The Best Places in NH (for Everyone in Your Life)

Recommendations on where to go and what to do from our local experts, the Granite State Ambassadors

This list was compiled by the NH Granite State Ambassadors with special thanks to Emily Goulet

Gsalogohighres RgbSpring is here and hope beckons. Maybe soon, maybe even now, we can begin to chip our way out of the shells we’ve been in since the beginning of the pandemic. Was it just a year ago? Seems like a generation, but all that time spent in our bubbles will just make it that much sweeter when we re-encounter and re-embrace the wondrous attractions of the Granite State.

We all have places we can’t wait to see again, but to really open up the whole state to exploration, we’ve asked our state’s official volunteer representatives of fun and adventure to set a course of rediscovery.

And the timing is good, because that stalwart group, known as the NH Granite State Ambassadors, is celebrating its 25th year of greeting, orienting and advising folks from near and far on where to go to get the most out of our rich mosaic of experiences for everyone.

And to truly target “everyone,” we’ve posed a few of the types of questions our Ambassadors regularly handle. Like, where are the best spots in all parts of the state for:

  • Pet-Friendly (PF)
  • Family-Friendly (FF)
  • Healthy Seniors (HS)
  • Wheelchair Accessible (WA)

The attractions listed in this article have something for everyone because they represent the insights of a quarter of a century of advising, informing and encouraging people to find and appreciate all the best that the Granite State has to offer.

Click here to meet your local experts.

The Cities: (Nashua, Concord and Manchester)

Vintage 1956 Xf8u 2 Crusader Jet

“The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord not only houses a planetarium but has a variety of exhibits focusing on a variety of Space Age events, including a replica of Alan Shepard’s Mercury capsule and Redstone rocket.  Recently acquired exhibits include a virtual fish tank and the Mount Washington Observatory’s Weather Discovery Center.” – Nicholas Wallner, NH Granite State Ambassador
FF, HS, WA

Canterbury Shaker Village has 30 historic Shaker buildings, walking trails and tours to explore. One can enjoy numerous workshops, demonstrations, and see extensive collections of Shaker furniture and crafts.
FF, HS, WA

Benson Park in Hudson is a 166-acre, passive recreational spot open to the public. Full of rich history, Benson Park was once home to Benson’s Wild Animal Farm, opened in 1924. Amenties include paved walking trials, a playground area and dog park (at right), renovated outbuildings of the original animal farm, park benches, picnic areas and several woodland trails.” – Linda Duquette, NH Granite State Ambassador
PF, FF, HS, WA

In the quaint town of Warner, you’ll find the NH Telephone Museum and the Mount Kearsarge Indian Museum. The telephone museum has several hundred artifacts related to the telephone industry, including all types of phones, switchboards, cell phones, and line equipment.  Nearby is the Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum with a variety of displays on artifacts and history along with their Medicine Woods walking trail. On the Medicine Woods trail, guests can learn about the ways Natives historically used plants for food, medicine, dye, shelter and tools.  After these two museums, a quick drive up Mountain Road is recommended to access the top of Mt Kearsarge for a spectacular view of the region.
FF, HS, WA

Manchester is New Hampshire’s largest city and offers all the amenities of big city living. The Queen City offerings include fine and casual dining, cultural venues, such as the Currier Museum of Art and the Palace Theatre, Millyard Museum as well as sport and entertainment destinations, such SNHU Arena and the Fisher Cats stadium.
FF, HS, WA

While you’re in the heart of the Queen City, make sure to bring the kids and grandkids to the SEE Science Center, where you should plan to spend 3-4 hours learning and exploring with hands-on exhibits for all ages.
FF, HS


The Seacoast

Sea you there: The Seacoast may be New Hampshire’s smallest area, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for with its beaches, museums, unique shops and restaurants near the waterfront, historic homes and lots of recreational activities, such as Water Country, the Seacoast Science Center and Atlantic Whale Watch and Island Cruises.

Morning Sightseeing Off White Island

Take a cruise out to the Isles of Shoals and enjoy the day on Star Island.
PF, FF, HS, WA

“I recommend the Strawbery Banke Museum and Prescott Park at the Portsmouth waterfront. The Museum boasts 300-plus years of American history on the harbor. Portsmouth is known for being one of the oldest settlements in the country and having a rich history, particularly in the maritime trade and its part in the Revolutionary War.” – Tricia Berger, NH Granite State Ambassador
PF, FF, HS, WA

While in the Port City, be sure to make a stop at the large patio at Cisco Brewers for a cold, refreshing beer or a scoop (or two!) at Annabelle’s Natural Ice Cream.
PF, FF

Hampton Beach has a beachfront with a young-children-focused playground, and in the summertime has weekly fireworks and evening performances at the Hampton Beach Shell. Several of the state and local beaches along the coast in Hampton, North Hampton, Rye and New Castle have sandy beaches with facilities. There is easy wheelchair beach access at North Beach in Hampton along the seawall, including nearby restrooms.” – Joe Distefano, NH Granite State Ambassador
FF, HS, WA

Odiorne Point State Park in Rye provides walking paths, tide pools, beach walking, and three WWII artillery bunkers, as well as a sea kayak launching area.
FF, HS

Ready to get out explore? The seacoast area offers a wide variety of dog parks, family walking trails and places to unwind. Here are a few favorites:

  • Got a dog? Head to the Kingston Dog Park or the Long Hill Dog Park in Dover where you’ll find a fenced-in, off-leash park where people and their dogs can socialize and exercise in a clean, safe environment.
  • For a picnic first and adventure second mentality, there’s no better place than Stratham Hill Park because of the trails, fire towers to climb and spacious picnic area.
  • While you’re walking around Portsmouth, be sure to swing by Four Tree Island with views of the Piscataqua River and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
  • The newly rebuilt Memorial Bridge has safe pedestrian access from Portsmouth, NH to Kittery, ME
  • Hungry for a picnic? Swasey Parkway in Exeter is a beautiful park with gazebo and benches on the Squamscott River where you can take in the historic and picturesque Town of Exeter.

Great Island Commons Park in New Castle is a great alternative to your typical day at the beach. This 32 acre beach and park includes picnic areas, walking paths, a playground, lighthouse views and a spacious lawn for yard games and lounging.
FF, HS, WA

Not far from Great Island Commons, you’ll find the Fort Stark State Historic Site and Fort Constitution Historic Site.
FF, HS, WA


The White Mountains and Areas North

Go wild: The White Mountains are all about experiencing the area’s many outdoor adventures.

Lostriver

Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves, located in North Woodstock, include a 750-foot-long boardwalk, a forest treehouse with life-size animal carvings and a giant bird’s nest lookout — all are great for exploring.
PF, FF, HS

Alpine Adventures in Lincoln offers a zipline through the forest, off-road in a Swiss army vehicle, and several challenging obstacle courses. Pick your favorite activity to take you out of your everyday element.” – Mary O’Brien, NH Granite State Ambassador
FF, HS

Take the whole family for a ride on the Conway Scenic Railroad.
FF, HS, WA

Leashed pets are allowed on any trail in the White Mountains or New Hampshire State Parks.
PF, FF, HS

The historic The Rocks Estate in Bethlehem is both a landmark historic property and Christmas Tree Farm that plays host to the North Country Conservation & Education Center for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. There are plenty of year-round, pet-friendly trails to explore on this 1,400-acre property.
PF, FF, HS

Bethlehem also features not one, but two amazing golf courses in town. Those looking to perfect their golf swing can visit either The Maplewood Golf Course or the Bethlehem Country Club for an active day in the great outdoors.
HS

Test your skill at the shooting gallery and catch a bear show at Clark’s Bears in Lincoln. This popular attraction features a black bear show, a steam train ride, five museums, Segway park and world-class circus performers.
FF, HS, WA

The White Mountains are home to a number of family-friendly and wheelchair accessible trails, including:

  • Lincoln Woods Trail includes a suspension bridge over the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River. The trail follows an abandoned railroad bed on the west side of the river.  This easy-grade trail is also a shady, wide trail.
  • Livermore Trail in Waterville Valley is an old logging road with a level grade. The trail is shady and off-limits to motorized vehicles.
  • Discovery Interpretive Trail, just outside Lincoln, is a 1.4 mile loop. It is a living classroom in forest ecology with areas that are clearly labeled with a description of each area of the walk.

The Connecticut River and Monadnock Region

Take a hike: If you like hiking and walking the trails, you’ll find plenty of options, at all skill levels.

Mount Monadnock is a rugged climb over rocks and through woods. Most trails are only about 21/2 miles long and allow wonderful views to Boston, Cape Cod, the Whites, the Berkshires and the Green Mountains on clear days. No dogs are allowed on most trails. For those looking for a less challenging hike, or for those with young children, try the Rails to Trails in Hancock and Harrisville and Greater Keene, and gentler climbs at Gap and Little Monadnock, South Pack Monadnock/Miller State Park, Wapack Trail and the south side of Crotched Mountain.” — Gretchen Ziegler, NH Granite State Ambassador
FF, HS

Crotched Mountain has over 4 miles of fully accessible mountain trails. This is the longest trail network of its kind in the US, offering everyone — regardless of physical ability — the chance to explore this beautiful area. For those with disabilities or anyone who has trouble getting around, the gently sloping mountain trails are able to accommodate wheelchairs, powerchairs and other means of assistance. To find more accessible trails around the state, visit traillink.com.
PF, FF, HS, WA

Ice cream at Kimball’s in Jaffrey or Walpole Creamery in Walpole and Keene are the best! Really — they are both regular Best of NH winners.
PF, FF, HS, WA

The Harris Center for Conservation Education in Hancock has miles of trails to explore and the staff is highly qualified and enjoy sharing what they know.
PF, FF, HS

Greenfield State Park offers a wide variety of amenities, including: beaches for swimming, boat rentals, camping, walking trails and fishing.
PF, FF, HS


The Lakes Region

Love lake life: The Lakes Region is ideal for bikers, hikers, swimmers, watersports and summer theatre — or for those looking to just relax and chill.

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End of a beautiful day on the lake with family and friends. What could be better? S’mores, anyone?

“I’d suggest packing a picnic, and do not forget the leash and poo bags if you bring a dog (and bring plenty of water with you). Then head for Squam Lake and take a hike up the Rattlesnake Mountain trail. This is a very popular route that is a little over a 2-mile round-trip loop of moderate difficulty that rises over 900 feet in elevation and offers a spectacular view of the Squam lake region. It is definitely worth the hike.” – Roberta Wells, NH Granite State Ambassador
PF, FF, HS

“Visiting the Squam Lake Science Center is a must.  Take a walk through meadows, forest and marsh boardwalk to see exhibits where native animals such as bobcats, raptors, otters and bears live.  Afterwards, take a discovery cruise on Squam Lake where you might spy loons or bald eagles.  You can also stay for a nice lunch at Walter’s Basin where you can see the boat traffic go by outside the restaurant windows.” – Roberta Wells, NH Granite State Ambassador

If you are looking for a hidden gem, make your way to Tarbin Gardens in Franklin. There are 5 acres of gardens to wander through and enjoy. The gardens are also accessible to motorized scooters and wheelchairs. Children will enjoy chasing butterflies and meeting the barnyard animals while adults will enjoy the tranquility and artistry of nature.
FF, HS, WA

No matter where you go or what you do here in the Lakes Region, you will be met with inclusivity and a friendly, helpful face. Full Circle Farm Therapeutic Horsemanship in Newport offers mounted and unmounted activities to individuals of all abilities.” – Ashlee Rowley, NH Granite State Ambassador
FF, HS, WA

“The whole family can a unique way to see some of the islands of Lake Winnipesaukee by taking a ride on the oldest floating post office in the country, the Sophie C. U.S. Mail Boat. Narrated cruises travel from island to island, delivering mail along the way, as you enjoy the scenery and learn about life on the lake and some unique mailboat traditions as you sail along.” – Roberta Wells, NH Granite State Ambassador
FF, HS, WA

Castle in the Clouds in Moultonborough is mountaintop estate with a 1913 mansion on 5,500 acres with lake views, hiking trails and a restaurant. Spend the day touring the castle, hiking its trails, enjoying horseback riding, dining on the terrace, and admiring a view like no other.
FF, HS, WA

Enjoy a cruise on the big lake aboard the M/S Mount Washington.
FF, HS, WA


Meet the Granite State Ambassador experts

For a quick history of the Granite State ambassadors, click here.

Linda Duquette

Linda Duquette

Manchester and Nashua Area Ambassador
Volunteer Service Hours: 215

Linda Duquette has lived in Derry for 41 years. Prior to that, she lived in North Andover, Massachusetts, and worked in Andover, Massachusetts, at Royal Philips Medical Systems as an administrative assistant after a time working in collections. She has been retired for five years, and loves to hike rail trails. “These are all beautiful walking trails, with lovely views and very pet-friendly. Also, if you like to bike ride, these trails are perfect,” she says.

Nicholas Wallner

Nickwallner

Concord Area Ambassador
Volunteer Service Hours: 1,608

Nicholas Wallner was in the US Diplomatic Corps, and spent his first 12 years overseas in France, Brazil and Yugoslavia. He graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a degree in International relations, and worked for 46 years for the American Automobile Association as the manager of the Concord branch. Upon retirement three years ago, he became a NH Granite State Ambassador. He’s active in the Kiwanis Club, chairs the Concord Everett Arena committee, is a ward clerk, a member of the Concord zoning board, and chairs the NH Soccer Association disciplinary committee. He’s hiked all of the state’s 48 4,000-footers.

Tricia Berger 

TriciabergerPortsmouth and the Seacoast Ambassador
Volunteer Service Hours: 195

Tricia Berger comes from a family of seven children and grew up in the Manchester area. After working in the legal field and then managing a law practice for a real estate and business attorney for 10 years, she returned to her roots in New Hampshire in 2017.  “I am so happy to be back in our beautiful state after so many years away, and I have a whole new appreciation for New Hampshire’s beautiful parks, the arts and culture here,” she says. Berger joined the Exeter Area Chamber of Commerce as an Ambassador and was voted “Ambassador of the Year” for 2020. She is a justice of the peace for Rockingham County. “There is nothing more rewarding than contributing to and making a difference for others in our communities,” says Berger.

Joe Distefano 

Joe Distefano2Portsmouth and the Seacoast Ambassador
Volunteer Service Hours: 584

Joe Distefano is a retired engineer, city planner and computer mapper. After living in Nashua for 45 years, he retired and moved to the Seacoast where he discovered the region’s storied and historical past. As a GSA he volunteers at the Seabrook Welcome Center to help visitors explore and learn about New Hampshire and some of its little-known but important participation in America’s pre-revolutionary and revolutionary history. He enjoys meeting people from near and far, and is excited to help them enjoy their time at the New Hampshire seacoast.

Mary O’Brien 

Mary O BrienWhite Mountains and Northern Region Ambassador
Volunteer Service Hours: 986

In the ’70s and ’80s, Mary O’Brien lived in southern New Hampshire and loved the easy pace and friendly people. When she retired a few years ago, she wanted the same feeling, so she ended up farther north in the White Mountains. The Granite State Ambassadors have allowed her to enjoy the full beauty of the state, both with its natural expanse and the many activities that you can enjoy. “I love the variety of programs that GSA offers to its members that allow them to explore and discover New Hampshire,” she says. “Greeting the many guests that come to New Hampshire and helping them explore the White Mountains area is a joy!”

Gretchen Ziegler 

Gretchen Ziegler2Connecticut River Region Ambassador
Volunteer Service Hours: 2,000

Gretchen Ziegler is professor emeritus of recreation management, business administration, and geology at Franklin Pierce University where she was on faculty from 1980-2012. She’s past president of the NH Campground Owners Association, NH Travel Council, Monadnock Travel Council (which she co-founded) and a former board chair of Cathedral of the Pines. She owned and managed the Field ‘n Forest Recreation Area from 1977-2012 and serves as current board chair of the Granite State Ambassadors.

Roberta Wells 

Roberta WellsLakes Region Ambassador
Volunteer Service Hours: 250

Roberta Wells moved to Londonderry in 2015. While making friends and meeting new people in her community, she learned several of them belonged to and volunteered for an organization known as the Granite State Ambassadors, and they encouraged Wells to look into joining herself. So in May of 2019, she took the training course at the Hotel Concord and started her GSA journey. She volunteers at the information booth at the MHT airport and has also volunteered at special events such as the Made In New England Expo and a historic tour of the Pine Grove Cemetery in conjunction with the Manchester Historic Association.  She is also a blog contributor to the GSA newsletter, sharing her discoveries she makes while visiting new places as she and her husband tour around the state.

Ashlee Rowley 

Ashlee RowleySunapee Region Ambassador
Volunteer Service Hours: 65

Ashlee Rowley is dedicated to promoting the Lake Sunapee Region as the best-kept secret of the state. As director for the Lake Sunapee Region Chamber of Commerce, she has found a passion in assisting small businesses connect with local and state resources, and other like-minded businesses, residents and travelers from all across the globe. Originally from Massachusetts, she received her business and leadership degree from New England College in Henniker. Rowley owns and operates Dance Arts Academy in Sunapee. She’s the 2020 Lake Sunapee Region Young Professional of the Year and the recipient of the 2020 Center Manager Award through the Granite State Ambassadors.

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