Twenty Things to Do in the NH White Mountain Region
Thinking about spending some time in the White Mountain Region? This area of the state is immensely popular for summer tourists and winter sports enthusiasts. The White Mountain Region offers an endless list of attractions and we can't possibly cover them all here. But, we'll take the back roads, and discover some of the "other" great things that this region has to offer while we also point out the things you just have to do while you are here. We've picked out Twenty Things to Do in the White Mountain Region to get you started. For a more expanded list of ideas, see our list of the 101 Things to Do in NH.
The Cog Climb
The Mount Washington Cog Railway (a National Historic Engineering Landmark) is an unforgettable experience. The ride to the top of Mount Washington (elev. 6,288'), is one-of-a-kind, featuring some of the steepest tracks that exist in the world. It is the Cog's patented construction that allows it to make the 37% grade to the summit, making the people at the front of the train 14' higher than those in the back during the ascent. Some days you literally climb above the clouds, with an ever-changing landscape and spectacular views. On a clear day, the view may encompass four states, the Atlantic Ocean, and Quebec. This is a once-in-a-lifetime trip for railroad fans and anyone who wants to catch the view from the top of the highest peak in New England.
Visit Attitash in Bartlett and take a ride on a mile-long mountain slide. A New Hampshire icon since 1976, the slides are the longest in North America. Start your journey via the Flying Yankee Quad Chairlift to get to the top, then slide down rolling slopes, straight-aways and S-turns too! Today, Attitash also has a recently-built Mountain Coaster - which is an experience by itself. You'll race 2280' feet down, in two-person carts, at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour through banked curves, dips and a 360-degree loop. There is also a Eurobungy Trampoline, a climbing wall, scenic chair rides and so much more.
The Willey House is at the site of a tragic landslide that took nine lives in August of 1826. Formerly a small inn and residence in Crawford Notch, the landslide tossed boulders and debris in every direction, but left the home of the Willey's untouched. The family did perish in the landslide however, becoming part of the legend of Willey House. There are plenty of hiking trails and camping nearby. Come dip your toes in the pond across the street and learn about the story of the Willey family.
Whirlpool in the woods
Located in Franconia Notch, The Basin is a waterfall that, at its base, has a giant pothole 20' in diameter. Formed by the movement of the North American ice sheet, the Basin has been smoothed out over that past 15,000 years by rocks and water. It's an amazing structure. Part waterfall, part pothole, and all whirlpool (but please, please don't jump in) the force of the water swirling around this "bowl" is a natural phenomena unlike any other you'll see in the Granite State.
Trek to Glen Ellis Falls
Glen Ellis Falls is located in Pinkham Notch, deep in the heart of the White Mountain Region. The falls drop 64 feet from a rocky cliffside into a pool of turquoise water. The best part about this waterfall is that it is located a mere .2 miles from a parking area off Route 16. You'll want to sit and enjoy the sound of the falls splashing in the pool below. But for a little more drama, check out the 200-foot Arethusa Falls, the highest waterfall in the state. You can find Arethusa in Crawford Notch, but you'll have to hike in about 5 miles to catch the beauty of this natural New Hampshire wonder.
The Flume in June
New Hampshire residents and visitors alike will appreciate The Flume Gorge in the summer and fall. With its hiking trails, waterfalls, granite walls, and 800' natural gorge, the Flume sits at the base of Mount Liberty in Franconia Notch State Park. The park is designed for everyone. You don't have to be an experienced hiker to manage the stairs and bridges that carry you over treacherous terrain and flowing water. It's a beautiful place at any time of year, but early fall, when color contrasts with the green and granite, is spectacularly special.
Take the Tramway
The Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway takes visitors to the top of the 4180' summit of Cannon Mountain in Franconia. The eight-minute ride offers views all the way to Canada on a clear day. The 70-passenger tramway is a treat during all four seasons, but is especially extraordinary during the fall when the foliage is at its peak.
Take a detour to the Bath-Haverhill Covered Bridge on Route 135 in Woodsville Village. This 256-foot long bridge is the oldest covered bridge in the nation. It was built in 1829. The Bath-Haverhill Bridge, which spans the Ammonoosuc River, features two spans and a pedestrian sidewalk, but the bridge is only open to foot-traffic. Two other covered bridges are located in the town of Bath. The Bath Bridge is the longest covered bridge located totally within the State of New Hampshire. It spans the Ammonoosuc River too, and can be found west of Route 302. The Swiftwater Bridge can be found north of Route 112 in Bath. There is a popular swimming hole below the bridge in the brisk waters of the Wild Ammonoosuc River. If you are heading to or through Bath, you might as well take in all three bridges while you are there.
Find Frankenstein's Trestle
Whether you discover it by train or by foot, Frankenstein's Trestle, which is part of the Conway Scenic Railroad, is a sight to behold. The wooden trestle bridges a gap on the side of a mountain in Crawford Notch, and appears to dangle precariously on its edge. You can get to the bridge by hiking in approximately 5 miles from the same parking lot on the side of Route 302 marked Arethusa Falls. And from there you'll head up to Frankenstein's Cliff, passing under Frankenstein Trestle on your way. At the top, you'll have panoramic views of Mt. Hope, Mt. Bemis and Mount Crawford.
Stare at the Bears
Clark's Trading Post, located in Lincoln, is a family-run operation that features interactive attractions for kids of all ages. But we'll admit, we really go for the bears. Their trained bear show runs three times a day. It's true that each performance is unique; these are wild animals after all, and they are native to New Hampshire, in case you were wondering. Other attractions include the 2½ hour steam-powered train ride via the White Mountain Central Railroad. Clark's also features Tuttle's Rustic House, a 15-minute guided tour is an amusing peek in to the life of the Tuttles. Bumper Boats, the Old Man Climbing Wall, and Merlins Mystical Mansion will have you scratching your head with wonder. This is one of the best family-friendly attractions in the state. So, what are you waiting for?
Can't Miss the Kancamagus
You can't miss a scenic trip down the Kancamagus Highway while you are in the Mount Washington region. It is perhaps the best scenic drive in the state, with its overlooks, winding roads and spectacular surrounding views of the Pemigewasset Valley. The Kancamagus has several pull-offs, where you can jump into pools of water and slip down natual waterslides during a hot summer day. Head east on Route 112 off Interstate 93N to get there.
Experience the worst weather....or not
They say it's the worst weather in the world so we figured you might want to find out why. The Mount Washington Observatory's Weather Discovery Center is an interactive science museum that might give you the answers you seek. Explore the science of climate and weather through exhibits like the "Wind Room" (yikes), the Flow Tank (hmmm) and the "Air Cannon" (yikes again). Plus you'll be able to watch live video from the folks who work at the observatory from the safe distance of North Conway. Sounds like a plan to us!
New Hampshire blooms with wildflowers throughout the spring, summer and fall. What you'll see will depend on when you are looking but the state is famous for its state flower, the lilac, which normally blooms in May. The purple lupines that blanket the White Mountain region in June are cause for celebration - so much that there is a festival centered around their bloomin' time. From daisies in open fields to irises and water lilies in wetlands to the elusive and endangered lady's slipper that can be found in the forest if you're lucky, there are a number of species of wildflower that will wow you when they bloom. Head to Sugar Hill during mid-June for the Lupine Festival and see for yourself!
The Littleton Grist Mill complex was built in 1798. Its basic mill workings and the structure itself have been restored to their original architecture. Find out how flour was made - then and now - using 200-year-old state-of-the-art grain grinding machinery which includes millstones, wooden gears and a 20-foot 6-inch waterwheel. The Grist Mill produces its own organically-grown, stone-ground flours and mixes. Mmmm, pancakes! Tours of the mill are free.
Tip Top shape
The Tip Top House is the last remaining original structure built at the summit of Mount Washington that still stands. The stone structure was built in 1853 at a cost of $7,000. Attached to the structure was a fancy wooden hotel that connected to the railroad. This hotel burned in a great fire on June 18, 1908. The fire burned every structure on the mountain at the time except for the Tip Top House. Today it exhibits historical documents that take you back to the time when humans first lived on the summit of Mount Washington.
If you have a sweet tooth, you must pay a visit to Chutters in Littleton. It's known to have the longest candy counter in the world. It's 112' of candy-filled jars ranging from yesterday's treats to hard-to-find flavors to today's most sought-after yummies. The counter runs the entire length of the store. It's a child's dream! And if you are a candy-lover, you'll be in heaven.
The Old Man of the Mountain may have fallen from his perch but we still have an Indian Head profile. You'll find him - and the resort named for him - in Lincoln. The rocky profile resembles the head of a Native American Indian Chief. Directly across from the profile is the Indian Head Resort where there is a motel, tepees, a totem pole, a gift shop and restaurant, and a tower. Climb the tower for fantastic views of this natural rock formation.
The Rocks Estate, which is owned and operated by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, offers picnicking, hiking, a maple museum, and lots and lots of Christmas trees. And that's why it's on this list. Located in Bethlehem (as in, oh little town of.....) it's the best place to get a tree at Christmas. And don't forget to return in the spring for maple syrup, during the summer for hiking, and in the fall for an incredible kaleidoscope of colorful trees.