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, which is 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 culture 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 and everything in between.
First settled in 1774, Harrisville is a well-preserved 19th-century — incorporated in 1870 — 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 great scenes that can be seen all around. 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. There are also many other adventures available, including swimming, fishing, canoeing and more.
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, plus romantics for years and rightfully so. The verdant landscape not only provides many sport activities from hiking to biking to kayaking to ice skating but also incredible scenery 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. Additonally, the area possesses 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 from history buffs to art lovers to adventure seekers. 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, plus specialty shops. These include antiques and other collectables, arts and crafts, and places to eat from budget-friendly to fine dining. 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 and area, including the Lakes Region Fine Arts and Crafts Festival, which is currently celebrating its 36th anniversary.
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 The MacDowell Colony. The oldest artists retreat in the nation, the Colony, presents many events, and nurtures and encourages artists to create. Due to its outstanding success, it was awarded with 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. Beautiful outdoor spaces — the 10-acre waterfront Prescott Park is one highlight — are also found along with 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.
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.