For a small state, New Hampshire sure manages to squeeze a lot in. While it’s got the smallest coast line of any ocean-touching state (18 miles), there are sand dunes, beach towns and some great surf spots. And while Mount Washington’s height of 6,289 may not sound like much to west coasters, it’s the most prominent mountain east of the Mississippi River, and home to some of the highest recorded winds on the planet. And even thought it takes just three and half hours to drive the length of the state, the southern town of Salem, part of the greater Boston area, and the remote northern town of Pittsburg, home to ‘moose alley,’ are truly two different words. In between, you’ll pass through the Lakes Region in the heart of the state, and the often snow-capped peaks of the White Mountains. The beauty of it is, you don’t have to choose between spending a day lounging on the beach in Rye, hiking the Whites, or kayaking on Lake Winnipesaukee – you can do it all, even if you only have a few days.
Besides its natural beauty, New Hampshire is known for its independent attitude; neither its state motto of ‘Live Free or Die,’ nor its nickname of ‘The Granite State’ – are the most welcoming of monikers. And New Hampshirites take that independence seriously. It’s the only state that does not have a helmet law for motorcyclists, thousands of whom descend on the state during Bike Week, held in Laconia each year. It’s also the only state that doesn’t have seat belt law for adults. While some would argue that those laws take ‘Live Free or Die’ a little too literally, they’re indicative of the libertarian streak here. New Hampshirites also take great pride in being the first state to hold a presidential primary every four years, and it’s one of the only states with no sales or income tax.
But you’re probably not going to head to New Hampshire just to feel the exhilaration of driving without a seatbelt, but rather to experience the myriad of outdoor activities throughout the state. Like many New England states, the variety and availability of activities depends on when you visit. In the summer it’s enjoying the coast, or heading to the Lakes Region to for some water activities: kayaking, swimming, fishing, sailing, etc. In the winter it’s time for skiing – there are over 30 alpine and cross-country ski resorts in state. Or you can snowshoe up Mount Monadnock–known as one of the most climbed mountains in the world—or try some snowmobiling in ‘the north county.’ The fall is peak foliage season, and a great time for hiking – taking in the brilliant red, yellow and orange leaves without the pesky bugs present in spring and early summer. And spring has a beauty of its own, when the leaves are a particularly brilliant shade of green, the peeper frogs start singing their song, and the maple trees begin producing their magic elixir.
For the not so outdoorsy types, or when it’s cold enough that being outside is just downright uncomfortable, the lack of a sales tax does make New Hampshire a great shopping destination – the Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester and retail stores in Tilton, just off highway 93, feature dozens of brand-name outlets to choose from. Foodies will also feel right at home here too, being able to choose from fresh seafood at a Portsmouth restaurant, to comfort food at one of the Common Man restaurants in the Lakes Region, to charming spots in quaint New England towns. Motorists can spend driving on the scenic Kancamagus highway, or drive to the top of Mount Washington. Whatever you’re in the mood for, you’re sure to a enjoy a New Hampshire getaway.