The 10 Most Beautiful Towns in New Hampshire, USA

Photo of Marcelina Morfin
21 May 2020

Located in the New England region, New Hampshire is nature’s beauty at its finest. Here, we explore the most picturesque towns found in the state.


Founded in 1638 by Reverend John Wheelwright, Exeter is a New England town brimming with charm at every turn. Located in the southeastern part of the state, this beauty will appeal to everyone from art lovers to history buffs to recreational seekers. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll in the historic downtown, which features lovely buildings with shops, restaurants, art galleries and more. Or, walk down tree-lined streets to discover historic homes, including the Ladd-Gilman House, now the American Independence Museum. The great outdoors will appeal to not only adventurers with its many activities, including hiking, biking and water sports, but also to photographers, as the colors during the fall are truly breathtaking.


Named one of America’s Prettiest Towns by Forbes, Hanover enchants people again and again with its vibrant cultural scene and picturesque scenery. Situated along the Connecticut River in the Upper Valley, this college town – home to Dartmouth College – is a great place for a weekend getaway, with something for everyone during every season. Guests can stroll along Main Street where they will find pretty buildings, which house many shops, delicious restaurants, galleries and other businesses, while adventurers will enjoy the recreational opportunities the surrounding landscape provides. Fun events abound, from RiverFest and maple sugaring during the spring to apple-picking in the fall.


Harrisville is a well-preserved 19th-century mill town located in the idyllic Monadnock Region in the southern part of the state. A true historic gem, the town is brimming with charming buildings and independent shops. The downtown area, which is a National Historic Landmark, features red-brick buildings and mills along with bodies of water, which provide reflecting qualities creating picture-perfect moments. A wonderful place to explore on foot, the town also has many trails allowing guests to wander.


Nestled among the lush vegetation of the White Mountains, Jackson is a friendly, picturesque New England town offering a wealth of natural and man-made beauty in the form of historical buildings. This alluring place has been attracting outdoor lovers, artists and romantics for years, and rightfully so. The verdant landscape not only provides the perfect conditions for sport, it is also worthy of capturing on camera, paper or canvas. Must-see attractions include the 1876 covered bridge and the Jackson Library, which is housed in the historic Trickey Barn. Currently located in the heart of downtown, this barn was dismantled, moved and reconstructed, providing a unusual space for the town’s library.


Another Monadnock Region gem, Keene is a small city featuring plenty of cultural activities along with outdoor pursuits. This welcoming community has a lovely, bustling downtown area, complete with specialty shops, restaurants, art galleries and more. It also has the stunning and often photographed United Church of Christ. Additionally, the area is home to covered bridges and museums, including the Horatio Colony House Museum and Nature Preserve. Tucked inside an 1806 Federal House, the museum is like taking a step back in time with its displays of furniture and decorative art, while the preserve offers several miles of hiking trails perfect for the nature lover.


Referred to as the Main Street of the Mountains, Littleton is a charming town located in the White Mountains along the banks of the Ammonoosuc and Connecticut Rivers. Incorporated in 1784, this quaint spot is a place the entire family will enjoy as it offers something for everyone. Visitors can partake in a Historic Walking Tour through downtown to discover beautiful historic buildings brimming with great art, gifts and tasty food. Or, they can stroll along the serene Riverwalk, which also offers glimpses of several landmarks. Recreational activities abound as well.


Located in the heart of the Lakes Region, which includes Lake Winnipesaukee, Squam Lake and Newfound Lake, Meredith abounds with beauty. This delightful town features many historic sites, outdoor fun and specialty shops. Guests can take a ride on the Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad, watch a play at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse or hop in the car to take a relaxing scenic drive. Many events and festivals also take place throughout the year, including the Lakes Region Fine Arts and Crafts Festival.


Set along the Contoocook River, Peterborough is a popular tourist destination rich with art and culture. A small, charming community, the area is not only home to two theater groups but also a renowned artists’ retreat called The MacDowell Colony. The oldest artists’ retreat in the USA, the Colony hosts many events and nurtures and encourages artists to create. Due to its outstanding success, it was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1997. Peterborough also has a rich history, which can be explored at The Monadnock Center for History and Culture. Foodies have several delightful dining options, and outdoor lovers will be pleased with the variety of activities available.


One of American’s Prettiest Towns on the Forbes list, Portsmouth is a lovely small city set along the Piscataqua River. Steeped in history, the city was settled in 1623, making it one of the oldest cities in the USA. Perfect for strolling, Portsmouth features a downtown with streets that are lined with many historic, classic brick buildings. Many of these buildings contain art galleries, wonderful restaurants and specialty shops. The city is also dotted with beautiful outdoor spaces – the 10-acre Prescott Park is a particular highlight – and intriguing museums, such as the Strawbery Banke Museum. A living history museum with restored houses, shops, gardens and people who reenact the past for guests, it is a must-visit when in Portsmouth.

Sugar Hill

Situated up high, Sugar Hill is an enchanting town of tiny proportions providing guests with breathtaking, panoramic views of the White Mountain National Forest. The town also offers some of the best outdoor adventures around. Even though it is one of the newest towns in New Hampshire – it was incorporated in 1962 – it is not short on historical charm. The Sugar Hill Historical Museum, complete with two barns and one main building, is a great place to discover the town’s history. This charmer also hosts a must-visit event each year called the Annual Fields of Lupine Festival. Held in June, this festival celebrates the blossoming of the gorgeous wildflower, lupine.

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