40+ NH Museums to Visit This Summer
What to do and where to go when the weather won't cooperate
When the summertime impulse to get out of the house encounters the drearier forces of nature, don't just hunker down in front of a screen. Hit the road and discover the many bright worlds to be explored inside New Hampshire's inner space. Museums, large and small, offer journeys into the past and the future and provide new ways of looking at our state and our planet. And if you are feeling lucky, pack a picnic lunch, 'cause you never know when the sun might break through.
North Country museums
New England Ski Museum
Route 16, North Conway, NH
Hours: Open daily from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
About: The New England Ski Museum in North Conway (the Eastern Slope Branch) houses a history of skiing.
The Frost Place
158 Ridge Rd., Franconia, NH
Hours: Opens for the season on Memorial Day weekend and closes the week after Columbus Day. Museum hours and days of operation vary by season. The museum grounds, the poetry trail, and Robert Frost's porch are always open to the public.
About: Simple country cottage where Robert Frost and his family spent summers and lived full time from 1915 to 1920. The cottage has a half-mile nature trail with plaques displaying poems written during the poet's Franconia years and a small exhibit of signed first-editions of Frost's work.
Old Man of the Mountain Museum
Franconia State Park, Franconia, NH
Hours: Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.
About: The stone face might be gone, but his memory lives on in this small museum, located in the Cannon Mountain aerial tramway base station, with an Old Man gift shop (open from Memorial Day Weekend to Columbus Day) and a display of photos and artifacts. The collection includes the turnbuckle used to fasten the Old Man to the mountain when the stone face was crumbling.
Hartmann Model Railroad and Train Museum
Route 16/302, 15 Town Hall Rd., Intervale, NH
Hours: Open daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. in July and August and open Fridays through Mondays from September through June.
About: Massive operating model train layout in G-Z scale wending through villages over bridges and trestles. The museum grew out of the youthful collection of Roger Hartmann, who has added to his collection through international travel.
Gorham Historical Society and Railroad Museum
25 Railroad St., Gorham, NH
Hours: Open Wednesday through Saturday from Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
About: Situated in a 1907 depot, this museum contains memorabilia of the Grand Trunk Railroad including a 1949 F-7 B&M diesel locomotive, two 1929 boxcars, a 1951 Russell snow plow, a 1924 boxcar and a 1942 caboose.
Mt. Washington Observatory Museum
Summit of Mt. Washington
Hours: Open from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. from May 1-September 30 and open from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. from October 1-April 30, weather permitting.
Admission: Adults are $2, children ages 7 to 17 are $1 and children ages 6 and under are
About: Displays of weather on the state's highest peak and the geological history of the Presidential Range. Among the displays are alpine flowers preserved in resin. You can also check out "Extreme Mount Washington," featuring exhibits that will provide interactive ways for visitors to experience the wintery wonders of the tallest mountain in the Northeast.
- Did you know that for decades the summit of Mt. Washington held the record for the highest wind speed ever recorded, 231 miles per hour clocked in 1934? The record stood until 1996 when a wind speed of 253 miles per hour was recorded on Barrow Island in Australia during Typhoon Olivia.
The Poore Family Farm
Lakes Region museums
Remick Country Doctor Museum and Farm
58 Cleveland Hill Rd., Tamworth, NH
Hours: Open April 1, 2018 through December 1, 2018, Monday–Saturday from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Closed Sundays.
Admission: $5 per person and children ages 4 and under are free. Fridays are free for Tamworth residents.
About: You can see a working farm with sheep, goats, cows, steers, oxen, chickens and turkeys. There's an exhibit on farm life and career of three generations of the Remick Family of country doctors who served the local community. Their entire medical office and exam room are on display. Guided tours are conducted daily on horse-drawn wagon, sled or sleigh.
Poore Family Homestead Historic Farm Museum
101 Route 145, Stewartstown, NH
Hours: Open June through September 30, Friday-Sunday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Suggested admission: $5 per person and children under 12 are free.
About: A working farm and museum recounting one farm family's life on the property from the 1830s through the 1980s.
- Did you know that the most lucrative period of farming in New Hampshire was during the sheep farming boom from 1810-1830?
New Hampshire Boat Museum
399 Center St., Wolfeboro, NH
Hours: Open Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day weekend. Open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday from 12-4 p.m.
Admission: Adults are $7; seniors (65+) are $5; children ages 7-17 are $3; family pass (2 adults and 2 children) is $17
About: Displays of historic and contemporary power boats, canoes and other watercraft used on local lakes.
The Wright Museum
The Wright Museum
77 Center St., Wolfeboro, NH
Hours: Open May 1-October 31, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Monday-Saturday and 12-4 p.m. on Sunday. Closed November through April, except by appointment.
Admission: Adults are $10; military and seniors are $8; children ages 5-17 are $6; and children under 4 are free.
About: Exhibit of World War II memorabilia, including tanks, posters, home front exhibits and other art and artifacts from the Greatest Generation.
American Classic Arcade Museum
Funspot, 579 Endicott St. North, Laconia, NH
Hours: Labor Day to mid-June are 9 a.m.-11 p.m. and until midnight on Saturdays. From mid-June to Labor Day hours are 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m.-midnight on Saturday.
About: Claims to have the largest collection of vintage working arcade games in the world.
- Did you know that the cult film "King of Kong" was filmed at Funspot, the site of the arcade museum?
Harold S. Gilman Museum
Rt. 140 and Main St., Alton, NH
Hours: Open by appointment only.
About: Harold S. Gilman left his collections of guns, buttons, furniture, dolls and photographs to the town. Exhibit includes a rare Regina music box. This varied collection offers insights into the domestic life of nineteenth century Americans and the business and family relationships of Alton families.
New Hampshire Farm Museum
1305 White Mountain Hwy., Milton, NH
Hours: Open to the public Memorial Day to mid-June, weekends only from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. From late June to Labor Day, open Wednesday-Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Open Labor Day-late October, Friday-Sunday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Adults, $7, children age 4-17, $4; seniors and students, $6; family rate, $20.
About: Learn about three centuries of New Hampshire farm life at this working farm. Special events include New Hampshire Dairy Day, June 23, where you can get up close to a cow and a dairy goat, enjoy a hayride around the farm, take a special barn tour focused on dairy farming, help churn cream into butter, learn about cheese making and enjoy free New Hampshire-made ice cream.
Lake Winnipesaukee Museum
503 Endicott St., Laconia, NH
About: Exhibit includes vintage souvenir postcards, photographs and memorabilia of summer camps and steamboats.
- Did you know that at one time there were more than 100 summer boys and girls camps on Lake Winnipesaukee, the majority run by educators interested in the physical and moral health of youth? There are now about two dozen camps left.
755 North Main Street, Wolfeboro, NH
Hours: Open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. from June 1 through Labor Day, except Mondays. Open Sundays from 12-4 p.m.
About: A natural history museum built in 1912 by local dentist Henry Libby includes mounted animals, Abenaki Indian artifacts and more.
The Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum
Concord Area museums
New Hampshire Telephone Museum
22 East Main St., Warner, NH
Hours: Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Admission: $7 per person; seniors (60+) are $6; school-age children are $3 and military members are free.
About: View a collection of telephones, equipment and tools from the very first telephones to the latest wireless devices. Display includes hand-cranked magneto boxes familiar to viewers of old movies – you know, "call me on the Don Ameche."
- Did you know that until the New England Hurricane of 1938 small, private telephone companies were common in New Hampshire? It was only after all those trees fell that Bell Telephone bought them out and prospered.
Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum
18 Highlawn Rd., Warner, NH
Hours: Open daily from May 1 to October 31. Open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 12-5 p.m.
Admission: Adults are $9; seniors and students are $8; children ages 6-12 are $7 and children under 6 are free. Native Americans are free.
About: View exhibits of Native Americana – dioramas, clothing and crafts as well as teepee mockup and a nature trail highlighting plants used for medicine and native American rituals.
The Aviation Museum of New Hampshire. Photo by Kevin Harkins
Manchester Area museums
SEE Science Center
200 Bedford St., Manchester, NH
Hours: Open seven days a week, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission: $9 per person ages 3 and up.
About: Includes hands-on exhibits about light, sound, electricity and simple machines. There is also a model of the Amoskeag millyard made from three million LEGOs on permanent display.
200 Bedford St., Manchester, NH
Hours: Open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Admission: Adults are $8; seniors and college students are $6; children age 12-18 are $4; and under 12 are free.
About: On permanent display is "Woven in time: 11,000 Years at Amoskeag Falls." Amoskeag Mills was one of the largest textile mills in the world and employed more than 17,000 people at its peak. The museum houses the over 600,000 documents and artifacts from the Manchester Historical Society, from neon shoe store signs to textile looms.
Aviation Museum of New Hampshire
13 East Perimeter Rd., Londonderry, NH
Hours: Open Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m.- 4 p. m. and on Sunday from 1-4 p.m.
Admission: Adults are $5; seniors are $4; children 12-16 are $2.50; under 12 are free; veterans are $4; max family price is $15.
About: Airplane models, photographs and memorabilia of Granite State's history in the air. The museum is housed in the original Art Deco terminal building built in 1937.
- Did you know the terminal building was one of only two structures in the United States moved across a working runway?
American Credit Union Museum
418 Notre Dame Ave., Manchester, NH
Hours: Open Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. or by appointment.
About: The museum was the former dwelling of Joseph Boivin, manager of the St. Mary's Cooperative Credit Association, with period offices and exhibits on the history of the credit union.
- Did you know that St. Mary's Cooperative Credit Association was the first credit union in the country? It was founded by Monsignor Pierre Hevey and his Manchester parishioners in 1908.
The Seacoast Science Center
Seacoast Area museums
9 Market Square, Portsmouth, NH
Hours: Open Tuesday through Saturday from 1 p.m.-4 p.m.
About: Genealogy, maritime history, biographies and Civil War memorabilia are featured here.
Seacoast Science Center
570 Ocean Boulevard, Rye, NH
Hours: Open daily from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Admission: Ages 13 and above are $10; seniors and active military are $8; ages 3-12 are $5; and under 3 are free.
About: Hands-on tidal pool, fish tanks and exhibits of the Seacoast. The 32-foot-long skeleton of a humpback whale hangs from the museum's ceiling.
- Did you know that the heart of the average humpback whale weighs 430 pounds – about as much as three adult humans?
Children's Museum of New Hampshire
6 Washington St., Dover, NH
Hours: Open Tuesday – Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday from 12-5 p.m.
Admission: $10 for adults and children over age 1; seniors (65+) are $9.
About: Check out hands-on learning and fun for all ages. Climb through caves, discover dinosaurs and learn to fly. There are also numerous ongoing STEAM innovation programs as well as special events.
Derry History Museum
29 West Broadway, Derry, NH
Hours: Open Sunday 1-5 p.m.
About: This local potpourri includes Native American artifacts like a dugout canoe and a quill basket. There's also a room devoted to native son, astronaut Alan Shepard, and a rock artifact commemorating the growing of the first potato in North America in town in 1719.
40 Park Ave., Hampton, NH
Hours: Open in the spring, summer and fall on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday from 1 p.m.-4 p.m.
Admission: Free but donations are appreciated.
About: Exhibit of millstones, monuments, a fire station museum, old postcards and memorabilia of this seaside town first settled by Puritans in 1638. Collection includes the Viking's Stone thought by some to be a relic of an early visit to the area by Norsemen.
Woodman Institute Museum
182 Central Avenue, Dover, NH
Hours: Open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Admission: Adults are $13; senior citizens are $10; students 13-college and active military are $9; children 4-12 are $7; and children 3 and under are free.
About: Eclectic collection of local art artifacts including 1,300 labeled rocks and minerals and a 10-foot tall polar bear. Exhibit also includes the last cougar killed in the state, in 1843.
- Did you know that the last cougar in the state was killed in 1843?
Vaughn Cottage Museum and Library
Stone Cottage, Star Island, Isles of Shoals
Hours: Open 1-3 p.m. daily in the summer through Labor Day.
Admission: Free but it involves a ferry ride from Portsmouth to Star Island.
About: Artifacts often displayed include the pottery and works of Celia Thaxter, photographs of the islands throughout time, maps, and ephemera from the original Oceanic Hotel. The library contains a small collection of books both historical and contemporary, and provides a quiet space for people to relax.
Did you know surplus World War II carrier pigeons provided communication about dinner guests between the Isles of Shoals and the mainland before telephone service arrived?
American Independence Museum
1 Governors Lane, Exeter, NH
Hours: Open May 1 through November on Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.
Admission: $6 for adults; $5 for seniors; $3 for children and students ages six and up.
About: Permanent collections include American furnishings, ceramics, silver, textiles and military ephemera. The museum was founded in 1991 to display rare Dunlap Broadside of the Declaration of Independence found on the property in 1985. Don't miss the American Independence Festival on July 14, 2018.
USS Albacore Museum Albacore Park
600 Market St., Portsmouth, NH
Hours: Open daily from 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Admission: Adults are $8; children age 7-17 are $3; children under 7 and active military are free.
About: Take a hands-on tour of submarine built in at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. You can sit on the bunks and tables in the cramped quarters and even check out the traffic on Route 1 Bypass through the periscope.
- Did you know that the USS Albacore was an experimental submarine built expressly for speed in 1953? Fish were used as a model. The vessel ship has a cod's head and a mackerel's tail.
Monadnock Area museums
Mariposa Museum and World Culture Center
26 Main St., Peterborough, NH
Hours: Open Tuesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Admission: Adults are $8; seniors are $6; children ages 3-16 are $5.
About: An interactive museum of artifacts from around the world including drums, costumes, chimes and marionettes in a historic Baptist church. Make sure to visit the outdoor zen garden.
Florence H. Speare Memorial Museum
5 Abbott St., Nashua, NH
Hours: Open Tuesday-Thursday, 10a.m.-3 p.m. and on Saturdays by appointment.
About: Operated by the Nashua Historical Society this small museum features Industrial Age artifacts, an impressive selection of historical textiles and rotating exhibits.
Horatio Colony Museum and Nature Preserve
199 Main St., Keene, NH
Hours: Open May 1 through October 15 on Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
About: The four-square Federal-style house built in 1806 was the home of Horatio Colony, descendant of one of Keene's historic families and is filled with original family furnishings.
Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee museums
The Aidron Duckworth Art Museum
21 Bean Rd., Meriden, NH
Hours: Open April 28 – October 28 on Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
About: This museum is dedicated to preserving and presenting the artworks of Aidron Duckworth. The building, Meriden's former "White School," was an elementary school from 1940 to 1972. From 1977 to 2001 it was Duckworth's home and studio, and a for a brief time his art school for adults. You'll also find works from guest artists, four changing exhibitions each year, and sculpture outdoors on the former school grounds and Duckworth's gardens.
The Fells Historic Estate and Gardens
456 Route 103A, Newbury, NH
Hours: House, trails and garden hours vary. Click here for complete details.
Admission: Adults are $10; seniors and students are $8; children ages 6-17 are $4; and ages 5 and under are free.
About: The Fells spans across 83 acres of beauty and tranquility. Visitors can learn the legacy of diplomat and statesman John Milton Hay, tour the 22-room Colonial Revival home, explore the forests, walk the woodland trails and enjoy the renowned gardens. The Fells is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a preservation project of The Garden Conservancy.
The Hood Downtown
53 Main St., Hanover, NH
Hours: Open on Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday from 1 p.m.-5 p.m.; closed on Monday and Tuesday.
About: While the Hood Museum of Art is closed for a major expansion, visit this new contemporary art gallery space on Main Street in Hanover.
New Hampshire is home to some amazing destination museums – that is a museum around which you'd plan a whole outing. Some have on-site cafés and restaurants, concerts and recitals and impressive gift shops. They include:
Currier Museum of Art
150 Ash St., Manchester, NH
Hours: Open year round. Sunday, Monday, Wednesday-Friday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. The museum is closed on Tuesdays.
Admission: Adults are $15; senior (65+) are $13, students are $10; youth (13-17) are $5. On the second Saturday of each month, NH residents receive from admission from 10 a.m. until noon.
About: The Currier is considered to be one of the best small museums in the country and includes European and American paintings, decorative arts, photographs and sculpture, including works by Picasso, Monet, O'Keeffe and Wyeth. The museum also offers tours of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Zimmerman House, and has an on-site café, The Winter Garden.
New Hampshire Historical Society
30 Park Street, Concord, NH
Hours: Open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Admission: $7 for ages 18 and older.
About: The New Hampshire Historical Society's museum includes a Concord Coach, 19th century paintings of the White Mountains, Abenaki artifacts and the "mystery stone" (don't ask, you'll have to visit). The museum even has a re-creation of a fire lookout tower on the roof with a magnificent view of the Merrimack River as it corkscrews its way north.
Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site
139 Saint Gaudens Rd., Cornish, NH
Hours: Open Memorial Day weekend through October 31 from 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Admission: $10 for ages 16 and over. The receipt is valid for seven days and may be used for re-entry to the park. Children 15 and under are free.
About: This is the home, studios and gardens of famed American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The site also has summer concerts, nature trails and sculpture classes. Did you know that Augustus Saint-Gaudens was the first sculptor to design an American coin? The $20 gold piece he designed in 1907 at the request of Theodore Roosevelt is known as a "Saint-Gaudens" by coin collectors. Click here for our guide to the Saint-Gaudens estate plus a history of the artist's life.
Strawbery Banke Museum
14 Hancock St., Portsmouth, NH
Hours: Open 7 days a week from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. from May through October. Tickets are valid for two consecutive days.
Admission: Adult are $19.50; children ages 5-17 are $9; children under 5 are free; families (2 adults and 2 kids) are $48.00.
About: This 10-acre site was the location of the first Portsmouth settlement in 1630 and continued to be a residential area until the 1960s. The restored buildings represent over 300 years of our state and our nation's history. There are gifts shops and a full-service restaurant. Special events include a special Fourth of July celebration with a children's bike and wagon parade, traditional games and crafts, historic garden tours, live music, living history, hands-on activities and refreshments.
The Dwelling House at the Canterbury Shaker Village.
Canterbury Shaker Village
288 Shaker Rd., Canterbury, NH
Hours: Open May 5 through September 2 on Tuesday – Sunday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; open daily September 3 through October 28 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; and open weekends from November 3 through December from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Admission: Adults are $19; children ages 6-17 are $9; children ages 5 and under are free; families (2 adults and 2 or more children, ages 6 to 17) are $45.
About: Canterbury Shaker Village is a tribute to the 200-year history of the Canterbury Shakers with 25 restored original Shaker buildings, four reconstructed Shaker buildings and 694 acres of forests, fields, gardens, nature trails and mill ponds. On site is one of the best museum gift shops in the state and The Shaker Box Lunch & Farm Stand offering sandwiches, salads, soups, baked goods and local products. In addition to the farm stand, the Shaker Table restaurant is back serving lunch to guests three days a week. This is due to a partnership the Lakes Region Community College’s Culinary Arts program.
Enfield Shaker Museum
Rte. 4A, Enfield, NH
Admission: Adults are $12; ages 11-17 are $8, children 6 to 10 are $3; and children 5 and under are free.
About: Canterbury was not the state's only Shaker village, one also once thrived on Mascoma Lake in Enfield. Thirteen of the original buildings still survive and the Great Stone Dwelling, the largest structure ever built by the sect, is now a museum. The collection includes clothing, furniture, tools and photographs of the earnest agriculturists. The museum also has an extensive herb and flower garden.
McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center
2 Institute Dr., Concord, NH
Hours: Open all year, but hours vary due to seasons and school vacation weeks. See a complete list of hours here.
Admission: Adults are $11.50; children ages 3-12 are $8.50; students 13-college are $10.50; and seniors (62+) are $10.50.
About: Foster a sense of wonder and curiosity about astronomy, aviation, earth and space science with the center's many exhibits, activities, planetarium and more. The museum part of the Discovery Center includes a wonderful collection of interactive exhibits kids (and adults!) will love to explore. There are also a number of programs and events scheduled throughout the year.
- Did you know that when New Hampshire's own Alan Shepard became the first American in space in 1961, his 302-mile trip took only 15 minutes?
Museum of the White Mountains
17 High St., Plymouth, NH
Hours: Open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Closed Sundays.
About: Opened in February of 2013, this relatively new museum is located on the Plymouth State University campus. The museum's mission is to preserve, celebrate and promote the history, environmental legacy and culture of the region.