The Northeast’s Winter Wonderland
The cure for the midwinter blues? Get a good group together and head to the Granite State.
New Hampshire is a little state with big opportunities, and winter is the perfect time of year to enjoy it all. There are 19 ski resorts with varying terrain, but there’s plenty to do outside of skiing and riding. From the hardcore hikes and beginner ice-climbing routes to sampling the state’s best beer and driving country roads, New Hampshire has something for everyone in your crew.
Float on Deep Powder
Snowshoeing is the ideal group activity—anyone can do it, and just about everyone will enjoy it. One of the state’s best places to try it out is Jackson Ski Touring Foundation, where you can rent snowshoes for only $12 a day and wander among the snow-covered trees on their 25+ miles of trails built specifically for snowshoers. Our favorite: the Betty Whitney Trail, which winds through the woods to The Shovel Handle, a post-and-beam pub where you can relax and recharge with comfort food and live music.
Take a Winter Hike
One of our favorite shorter hikes ascends Mount Major, which offers panoramic views of Lake Winnipesaukee, the largest lake in the state. You can reach the summit multiple ways, but we’d suggest the Mount Major Main Trail and Brook Trail Loop, which comes in at a little under four miles round trip. Experienced hikers can try one of the state’s 48 4,000-foot peaks. We’d recommend Madison, Adams, or Jefferson, which are all part of the Presidential Range (the highest points in the state) and offer incredible views of the stark and snow-covered neighboring peaks.
Whether you’re looking for a little culture or adventure, the largest city in the state has something for everyone in your crew. If you need to burn off some energy, check out Vertical Dreams climbing gym, which boasts a 70-foot wall, or play detective at Granite State Escape, where you and eight friends get locked in a room and have to solve puzzles and clues in order to get out. If you’re looking for something more artsy, stop by the internationally renowned Currier Museum of Art or catch a show at the Palace Theatre, where you can see live music, comedy shows, or plays. Cap it all off with a meal at Mint Bistro, a contemporary fusion restaurant that specializes in cocktails, tapas, and sushi, including their Monarchs Maki made with cilantro, salmon, and chili sauce.
Sample the State’s Best Beers
With 59 breweries throughout the state, there’s no shortage of craft beer in New Hampshire. If you only have time to hit three, start at Smuttynose Brewing, in the coastal town of Hampton. Brewery tours are free, and you can get four 4-ounce samples for $4. Next, head north to Tuckerman Brewing Company—named after nearby Tuckerman Ravine, the state’s fabled backcountry bowl—for some indoor cornhole and their deep-colored 6288 Stout. Wind up the mini-tour at the Woodstock Inn Station & Brewery, a rustic restaurant and brewery near Cannon and Loon Mountain. Tip: There’s live music on weekend nights, and the crowd can be surprisingly lively—including revelers still in their hiking boots or skiing layers.
Splurge at the State’s Most Iconic Resort
As far as location goes, you can’t beat the Omni Mount Washington Resort. Nestled into the middle of the White Mountains just two and a half hours from Boston, this luxury resort is one of a kind. Built in 1902, this 200-room, red and white Spanish Renaissance-style hotel has been a favorite among presidents and celebrities. Although there’s plenty to do nearby, you don’t have to leave the grounds in search of entertainment. The resort has an on-site award-winning Nordic ski center, snowmobiling tours, snowshoeing, an outdoor pool with views of the mountains, and nightly fires on their wrap-around porch. And a killer bar: The Cave, a hotel bar with granite and stone walls that was a speakeasy during prohibition.
Drive the Country Roads
Sometimes good friends, a good playlist, and a leisurely drive through the countryside is the perfect way to spend a relaxing down day. New Hampshire is home to 54 historic covered bridges, including the Cornish–Windsor Bridge, the longest wooden covered bridge in the U.S. Take a day to tour some of the most photogenic of the bunch, including the Stark Covered Bridge, which is flanked by a small white church; the Swiftwater Covered Bridge, which runs over small waterfalls; and the covered bridge on the Jackson Ski Touring Foundation property (see first tip), which is painted bright red and pops against the white snow.
Scale Frozen Waterfalls
Ice climbing is as thrilling and challenging as it sounds. North Conway’s International Mountain Climbing School offers eight different ice-climbing courses, from introductory classes to the hardest routes in the Northeast and, thanks to its location in New Hampshire’s favorite mountain town, has access to some of the state’s best terrain. Another option is Northeast Mountaineering, which offers a two-day course that almost guarantees you’ll be scaling multipitch climbs on day two. No gear? No problem. Both outfitters can set you up with everything you’ll need to get out there.
From lakes and ponds to man-made rinks, there are plenty of places to learn or show off your skills. Nestlenook Farm in Jackson has a three-acre, groomed rink where you can rent skates ($12) for the day and warm up by a fire pit with some hot chocolate. Those looking for some competitive fun can join a pickup pond hockey game in Hanover at Occom Pond, which rents skates and sticks ($17).
Whether you’re looking to carve your way down fresh trails at one of our 19 ski resorts, ride thousands of miles of epic trails on a snowmobile, or take a winter hike through our picture-perfect White Mountains, New Hampshire has your winter covered. Plan your winter adventure today! Learn more at VisitNH.gov.