Eight great NH state parks for families


Crawford Notch State Park on Route 302 in Hart's Location, NH. Photo by Morgen Connor.


New Hampshire has dozens of fantastic state parks that offer a range of services and activities from swimming, hiking, bike trails and campgrounds. Here are our top eight favorite NH state parks (in no particular order) that are great for families.

Odiorne Point State Park

570 Ocean Boulevard
Rye, NH

Located in Rye, Odiorne State Park is a family favorite because it’s located along the ocean and offers great hiking and biking trails. There’s a playground on site, restrooms, plenty of parking and definitely don’t forget to bring your fishing pole.
Cost: $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-11. Free for residents under 6 years of age and over 65.
Added bonus: The Seacoast Science Center is located at the park so while you’re there make sure you stop in and check out the marine life.


Bear Brook State Park

61 Deerfield Road
Allenstown, NH

Bear Brook boasts more than 10,000 acres of beautiful land waiting for your family to explore. This is the largest developed state park in the state and has over 40 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails. Bear Brook offers an onsite campground, archery ranges as well as canoe and kayak rentals. Other highlights include a playground and picnic areas, bathroom facilities and pets are permitted on the trails and campground areas.
Cost: $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-11. Free for residents under 6 years of age and over 65.
Added bonus: Bear Brook is home to three museums: New Hampshire Antique Snowmobile Museum, Old Allenstown Meeting House, and the Richard Diehl Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Museum.


Echo Lake State Park

68 Echo Lake Road
Conway, NH

Just because the Old Man of the Mountain is long gone doesn’t mean you shouldn’t head to the notch for some great sightseeing. Just past the Old Man’s former home you’ll find Echo Lake State Park, the perfect spot for a quick dip and picnic. Echo Lake is nestled between Cannan Mountain and Franconia Range and its trails offer some fantastic views of the 700-foot Cathedral Ledge.
Cost: $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-11. Free for residents under 6 years of age and over 65.
Added bonus: Consider renting a paddle boat for a couple hours and have fun splashing around.


Pawtuckaway State Park

40 Pawtuckaway Rd
Nottingham, NH 03290

Like Bear Brook State Park, Pawtuckaway is a favorite because it offers many activities and facilities for everyone in your family including hiking, biking, picnic areas, rock climbing and a lookout fire tower. Pawtuckaway is a popular swimming and hiking area and during the hot summer days can fill up quickly so make sure you arrive early if you’re planning to swim. Weekly cabin rentals are available and can fit up to 6 people.
Cost: $5 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-11. Free for residents under 6 years of age and over 65.
Added bonus: Make sure you bring your camera because you never know when you’ll spot a great blue heron or other wildlife including deer.


Fort Stark Historic State Site

211 Wildrose Lane
New Castle, NH

Fort Stark isn’t your traditional state park which boats picnic areas, hiking trails and swimming. Fort Stark is unique because it’s a former military instillation where your children’s minds can go wild as they explore the old machine shop and control post. Consider spending the afternoon here and take in all of the rich history and gorgeous waterfront views.
Cost: Admission is free but donations are appreciated.
Added bonus: Visitors can check out World War I and II artifacts in the machine shop and learn about shipwrecks at the “Shipwrecks of New Castle” exhibit.


Crawford Notch State Park

1464 US Route 302
Harts Location, NH

Crawford Notch State Park is a popular camping area with restroom, laundry and shower facilities. One of the many reasons we love this state park is because it has great wildlife viewing spots as well as fishing spots and waterfalls (Ripley Falls, Silver Cascade and the Flume Cascade). Leashed pets are allowed but please remember to pick up after them.
Cost: $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-11. Free for residents under 6 years of age and over 65.


Ellacoya State Park

266 Scenic Road
Gilford, NH

Looking to spend some time at NH’s big lake, Lake Winnipesaukee, but don’t want to pay the potentially high price of renting a house? Come check out Ellacoya State Park and enjoy the 600 foot long beach perfect for a fun-filled summer day of swimming and picnicking. There is a campground on site for RVs with bathrooms, laundry and shower facilities.
Cost: $5 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-11. Free for residents under 6 years of age and over 65.
Added bonus: Gilford isn’t far from Laconia or the Weirs so make sure you save some time to explore the boardwalk and favorite attractions like mini golf, go-kart racing and arcade games.


Mount Sunapee State Park

86 Beach Access Road
Newbury, NH

So what happens to a ski resort when the snow melts and summer weather sets in? The park welcomes visitors for hiking, picnics and swimming! Mount Sunapee State Park invites people year round to enjoy the gorgeous grounds and offers a boat launch, swimming, fishing and camping areas in the warmer months.
Cost: $5 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-11. Free for residents under 6 years of age and over 65.
Added bonus: Mount Sunapee also has an Adventure Park with aerial challenge course, ziplining, disc golf course, chairlift rides and more. There are additional costs associated with visiting the adventure park separate from the state park area.


More state parks

The list above is just a sampling of New Hampshire's state parks that we think you should check out. If you're up for a real adventure, consider exploring the New Hampshire Great Park Pursuit. This was originally a 2015 initiative by the state that encouraged families to get to know our state parks and historic sites by checking out guided events and self-guided quests. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like any additional guided tours will be available in the near future BUT the self-guided quests can still be found online and can be done anytime and there are about 15 quests for your family to check out .

For a complete list and guide to New Hampshire's state parks, visit: http://www.nhstateparks.org

Categories: Spring Fun, Summer Sports

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