I’m a city girl at heart. I love the frenetic energy and the convenience of having so many coffee shops and restaurants at your fingertips. When I travel, if I’m not heading to another major city, you can find me on the beach in some place exotic (as you can see from my last travel guide).
But, I must admit, there are times when it’s nice to change up the pace and connect with nature – go somewhere where you can’t see directly into your neighbour’s house. A couple weeks ago, I was invited to visit the state of New Hampshire, along with Véronique Sepasi and Jeanne Rondeau Ducharme, two talented Montreal-based influencers and content creators (who also proved to be the best travel companions!).
I knew a bit about the state, but New Hampshire wasn’t on my radar. When most people think about travel to New England, Boston, Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, or even Maine come to mind. If you’re a foodie, like me, you think lobster rolls and clam chowder! But I discovered so much about New Hampshire and fell in love with its beauty. So, in this post, I’m sharing a suggested itinerary on how to hit the highlights in New Hampshire with only 3 nights, because it would be an absolute shame to travel to New England without visiting here!
Getting In and Out
Boston Logan is the nearest major international airport. You can fly direct from Toronto to Boston in an hour and a half. After landing, rent a car to get to New Hampshire. If you enjoy driving, this is actually one of the best parts – being behind the wheel (NOT stuck in traffic) on the open road, taking in the fresh air and driving through the mountains!
Portsmouth is only about an hour away, but I recommend starting further away in the mountains and working your way back to civilization (it will be easier for you on your return to Boston).
First Stop: The White Mountains
Head straight to the White Mountains and base yourself here for 1 night. The White Mountains cover ¼ of New Hampshire, so it only makes sense that much of NH tourism centres on what to do here. Most people come in the winter to ski and snowboard, but there’s lots to do when it’s warm, like hiking, fishing, white water rafting, lake cruises and boat excursions, canopy tours, and helicopter rides.
I would’ve never thought that one of the highlights of this trip would’ve been zip lining with Alpine Adventures. It was rainy and cold when we arrived and were told we’d be going on the Super Skyrider Tour—the largest, highest and most extreme tour. Three and a half hours on 9 different zip lines in the rain, with wet clothes and camera equipment didn’t sound ideal. But the team from Alpine Adventures made the day so fun! They were skilled and professional, but didn’t take themselves too seriously. Their positive vibes went a long way and made this one of the most memorable experiences on the trip! Not to mention, zip lining was a total rush, and the views from that high up were amazing!
We stayed in Lincoln on our first night at the Riverwalk Resort at Loon Mountain. There is not much to do in Lincoln—it’s more of a stop-over town and good base to explore the White Mountains. The Riverwalk Resort is brand new with spacious suites that felt more like apartments. Another nice feature is Seven Birches Winery, where we had a great wine tasting tour here on our 2nd day.
From Lincoln, it’s an easy 10-minute drive to Flume Gorge and Franconia Notch State Park. The rain prevented us from seeing these attractions, but you’ll definitely want to head here for great hikes, natural wonders and waterfalls.
Second Stop: Mount Washington
Technically still a part of the White Mountains, Mount Washington deserves its own stop. At 6,288 ft. above sea level, you get the best views in all of New Hampshire here!
There are different ways to get to the top: by car, by train, or on foot. FYI, if you type “Mount Washington” into Google maps, it may navigate you to the auto road, the cog railway, or the observatory (which is in a completely separate town). The auto road and the cog railway aren’t in the same location either. Don’t make the same mistake we did and drive to the cog railway when you want to drive up – it will take you another hour to get to the auto road. The train takes 3 hours and climbs from the west side of the mountain. The auto road climbs from the east side and takes 30 minutes. I recommend driving.
You can get to the Mount Washington auto road by heading northeast from Lincoln. But, an even better way would be to take the Kancamagus Highway/Route 112, passing through Conway, where you can base yourself for your second night. “The Kanc” is a 35-mile (56 km) stretch from Lincoln to Conway and New Hampshire’s most scenic highway. Leave time to make a stops along the way.
On night 2, we stayed at the Nordic Village Resort in Bartlett, a huge 165-acre property with mile-long road going through it. The units are like chalets that offer amazing views of the White Mountains. If you stay here, you’ll want to check out the Red Parka Steakhouse and Pub for dinner. It has a rich history and the service is friendly. J Town Deli is a good general store to stock up on supplies or grab breakfast.
Third Stop: Portsmouth
No trip to New Hampshire would be complete without a stay in Portsmouth (pronounced “Ports-myth”). Portsmouth was, hands-down, my favourite city in New Hampshire! It’s literally the land of the pretty houses, each prettier than the next! House-spotting and photographing was how we spent much of our time here. You can find houses and architecture from several periods, including Colonial, Federal, Georgian and Victorian. To see a round-up of different historic homes all within one place, go to the Strawberry Banke Museum.
You’ll definitely want at least 1 night and 1 full day in Portsmouth. Even though you can walk from end to end within 15 minutes (it’s rated New Hampshire’s most walkable city), you’ll want to meander and take in all the sights. There was such a quaint charm about the place that I almost didn’t want to leave!
There’s lot to do in Portsmouth, including historic walking tours, gundalow tours on the Pisctaqua River, sitting outdoors at Market Square, and shopping in one of the many boutique shops and restaurants that line the streets. When we found Fezziwig’s Food & Fountain, I honestly felt like rejoicing! With marble tables, confectionery, and tea served in the prettiest teapots, it was right up my alley! As an ice cream connoisseur, you better believe I found the best ice cream in Portsmouth: Annabelle’s all natural ice cream. Another highlight of Portsmouth was our craft brewery beer crawl with Mark & Joanne of Granite State Growler Tours. In addition to learning about the craft breweries in Portsmouth, we got a complete history lesson from Mark, who was like a walking encyclopedia on New Hampshire!
I could go on and on about Portsmouth, but you really just need to see it for yourself!
Hope you enjoyed this blog post and that it inspires you to visit New Hampshire!
Special thanks to LYDMTL and Visit NH for making this trip happen and putting together a great itinerary. Special thanks also goes out to Ver and Jeanne, who made the trip such a blast and captured the images of me. You need to check out their Instagram accounts and follow them for some serious daily inspo.
*Although this trip and blog post were sponsored, as always, all opinions are my own.