New Hampshire is a wonderful playground, so if you want to experience it, you need a car.
Our favorite spot was the White Mountain Region with its huge (780,000-acre) White Mountain National Forest. There are also 48 mountains & 49 quaint villages. It's great to hike, but it's also fun to explore it by car.
There are only two National Scenic Byways in Northern New England; fortunately, both of them are located in the heart of the "whites"!
First, there is the well known Kancamagus Highway(also the only Federally Scenic Byway in New England) that runs 34 miles from Lincoln to Conway. 90% of it runs through the National Forest. I was so impressed because the streams & scenery are unspoiled; thus, we stopped several times to enjoy it all. (see photo).
The second National Scenic Byway includes the Kancamagus Highway & more. The White Mountain Trail is a 100-mile loop. It has wooded roadsides with covered bridges, small villages, and incredible scenery. You can catch this one on route 302 just as you exit the Mount Washington Hotel.
Along these roads we saw:
Littleton a charming main street with wonderful shops & fine restaurants.
Moose Watch you can see Moose that reach 6 feet & 1200 pounds & are usually spotted on route 302 between Twin Mountain & Crawford Notch. Be Careful!
Bath is where you will see covered bridges & the oldest general store in the nation.
The Basin This is one of the 1st scenic stops along the Franconia Notch Parkway. It is a whirlpool-like waterfall that is believed to have been formed 15,000 years ago. Before it collapsed, it was a great place to see the Old Man in the Mountains
North Conway & Conway This is the place to shop. Outlets, unique boutiques, & fine restaurants.
JacksonVillage with covered bridge & white steepled church; art area & Nordic ski trails.
Crawford Notch known for highest waterfalls, outlook ledges, & plenty of hiking trails.
Rte. 93 is the interstate highway that goes straight up through the state from the Massachusetts border. It's usually fairly clear of traffic...wonderful scenery...easy travelling. You can set your speed control and just relax. Enjoy the way the landscape changes to predominantly pines and birch trees. I was reminded of my drive through the southern country roads of Poland. Only in New Hampshire there are wonderful hills before you get up to the mountains. Sometimes boulders have been chiselled out to allow the road to pass through.... and the ice formations on the rocks can be very beautiful. If it is summer when you are driving, you will notice the temperature cooling as you drive and the air becomes so clean and fresh.
The scenery isn't dramatic and spectacular...but rather serene and restful. New Hampshire always seems to make you want to relax.
Though you should do as much walking as possible in the White Mountains to see the truely spectacular parts of the park, a car comes in handy to not only get there but to get from one point to the next. The roads are a dream to drive on too, with great views and in the time of fall foliage, you'll be glad you can stop whenever you like to take that picture you always dreamed of taking.
New Hampshire, along with the rest of New England, is deceptively small looking. You may look at a map and say to yourself "I could drive all of New England in a single day!" Well, I'm here to tell 'ya - "no, you can't."
Distances are short - at least, as the crow flies they are. But, with the exceptions of the Turnpikes, roads are narrow and winding and seem to cut through the middle of every town. Speeds go from 50 to 40 to 30 to 25 and back up to 40 for a few miles and back down to 25 and even down to 20 and it can get very TEDIOUS after a while - especially if you're trying to get somewhere, or if you've already been driving all day and just want to get home.
North to South distances are relatively straight shots but going east to west can be a real chore, due to the terrain.
Don't make the usual mistake of looking at a map and going "it's 60 miles away, I can get there in an hour!" Just to be safe, when charting distances, I'd assume an average of 45 mph - unless, of course, you're using the Turnpikes. (This goes for all of New England as well, and I'd say even slower for Vermont and the Maine Coast).
Stick to the Turnpikes as much as possible. Even if you overshoot your destination by a ways and have to backtrack, it won't be any slower than the local routes and may actually be faster.
Of course, you may WANT to take it leisurely and drive real slow and see every little town and admire the scenery. In that case, the local roads are great, seeing as you won't have a choice!
Driving is the only way how to get to the trailheads and around in general. Sad but true.
Of course parking at trailheads is rarely free. Make sure to bring some small bills - a day pass cost $3 e.g. at the Sawyer Pond trailhead. The procedure how to pay the fee is quite interesting: First grab an envelope from a box, then detach the stub (see picture) and punch out the weekday(s) you use it and put the stub clearly visible under the windshield of your car. Then insert the money into the envelope and put the envelope into the sort of mailbox.
This is one state that you'll find rest areas during your drive on the major highways. A few of them include a State Liquor Store. You can't drink and drive, but you can put an unopened container in the trunk compartment to take to your destination.
Most of the rest stops have a building with the bathroom facilities and vending machines for snacks, coffee or cold drinks. Also brochures are available to local attractions throughout the state. You'll find them generally well taken care of with helpful folks there to answer your questions.
Most close late at night, so you'll have to find other facilities then.
I have a website below with a map & hours for all of them in the State. Get road conditions and the weather report there also.
This picture is on Route 93 as you head into New Hampshire from Massachusetts. It's one of the nicest I've seen. Altho, most that I have stopped at are very nice & clean. Comes in handy on a LONG road trip!
Thought you might enjoy seeing the way the Shakers travelled around ...probably bringing their vegetables to market somewhere. In some ways the society of Shakers was an enviable life style...in other ways, it simply couldn't sustain itself. Stop in for the tour and learn all about these unusual people.
Long known as the 'Carriage Road', the auto road, first constructed in 1855-61, zigzags up the eastern slope to Washington's peak in about 8 miles. There are lots of views, trails and monuments along the road. The toll road leaves NH19 at the Glen House site just north of the AMC camp at Pinkham Notch. $18 includes a bumper sticker that identifies your car having made it to the top of Mt Washington.
Vermont Transit has a route between Boston's South Station and Nashua, NH:
The Nashua terminal is at 30 Elm Street. Phone: 603-889-2121
Concord Trailways has routes between Boston and Manchester, NH and also Boston-Concord, NH.
Good luck finding public transport locally, in NH. It's very limited inside the state.
To visit New Hampshire you definitely need a car. There is not much public transportation. The closest major (international) airport is Logan International Airport in Boston. It will take you about three hours to drive from Boston to the center of NH (near the White Mountains). NH has two major highways: I93 going from Boston to Canada and I95 going from New Haven over Boston and New Hampshire to Maine.
The cogtrain was completed in 1869. The maximum grade is equalled by only that of the track going up Pilatus is Switzerland. The base station is atop Base Road on the west side of the mountain. You reach it going east off US 302 at Bretton Woods. The train ascends the 3 mile track to the peak in a little over an hour going basically straight up western slopes attaining the summit ridge at the top of the Great Gulf, the large glacial cirque on Mt Washington's north side. Roundtrip cost is $50 for adults and $35 for children.
I found flying into Manchester airport to reach New England on Northwest airlines was the least expensive and the Manchester airport is modern and convenient. Flying from Los Angeles, California there was a change of planes in Detroit, with just an hour layover.
Manchester airport is located adjacent to Interstates 93 & 293, Route 101 and the F.E. Everett Turnpike. The Airport is just twenty minutes from the Massachusetts border and less than an hour's drive from the region's most popular ski areas, scenic seacoast beaches and peaceful lakefront resorts -- even Boston.
If traveling through New Hampshire during the Winter, you may very well travel through Franconia Notch. The Parkway is well-built and maintained, but rising to an elevation of 2000', the weather is often unpredictable. Rain in nearby Lincoln is frequently snow or ice in the Notch. As you approach, digitalized highway signs will inform you of the weather ahead or suggest you turn the radio dial to the Franconia Parkway AM radio station - a station dedicated entirely to the Notch's weather.
To go to northern NH, take Rt 93 if you just want to get there. Take Rt. 3 if you have the time and want to meander & shop. To travel east & west in southern NH, take Rt 93 to Rt 101.
Nice drives on Western NH backroads:
Route 13 from Milford to New Boston & beyond.
Route 31 from New Ipswich to Wilton & beyond.
Route 202 from Rindge to Peterborough & beyond.
Route 124 from Greenville to Marlborough.
You must have a car or motorcycle (summer only) to get around NH. Public transportation just isn't done. Or at least, it's not done well.
Fly into Manchester, not Boston, the stress and time saved will repay itself for a slightly higher airfare. Drive if at all possible, you'll need a vehicle when you arrive.
Umm, drive. Or drive. I wouldn't recommend any other way at any cost. Unless you take some kind of Public transport to the mountains and just stay there hiking indefinitely. NH has a sort of public transport system, but its never used.
100 Portsmouth Blvd, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 03801, United States
Good for: Business
Stayed last psring and this summer and every time the service, accomodation and staff were amazing....more
21 Front Street, Manchester, New Hampshire, 03102, United States
Good for: Couples