Fall is the perfect time to pack your family into the car and hit the road for a mini vacation through the mountains and tumbling fall foliage. Few places are as perfect as New Hampshire for spending time outdoors and taking in all the fun and festive fall activities of the region. You can make the drive along Route 112 between North Conway and Lincoln, for instance, to see some of the nicest foliage in the state. Apple picking, pumpkin patches, wildlife hikes and exploration await.
New Hampshire offers tons of options in nearly every city or town for apple picking, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, hayrides, and more. Some of these even host special events or festivals and family days just for kids. A few favorites are Charmingfare Farm in Candia, which offers hayrides, pumpkin patches, and a petting zoo. Beech Hill Farm is also a great place to take the family for a day of fall festivities, locally made ice cream, and events with live music.
To break up the miles, be sure to plan some hiking and biking to immerse yourself in the season. Change it up with a rotation of wildlife refuges, state parks, and higher overlooks for big fall views. Be sure to bring a camera for photo ops, and maybe even snag that perfect shot for holiday cards. Here are a few ideas to guide your next fall family road-trip.
- Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to bring your family for easy day hikes and taking in the local wildlife. Well-marked and relatively flat trails comprise the majority of this national refuge, and it’s not unusual to spot deer, coyote, red fox, or turkey during your visit.
- One of the state's largest parks, Bear Brook State Park offers visitors limitless opportunities to explore. There are more than 40 miles of hiking trails leading through a variety of habitats, not to mention fishing, archery, and camping opportunities through the end of October.
- For a quick trip to the ocean, nothing beats Seabrook Dunes and Beach. You'll see lighter crowds here because access requires a little more of a walk, but that just makes this area sweeter. Once you arrive, you'll have miles of beach to enjoy.
Lake Sunapee Area
- Take in the fall colors from great heights on a trip to Mount Kearsage of Rollins State Park. Enjoy panoramic views and a picnic right at the start of the Rollins Trail, or hike the half mile to the summit for a more remote setting. The end of the trail gets a little steep, so be sure to have some extra hands to help younger kids get to the top.
- Pillsbury State Park has terrific trails for those looking for longer hikes, but it is also a go-to for families traveling with younger hikers. Interpretive trails are easy options for a great day outdoors. A picnic area, playground and campground (open until late October) make this an easy choice on a longer trip.
- You can enjoy amazing fall colors and views of Lake Solitude from the summit trail over Mount Sunapee and White Ledges. Families may opt to take the aerial sky ride to the top. And be sure to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife that is active in the area.
- For beautiful fall views and a trail that’s a bit more challenging, head to Mount Willard in the White Mountains. One of many hikes in the Crawford Notch area, this one begins near a historic train depot before climbing some 1,800 feet to the summit. At the top you’ll get great views of Mount Washington and the full spectrum of fall foliage below.
- Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center has heaps of biking and hiking opportunities on the carriage roads, and there is also a pump track. Fall is a gorgeous time of year to visit, but really this place shines year round: Winter brings opportunities for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
- For a short hike with rewarding views, consider Artists Bluff and Bald Mountain. This is a great choice for families and beginning hikers, who can take shorter routes up, while a loop option is great for a 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!