These next couple weeks are the best time to be in New Hampshire.
Because we’re sitting in-between two major tourist seasons—summer and leaf-peeping*. And while we’re just on the precipice of fall and then an eventual, (to me: soul-crushing) winter, it’s best to keep things light moving through the next 2-3 weeks.
While there will still be crowds, it’s nowhere near the levels we endured in July and August. Which makes it the perfect time to check out all the kitschy tourist spots before they’re overrun or closed for the season.
So, be a tourist in your own town.
Remember the field trip you took in second grade to explore a local cave? The farm your parents took you as a kid to see baby animals? The beach you visited when you were 10 and spent the entire day skipping rocks?**
Those places are still around. And (bonus) not as busy. So break out some of your weekend time over these next few weekends and take advantage of all NH has to offer. Some of my favorite places include:
The Flume Gorge
This natural granite gorge extends 800 feet at the base of Mount Liberty in Franconia Notch State Park. While trekking through this 2-mile loop, you’ll see moss-covered granite walls, towering waterfalls, covered bridges, and glacial pools. There’s also a shorter ½ mile walk for those who just want to see the Flume Gorge itself.
Cost: Ages 13+ $16; 6-12 $13; 5 and under $0
Bonus: It’s open until October 23rd.
Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves
Located in Kinsman Notch, Lost River Gorge was formed by water, wind, weather and—wait for it—time. The name comes from the brook draining from the southeast part of Kinsman Notch, which disappears below the surface in this narrow gorge. Lost River is also partially filled with massive chunks of granite through which the brook courses through until it reaches the Pemigewasset River.
Cost: 13+ $19; 4-12 $13; 0-3 $0
Bonus: There are caves to crawl around in. Also, lantern tours. If you’re into that.
One of New Hampshire’s only ocean-side towns, Portsmouth is always worth a visit. Between eating, drinking, shopping, and sightseeing, there’s something in town for everyone. And if you’re looking for a full-day itinerary, I’ve got you covered. http://stayworkplay.org/blog/a-day-in-portmouth/
Cost: Whatever you’d like. But probably parking.
Bonus: Some of the best restaurants and breweries in the state.
Lake Winnipesaukee Cruises
From May to late October, you can hop aboard the M/S Mount Washington for a cruise around the 5 ports (Wolfeboro, Meredith, Center Harbor, Alton Bay and on alternating days, Weirs Beach) on the lake. Now, imagine boating on a lake with sunglasses on and the wind in your hair. You look so fresh! So tan! So summery!
Cost: $48-55, depending on the day
Bonus: Food & drinks. But if the cost isn’t your thing there are other cruises on other lakes for you to check out.
Parker’s Maple Barn
A family establishment since the late 1960s, Parker’s Maple Barn serves breakfast and lunch in the small town of Mason.***
Cost: The food.
Bonus: The food.
*The phrase “leaf-peeper” kind of makes me ill.
**I never grew up near a beach. But I imagine you all did.
***Fun fact: Mason, NH is the boyhood home of Uncle Sam. Also, Parker’s Maple Barn is delicious.