Family-friendly summer events and activities

Ah, summer — the living is easy. That is, unless you have a house full of kids who are saying in unison, “There’s nothing to do!” Fortunately, that’s no problem in NH, where there is scads to do.

Find fairytale magic at the iconic Story Land in Glen. Photo by Don Himsel.


Start your summer fun at Hampton Beach. Not only is there a whole ocean to play in, there are activities throughout the summer. One of the most fun (for adults too) — the sand sculpting contest in mid-June, where artistes shape 250 tons of imported sand into the most amazing sculptures. Kids will love the annual Children's Festival that takes place from August 14 to 18, 2017.

If state fairs are more your family's style then don't miss the Stratham Fair (July 20-23), the Cheshire Fair (August 3-6) or the Belknap County 4-H Fair (August 12-13).

For more great summer festivals and events including dates and times for 2017, click here.

Educational centers and museums

Next up, go to the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center in Holderness. You can walk the trails and, along the way, see all manner of creatures — raptors, fox, deer, otter, bobcat, mountain lion, coyote and striped skunk among them. Top it off with the Family Cruise on Squam Lake. Extra tip: Don't miss the predator-prey playscape playground — it will be a huge hit for all ages.

Kids who love animals will have fun at Charmingfare Farm in Candia. The farm has a zoo (open from May-September) that features a hands-on petting area, pony rides, horse-drawn rides, visit with the farm animals, events like the Sheep Shearing Day, Teddy Bear Picnic, Reptile Day and much more. Head back here in the fall for foliage and Halloween events.

Do your kids love “Curious George” books? The Rey Center in Waterville Valley is the perfect place to go — the Reys were the book series’ authors. There kids can meet Curious George himself, then create art or explore nature. Storytime is held every Saturday and is open and free for all to attend.

Looking for something to do on rainy days? Visit the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire in Dover. Art, science, culture — it’s all there, packaged for kids’ maximum enjoyment, rainy day or not. Here are more museums from around the state in case the rain decides to stick around for a while.

Kid-friendly exploration and adventure await at Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves in the White Mountains. Once upon a time, massive glaciers slowly ground their way across North America, shaping the land. In Kinsman Notch you can now experience the massive gorge, caves and waterfalls that that long ago journey of ice created. The older kids (and adults) might enjoy the cave exploration on the evening lantern tour while the youngsters (ages 4-12) will have a blast on the hands-on learning adventures. Don't miss a forest adventure trail near the base of the Dilly Cliffs that takes you deep into the woods for a completely different experience along the 750-foot-long boardwalk trail. Spanning the upper gorge is a new 60-foot-long suspension bridge, with access to a treehouse and a bird cage overlook.

Amusement parks and attractions

Head to the mountains and the very-fun Story Land in Glen. The kids will love riding the Roar-o-Saurus, Cinderella’s Pumpkin Coach, Cuckoo Clockenspiel, Buccaneer Pirate Ship and all the rest (21 of them!) of the attractions. Discover some of the secrets and history of this iconic spot with this feature by Darren Garnick.

Looking for more amusement park fun? Enjoy water slides, pool, sprayground and even a zip line at the brand new Candia Springs Adventure Park in Candia. Chucksters in Chichester has it all – aerial adventures, go-karts, a climbing wall, mini-golf and more. Mel's Funway Park in Litchfield also has mini-golf and go-karts plus a batting cage and driving range and indoor entertainment like laser tag and an arcade. Canobie Lake Park in Salem is a must for families. With rollercoasters and other thrilling rides, live shows, games, rides for kids, water rides, food and more, it's a one-stop-shop for summer family fun.

In July, Thomas the Tank Engine fans can take a ride on the Conway Scenic Railroad in North Conway with the legendary Thomas the Tank Engine pulling the train. “Day Out with Thomas” happens July 21-23 and 28-30.

Mountain resorts and adventure parks

Take the kids (ages 3 and older) on one of the most unique slides around – the Alpine Slide at Attitash Mountain Resort in Bartlett. At over a mile long, it's the longest such attraction in North America. You can also ride the Mountain Coaster (also for ages 3 and up), adults and teens can try the freefall jump into the 60-by-60 foot airbag at the Airbag Jump, get cooled off with the outdoor waterslides, the little ones can splash around in Buddy Bear's Playpool and the whole family will enjoy the numerous other summer events and attractions.

Families with kids of all ages will enjoy the Mountain Adventure Park at Cranmore Mountain in North Conway including the Soaring Eagle, which is a zip line with side-by-side seats, the Mountain Coaster, bouncy houses, summer tubing, the thrilling Giant Swing, Spider Mountain where you climb netting on your way to the top, a climbing wall, scenic chairlift rides, a new kids' ropes course and more. The Aerial Adventure Park is a forest of ropes and platforms with five different elevated courses for all ability levels.

Categories: Summer Planner