If you think those state license plates claiming Live Free or Die is just a bunch of outdated grandstanding, think again. New Hampshire is indeed a land of highly determined individuals who love their wild landscape and prefer the federal government keeps its ideas to itself. This all may sound a bit cantankerous, but in fact it’s rather authentic and the underlying attitude of most New Hampshire residents.
While there are certainly more than a few historic towns dating back to the American colonial period, New Hampshire is best known for its outdoor recreation. The White Mountains stand watch over the central part of the state, offering a million acres of rugged wilderness. Drive an hour or two east to the coast and you can wiggle your toes in five pleasant beach state parks.
New Hampshire’s modest size is one of its best attributes. You can hop from the sea to the mountains in just half a day, ski the slopes in the morning and feast on lobster at Portsmouth for dinner. This isn’t a state where you’ll find ultra luxe amenities, but there are plenty of cozy historic inns and awesome dining in the old fishing towns. For the most part you’ll find that your dollar stretches pretty far.
The extent of your New Hampshire adventure is only limited by your courage. The North Country is as wild, remote and rugged as anything in New England. But the White Mountains have 1,000 miles of hiking trails that encourage exploration. Outdoor recreation is the main focus for most visitors, and there’s little to hold you back.
On the flip side, with remote rural seclusion comes a total lack of public transportation. A car is absolutely necessary in New Hampshire. Its towns will only hold your attention for a day or two and the real thrill is driving the insanely scenic back roads between historic villages and stopping to hike at the trailheads or hidden lakes. This is compounded in the fall when the state decides to strut its colors like few other places on earth.
- Walk the historic downtown of Portsmouth, one of New England’s finest examples of 17th century living
- Summit the peak of Mount Washington or simply enjoy the 1,000 miles of hiking trails in the White Mountains
- Hit the slopes of the 20 family-friendly ski resorts spread across New Hampshire for a mellow ski holiday
- Walk the village green of Hanover and mingle with the great young minds being taught at Dartmouth College, one of America’s best higher education institutions
- Take a steamer cruise on Lake Winnipesaukee, a behemoth waterway right in the heart of the state
- Head to Monadnock in the southwest for a taste of classic New England scenery
- Escape any trace of humanity in the North Country, a finger of wonderfully empty wilderness, lakes and rivers where moose outnumber humans