty buildings, housing galleries, and various businesses. Aside from hiking and biking in the surrounding landscapes, there's maple sugaring in spring and apple-picking in autumn, while RiverFest brings the entire town outdoors.


Barns at Stonewall Farms learning center in Keene, New Hampshire
Barns at Stonewall Farms learning center in Keene, New Hampshire. Editorial credit: Edward Fielding / Shutterstock.com

Set in the gorgeous geographical heart of New England, Keene is home to the Keene State College, which emanates youthful energy throughout the cute townscape. Its downtown area is a bustling scene of local mom ‘n’ pop shops, new age cafés, theatres, and cute thrift shops. One can catch a live performance at the historic Colonial Theatre, which has been attracting people to its location on Main Street since 1924. Those in the mood for antiquing should head to Puggy’s for furniture on Emerald Street, where one can also find the incredibly charismatic Toadstool Bookshop. The sweet treats sold at the Life is Sweet Candy Store, and the Ye Goodie Shop are both worth a detour. In autumn, Keene hosts New England’s most popular Pumpkin Festival, which has set an adorable world record for carving the most jack-o-lanterns in one place. 


The River Walk Covered Bridge with the Grist Mill on the Ammnosuoc River in Littleton, New Hampshire
The River Walk Covered Bridge with the Grist Mill on the Ammnosuoc River in Littleton, New Hampshire. 

With a moniker like the "Main Street of the Mountains," there are many unique things about the "little town." Set in the immaculate White Mountains on the banks of the Ammnosuoc and Connecticut Rivers, Littleton charms at first glance. The quaint townscape is full of recreational activities to suit any taste and age, along with many festivals in autumn. The historically beautiful downtown brims with old buildings housing great art galleries, gift shops, and delicious eateries. Littleton is a lovely town that still takes advantage of the hydropower from the rivers and the lively stream running alongside city-center. The serene Riverwalk offers more views throughout its stretch, along with several landmarks and recreational spots, while the active will enjoy kayaking and other water pursuits at the Moore Reservoir.


Aerial view of the Meredith town center with fall foliage
Aerial view of the Meredith town center with fall foliage. 

Right in the center of the Lakes Region, the charming town of Meredith is set in the picturesque surroundings of Lake Winnipesaukee, Squam Lake, and Newfound Lake. Bountiful in natural beauty, there are many fun ways to pursue the great outdoors, such as boat rides, kayaking, paddle-boarding, and canoeing. One can also enjoy the scenic waterside views via a 97-mile loop drive-around, with more delightful towns on the way. The town is home to many historic sites, specialty shops, and excellent dining options, including the Hermit Woods Winery & Deli with tastings, desserts, and craft beer. One can ride the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad or catch a play in August at the Lakes Region Fine Arts and Crafts Festival. Fall-time is especially delightful in Meredith, featuring unforgettable foliage that one can experience best via a four-hour train ride from the Meredith Station, inclusive of scenic New England vibes. 

North Conway

Exterior view of the historic Conway Scenic Railroad in North Conway, New Hampshire
Exterior view of the historic Conway Scenic Railroad in North Conway, New Hampshire. Editorial credit: Nick Beer / Shutterstock.com

Nestled in the beautiful White Mountains, North Conway is a cute town full of sweet cafes, shops, and restaurants. Set surrounded by scenic natural landmarks, there's Mount Washington, Attitash Mountain, Cathedral Ledge, Diana's Baths, and many more for endless outings. It is also the most central base in the region for the ultimate getaway into the scenic White Mountain National Forest. In-town, one will find the gorgeous Schouler Park, the New England Ski Museum, along with the famed Conway Scenic Railroad. The incredible train ride excursion via a vintage steam train departs from a beautiful 1874 Victorian Station in town. "The Mountaineer to the Notch" from North Conway Village to Crawford Depot comprises a 5-hour round trip brimful of panoramic views and natural vistas, such as sheer bluffs and steep ravines.  


The quintessential New England town is set picturesquely in the valley of the Monadnock Region on the Contoocook River. The charming downtown with panoramic views evokes classicism that attracts artists and outdoor fanatics alike. The nearby Pack Monadnock summit in the Miller State Park is accessible via a 1.3-mile ride, while those who hike the distance feel rewarded by the unmatched views of the Peterborough area from the fire tower at the top. The historical town that embraces antiquing offers the likeminded to browse for thrifts at the Twin Elm Farm, Bowerbird & Friends, Grove and Main Antiques, and Murray’s Home Again. It is also home to the MacDowell colony that has been sponsoring artists for over a century to continue contributing great art to the world. The New England Art Exchange boasts a dynamic display of paintings, fine prints, sculptures, drawings, and photography. Age Post & Beam Brewing is known for its beautiful outdoor patio, while the Vicuña Chocolate is right on the Main Street for a quick sugar-fix in-between explorations. 


Aerial view of Portsmouth historic city center and waterfront of Piscataqua River with Memorial Bridge in New Hampshire
Aerial view of Portsmouth historic city center and waterfront of Piscataqua River with Memorial Bridge in New Hampshire. 

Located to the north of Boston, Portsmouth is a gorgeous coastal town boasting beautiful beaches. One can spend days fishing, whale watching, kayaking, and canoeing, among other summertime fun and pure relaxation on the sands. The seaside charm-evoking, Portsmouth Harbor, calls for leisurely strolls with fantastic views of the lighthouse and the Piscataqua River. To learn about the town's history, there are the quirky Strawberry Banke Museum, the beautiful Moffatt-Ladd House & Garden, and the Warner House worth a visit. The Friendly Toast is a must-stop in the morning, while the Portsmouth Brewery offers a waterside location for those sunset dinners. The Market Square facade of 17th- and 18th-century brownstones hides a seafood restaurant galore, including The Black Trumpet Bistro, a James Beard Foundation semi-finalist.

Sugar Hill

Franconia Notch State Park, Sugar Hill, New Hampshire
Colorful autumn maple leaves frame the summit of Mount Lafayette in Franconia Notch State Park, Sugar Hill, New Hampshire. 

The lovely tiny town of Sugar Hill is set in an enchanting location offering breathtaking panoramas and the best outdoor adventures. The White Mountain National Forest is galore for scenic hiking, while the month of June sees the blossoming of the gorgeous wildflower, lupine, celebrated through the annual Fields of Lupine Festival in-town. Incorporated in 1962, there's the Sugar Hill Historical Museum awaiting the curious, as well as the whole countryside to explore via the scenic Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway. More walking and hiking trails run right through Sugar Hill's cute heart, including the beautiful Riverwalk, with a notable old-fashioned covered bridge. The nearby treks include Mount Lafayette and the Basin at Franconia Notch State Park, while those looking to relax head to the Echo Lake Beach.

Set proximate to the beautiful White Mountains, its national forest, and many state parks, these cute towns attract visitors to set base and do some significant exploration around. In-town, one will find streets full of attractions and recreational activities along the banks of the many rivers to chase away the worries of the daily chores.

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