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Best New Hampshire Towns for Family Adventure

11.16.17

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Best New Hampshire Towns for Family Adventure

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  • Paddlers on Butterfield Pond in Pillsbury State Park.- Best New Hampshire Towns for Family Adventure
  • View at the Narrows in Pillsbury State Park. - Best New Hampshire Towns for Family Adventure
  • An easy section of the Arethusa Falls Trail.- Best New Hampshire Towns for Family Adventure
  • A person provides scale at Arethusa Falls. - Best New Hampshire Towns for Family Adventure
  • The Ruth Walter Trail at Rainbow Falls. - Best New Hampshire Towns for Family Adventure
  • Two benches provide a rest and view of Rainbow Falls.- Best New Hampshire Towns for Family Adventure
  • Couples and families taking a break above Zealand Falls. - Best New Hampshire Towns for Family Adventure
  • One of the many views along the trail to Zealand Falls. - Best New Hampshire Towns for Family Adventure
  • View looking out over Beaver Pond in Bear Brook State Park.- Best New Hampshire Towns for Family Adventure
  • Trail to Archery Pond and the archery range in Bear Brook State Park.- Best New Hampshire Towns for Family Adventure
  • Pawtuckaway Lake.- Best New Hampshire Towns for Family Adventure
  • Morning canoe trip on Pawtuckaway Lake.- Best New Hampshire Towns for Family Adventure
  • Family walking along Seabrook Beach.- Best New Hampshire Towns for Family Adventure
  • Overlooking Echo Lake from Artists Point.- Best New Hampshire Towns for Family Adventure
  • Cannon Mountain ski slopes from Artists Point.- Best New Hampshire Towns for Family Adventure
  • Viewpoint along the Rollins Trail up Mount Kearsarge.- Best New Hampshire Towns for Family Adventure
  • The trail to Mount Willard starts on the Avalon Trail before splitting off.- Best New Hampshire Towns for Family Adventure
  • View from Mount Willard.- Best New Hampshire Towns for Family Adventure
  • Lake Solitude down below.- Best New Hampshire Towns for Family Adventure
  • Interpretive sign on the summit of Pack Monadnock in Miller State Park.- Best New Hampshire Towns for Family Adventure
  • The Pitcher Mountain fire tower.- Best New Hampshire Towns for Family Adventure
  • View from the Pitcher Mountain fire tower.- Best New Hampshire Towns for Family Adventure
  • Typical trail in Rhododendron State Park.- Best New Hampshire Towns for Family Adventure
  • Rhododendron State Park in July.- Best New Hampshire Towns for Family Adventure
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Contributor

New Hampshire is one of the best states in New England to celebrate the outdoors. With ample outdoor adventure, gorgeous day trips, and charming little towns, it’s easy to enjoy the culture and recreation opportunities in this northerly state. A multitude of gorgeous towns lie between the mountains and the coast, and it can be hard to choose where to spend your next adventure. Read on for a few of our favorite lesser-explored New Hampshire towns that are packed with all the essentials for the perfect family trip.

Jackson

The beauty of this town is hard to beat, especially given its reputation as an artist’s haven and it’s location in the White Mountains. It’s not unusual to see every kind of artist attempting to capture the allure of the area by camera or paintbrush, especially when visiting in the summer and fall months. Hiking and biking trails abound here, with ample opportunity for kayaking and other outdoor adventures as well as historic buildings. One of the best hikes around is a trip to Arethusa Falls. The tallest waterfall in the state reached by a short 1.4-mile hike that's perfect for families. And Mount Willard, just a little farther north on 302, offers some terrific views after a very mild, family-friendly ascent. Combine the two for a full day in the Crawford Notch area.

Keene

Located a stone's throw from Pisgah State Park, Keene is full of small town appeal and has plenty of great outdoor activities nearby. Head north on Main Street to enjoy local shops and cafes, and continue to the Central Square to grab a bite near the center of town. This quaint spot will rope you in, but once you're ready to head out of town for a look around, Keene's got you covered. New Hampshire's oldest state park, Miller State Park, is just a 30-minute drive east, and there you can enjoy unobstructed views from the summit of Pack Monadnock. To the north you'll have another opportunity for big views from the Pitcher Mountain Fire Tower, which is accessible via a loop or with a there-and-back option. Both are kid-friendly, so this is a perfect mission for a half-day trip from Keene. Finally, if you are in the area in the summer, a trip to Rhododendron State Park is a must. While the park is worth a stop year round for its historic structure and wildlife viewing opportunities, the rhododendrons usually perform their magic in July.

Hanover

Often compared to Cambridge's famous Harvard Square, Hanover is a quaint cultural hub in its own right. Centered around Dartmouth College, the town has a bustling Main Street filled with quirky shops and niche restaurants. Plenty of outdoor activities loom just beyond the town border, including apple picking farms and seasonal fairs and festivities. And Hanover is about an hour away from several spectacular adventures that will keep you active and busy during your stay. For an easy family hike with great scenery, check out Rainbow Falls, especially if you are visiting in the spring when the flows are high. For some great views, hit the trail that leads over Mount Sunapee and White Ledges to Lake Solitude or try the family-friendly walk up Mount Kearsarge. Finally, don't overlook Pillsbury State Park, where you can camp, hike, and boat for days.

Sugar Hill

This tiny town with panoramic views of the White Mountains can’t be beat on the charm factor. With unlimited quiet outdoor escapes, the town was so-named for its sugar maple groves and is one of the state’s most-recently incorporated places. The tiny population and quaint history museum and shops allow for days of solitude and exploration, and a perfect family getaway. Best of all, it is located a short drive from the many adventures in the Franconia area. The hike to Bald Mountain and Artists Bluff is a must for anyone visiting Franconia Notch State Park, and the nearby Pemi Trail is a great walk that leaves from Profile Lake and proceeds along the river. A little farther afield, one of the best adventures in the area is a trip to Zealand Falls, a backcountry hut offering lodgings and snacks within a hiking distance of impressive forest views and, of course, a waterfall. 

Exeter

There's no denying the quaint appeal of Exeter's town center...show up on a Thursday for a killer farmer's market, stroll along the Squamscott River, or enjoy a cup of coffee and a central perspective from the Exeter Bandstand. If you're looking for more action, head out to Pawtuckaway Lake and Pawtuckaway State Park or just a little farther west to Bear Brook State Park; both of these state parks hold hiking, fishing, and swimming opportunities for the whole family. Alternately, for a quick trip to the ocean, Seabrook is a great stop. It is less crowded than Hampton State Beach Park, and it is a favorite among local families who don't mind the slightly longer walk.

Looking for more New Hampshire adventures? Visit NH is a great resource to learn about this beautiful state and how to best explore all that it has to offer!

Featured image by Anthony Quintano, published without modification under Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
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For a truly authentic New England experience, come to New Hampshire. We are a four-season, year-round vacation destination ideal for every type of traveler, whether on vacation, on holiday or living right here. Visit our quaint shops and galleries, scenic state parks and historic sites, sparkling lakes and sandy beaches, the tallest mountains in the Northeast, three National Scenic Byways, and traditional festivals and open-air markets. There is so much to see in the Granite State, you'll want to visit again and again.

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