22 Reviews for Creative Adventures in New Hampshire
My first thought of New Hampshire used to be winter skiing, but I enjoy visiting in the summer and early fall even more. There you’ll find amusement parks, mountains to hike with gondola rides, moose tours, balloon tours, and much more. We visited New Hampshire in the summer to find the classy, intelligent, adventurous but not too challenging experiences, the gems of the region.
New Hampshire’s White Mountains are packed with tourist amenities and destinations, but this short list is a good start!
Southern New Hampshire
In southern New Hampshire, go ballooning with Infinity Ballooning or A&A Balloon Rides (interviews). It’s peaceful and less scary than you would think to be up high, drifting with the wind, with great views. In the White Mountains, find wild moose with Gorham Moose Tours (4 stars). Their tours take place at night, so they don’t conflict with hiking or daytime activities, but bring something to do or be prepared to nap on their long van rides. When choosing a place to stay overnight, The Bartlett Inn Bed & Breakfast (4.5 stars) is central to the White Mountains, mid-level priced, but with large, clean rooms, a pool, and serves a hot breakfast.
See an original first printing of the Declaration of Independence at the American Independence Museum (4 stars), and try Hampton Beach (5 stars) for its boardwalk full of cute shops and restaurants, its creative festivals including live music and fireworks, and while I don’t like gambling, which is regressive, like a tax on the poor, the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom fetches nationally touring performers. Pro tip: never leave your food unguarded at the beach, or you’ll get a seagull invasion within seconds.
Of course you’ll want to visit Canobie Lake (5 stars), the theme park, which is less corporate and has real parkland, unlike Six Flags. They have a Halloween event called Screeemfest, which is not very creative, but hey — it’s in a theme park! And stop by Strawbery Banke (5 stars), a living history museum, when they’re having their annual Halloween or Holiday events. Nearby SkyVenture New Hampshire (5 stars PLUS) is New England’s best small adventure park, where you can surf or skydive safely at ground level, indoors.
The White Mountains
Many of the ski resorts in the White Mountains have summertime activities. Loon Mountain (5 stars) has a fantastic gondola ride to a tall summit with 100-mile views, “caves” to explore, and an adventure park that includes a zipline, a ropes course, and you can rent “e-bikes” that make you feel like a champion as you pedal with less effort. Cranmore Mountain Resort (4.5 stars) is not so tall, but unlike Loon has a full theme park with a mountain coaster, mountain tubing, zipline, bouncy house obstacle course, and much more. They also have a beautiful gondola ride to a summit with great views. Always bring a coat for visiting mountains, which get colder at their summits than their base camps.
The must-do attraction in the White Mountains is the Mount Washington Cog Railway (5 stars), a train ride with a gear system that takes you up, up, up, to the tallest mountain in the US Northeast, Mount Washington. Call ahead to ensure clear visibility, because from the peak you can see a mountain range that looks like waves in the ocean, including a view of mountains across the border in Canada!
While it’s really just for children, as less of interest to teens and adults, Story Land (4.5 stars) is a large theme park based on fairy tales with dozens of mid-level, not-so-scary rides. With some of its attractions, such as Cinderella’s Castle, seemingly inspired by Disneyland, its exhibits are lower budget but have surprising heart and creativity. We preferred it to Santa’s Village (4 stars), the kids theme park where you can get a photo with Santa and feed reindeer, but which was less creative and more religious.
For lodging, Adventure Suites (5 stars PLUS) has creatively themed rooms for kids fantasies and adult’s romance, and “party suites” for overnight parties including an animatronic, Disney-level “Haunted Castle”. For hiking, stay at the AMC Highland Center (4 stars), with perhaps New England’s best hotel views and a community feeling. To eat, it doesn’t look like much, but The Wildcat Inn and Tavern (5 stars) serves a surprisingly great dinner, with a creative twist on each dish.
In October, try Haunted Overload (5 stars), which is New England’s most artistic Halloween attraction, Fright Kingdom (5 stars), which is New England’s best all-indoor, and therefore all-weather, Halloween attraction, and the Ghoullog at Cranmore Mountain (4.5 stars), which has theme park rides, and Beans & Greens Farm (4 stars) has a beautiful corn maze with spooky actors. RiverFire (5 stars), on the north side of the White Mountains, is New England’s best town Halloween festival. We didn’t think much of the Northeast Balloon Festival (4 stars), where you won’t see balloons, which leave early.