The 10 Most Charming Small Towns in New Hampshire

PureWow editors select every item that appears on this page, and the company may earn compensation through affiliate links within the story. All prices are accurate upon date of publish. You can learn more about the affiliate process here.

As one of New England’s most northern states, New Hampshire is often be overlooked as a travel destination. But we’re here to change that: An easy drive from New York City and surrounding areas, The Granite State has many sights, attractions and activities for those looking for a relaxing and quaint getaway. While Concord and Manchester are the state’s most well-known cities, New Hampshire actually has several small towns that offer a charming hometown feel that will relax the mind, body and soul. Whether you are searching for outdoor adventures such as hiking and skiing or more low-key activities such as brewery tours or nature walks, New Hampshire is the perfect option for a fun couple of days away. Bonus: Since most of these towns are in close proximity to one another, you could easily check a few off your list in one trip. Here are 10 small towns in New Hampshire that are worth checking out.

Editor’s note: Please make sure to mask up and follow local travel guidelines in the fight against COVID-19 before you go.

The 12 Most Charming Small Towns in New Jersey

charming small towns in new hampshire portsmouth
DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images

1. Portsmouth, Nh

About one hour north of Boston, Portsmouth is located on the coastline and a must-visit for beautiful beaches and summertime fun. You can spend the day fishing, whale watching, kayaking and canoeing, or simply spend time relaxing on the sand. Head to Portsmouth Harbor for fantastic views of the lighthouse and the Piscataqua River. Strawberry Banke Museum, the Moffatt-Ladd House & Garden and Warner House all offer historical tours that will help you better understand what this cute town is all about. (Note: Check websites for current availability). For breakfast, stop by Portsmouth’s must-have spot, the Friendly Toast for egg sandwiches, banana and chocolate chip pancakes, and cheesecake-filled French toast. For dinner and drinks, check out Portsmouth Brewery, Cure and Surf for tasty eats and great waterside views.

Where to stay:

charming small towns in new hampshire hanover
ErikaMitchell/Getty Images

2. Hanover, Nh

Home to Dartmouth College (Go Big Green!), Hanover is located along the Connecticut River and has continuously been named one of “The Best Places to Live” in the country. Popular things to do include taking a tour of Dartmouth’s historic campus (the Baker-Berry Library is seriously impressive) and skiing on the mountains to both the east and west. If you’re visiting in the warmer months, plan a hike on the Appalachian Trail, which passes right through downtown and winds through the White Mountains. Hungry after all that action? Check out Murphy’s on the Green for tasty pub food like seared pork chops, BBQ pulled pork tacos and deep fried calamari.

Where to stay:

charming small towns in new hampshire cat
DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images

3. Meredith, Nh

Found in the state’s Lake Region, Meredith is known as a major resort town and is surrounded by some of the largest lakes in the state. If you’re ready for some water activities, head to EKAL Activity Center for boat rides, charters and kayak, paddleboard and canoe rentals. Take in the scenic waterside views by driving the 97-mile loop of Lake Winnipesaukee while stopping to explore other surrounding towns. Stop by Mills Falls Market in Meredith, which offers fun shopping and multiple excellent dining options. During the autumn months, we highly recommend taking a four-hour fall foliage train ride from the Meredith Station to experience some of the best views in New England. But no matter what time of the year you visit, make sure to stop by Hermit Woods Winery & Deli for local wine and dessert tastings, as well as a selection of New Hampshire craft beers.

Where to stay:

charming small towns in new hampshire sugar hill
Yuri Kriventsoff/Getty Images

4. Sugar Hill, Nh

If you are searching for a small-town feel, look no further than Sugar Hill in Grafton County. This mountain town has a population of just over 500 people and is New Hampshire’s newest town after splitting from nearby Lisbon in 1962. Overlooking the White Mountain National Forest, Sugar Hill boasts some of the most spectacular views in New England. The time honored Sugar Hill Lupine Festival takes place every June where people visit from all over to see fields of purple lupine flowers. The festival features open-air markets, wagon rides, concerts and other fun exhibits. For even more beautiful foliage, stop by Coffin Pond for breathtaking views and a quiet ambiance. You can’t visit Sugar Hill without getting homemade pancakes at Polly’s Pancake Parlor—all topped with New Hampshire maple syrup, of course. Once you’ve satisfied your sweet tooth, stop by Harman’s Cheese & Country Store, a picturesque red country shop that sells natural premium grade white cheddar cheese among other local jams, mustards and jellies.

Where to stay:

5. Lincoln, Nh

If outdoor adventures are your thing, Lincoln, New Hampshire is the place to be. No matter the season, this town boasts activities that will keep you occupied for days. Located right in downtown Lincoln, Loon Mountain offers skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing and terrain parks. For a scenic view of the mountain, take the Gondola Skyride to the summit of Loon Peak where you’ll find glacial caves and a forest nature walk. Or head to Flume Gorge at the bottom of Mount Liberty for a beautiful one and a half mile hike around a natural gorge. Find even more outdoor fun at Whale’s Tale Waterpark, where you can ride water slides, hang in a wave pool or float down a lazy river. For chill-seekers rather than thrill-seekers, take a ride on the Hobo Railroad, a restored vintage train that travels along the Pemigewasset River (opening in May). After a day of checking out the sites, head to One Love Brewery and Woodstock Inn Brewery for hearty food and craft beers, or Seven Birches and the Atrium Wine Bar for wine tasting.

Where to stay:

charming small towns in new hampshire bartlett
© Allard Schager/Getty Images

6. Bartlett, Nh

Located in the heart of the White Mountains, Bartlett is a picturesque town where visitors can enjoy all that nature has to offer. Head to the Rocky Gorge, Diana’s Baths or Ripley Falls for breathtaking views of waterfalls and rock formations. During the winter months, Attitash Mountain Resort is where to go for skiing and snowboarding, and the resort also offers zip-lining, North America’s longest Alpine slide and an outdoor waterpark in the warmer months. Traveling with the kids? Said to be the “best children’s theme park” in New Hampshire, Story Land features over 30 attractions and rides for children of all ages (opening in May).

Where to stay:

charming small towns in new hampshire north conway
DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images

7. North Conway, Nh

North Conway is a village in Conway, NH that has plenty to offer visitors, including an excellent craft brew scene—head to Moat Mountain Smokehouse & Brewing Co., Tuckerman Brewing Co. and Seadog Brewing Company for great food and unique brews. If you are into antiquing, venture downtown where you’ll find a handful of delightful shops selling old-fashioned and vintage items. For nature enthusiasts, spend some time outdoors by hiking the Black Cap Hiking Trail, Moat Mountain Trail and Echo State Lake Park where you can find the Cathedral Ledge that leads to amazing views of North Conway. If you’d rather see the views from the comfort of your car, drive the Kancamagus Highway which has peak foliage in the fall months, or hop on the Conway Scenic Railroad for an old-fashioned train ride that offers two different routes in fully-restored coaches.

Where to stay:

charming small towns in new hampshire franconia
Pierre-Olivier Valiquette/Getty Images

8. Franconia, Nh

Outdoor lovers, rejoice and head to Franconia. Set in the White Mountains, this town is surrounded by state parks, forests and hiking trails and is a must-see for those wanting to spend all of their time with Mother Nature. Franconia Notch State Park has an endless amount of activities including snowmobiling, hiking, biking, ATVing, swimming, camping and fishing. Stop by Cannon Mountain for rock climbing, ice climbing, skiing or hop on the Aerial Tramway where you can see the mountains of four different states and Canada on a clear day. For gourmet dining in a cozy atmosphere, visit the Franconia Inn (and the views aren't bad, either).

Where to stay:

charming small towns in new hampshire jackson
Straystone/Getty Images

9. Jackson, Nh

Jackson is a quiet resort town located in the middle of the White Mountains. If you are looking for a low-key weekend where you can just as easily spend time on the mountains as well as off them, Jackson is your best bet. The Jackson Ski Touring Foundation features trails for beginners and experts and also offers snowshoeing and skate skiing as well as classic track skiing. Head to Black Mountain or Wildcat Mountain for even more skiing and snowboarding options. Or if skiing isn’t your thing, check out Nestlenook Farm for sleigh rides, snowshoeing and ice skating on a small private resort. And for the perfect Instagram photo, stop by Honeymoon Bridge which extends over the Ellis River where couples are known to kiss underneath the structure for good luck. While you’re here, support local businesses by visit White Mountain Puzzles where you can browse hundreds of different puzzle options—the perfect activity to cozy up with after a day of hitting the slopes.

Where to stay:

charming small towns in new hampshire littleton
DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images

10. Littleton, Nh

Named one of the best small downtowns in America, Littleton lives up to its reputation with a food scene that is one to remember. First, stop by Chutters, home to the longest candy counter; then visit Bishop’s for more than 60 flavors of homemade ice cream (we hear the maple walnut is divine). Next, quench your thirst with a visit to Schilling Beer Co., a brewery located in a converted 18th-century grist mill that overlooks the Ammonoosuc River and is known as for its European-inspired beers. When it comes to food, you have plenty of options: Dine at the Beal House for American fare, the Little Grille for burgers and Tim-Bir Alley for fine dining. To work off all that grub, enjoy the outdoors by hiking Kilburn Crag and the Pinehill Trail or take a walk across the Curran Suspension Bridge. Be sure to say hi to Pollyanna, a bronze sculpture that pays tribute to Littleton native and author Elizabeth H. Porter who introduced the world to the beloved children’s character.

Where to stay:

purewow author

Freelance PureWow Editor

Victoria Garcia is a NYC based editor and writer with a love for reality television, fiction books and a good happy hour. She's a foodie at heart so you'll most likely find her...