The state of New Hampshire is the perfect travel destination if you are looking for a place to spend a lot of time outdoors. There are so many things to do in New Hampshire all year long, but you will find that some options are only available during certain seasons. Therefore, you will want to plan your trip carefully if you want to take advantage of some of the free things to do in New Hampshire during the spring, summer, fall, or winter seasons. The one thing you will never worry about though is what to do in NH whenever you do decide to visit. The reason for this is that there is always something fun and exciting to do in this beautiful state!
Where is New Hampshire?
New Hampshire is a state in the New England section of the country. It is located along part of the northern border of Massachusetts, to the east of Vermont and the west of Maine. The southern border of Quebec, Canada is to the north of this state. The location of New Hampshire makes it the perfect destination for so many people all over the northeastern section of the country. However, anyone from all over the country can visit easily.
Best Time to Visit New Hampshire
The best time to visit New Hampshire is the months of September and October. This is when the leaves start to change colors and thousands of people arrive to see the fall foliage. Of course, this isn’t the best time of year to visit if you want to avoid the crowds. If that is your goal, then late spring and summer are much better options for you.
Weather in New Hampshire
The weather in New Hampshire is quite hot and humid during the months of July and August. The spring and fall are seasonable with warm temperatures. The winter months do get really cold and snow can fall as early as November and last until May or even June.
20 Free (or Nearly Free!) Things to Do in New Hampshire
1. Take a Scenic Drive on the Kancamagus Highway
The Kancamagus Highway goes through the White Mountains for thirty-four and a half miles from the town of Lincoln to the town of Conway. Along the way, you will find many spots to stop and enjoy the views. You will even discover hiking trails that lead to incredible waterfalls. The only things you won’t see on this highway are gas stations restaurants, and any other type of convenience destination.
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2.Visit the Blue Ocean Discovery Center
This Blue Ocean Discovery Center is one of the best New Hampshire attraction. It is free to enter, but they do ask for donations. The donation request is small, so it won’t break your vacation budget at all. Your visit will include time at the touch tanks, but you will also learn quite a bit about whales. Before you are allowed to wander around on your own, you will be shown how to work a lobster trap. At the end of your visit, you can either participate in a scavenger hunt or you can do a self-guided beach cleanup.
3. Hike to the Cathedral of the Pines
The Cathedral of the Pines is an open-air cathedral that is located on a hill in the southwestern section of the state. A climb to the cathedral will reward you with views of Mount Monadnock. However, you may be more focused on paying your respects to the people who lost their lives in war, because that is what this site was constructed for. This is one of the best things to do in New Hampshire, especially during the fall when the leaves are changing.
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4. Attend an Arts Jubilee Concert
The Arts Jubilee Concerts are held in North Conway and they are free to the public. You will find the performances at the bottom of Cranmore Mountain. The performances are normally held on the weekend, which makes it the perfect thing to do in North Conway, New Hampshire in summer.
5. Explore Odiorne Point State Park
Odiorne Point State Park is one of the best places to visit in New Hampshire. A stop here will have you adding so many things to your Rye, New Hampshire to do list. A couple cool things to do in this part of New Hampshire include spending time at the beach, enjoying the views of Portsmouth Harbor, and exploring the ruins of Fort Dearborn.
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6. Conquer a Hike on West Rattlesnake Mountain
If you are looking for something easy to do over in Holderness, New Hampshire, the two mile hike up this mountain is perfect. This is one of the many family activities NH you can add to your list. Plus, once you reach the top of this mountain, you will have incredible views of Squam Lake.
7. Go Snowshoeing
We all know that skiing is very expensive, so there is no way it can be included on a list of free things to do in New Hampshire. However, if you are looking for the best things to do in New Hampshire in winter, you don’t need to look any further than snowshoeing. You can find almost any trail covered in snow for this family adventure and walk until you cannot walk any further.
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8. Hike to Waterfalls
While you are guaranteed to see waterfalls in all the state parks in NH, they are not the only places where you can find them. You can easily add hiking to nearby waterfalls to your list of fun things to do in New Hampshire with kids. But some of these waterfalls are best hiked to by older people, which makes this activity one of the fun things for adults to do in New Hampshire. If you miss the waterfalls in the fall, you can always add them to your best things to do in New Hampshire in winter list. Although, at that time of the year, you will be looking at frozen waterfalls instead of flowing ones.
9.Visit the Saint-Gaudens National Historical Site
This historic site is located over in Cornish, NH. There are 100 acres of forest to explore and the best way to do it is by walking along the short nature trails. There are panels along those trails that share information about what you are seeing along the way. You may need to pay a small fee to enter this park. However, it is free on National Public Lands Day, as well as Veteran’s Day.
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10. See the Covered Bridges
There is a total of 54 covered bridges throughout the state of NH. Seeing the covered bridges is considered one of the best things to do in New Hampshire this weekend. You can easily stop at these covered bridges as you are in the area, or you can turn it into a day long activity. No matter how you see these covered bridges, you will agree that it is one of the fun things to do in New Hampshire.
11. Visit a Farmer’s Market
There are farmers’ markets all throughout the state of New Hampshire. They are normally only held between the months of June through October though, because of the shorter growing season in this state. If you are looking for a free thing to do in New Hampshire this weekend, a local farmer’s market in the area you are visiting must be on your list. They can be super fun family activities. This is especially true if you visit the one in Portsmouth in October. That is when that farmer’s market offers a pumpkin smash.
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12. Hike the Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail covers 2,184 miles from Georgia all the way up to Maine. New Hampshire is home to 161 of those miles. This is one of the best things to do in New Hampshire for adults, as some of the trail is too rugged for kids. This is one of the free things to do in New Hampshire at any time of the year. However, it is best to tackle it in the fall, because there are no bugs.
13. Tour the State Capitol
Touring the State Capitol is one of the best things to do in Concord, New Hampshire. The best part is the tours are free on the weekends. If you stop inside the New Hampshire General Court Visitors Center, you will find an abundance of history about this state.
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14. Attend Local Events
There are so many local events held in New Hampshire every year. Most of them are held during the fall, due to the popularity of the area at that time of the year. You must plan your visit to New Hampshire carefully if you want to attend these events. A couple that are the most popular include Apple Harvest Day, Oktoberfest, Brewery Lights, Keene Ice and Snow Festival, and the Sheep and Wool Festival.
15.Wander Around the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College
The Hood Museum of Art is one of the best art attractions in New Hampshire. This museum is always free, and you will see many different works of art inside. While you will see many different artists, your favorite pieces might be those created by Georgia O’Keefe and Picasso.
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16. See the Public Art Throughout the City of Concord
The city of Concord is filled with public art, but most of it is located right on Main Street. This is one of the best free things to do in Concord, New Hampshire and you can do it at any time of the year. The sculptures do change occasionally, so it is possible to see something new with each visit.
17. Watch the Fireworks
One of the best things to do in New Hampshire in summer is watch the fireworks over Lake Winnipesaukee. There are normally a dozen fireworks shows or more each year during the summer, so you can almost always catch one when you are in the area.
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18. See the Museum of the White Mountains
The Museum of the White Mountains is one of the best attractions in New Hampshire. You will find this museum on the Plymouth State University Campus, which is in Plymouth, NH. Inside this museum, you will learn a lot about the history of the state, as well as the different cultures. We recommend planning your visit carefully, because this museum is one of the New Hampshire attractions that is closed on Sundays.
19. Visit the American Classic Arcade Museum
The American Classic Arcade Museum is a family friendly attraction in New Hampshire. However, you must be careful if you want to keep this visit completely free. Admission to the museum is free. But you will find yourself paying for any games that you play when you are there.
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20. Explore the Old Man of the Mountain Museum
The Old Man of the Mountain Museum can be found within Franconia State Park. The inside of this museum is filled with old photos and artifacts that share the history of the local mountains, the tramway base station, and how the state has tried to prevent the rock formations from crumbling and getting destroyed.
Expert Tips for Traveling to New Hampshire
There is always something the locals know about their hometowns and states that visitors are not aware of. For these expert tips, we went directly to the source, so you can have the best time when you are visiting New Hampshire.
Book Early for the Fall Season – If you plan to visit New Hampshire to see the fall foliage, you must book your stay well in advance. Everything books quickly for September and October, especially early October when leaves are said to be at their peak most years.
Take a Day Trip to the Atlantic Ocean – Since New Hampshire is so close to the Atlantic Ocean, it is easy to take a day trip there during your visit.
Eat the Seafood – New Hampshire’s location means that they have access to some of the freshest seafood in the world. You must check out some of the local seafood restaurants, so you can try some of the local seafood dishes.
These are the twenty free, or nearly free things to do in New Hampshire. It is easy to budget for a visit to New Hampshire if you have many of these things on your itinerary. If you are ready for your next vacation, we suggest adding New Hampshire and all its beauty to your list of potential destinations.