Adventure Towns: Southwest NH

Our "Adventure Towns" series is all about the basecamp towns. Each has easy access to the great outdoors, a community with a sense of adventure and a culture that values keeping it local. Here's the pick for the southwest area of New Hampshire.

A note from New Hampshire Magazine: Due to the statewide efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, many of the places mentioned here are either closed or officials strongly advise you to avoid them. For instance, popular hiking spots continue to draw large crowds. We hope that when you do go out, you’ll avoid busy places and practice appropriate social distancing. In the meantime, we hope this guide to our state’s adventure towns provides you with the tools to plan a future trip. Until then, stay safe and stay healthy.

There are three things that make up a good adventure town. The first and most obvious being easy access to the outdoors and endless ways to recreate. Second, a community with a sense of adventure that is deeply embedded in the culture, and works collectively to help it thrive.

Lastly, top-notch local brews, because no adventure is complete without a good beer. Yet, truth be told, no matter what you’re sipping on, it all begins and ends with a great adventure town to call home.

In a place like New Hampshire, none of these things are hard to come by, and each region has an outdoor mecca with a brand of fun all its own. Whether you want alpine trails and winding singletrack, a pristine surf break, or acres of backcountry ski glades, there’s a basecamp for you. Oh, and beer. There’s plenty of that too.

Ready to put down roots? Here are the best adventure towns in New Hampshire. See all of the selections: White Mountains, Lakes Region, Great North Woods and Coastal. Read on to learn about the top “adventure town” in the southwest area of the state.


Sunrise On Mountain View Lake, Sunapee, New Hampshire.

The vibe: Four-season adventure hub
The food + drink: The Flying Goose Brew Pub & Grille
The adventure: Hike, swim and ski the mountains and the lakes of Sunapee

A peaceful slice of paradise with plenty of heart-pumping adventures, you’ll have a variety of outdoor endeavors with Sunapee as your basecamp. Despite its southern orientation, what might seem like its edging on the flatlands actually has plenty of elevation to gain year-round.

Hikers can scramble up to the summit of Mount Kearsarge via the Lincoln Trail for a challenging 8-mile-long trek with sweeping views of the state park. If being on the water is more your style, Lake Sunapee’s clear blue waters are where you’ll spend your time swimming, boating or fishing.

During the other half of the year, you can get your turns in at Mount Sunapee, a popular ski resort that boasts the highest vertical drop in southern New Hampshire. Alternatively, Ragged Mountain is just 30 minutes north, where you can slide around on 200+ acres of fun skiable terrain. Note: Check both mountain resort’s websites for information on COVID-19.

If you’re hungry, you’ll fare well at The Flying Goose Brew Pub & Grille. Feast on locally grown and organic dishes while enjoying some local beers. In the summer, you can dine al fresco or get cozy indoors when the temps drop. Note: Beer and food are available for takeout 12-7 p.m. Monday to Sunday at Flying Goose. See more here.

Categories: Destination NH, Relocation Information