New Hampshire’s Best Small Towns

Fredmarple2012 Plainfield InI’ve been asked to hold forth on the best small towns in New Hampshire, but I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because my hometown of Frost Heaves is the crabapple in that particular barrel, and folks figure I have a standard against which to judge a stinker from a blue ribbon winner.

Of course, to pick the best small towns, you have to decide what “best” means. For newcomers or people from away, it could mean a place with quaint boutiques and bistros serving coffee-like beverages that cost more than a new set of mud flaps. For others, it means dirt roads, peace and quiet, and neighbors who won’t bother you unless you’re at death’s door and maybe not even then.

In my travels, I’ve visited town halls, churches and better basements all over the Granite State and have stumbled on a number of grade-A locales that are worth a visit. One of my favorites is Tamworth, which is like a spiffed-up Frost Heaves with a historic summer theater (The Barnstormers) smack in the middle of town.

If you’re looking for sheer beauty and isolation, you’d be hard pressed to beat the town of Landaff, tucked up in the North Country. Then there’s Rumney, which has a lovely common and folks who put on hearty baked bean suppers with some regularity. (Pun absolutely intended.)

There’s nothing plain about Plainfield, where the town hall has a stunning stage backdrop painted by Maxfield Parrish, who once lived there. I’m also partial to Hancock, and not just because the whole of Main Street is on the National Register of Historic Places; it also has an excellent swap shop and has been the inspiration for a number of my stories.

Truth be told, New Hampshire has a host of great small towns. For most of us, the best town is the one we were brought up in, despite its having no particular redeeming qualities. But now we’re talking about Frost Heaves again, and I get teary just thinking about it.

Fred Marple is the main booster of the Town of Frost Heaves, NH, which, rather like Shangri-La, exists only in the minds of himself and a number of “believers” who usually have encountered it by taking a wrong turn in southwest New Hampshire during a blizzard. Visit

Categories: Best Places New Hampshire