Train rides through fall foliage. Fresh apple cider. Haunted fabulous hotels. Imagine you’re sipping on a hot cup of cider and munching on homemade apple cider donuts from the country’s oldest orchard. You’re crunching on leaves and breathing in crisp air, and you’re about to go hop on a train to take you up a mountain and catch a glimpse of trees bursting into vibrant yellow, orange, and red – colors as far as the eye can see. This cozy feeling is a glimpse of what fall in New Hampshire feels like!
New Hampshire in the fall is a one of the best places in the country to visit for leaf-peeping, and without a doubt, it lives up to the hype. There are so many ways to experience the changing of leaves in New Hampshire, like hiking, scenic drives, lake cruises, train and gondola rides, paddling, or just taking it all in over a locally brewed craft beer.
While the larger cities in New Hampshire are scenic in their own right, it’s the charming, quaint villages and towns where you’ll get the best fix of fall! To help plan the best fall in New Hampshire adventure (with lots of leaf-peeping guaranteed), our contributing writer rounded up the must-see towns and cities filled with scenic drives, state parks, apple orchards, historic bridges, and all the fall magic that makes New Hampshire an idyllic fall destination!
Psst: Planning more trips to the East Coast? Take a look at some of our other posts:
Fall in New Hampshire: FAQ’s
Growing up, I frequently visited my uncle who lives in Henniker, a small town in Merrimack County that’s in the southern part of New Hampshire (more on that later).
I always visited him in the fall, and I have fond memories of quad biking through the woods, binging on pancakes doused in maple syrup, and witnessing a constant stream of autumn foliage — which is, of course, the main reason people flock near and wide to New Hampshire in the fall!
But before you put on your favorite leaf-crunching boots and wrap a cozy scarf around your neck, here are some frequently asked questions to help you plan your trip!
How to get to New Hampshire?
If you’re coming from out of state, I recommend flying into New Hampshire or Boston, renting a car, and hitting the road. You can also take a longer, but incredibly scenic, drive from New York City!
- The two major airports in New Hampshire are Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and Portsmouth International Airport, both of which will fly you into the southern part of the state.
- From Boston, it’s only a 45-minute drive (plan for a bit of traffic, depending on when you leave) to get to the town of Bedford, New Hampshire. But even if you’re planning to go to the most northern part of New Hampshire, like the city of Berlin or the quaint town of Milan, it’s only a 3-hour drive from Boston, and I would highly recommend taking a car for the scenic drive and leaf-peeping alone.
- From New York City, you’ll have to drive at least four hours (traffic dependent) to cross over the state line — but you’ll be driving through Connecticut and Massachusetts to get there, both of which have picturesque fall foliage. However, you can still get your fix of leaf-peeping via train by taking Amtrak from Penn Station in NYC to Boston South Station (6-8 hours), then take the Boston Express Bus to the city of Manchester in New Hampshire (about 1.5 hours). If you can, once you arrive, I still recommend renting a car.
No matter what form of transportation you end up taking to get there, I will say this until I’m blue in the face: tour by car to truly experience fall in New Hampshire.
- Travel Tip: Booked your flight and rental car yet? We recommend using Kayak to price-compare deals and dates to save money… so you can spend more on food during your trip (#letsbehonest).
How to get around New Hampshire?
You’ll definitely want to explore New Hampshire from the comfort of your car. It’ll allow you to get up close and personal to color-changing leaves and truly experience fall in New Hampshire, since roughly one-ninth of the state is designated to fall foliage drives and cultural byways. That’s a lot of leaf-peeping possibilities.
Not to mention the state is only about 190 miles long and roughly 70 miles wide, which makes for a driving experience that allows you to see the entire state from the window of your vehicle!
What’s the history of New Hampshire?
It’s hard to sum up the history of New Hampshire because there’s so much of it. But more than anything, it’s important to honor the roots of Native American tribes that existed long before New Hampshire was declared New Hampshire in 1788.
As you read through this guide, you’ll notice names of mountains, rivers, and trails that pay homage to the Indigenous people who occupied the land and were collectively known as the Abenaki. They set up many of their villages along the rivers and lakes, where fish, wildlife, and farming could thrive, but the combination of disease, as well as European settlers stealing land, led to the decreased population in the 1600s.
Today, less than 1,000 Abenaki still live in New Hampshire, and it’s important we continue to honor and celebrate the Native American tribes who loved the land deeply through preservation efforts and uplifting their names.
Across the state, historic covered bridges and railroad tracks shed a light on the state’s booming logging industry that began in the 1600s, which peaked in the 1800s and declined in the early 1900s due to the Great Depression. But these sites continue to be preserved as an important piece to the state’s history, which you’ll hopefully get to experience during your time exploring New Hampshire in the fall.
Last but not least, New Hampshire has historically been known for its epic fall season! New Hampshire fall foliage, apple cider donuts, cider mills, and maple syrup are legendary. So let’s get into the best things to do in New Hampshire in the fall, and where to go to experience the best of New Hampshire in the fall!
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When is fall in New Hampshire?
Autumn in New Hampshire begins in mid-late September and runs through the end of October. By November, the foliage is pretty much gone.
Historically, the first signs of fall begin in the Great North Woods region in mid-September, and the colors make their way throughout the state in the days that follow. By the end of September, the temperature can drop as low as the high 40s, although a day in the 70s can happen here and there.
October is when the state is in full fall mode, with temps at the beginning of the month ranging from low 40s to mid-60s and dropping by the end to the high 30s and as warm as the mid-50s.
While seeing any foliage during the season is a treat, you can check the official fall foliage tracker of New Hampshire to see what’s going on. Yes, New Hampshire is that leaf obsessed that they have a foliage tracker.
By the way, it’s not common, but snowfall can happen in September and October in highly elevated areas like White Mountain National Forest, and it’s actually a real treat for those who get to experience it. “Snowliage,” as the New Hampshirites call it, is the gorgeous contrast of snow-capped mountains at the top of a summit with the fall foliage down below.
The Best Places to Experience Fall in New Hampshire
Before jumping into the must-see towns and cities across the state, it’s worth mentioning a noteworthy attraction that is less about the destination and more about the journey: the 100-mile-long White Mountains Trail.
The White Mountains Trail is a scenic highway that takes you through parts of the White Mountain National Forest and past the popular attractions across the White Mountains region, starting in North Woodstock and ending in Lincoln (more on both of those places below).
You can fill your drive with recommended pit stops, or stay on the highway the entire time for the leaf-peeping views alone.
Whether you drive the White Mountains Trail or criss-cross the state in search of the best fall fun, here are all the places to visit to experience fall in New Hampshire!
North Woodstock: An Unspoiled Village
The small village of North Woodstock is located in the stunning White Mountains, known to be the most rugged mountains in New England which make up about a quarter of New Hampshire and a tiny portion of Maine.
But “rugged” would be the last thing to describe this quaint town that is home to a population of under 1,000, which is filled with outdoor attractions that are largely unspoiled (of course, in the busy fall season, it becomes a bit busier!).
Here, you’ll be able to spot foliage everywhere you go and everything you do, from exploring gorges and caves to hiking the famous White Mountain Trail and grabbing a locally brewed beer.
Here are the best things to do in North Woodstock, New Hampshire in the fall:
- Explore river gorges and caves while surrounded by foliage: Lost River Gorge & Boulder Caves is a seasonal ravine park with a handful of nature-filled sights to see all in one place (making online reservations in advance is highly recommended as days sell out in the fall). Admission will give you access to the 1-mile wooden boardwalk loop lined with boulder caves and viewpoints, including a treehouse, that will have you stopping to snap photos of the stunning foliage. But you’ll want to make sure you’ve got a sturdy pair of sneakers and outdoor active clothing on — the 1,000 stairs and the slippery footing is real!
- Grab a beer & take in the scenery at Woodstock Inn Brewery: What started as an inn in the 1980s has grown into a premier craft beer spot for those in the White Mountains area. At the Woodstock Inn Brewery, you can visit the brewery and take a tour, or sit outside for the views while you make your way down the craft beer list (flight, anyone?). If you find yourself not wanting to leave, you can always book a room on-site, too — a brewery-meets-hotel? The dream.
- Have a picnic at Cascade Park: Grab some to-go brews and bites from Woodstock Inn Brewery and have a picnic at Cascade Park, located along the Pemigewasset River. Depending on what month you’re visiting, it might be too chilly to take a quick dip in the shallow water, but you can always put your toes in and get close to the gentle rapids. A great spot for a sunny, crisp afternoon.
Lincoln: An Outdoor Playground
Lincoln is filled with rich history dating back to the 18th century. Formerly known as the epicenter of logging in New England, the small but busy town has transformed into the ultimate outside playground that it’s known as today, filled with every possible way to see the fall foliage.
Zipline through the trees to immerse yourself in the season, or take a scenic gondola ride up the mountain to see the views above the trees. And of course, you can go on foot and hike through the wooded area, or book a biking tour to cover more mileage in a day.
While the town of Lincoln is nestled right next to North Woodstock, they both merit their own shoutout for different but equally worthy outdoors-focused activities you can take part in during the fall. And it’s more of a reason to make your way to the area — double the towns, double the fun!
Here are the best things to do in Lincoln, New Hampshire in the fall:
- Walk along a natural granite gorge: New Hampshire isn’t nicknamed the Granite State for nothing (RIP Old Man of the Mountain). When visiting Lincoln, a must-see site is the Flume Gorge — a natural granite gorge at the base of Mount Liberty that is part of Franconia Notch State Park. Take the two-mile loop to see cascading waterfalls, glacial boulders, and moss-covered granite walls (ooooh, fuzzy). While you’re at Franconia Notch State Park, pop by “The Basin,” a 15-foot-deep bowl that dates back to the ice age.
- Ride a gondola up to mountainous heights: Loon Mountain is a shared mountain between Lincoln and a town called Livermore, and it’s home to Loon Mountain Ski Resort. During the off-season for skiing, you can take a gondola skyride up the mountain for the ultimate leaf peeping experience. Once you’re up there, you can grab a hot cup of coffee or chilled cider at the Summit Cafe, or book a mountaintop yoga class in advance to take your practice to new heights (pun intended). You can also check out hiking, biking, zip-lining, and other outdoor activities while visiting Loon Mountain Ski Resort, too.
- Hike to the waterfalls: No prior hiking experience is needed to get to the breathtaking Georgiana Falls. This hike is around 1-mile long, and it will give you a glimpse at multiple cascades as well as the 30-foot waterfall named Georgiana Falls, also known as Lower. If you are looking for more of a challenge, you can keep walking beyond the Georgiana Falls toward Harvard Falls aka the Upper, one of the largest waterfalls in the White Mountains.
- Drive on the Kancamagus Scenic Highway: Recognized as a National Scenic byway, this 34.5-mile scenic highway goes from Lincoln to North Conway (or vice versa) and hands down has some of the best foliage views you will see across New Hampshire. To accompany you on the Kanc (as the locals call it), book a scenic self-driving audio tour for just $8 that will have you learning the entire ride.
North Conway: An Autumnal One-Stop Shop
A picturesque village located in the town of Conway, North Conway is on the southeastern edge of the White Mountains and is surrounded by the White Mountain National Forest on the east and west, meaning stellar foliage views wherever you go.
To put it simply, North Conway is your one-stop shop for the total New Hampshire fall package. You’ll experience everything from scenic train rides to historic general stores, massive corn mazes to all the apple cider and donuts you can consume. Is that a challenge?
Here are the best things to do in North Conway, New Hampshire in the fall:
- Ride a train on the scenic railroad: The Conway Scenic Railroad is truly a blast from the past, as you depart from the Victorian station built in 1874 on a locomotive train. The one-hour ride will take you through the wooded area of Conway, and all the beautiful leaf-changing colors that come with it. Also, if you happen to be visiting from October 16th to the 31st, a special Pumpkin Patch ride is available that includes pumpkins, apple cider, and apple cider donuts. Tell me a more autumnal activity, I dare you.
- Shop at Zeb’s General Store: No fall trip to New Hampshire is complete without popping by a general store of yesteryear, filled with fudge and maple syrup, knick-knacks and vintage toys. You’ll get all of that and more at Zeb’s General Store, an emporium filled with any and all things special to the state. So if you end up being too busy enjoying nature to hit all the shops you wanted to during your time in North Conway, you can take a trip to Zeb’s and you’ll find everything you need in one place. YOU get a souvenir, and YOU get a souvenier…
- Get lost in a corn maze: A quick 20-minute drive will get you to Sherman Farm in East Conway. Here, they’re known for their corn maze in the fall, which spans across 12 acres and is sure to be a challenge (but that’s a good thing… why else would you want to go to a corn maze?). The farm offers up three different routes that vary in difficulty so there’s an option for everyone, and each year there is a different path pattern to keep things exciting. Ticket holders also get admission to the pumpkin patch, too.
Mount Washington: A Cog Railway Destination
Mount Washington is a 6,288-foot mountain — the tallest one in the northeast — located in Mount Washington State Park, and it will give you one of the best foliage views across the region. Odds are, you’ve probably had family or friends who’ve visited New Hampshire post photos at the summit, and there’s no denying that it’s a great photo op.
I would highly recommend visiting the state park on a weekday, where it will be significantly less crowded, and take the famous cog railway to the summit of Mount Washington. And while navigating crowded areas is less than ideal, you can’t blame anyone for wanting to experience the fall-tastic views on Mount Washington.
To put it in perspective, on a clear day, it’s possible to see New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, and New York — so yeah, it’s pretty impressive.
Here are the best things to do around Mount Washington, New Hampshire in the fall:
- Ride up to the top of the summit via cog railway: But did you really go to Mount Washington if you didn’t take the iconic cog railway to the summit? The Mount Washington Cog Railway is the first mountain-climbing cog railway ever built, opened in 1868, and the entire round trip takes about three hours. It’s biodiesel and steam trains take you to the summit, and once you’re there, you can pick out a souvenir at the Sherman Adams Summit Building and visit the Tip Top House, a former hotel dating back to the 19th century that was turned into a historic site. It’s worth noting that from Oct. 18 to 31, there’s a special train that takes you to the north and east of the mountain.
- Embrace the (creepy) history at an iconic New England hotel: Located in Bretton Woods, the Mount Washington Hotel is the last remaining Grand Hotel in the White Mountains. Opened in 1902, the huge white historic hotel with its Renaissance Revival architecture absolutely pops against the sea of fall foliage and is just as stunning on the inside. While staying at the resort will cost a pretty penny, walking around the hotel and sitting on its expansive veranda is an activity in itself. And, oh, did I mentioned it is haunted? A man named Joseph Stickney built the hotel, and his wife, Princess Carolyn, is said to haunt her former room, 314. And what’s weirder? The room apparently has the same bed that she used to sleep in (eek!). People have sighted her sleeping on the bed, staring at them from the mezzanine in the hotel, among many other spine tingling occurrences (a phantom orchestra playing?). There’s also a portrait of both of them in the hotel that looks exactly like it belongs in the Haunted Mansion at Disney. If that’s not creepy, I don’t know what is!
- Drive along the Mt. Washington Auto road: A fabulous way to get to the summit of Mount Washington is to take a car up the 7.6-mile Mount Washington Auto Road, allowing yourself to take in all the foliage views along the way (if you take a guided tour, that is — if you’re driving, eyes on the road!). But this road isn’t just a way to get to the summit, but is a piece of history in itself. Built in 1861, it was first known as the Carriage Road because, well, if you wanted to get to the top you needed a horse and carriage! If you do decide to drive, it’s recommended that you use the designated turnout sections to cool your breaks, and it takes about 30 minutes to get up and 30 minutes back down. Also, keep in mind that this is a toll road, and the cost for a car and its driver is $39 ($45 during peak time), and additional adult passengers are $14 (peak time $20) per person. On the plus side, you get a “This Car Climbed Mount Washington” bumper sticker! If you’re interested in hiking Mount Washington, I would recommend taking this private tour with a guide who can create an itinerary that fits your hiking experience level.
Portsmouth: A Beer Lover’s Dream
Located in the southeastern part of the state right on the coast, Portsmouth is one of those charming cities that you can go any time of the year and have a complete and utter blast. However, since there’s nothing like New Hampshire in the fall, it’s an elevated experience when you get to see all the scenic foliage while sipping on seasonal brews and learning about the rich history (the town’s 400th anniversary is coming up in 2023) while bundled up in a cozy sweater.
There are plenty of ways to experience the city’s autumn in an experiential way, from taking a tour on foot or by bike, to sailing up and down the Piscataqua River and around Great Bay.
There’s a regional airport in Portsmouth too, so if you want to start your New England journey here, it’s easy to do so.
Here are the best things to do in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in the fall:
- Grab a seasonal drink at a local brewery: Earth Eagle Brewings has a solid list of rotating beers on tap and a great beer garden (heated, if it gets chilly!) for the perfect autumn day. While the seasonal options for fall change from year to year, keep an eye out for October Skies, an amber lager, and Tabatha, a cranberry and tangerine kettle sour. Another brewery that is my personal favorite is Portsmouth Brewery, located in the heart of the downtown area. Come for the Oktoberfest beer, stay for the locally sourced bratwurst.
- Take a guided tour by bicycle or foot: PortCity Bike Tours offers a range of options that will allow you to see historic sites along the coast as well as explore the Rockingham Rail, which starts at the Portsmouth portion of the rail trail. If walking is more your style, Portsmouth Harbour Trail Tours will take you on a scenic walk to get up close and personal with the city’s history dating back multiple centuries.
- Kayak on the Piscataqua Sea: Portsmouth Kayak Adventures is renting out kayaks and canoes through October, which is the perfect way to surround yourself with the colors of autumn as you float on the Piscataqua Sea. You can rent individual kayaks at your convenience, or you can book a specialty tour to learn while paddling. Make sure you layer on extra clothing, though — it gets chilly out on the water!
Concord: A Capitol Surrounded By Cider
While not every state capitol is worth visiting, New Hampshire’s certainly is. Concord prides itself on their strong art scene, seasonal cuisine, and being a city that has the charm of a quintessential town. The best of both worlds, as they say.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy the reason for the fall season (ba-dum-ch). There are ciders to drink, rail trails to ride, apple farms to experience, and rivers to canoe/kayak across. And just outside of the city is the oldest orchard in America, which might be something you didn’t know your bucket list needed.
Here are the best things to do in Concord, New Hampshire in the fall:
- Grab yourself a glass of fresh apple cider: I’m a big fan of cider, and if you are, too, Carter Hill Orchard is where you’ll want to go. This family-run orchard has been under its current ownership since the 1970s, but the orchard itself dates back to the mid 1700s. In addition to their Carter Hill cider that they press year-round, they have the traditional pick-your-own apples running through Discovery Day, plus a country store that’ll give you your fall fix — and you have to pick up their famous apple cider donuts. Another option that’s a bit outside of town, but well worth the drive, is Applecrest Farm Orchard, known as the oldest orchard in America.
- Canoe or kayak on the Contoocook River: Take off by canoe or kayak with Contoocook River Canoes & Kayaks to experience the Contoocook River, a 71-mile-long river that is lined with trees (read: fall foliage) and the occasional beach. The company offers a 9-mile trip that starts at the small village of Contoocook, and while it’s all about being at the right place at the right time, you could spot some otters, beavers, deer, and even bears.
- Plan a day to see the surrounding historic bridges: A handful of historic covered bridges are located a short drive away from the city of Concord, and I definitely recommend taking a day to see them. A 15 to 20-minute drive away is Railroad Bridge, which was built in the mid-1800s when tracks were put down for the Concord and Claremont Railroad. Additional historic bridges include Cilleyville Bridge, also known as the Bog Bridge, which is a 30-minute drive away, and the Pier Bridge as well as Wright’s Bridge, both of which are about an hour-long trip.
Henniker: A Quiet Gem
If you’re looking to go off the beaten path and avoid the leaf-peeping crowds, Henniker is a small town that’s not on most tourist’s radars. Located in Merrimack County, Henniker is only a 20-minute drive away from Concord, and yet it feels like an entirely different world — one that’s a lot less crowded. The winter gets packed because of the alpine ski resort Pats Peak, but the fall season is calm, cool, and collected.
Their claim to fame is “The Only Henniker on Earth,” and whether or not that’s true, you’ll get a unique, quiet experience here that is less about activities and more about soaking in the surrounding nature.
Here are the best things to do in Henniker, New Hampshire in the fall:
- Have lunch at the local park: Along the Contoocook River is Azalea Park, a tranquil stretch of woodlands where you can sit on a beach, take in the untouched fall foliage, and listen to the water running by.
- Learn about Native American history on Abenaki homeland: In the nearby town of Warner is the Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum, where you can immerse yourself in the past and contemporary Native life that has historically existed in New Hampshire. Check out the museum galleries filled with artifacts, participate in seasonal workshops and events, and walk along the Medicine Woods trail to absorb the natural environment.
- Drive through the other historic towns for scenic views: Currier & Ives Scenic Byway is an autumn treat, spanning across five communities in Merrimack County that allows you to wind through small towns filled with rich history. Starting from Henniker, you can drive north through the towns of Hopkinton, Warner, Webster, and Salisbury and you can hit anything you missed on the way back down.
Insider tip: If you happen to be in town Oct. 8 through Oct. 10, pop over to Warner for their annual Fall Foliage Festival. There will be local shops with handcrafted wonders, a 5K running race that supports the town, barbeque chicken to feast on, and above all, colorful leaves to enjoy.
Sugar Hill: A Pancake Paradise
Sugar Hill is a small town established in 1962, which makes it the newest town in New Hampshire to date. While the town named after local sugar maples may not have as much recorded history as the other destinations in the state, that doesn’t mean there’s a lack of fall activities to take part in. As a matter of fact, it’s quite the opposite: this town was established on grounds with an already impressive roster of things to do in the leaf peeping season.
From binging on homemade pancakes at the town’s quite famous pancake house, to indulging in the local cheese and produce, and popping by the lupine fields to gaze at the surrounding White Mountains, there are plenty of things to see and do that make Sugar Hill worth a visit.
Here are the best things to do in Sugar Hill, New Hampshire in the fall:
- Dine at an award-winning pancake house: It’s not every day that a pancake house wins a James Beard Award, but one of them is located right in the small town of Sugar Hill. Polly’s Pancake Parlor is known across the country, thanks to its “Classic Award” fame, and the joint features an impressive menu of pancake possibilities. Pick one out of seven batters, then choose your add-in toppings. And, of course, douse in maple syrup and/or Polly’s homemade maple spread.
- Walk around the lupine fields for scenic views: Although lupines bloom in June and are long gone by September, the fields where they grow are still worth visiting in the autumn. And they aren’t just in one place, but all across town — from the fields that surrounded St. Matthew’s Chapel to right down the street from Polly’s Pancake Parlour. Be sure to head to the former Sugar Hill Sampler for fields that boast stellar views of the White Mountains!
- Head to the country store for local cheese: Harman’s Cheese and Country Store is a small store with a big reputation for selling some of the best cheese around. They’re known for their “World’s Greatest” cheddar, but they also sell local produce and baked goods that they post about on their Facebook page daily. And there’s no harm in stopping by to check out the general store, even if you don’t buy anything (which you probably will).
Walpole: A Farm-to-Everything Hotspot
Located in the southwestern part of New Hampshire, the town of Walpole in Cheshire County is another quaint town where you can enjoy the sites and attractions that scream “picturesque fall.” The town is filled with historic homes that date back to the mid-1700s and attractions that focus on the land — from pick-your-own orchards to working farms and scenic nature trails.
Here are the best things to do in Walpole, New Hampshire in the fall:
- Visit (and possibly stay at) a local orchard: Alyson’s Orchard grows seasonal fruits on its 450-acre property, with the star of the fall show being its apples. The orchard grows over 50 varieties of apples, and right now you can pick-your-own “Paula Red” apples and buy pre-picked “Jersey Macs,” “Duchess of Oldenburg,” and “Paula Reds.” Not only can you pick the apples onsite, but you can also stay onsite, too, with two farmhouses and a lodge available for bookings. So you can have your apples, and sleep next to them, too.
- Explore a 125-acre “garden:” You can take in the natural surroundings while learning about it at the Distance Hill Garden & Nature Trail, made up of 125 acres of forest, fields, and wetlands that aims to support biological diversity. It’s an environmental and horticultural learning center through its immersive activities — from vernal pools and shrub gardens, to workshops that cover things like edible mushroom IDing and tasting and landscaping with nature plants. One of the new attractions is the Distance Hill Nature Trail, a gravel trail that gives you a closer look at Distance Hill and the beautiful landscape.
- Get the full farm-to-everything experience: Walpole Valley Farms will give you the full New Hampshire experience through farm-to-everything attractions. What started as a livestock operation aiming to raise healthy food for communities has now expanded with a farm-to-table restaurant called The Hungry Diner and on-site accommodations called The Inn at Valley Farms. Order a grass-fed local burger with a craft beer, bop around the farm store, and maybe consider staying for a night.
Jaffrey: A Mountain Retreat
The small town of Jaffrey is located almost right on the border of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. With a population of less than 6,000 residents, it’s not too large, and it’s not too small — it’s just right (but probably has more than 3 bears!).
Jaffrey does get a decent amount of visitors in the fall, however, thanks to its famous Mount Monadnock State Park that’s one of the most frequented peaks in the world. Speaking of Monadnock, Jaffrey is also home to a fantastic driving loop that takes you through more picturesque towns of New England, providing more scenic opportunities to maximize your leaf-peeping journey.
Here are the best things to do in Jaffrey, New Hampshire in the fall:
- Hike up one of the most visited summits of all time: The 3,165-foot-tall Mount Monadnock attracts hikers of all levels because of its accessibility and breathtaking summit views: on a clear day, you might be able to see as far as the Boston skyline and Mount Washington. You can park your car at Monadnock State Park Headquarters for a small fee, then start your climb from there. Fair warning, it does get crowded, so you might want to consider doing the climb early in the day, later at night, or during the weekdays. Also, if you’re looking for the easier trails, head up on the White Dot Trail (although there is a steep part to it) or the White Arrow Trail. For more planning help, check out these tips.
- Take a drive through the surrounding New England towns: Another region, another scenic drive recommendation that is definitely worth filling up the tank for. The Monadnock Regional Loop is approximately 80 miles, and it takes you through more of the quintessential New England towns (because really, the more the merrier when experiencing fall in New Hampshire). Start outside of Mount Monadnock State Park and head toward the town of Peterborough, then to the town of Greenfield, and so on. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to complete the loop.
- Grab an ice cream cone: No New Hampshire list is complete without an ice cream recommendation, especially during the fall when flavors like pumpkin and gingersnap molasses hit Kimball Farm ice cream stands. Kimball’s has been serving up ice cream since 1939, and with over 50 delicious flavors, there’s something for whatever you’re in the mood for (pumpkin for me, always). In addition to sweet treats, Kimball Farm has a country store where you can order a pumpkin spice latte and pick up fall decor to bring home with you.
Where to Stay in New Hampshire
My strong recommendation is to book a cozy cabin in the White Mountains. Just look at this log cabin with all stunning wooden interior details. When I imagine staying in New Hampshire, this is what that looks like: cozy, rustic, and in the middle of nature.
This rental grants full access to the lower level that can comfortably fit four guests (and you can bring your pet, the dream). It has a fully functioning kitchen, living room with a sleeper sofa, bedroom with a queen, and private bathroom, not to mention a pretty stellar yard with surrounding foliage that brings leaf peeping to you.
Now this is a fall-like spot to come back to after a jam-packed day of fall things, don’t you think? And since this rental is located in the White Mountains, a good chunk of the towns and cities above are a short drive away – but since New Hampshire is decently small, nowhere will be an impossible drive.
What to Pack for New Hampshire
The weather in fall in New Hampshire is fickle, and it’s not uncommon to experience rain and sun in the course of a day. Here are a few essentials to pack and bring with you on your trip:
- Packable Down Jacket: Fall weather is unpredictable, particularly when you’re in/around/near mountains. This lightweight down jacket packs down into a tiny ball of fluff and will keep you warm when you need it. Keep one tucked away in your bag – chances are you’ll forget it’s even in there until you’re suddenly in dire need!
- Rain Jacket: For the same reason you want to bring a just-in-case warm jacket, a just-in-case rain jacket is also an excellent idea. This one also packs down into a tiny, lightweight little ball to tuck into your day bag.
- Re-Usable Water Bottle: The higher the elevation, the more water you need to drink! Keep the wilderness pristine and plastic-free by bringing your own re-useable water bottle. We love this one because the insulation will keep water ice-cold or coffee piping hot for hours and hours!
- Hiking clothes. We’re talking about a few jaunts…you don’t need the heavy-duty stuff. Just make sure you have sturdy pants (like this) and shoes that can handle hikes or any outdoor activity (such as these).
- Portable charger. You’re going to be snapping pictures and running GPS. Even if your car has a charger, we recommend grabbing an Anker charger. It supercharges your phone AND holds a charge for days on end. We swear by it!
- Camera. If your phone has an adequate camera, great! If not, you’re going to want to bring a camera to capture some of the views and sights you’ll see. Make sure you’ve got a decent zoom range because there are going to be wide vistas and hard to see wildlife! We recommend a GoPro to capture those sweeping views. You can even mount it on your dashboard and take a timelapse of your drive!
About Our Guest Poster: Nicoletta Richardson is a lifestyle journalist and a full-time editor at Apartment Therapy. Her work has appeared in Women’s Health, AFAR, Tasting Table, and Travel + Leisure, among other outlets. When she isn’t daydreaming about her next trip, she’s writing about travel in her weekly newsletter Sunday Spontaneity or on her Instagram.
What are you most excited to experience during fall in New Hampshire? Drop us a comment below!
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