101 things to do in New Hampshire this summer
Lakes, oceans, mountains, festivals, educational centers... New Hampshire has something to offer every member of your family.
- July 4: American Celebration
Strawbery Banke, Portsmouth
If you’re on the Seacoast, the place to be on July 4th is Strawbery Banke’s American Celebration. It’s a good old-fashioned Independence Day block party, complete with children’s bike and wagon parade, games and crafts, historic garden tours, music, living history, hands-on activities, food and fun.
- July 13: American Independence Festival
American Independence Museum, Exeter
Celebrate America’s founding and freedom at Exeter’s annual American Independence Festival, hosted by the American Independence Museum on Saturday, July 13, 2019. Role players, British and Patriot re-enactors, traditional artisans, music, food, sidewalk sales, children’s activities, and fireworks are just some of the fun. Plus, see an original Declaration of Independence.
- August 3: Blueberry Fest
Attitash Mountain Resort, Bartlett
Visit Attitash Mountain Resort in Bartlett to zipline, zoom down the slopes on a mountain coaster, and catch some air on the EuroBungy trampoline. In the Abenaki language, Attitash means “blueberry,” and this year on Saturday, August 3, 2019, the resort celebrates the fruit with its annual Blueberry Fest, featuring games, music, blueberry pie eating contest, and tasty blueberry treats.
- August 3-11: Annual League of NH Craftsmen’s Fair
Take your family to the 86th annual League of NH Craftsmen’s Fair at Mount Sunapee Resort in Newbury. From August 3 to 11, 2019, there are things to do every day for all ages including demonstrations, food and hands-on activities.
- August 4: Hay Day Family Festival
The Fells, Newbury
Take a step back in time at the Hay Day Family Festival, an annual celebration of good old summertime fun, at The Fells Estate in Newbury on Saturday, August 4, 2019. The festival features games, petting zoo, face painting, and food. You can also explore the estate’s nature trails and Fairy Village, and take guided tours of the Main House and gardens.
- August 12-16: Hampton Beach Children’s Festival
For the most fun in the sun, time your visit to Hampton Beach to coincide with the Hampton Beach Children’s Festival. It’s a week filled with games and activities. And don’t miss the children’s parade on August 16. Everyone has fun and wins a prize at this giant beachside costume parade.
- July 18-21: Stratham Fair
Summer kicks off the agricultural fair season, so get ready for blue ribbon-winning cows, live music, and midway rides and games. Don’t miss the Stratham Fair on July 18-21, 2019.
- Prescott Park Arts Festival
In Portsmouth, the Prescott Park Arts Festival brings musical theater to the shores of the Piscataqua River. This summer’s main production is “Beauty and the Beast,” with performances Thursdays through Sundays from June until August. Enjoy the other sights and sounds of Prescott Park, including its magnificent views and lush flower gardens.
- August 1-4: Cheshire Fair
Summer kicks off the agricultural fair season, so get ready for blue ribbon-winning cows, live music, and midway rides and games. Don’t miss the Cheshire Fair, happening August 1-4, 2019.
- August 23-24: North Country Moose Festival
Celebrate the gentle giants of the north at Colebrook’s annual North Country Moose Festival which features entertainment, music and moose-centric activities for all ages, including a moose calling contest.
- Settlers Green Outlet Village
Already thinking about back-to-school shopping? Settlers Green Outlet Village in North Conway is home to cost-cutting outlet versions of kids’ and teens’ favorite stores, including Justice, Children’s Place, Osh Kosh B’Gosh, American Eagle and Banana Republic. Mom and dad can check out the Yankee Candle outlet, Stonewall Kitchen, and Lindt.
- The Brick Store
The Brick Store in Bath, in business since 1790, holds the record as the oldest continuously operated general store in the country. Stop by for the store’s specialties including homemade fudge, locally produced maple syrup, toys and lots of White Mountains souvenirs.
HIKING, STATE PARKS AND CAMPING
- Ellacoya State Park
Spread your blanket at Ellacoya State Park’s 600-foot long sandy beach in Gilford. Besides the picturesque views across the waters to the Sandwich and Ossipee mountains, you can swim and fish, then head to the picnic grounds for lunch. Park also available for RV camping.
- Diana’s Bath
In North Conway, there’s a swimming hole that’s truly fit for a goddess. Diana’s Bath is a series of crashing cascades and swirling potholes along Lucy Brook. The curiously circular potholes transform into surprisingly warm “bathtubs” perfect for a dip. Follow the signs from River Road.
- Flume Gorge
In Franconia Notch State Park, don’t miss the Flume Gorge, an 800-foot-long natural canyon, so narrow in places that the 90-foot tall sheer granite walls are only separated by a mere 20 inches. A two-mile loop in and around the gorge takes you to waterfalls, covered bridges and glacial pools.
- Pawtuckaway State Park
There are so many New Hampshire State Park gems, including Pawtuckaway State Park in Nottingham. Trails lead to marshes, up and down hills, and past super-sized glacial erratics. Check out the state park trail map (pick one up at the entrance gate) and plan your hike to end up at Pawtuckaway’s popular swimming beach. You can even camp overnight.
- Fire Towers
Mountaintop fire towers offer views for miles. At Pack Monadnock at Miller State Park in Peterborough, drive or hike to the summit, then climb the fire tower for views all the way to Boston on a clear day. Near Warner, hike or drive to the summit of Mount Kearsarge for panoramic fire tower views north to Mount Washington.
- Pulpit Rock
Hiking with kids is always better when there are interesting sights to see along the trail, and that’s where Pulpit Rock in Bedford shines. The Bedford Trust natural area features wetlands, waterfalls, giant glacial erratics, beaver lodges, a gorge, ledges, and the remnants of an old saw mill. Best of all, most trails follow easy terrain that even little legs can manage.
- Mount Monadnock
Make your way to the top of Mount Monadnock, one of the most popular hiking spots in the state, with easy access from Monadnock State Park in Jaffrey. If little legs can’t make it all the way up to the top, the state park offers nature trails leading to scenic spots such as Gilson Pond.
- Mount Pisgah
Climb Mount Pisgah in Hinsdale and get ready for a hike with a built-in snack! In late July and August, kids will love finding wild blueberries growing all along the mountain’s sunny crown. Access trails via Mount Pisgah State Park.
- Madame Sherri Forest
The Madame Sherri Forest in Chesterfield is named for the eccentric Ziegfield Follies costume designer who built her “castle” here in the 1920s. The mansion was destroyed by fire years ago, leaving only a winding stone staircase sitting in the middle of the woods. The spirit of Madame Sherri is said to still roam her home’s former grounds, so be on the lookout. (It’s also OK to skip the ghost stories and just enjoy a pleasant nature walk!)
For a lovely picnic spot, try Otter Brook Recreation Area in Keene. Maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers, you will find a river-fed beach, ball field, restrooms, as well as 90 picnic sites that stretch out along the river, and 55 fireplace grills. Groups can also rent out one of two picnic shelters for an additional fee; electrical hookups are also available.
- Wellington State Park
Wellington State Park beach on the shores of pristine Newfound Lake is home to the largest freshwater swimming beach in the New Hampshire State Park system. Weather-permitting, the lake is open daily for swimming, boating and fishing. Once you’ve dried off, follow the park’s kid-friendly nature trail to shaded picnic areas and spectacular views of Cliff and Belle Islands.
Looking for a kid-friendly campground? Some favorite places for families to pitch their tent include Jellystone Park and Campground in Ashland, Mi-Te-Jo Campground in Milton, and Moose Hillock Campground in Warren, home to a heated oversized pool with pirate galleon waterslides.
- Cathedral Ledge
Echo Lake State Park, North Conway
Visit Cathedral Ledge, a sheer, 400-foot cliff just outside the North Conway village. Fenced in for safety and accessible by seasonal auto road, this is an easy stop for families. Cathedral Ledge, located in Echo Lake State Park, is one of the state’s most popular rock-climbing areas, so you’re likely to see climbers pulling over the top of the cliff right in front of you.
- Arethusa Falls
New Hampshire is home to some of New England’s most picturesque waterfalls, including the state’s tallest waterfall, Arethusa Falls, a towering 200-foot drop in Crawford Notch State Park (Route 302, Harts Location). Traveling the Kancamagus Highway? Look for the Sabbaday Falls rest stop on the south side of the highway near Conway. A bridge (with railing!) crosses directly over the rushing water.
- Mount Major
For breathtaking panoramic views of Lake Winnipesaukee, try the moderate 3.8 mile round-trip hike to the top of Mount Major in Alton. For little hikers, the trail offers scenic views of the lake from various stopping points along the way. Make your hike as short or long as you like.
AMUSEMENT PARKS AND ATTRACTIONS
- Canobie Lake Park
At Canobie Lake Park in Salem, the state’s largest amusement park, there is excitement all summer long. Ride the antique carousel, get lost in the mirror maze, or climb aboard the Canobie Express for a steam train ride around the park. And don’t forget to ride the thrilling Yankee Cannonball. In 2018, Canobie Lake Park’s Castaway Island expanded into a water park, complete with tidal river.
- Castle in the Clouds
Take a trip into the clouds at Castle in the Clouds, a 19th-century mansion perched atop a mountain overlooking the northern shore of Lake Winnipesaukee. Visit the castle for breathtaking views and explore over 45 miles of winding walking trails.
- Lost River Gorge
When the last Ice Age retreated, it left behind Lost River Gorge in North Woodstock, a glacial, rockstrewn canyon that makes the river flowing through it seem to “disappear.” As you make your way along the wooden boardwalk, check out deep caves and a rushing waterfall. Kids can pan for fossils and gemstones along the river – and keep what they find.
- Weirs Drive In
Love the retro feel of Weirs Beach? After a day of fun in the sun, take in the latest summer blockbuster at the Weirs Drive In. And yes, just like always, shows start at dusk.
- Aerial Tramway
Cannon Mountain, Franconia
Soar to the top of Cannon Mountain aboard the Aerial Tramway. The enclosed cable car ride offers a breathtaking ride to Cannon’s open summit. Once you’re at the top, follow the summit trails to an observation platform and enjoy panoramic views of distant valleys and Franconia Ridge.
- Pollyanna Statue
Littleton is the hometown of famed children’s author, Eleanor H. Porter. In 1913, Porter wrote Pollyanna, her bestselling novel about a girl with limitless optimism and good cheer. To celebrate Porter and her work, visit the charming Pollyanna statue on the Littleton library front lawn. Be sure to rub her high-top shoe for luck and gladness.
- Story Land
At Story Land, a fairytale-inspired amusement park in Glen, take a spin in a teacup, travel in pumpkin coach style on the way to see Cinderella, and scream along on the Roar-O-Saurus, the only wooden roller coaster of its kind in northern New England. There’s enough to do here for a day’s worth of fun — and then some.
- Polar Caves
The most unique place to cool off when temperatures soar? One front runner is the Polar Caves in Rumney. The centerpiece of this White Mountains attraction is the glacier-carved caves that stay cold year round. Explore the caves then visit the animal park, climbing walls, and sluice mine to pan for gems.
- Clark’s Trading Post
There’s nothing like the trained bear shows at Clark’s Trading Post in Lincoln, a White Mountains tradition since 1949. After the show, take a train ride, go on the blaster boats, and plummet down the Anaconda raft ride.
- Santa’s Village
Christmas in July? Yes! With exciting holiday-themed rides and a chance to visit the jolly old elf himself, it really does happen at Santa’s Village in Jefferson. Ride, slide, splash and play at this favorite White Mountains attraction. Selected by TripAdvisor as one of the top 25 amusement parks in the country.
- Fort Jefferson Fun Park
Play where you stay at Fort Jefferson Fun Park, a White Mountains campground that has its own built-in amusement park. Fill your family’s day with excitement that includes Western-themed rides, waterslides and laser tag. Then get ready for campground fun all night — with no long car rides in between. Cabin rentals available.
- Conway Scenic Railroad
Climb aboard the Conway Scenic Railroad! Departing from its main station in North Conway, feel the thrill of traveling by vintage rail car through spectacular Crawford Notch. Shorter trips to Conway and Bartlett are also available.
- Whale’s Tale Water Park
For a splish-splashy good time in the White Mountains, jump into fun at Lincoln’s Whale’s Tale Water Park. Twist through the flume slides, get drenched in a downpour, and ride the surf in the White Mountains’ only wave pool.
FOOD AND DRINK
- PYO Blueberries
Blueberry Bay Farm, Stratham
Blueberries typically ripen in New Hampshire in mid- to late July. Great spots for a morning or afternoon of pick-your-own fun include Bartlett’s Blueberry Farm in Newport, Berry Good Farm in Goffstown and Blueberry Bay Farm in Stratham.
It’s always time for ice cream. For the thick, rich variety (16 percent milk fat!), grab a cone at Annabelle’s in Portsmouth. Another popular seacoast spot is the UNH Dairy Bar in Durham. For soft serve, Axel’s in Merrimack is a sweet place to stop. The soft serve contains all-natural ingredients like real fruit. If you have your canine companion along, order the Doggie Sundae – a vanilla soft serve ice cream topped with a dog bone.
- Polly’s Pancake Parlor
Fuel up before your big day exploring the Franconia Notch region with breakfast or lunch at Polly’s Pancake Parlor in Sugar Hill, a can’t-miss dining spot that has been offering great food in a family-friendly atmosphere since 1938.For a taste of everything Polly’s has to offer, make sure to order the Pancake Sampler.
OUTDOOR RECREATION AND WATER FUN
- North Hampton State Park and Beaches
For a more laid-back day at the beach, head north on Route 1A to the quieter stretches of sand at North Hampton State Park, Jenness Beach, and Wallis Sands Beach in Rye. If you get hungry, stop by The Beach Plum, a popular seafood shack and ice cream stand. Look for it across from North Hampton State Park.
- Surf Lessons
New Hampshire’s coastline boasts some of New England’s best surfing. If you are ready to hang 10, two popular local surf shops that offer rentals and lessons for kids and adults are Cinnamon Rainbows in Hampton and Summer Sessions in Rye.
- M/S Mount Washington
On Lake Winnipesaukee, dance under the stars on an evening Family Party Cruise aboard the M/S Mount Washington. Bring the kids for a fun night of dinner, dancing and family entertainment. Children under 13 ride for free.
- Water Country
For wet and wild fun check out Water Country in Portsmouth. There are more than a dozen different water rides and slides, plus many more activities on the park’s 47 acres (including a wading pool area for younger kids).
- Great Island Common
A great place for a picnic or a swim, Great Island Common in New Castle boasts a sandy beach with stunning views of nearby Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse and the Isles of Shoals. Wade along the shore and explore the rocky outcroppings. Elsewhere in the park, an oversized playground is good for hours of fun. Nominal fee.
- Deep Sea Fishing
Eastman’s Deep Sea Fishing, Seabrook
Go for a fishing tour with Eastman’s Deep Sea Fishing in Seabrook and get ready for adventure as you head out to New England’s most productive fishing grounds, Jeffreys Ledge in the Gulf of Maine. Eastman’s also offers salt marsh kayaking rentals and whale watching tours.
- Isles of Shoals
Approximately three miles off the coast are the Isles of Shoals, a mysterious island chain that was once home to the area’s first settlers. For a day of exploring, leave from Portsmouth aboard the S.S. Thomas Leighton to get to Star Island. You can spend the night at the island’s Oceanic Hotel. But beware… the 19th-century structure is reportedly haunted.
- Fuller Gardens
It’s summer so take some time (literally!) to stop and smell the roses. Fuller Gardens in North Hampton is a public botanical garden on the grounds of an old seaside estate once owned by Massachusetts Gov. Alvan T. Fuller. Wander the garden’s paths to take in the sights and smells of summer. Roses are in bloom all season.
- Mine Falls Park
Mine Falls Park, Nashua’s urban forest oasis, shows that even in the midst of one the state’s busiest cities, there’s still room for hiking trails that wind under forest cover and along gently flowing river waters, without a building in sight. Access Mine Falls Park off Coliseum Avenue.
- America’s Stonehenge
For off-the-beaten-path excitement, visit the mysterious rock formations at America’s Stonehenge in Salem. The estimated 4,000-year-old archaeological site is a maze full of rocky chambers and ancient ceremonial meeting places. Elsewhere on the grounds, kids can dig for gemstones they can keep.
ANIMALS, MUSEUMS AND EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCES
Take a step into the past at the Remick Country Doctor Museum & Farm in Tamworth, which was named Yankee Magazine’s 2018 Editors’ Pick for “Best Historical Experience” in New Hampshire. The museum features hands-on farm fun, arts, crafts and traditional food demonstrations, and a family nature trail to views of Mount Chocorua.
- Moose Alley
Did you know that the 16-mile stretch of Route 3 from Pittsburg north to the Canadian border is known as Moose Alley? That’s because many of New Hampshire’s estimated 6,000 moose live in the unbroken forests on either side of this road. If you do go for a moose- spotting drive, NH Fish and Game Department advises you to stay in your vehicle — and have your cameras ready!
- Squam Lakes Natural Science Center
Learn more about the flora and fauna of New Hampshire at Squam Lakes Natural Science Center in Holderness. The center’s trails wind through meadows, marshes and forests where you can visit live animal displays of some of the creatures who call the area home – including a black bear and bobcat.
- Black Heritage Trail
The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire preserves, celebrates and honors the history and culture of the state’s African-American community. Download the free trail map and start your tour in Portsmouth, retracing the steps of the Seaport’s early African-American community. Special trolley rides available.
- The Rey Center
Waterville Valley was the summer home of H.A. and Margret Rey, the creators of Curious George. Now it is home to The Rey Center. On Saturdays throughout the summer, children are welcome to stop by for the Center’s weekly storytime. And check out the gardens and trails, too.
- Canterbury Shaker Village
Explore the history of the Shakers at Canterbury Shaker Village, the National Historic Landmark Village dedicated to preserving the legacy of this religious group devoted to peace and harmony. Explore 25 restored original buildings, enjoy crafts and games, and go for a nature walk.
- Charmingfare Farm
Where can you get up close and personal with chickens, pigs, goats, and…a camel? At Charmingfare Farm in Candia. Kids can feed and pet lambs and llamas, then head off on the trails to visit more exotic creatures like wolverines, wolves, reindeer and yes, a camel. Hayrides, pony rides, and a playground make for a day of fun.
- Beaver Brook Association
Sample just how fun it is to get outdoors in New Hampshire at Beaver Brook Association in Hollis. Filled with forests, gentle hills and streams, the land preserve’s well-marked and easy-to-follow trails are perfect for young hikers. One trail leads to a Native American wigwam kids can explore. Don’t forget to visit the nature center and gardens.
- McLane Audubon Center
The McLane Audubon Center in Concord, headquarters of the New Hampshire chapter of the National Audubon Society, has a learning center filled with animal exhibits of rehabilitated hawks, owls, and a bald eagle who call the place home, plus several miles of hiking trails.
- Massabesic Audubon Center
It’s located just outside the biggest city in New Hampshire, but the Massabesic Audubon Center in Auburn, with its quiet wooded paths leading to the sparkling waters of Massabesic Lake, feels like a world away.
- New Hampshire Farm Museum
Experience life as it once was with a visit to the New Hampshire Farm Museum in Milton. Explore vintage tractor exhibits, go on the Great Yellow Barn scavenger hunt, feed the chickens, do some farm chores, see what’s growing in the garden, and go for a nature walk.
- Robert Frost Farm
See what inspired Robert Frost’s famous poems about life in rural New England by visiting the Robert Frost Farm, a former home of the famed poet. Tour his quaint farmhouse, spend time in the children’s garden, and learn about some of Frost’s favorite plants and animals during a nature walk along the Hyla Brook trail.
- Stonewall Farm
Stonewall Farm in Keene is a nonprofit, working dairy farm with cows, Belgian draft horses and assorted barnyard critters. Visit the animals, gardens and Discovery Dome. After your farm tour, splash in the brook, play in the nature playground and go for a storybook hike — all for free.
- The Fort at No. 4
Squeeze in a summertime history lesson at the Fort at No.4, an authentically reconstructed fortified village that was once the northern outpost of the English colonies. Costumed characters, war encampments and re-enactments bring the past to life.
- Poore Farm Historic Homestead
Head to Colebrook to take a self-guided tour of the Poore Farm Historic Homestead and Museum. The Museum is the last remaining, original 100-acre historic farm settlement of its kind in the North Country. The farm hosts activities such as picnics, live events, demonstrations, hiking and field trips.
RAINY DAY ACTIVITIES
- Wright Museum of World War II
In Wolfeboro, learn about a pivotal time in history at the Wright Museum of World War II’s annual family day on July 8. Festivities include rides in restored WWII vehicles, WWII re-enactors, WWII memorabilia, as well as a magic show, animal shows, games and other kid-friendly fun. Bring the grandparents for a special day.
- Mount Washington Weather Observatory
Learn about the wild weather at the top of Mount Washington at the Mount Washington Observatory Weather Discovery Center, an interactive science museum that makes the wonder of weather come alive. Mount Washington has some of the fastest wind speeds ever recorded on earth, but the weather center is safely tucked away in North Conway’s bustling downtown district.
- Andy’s Summer Playhouse
In Wilton, Andy’s Summer Playhouse is an innovative children-only summer theater that provides kids with an opportunity to hone their acting skills. Summer 2019 at Andy’s Playhouse will include over 300 child players putting on productions of “Goblin Secrets,” “URL vs. IRL” and “The Resisters: A Football Musical.”
- Mount Washington Valley Children’s Museum
For a rainy day escape, head to the Mount Washington Valley Children’s Museum in North Conway, where kids can put on puppet shows, play with trains, climb into a life-sized treehouse, explore outer space and more. The museum is in the heart of downtown, so you can walk to nearby restaurants and shops.
- New London Barn Playhouse
If you are tired of running around, take in a show at New London Barn Playhouse in New London. Among the shows on the main stage in 2019 are “The Pajama Game,” “The Odd Couple,” “Catch Me If You Can” and “Grease”. A children’s theater series is also offered during the summer.
- Ice Skating
Escape the muggy weather with a spin around the many indoor ice rinks open during the summer months, including the Rinks at Exeter and the Dover Ice Arena. If your winter sports gear is packed away, most rinks offer skate rentals for a small fee.
- New Hampshire State House
In Concord, it’s hard to miss the golden-domed State House, built in 1819 and still the heart of the capital city’s bustling downtown district. For a free self-guided tour, stop by Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Kids will be intrigued by the Visitors Center diorama depicting the Battle of Bunker Hill, which was led by New Hampshire militiamen.
- Indoor Rock Climbing
Vertical Dreams, Manchester and Nashua
Learning the basics of rock climbing at an indoor climbing gym is fun all on its own, or can make outdoor rock climbing a little less daunting. Start your climb to the top at Vertical Dreams in Manchester and Nashua. Both locations offer lessons for all ages and skill levels.
- Manchester’s Millyard Museum
Housed in what was once one of the largest textile mills in the entire world, exhibits delve into the city’s history, from the region’s pre-Colonial times to the Industrial Revolution and beyond. Fun for kids includes a scavenger hunt and a mystery objects game.
- Seabrook Station
Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant, the state’s sole nuclear energy facility, is a surprisingly fun place to visit. The plant’s Science & Nature Center offers educational displays about energy and the environment, including a simulated elevator ride 260 feet below sea level to the plant’s cooling tunnels. Plus, find a marine touch tank and boardwalk nature trail that winds throughout the plant’s woods and marshland area.
- USS Albacore Museum
Climb aboard the fastest submarine of its time! The USS Albacore Museum was commissioned by the Navy from 1953-72 and is now permanently dry docked in Portsmouth for visitors to explore. Marvel at the sub’s tight living quarters and all the dials, levers and sonar screens.
- Aviation Museum of NH
If your kid is obsessed with airplanes, take them to the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire. It is filled with exhibits and located right off the runway of Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.
- Currier Museum of Art
Stop at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, ranked as one of the best fine arts museums in New England. Check out art from such luminaries as Picasso and Georgia O’Keeffe. Visiting families receive a special Family Guide map and can visit the Discovery Gallery for hands-on art activities.
Stop by the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord, a planetarium and science learning center that offers star shows, exhibits, and special family programs that inspire everyone to reach for the stars.
- SEE Science Center
Stop by the SEE Science Center in Manchester, a science museum that offers hands-on exhibits and a LEGO replica of the city’s historic millyard that holds the record as the largest permanent LEGO mini-figure installation in the world. On Saturdays and Sundays, take part in special drop-in workshops for families.
- Mariposa Museum
Peterborough is a small town with a big window on the world, thanks to the Mariposa Museum and History Center, a hands-on learning museum about global cultures and art. Explore a surprisingly large collection of international folk toys, folk art, instruments, costumes and interactive exhibits. Outdoors you’ll find a garden, a walkway of peace, a butterfly mosaic and outdoor sculptures.
The Seacoast Science Center in Rye is New Hampshire’s seaside aquarium. Located in Odiorne State Park (itself a stunning place to explore), the learning center is filled with aquatic exhibits, hands-on learning about the Gulf of Maine environment, and a marine touch tank that will keep kids occupied for hours. Take part in the scavenger hunt!
Check out the two floors of learning fun at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire in Dover. Explore world cultures, under-sea research, brain waves, dinosaurs, music, nature and much more. Special programming takes place all summer long.
- Great Bay Discovery Center
At Great Bay Discovery Center in Greenland, get your hands wet in an estuarine discovery tank as you and your kids learn about horseshoe crabs, oysters, mud snails and other inhabitants of the bay. Outside, follow the nature trail and boardwalk for an up-close look at the estuary’s ever-changing tides.
- Covered Bridges
New Hampshire is home to 66 covered bridges. Top picks include the Honeymoon Bridge in Jackson Village (Route 16A); the Bath-Haverhill Bridge (Route 135), the oldest bridge in the state; and the Windsor-Cornish Bridge (off Route 12A in Cornish), the longest wooden bridge in the United States.
SPORTING EVENTS AND FUN FOR THRILL SEEKERS
- New Hampshire Fisher Cats
Enjoy an afternoon cheering on the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, an AA-affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. Off the field at the Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester, kids can spend part of those extra-long innings in a special children’s play area, with bouncy house, games, and an obstacle course. Check out the calendar for special themed days, giveaways and fireworks.
- Outdoor Rock Climbing
Mooney Mountain Guides
Outdoor rock climbing is a popular pastime in the Granite State. Want to give it a try? Mooney Mountain Guides in Concord offers family lessons at one of three popular rock climbing spots: Rumney, Echo Crag and North Conway.
- Morningside Flight Park
The gentle rolling hills of the Connecticut River Valley are tailor-made for one of New Hampshire’s most unexpected summer activities for families: hang gliding. At Morningside Flight Park in Charlestown, kids and adults can learn how to hang glide and paraglide. Don’t want to fly? Try the park’s zip line or play laser tag.
- Mount Washington Auto Road
You know you want that bumper sticker that says, “This Car Climbed Mount Washington,” so make your way to the Mount Washington Auto Road and go for it. With often crazy weather, winding roads, and spectacular vistas, this is a car ride you’ll never forget. The toll road leaves from Pinkham Notch/Route 16.
- New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Are you a family of NASCAR fans? The New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon hosts the only NASCAR Cup Series race in New England, so start your engines and get ready for the excitement of Loudon’s “Magic Mile.” Several family-friendly events held throughout the summer.
Kids as young as 3 can experience the freedom of flight at Nashua’s SkyVenture, with its state-of-the-art vertical wind tunnel. With the help of a certified instructor, families can take flight after a 20-minute training class. It’s all the fun of skydiving without the ripcords or parachutes.
- Helicopter Tour
Vertical Ventures Aviation, Whitefield
If you are looking for something different to do this summer, get a new perspective on the Granite State by taking a helicopter tour. Vertical Ventures Aviation offers tours that fly over New Hampshire’s natural landmarks. You’ll never look at the White Mountains the same way again.
- Zipline Tours
For a bird’s eye view of the White Mountains, take a zipline tour over the treetops. Adventurous types can get their thrill on at Alpine Adventures in Lincoln, Cranmore’s Aerial Adventure Park, and the Bretton Woods Canopy Tour, the longest zip line tour in New England with a descent of over 1,000 feet in elevation.
Bear Rock Adventures, Pittsburg
Bear Rock Adventures, based in Pittsburg, invites families to hop in a top-of-the-line off-road vehicle rental to explore the Ride the Wilds network of off-road trails that traverse northern New Hampshire. Safety instruction provided. Bear Rock offers on-road adventures too, taking you to places like the top of Mount Washington.
- Aerial Treetop Adventures
Gunstock Mountain Resort, Gilford
Swing through the trees! Aerial Treetop Adventures encourages families to explore Gunstock from a squirrel’s eye view as you traverse 91 different challenges spread out along five tree-suspended ropes courses. Elsewhere at Gunstock’s Summer Adventure Park, find zip lines, mountain coasters, and Segway tours.
Lake Life Lessons, Wolfeboro
Get started with wakesurfing, the trendy waterskiing/surfing hybrid sport. Lake Life Lessons in Wolfeboro offers lessons for all ages and coaching for wakesurfing and other water sports. You’ll be shredding Lake Winnipesaukee in no time.
- Whitewater Rafting
Great Glen Trails, Gorham
Where else would you expect to find “white water” than in the White Mountains? In summer, Great Glen Trails cross-country ski center in Gorham transforms into a whitewater rafting center along the Androscoggin River. Trained instructors can teach your family everything needed to have a safe day riding the rapids.