New Hampshire in winter is perfect for those yearning to escape city crowds and find relief from daily stress.
As a first-time visitor to The Granite State, I was astounded by the dramatic landscapes, ethereal snow-covered trees, and quiet.
In fact, it often felt like my husband and I were the only people for miles – and we might’ve been!
Even though we didn’t partake in any winter sports, there was always plenty to keep us occupied off the slopes.
So if you’re looking to experience New Hampshire in winter beyond snow sports, you’re in the right place.
Here are 10 of the best off-the-slope activities to enjoy during winter in New Hampshire.
The Kancamagus Highway – affectionately known as “The Kanc”– runs for 34.5 miles along New Hampshire’s Route 112. It weaves through the heart of the White Mountain National Forest and reaches an elevation just under 3,000 feet.
This stretch of highway is one of New England’s most scenic routes and one of the best fall foliage points in the U.S. For this reason, it’s especially popular during leaf-peeping season.
One of the reasons this highway is so seductively beautiful is its remote nature.
The Kanc is so remote, in fact, that you won’t find any rest stops, gas stations, or food establishments along it.
One of my favorite spots along The Kanc is the Russell-Colbath Homestead.
This charming structure was originally built back in the early 1830’s.
The US Forest Service purchased it years later in 1961 as a means of preserving its historic location. It then underwent reconstruction in 2003.
Although the barn – which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places – is open seasonally, it’s closed in winter.
That said, we absolutely couldn’t resist capturing it from the street against the snowy forest backdrop.
You can read more about the history of the property and inquire about renting it out for a special event here.
The Kancamagus Highway begins just east of Lincoln, runs along NH Route 112, and continues eastward towards Conway.
As mentioned, The Kanc runs through the center of the striking White Mountain National Forest.
Fortunately, this highway offers numerous areas for you to pull off, park the car, and explore the quiet beauty of the forest.
You may also notice that these passageways serve as entrance points for cross-country skiers, hikers, and the occasional snowmobiler as well.
You’ll definitely want to take the opportunity to pull off road to admire the winter wonderland scenery, regardless of the nature of your visit.
The White Mountain National Forest is located at 71 White Mountain Drive in Campton, New Hampshire.
I honestly wasn’t sure if Franconia Notch State Park would be worth visiting while in New Hampshire in winter. Well, I was wrong!
If anything, the snowy day we had made the experience all the more special.
Franconia Notch State Park is located in the center of White Mountain National Forest. This mountain pass is traversed by a parkway extending from Flume Gorge to Echo Park.
You can read more about the trails and campgrounds as well as view a map of the park here.
We hiked to the Flume Covered Bridge on our brief visit here and it was absolutely beautiful in the snow.
The bridge is located at The Flume, as the name suggests. It’s actually one of the oldest covered bridges in New Hampshire, dating back to 1886. It’s open to foot traffic as well as maintenance vehicles and crosses over the Pemigewasset River.
I’m sure this area is also stunning in the fall, with all of the foliage colors.
Franconia Notch State Park is located at Flume Gorge, Daniel Webster Highway in Lincoln, New Hampshire.
Have you ever dreamt about riding a train through the snowy mountains?
Well, you can get your wish in northern New Hampshire!
The Conway Scenic Railroad offers a uniquely beautiful journey north to the beautiful Attitash Mountain Resort.
Although we didn’t have a chance to ride it, I definitely want to hop aboard the train trend next autumn.
That said, this colorful train station was definitely the most unique and eye-catching I’ve seen on my travels.
This 90-minute excursion is perfect whether you’re feeling nostalgic or looking to take the kids on a “Polar Express-esque” experience.
Sandwiches, snacks, and beverages are available for purchase onboard.
Head here to check pricing information/availability and book a train.
The snow train to Attitash Mountain Resort departs from the Conway Scenic Railroad. The station is located at 38 Norcross Circle in North Conway, New Hampshire.
Ice Castles is easily one of the biggest draws of northern New Hampshire in winter.
This frozen attraction incorporates hundreds of thousands of icicles which have been carefully hand-placed by professional ice artists. You’ll find everything from ice-carved tunnels, to LED-lit sculptures, to icy thrones throughout the exhibit.
This winter phenomenon is definitely catching on quickly, particularly in the Instagram world. In fact, I first caught wind of it years back on the gram.
However, I didn’t realize there was a New Hampshire location until inadvertently stumbling across it on Pinterest while trip planning.
There are a total of four Ice Castles located throughout North America, including New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Utah, and Colorado.
Since each location is weather-dependent, the season can begin anywhere from late December to early January. Ice Castles remain open anywhere from late February until early March, depending on how cold it stays.
I’ll say, while it’s hyped up on social media amongst a millennial audience, this is definitely more of a child-centric excursion.
For instance, I expected the slides that were advertised to be much larger, but they’re most definitely intended for the little-legged.
There were also some fun miniature ice sculptures aimed at the kiddos.
That said, as a self-proclaimed moose fanatic, I was equally as excited as the littles (if not more so), to discover this hidden gem!
Ice Castles can definitely be fun for adults, too. You’ll just need to exercise some patience if you’re after those Insta-worthy photos.
First off, the main area where people congregate isn’t very big, so you’ll need to negotiate space with other photo-takers.
That said, with a bit of creativity, you can find a cool photo opportunity or two removed from the crowds.
I was especially excited to discover the “enchanted forest,” since it was a little challenging to negotiate a shooting location amidst the crowd. Here, you can go on a magical walk through the snowy woods.
This area is located behind the main action, making it somewhat more removed from the overenthusiastic tourists.
I was super impressed by the hanging lanterns and magical snow-fairy vibe at the entranceway. It created such a romantic aura!
In addition, from a general visitor perspective, I found the horse-drawn sleigh rides to be a really nice touch.
Honestly, how could you not love these sweet horses?
Just keep in mind that there’s an additional charge for a ride and you’ll need to purchase a ticket for this activity in advance.
The property also includes a handful of fire pits, which are scattered throughout the grounds. I definitely appreciated the opportunity to toast up at one of these after braving the cold in my sleeveless dress!
Ice Castles New Hampshire is located at 24 Clark Farm Road in North Woodstock.
Did you know you could go dog sledding in northern New Hampshire?
I was certainly blown away when I first discovered this!
Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel offers dog sledding adventures from mid-December to March out of their kennel in Jefferson, New Hampshire.
Each tour begins with a “meet and greet,” where sledders can get to know the dogs and help prepare them for the trail.
Tours then run from 90 minutes to three hours long, depending on the age of participants and experience level.
Post-adventure, it’s time to say goodbye with belly rubs!
Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to go this time around, as tours were booked up. However, it’s yet another thing I’d love to try on a return trip!
Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel is located at 32 Valley Road in Jefferson, New Hampshire.
The dramatic mountains of northern New Hampshire truly took my breath away.
In fact, I was never bored as a car passenger because there was always an impressive window view to distract me.
Mount Washington, in particular, is the highest peak in the Northeast.
I was surprised to find that it towers over some of the most impressive ranges I’ve seen in Crete, Greece!
Whether you’re hiking Mount Washington or photographing it from a distance, it’s a must on any northern New Hampshire itinerary.
You can also drive up to Marshfield Base Station, which is home to the Cog Railway Museum, a free and interactive museum exhibit.
While here, you can also pop into the food court/convenience store for a bite to eat, souvenirs, and other handy items.
The Marshfield Base Station is located at 3168 Base Station Rd in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.
While in the area, I highly recommend checking out the impressive Omni Mount Washington Resort.
Even if you’re staying elsewhere as we did, this famous resort is definitely worth a drive by, at the very least.
On a clear day (unlike the foggy one we had), you can actually get a picture-perfect view of Mount Washington, which sits behind it. It’s spectacular!
Omni Mount Washington Resort is located at 310 Mount Washington Hotel Road in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.
Although I’m limiting these winter-focused suggestions to off-the-slope activities, I did want to include sledding on the list.
It’s almost always snowing in New Hampshire in winter, so there are numerous opportunities for this fun pastime!
I suggest heading to one of the openings off of the Kancamagus Highway and then seeing where the day takes you.
As I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, New Hampshire in winter is unspeakably beautiful. That’s why I suggest coming prepared with a camera so you can capture it.
If you’re bringing a professional camera, I recommend also carrying a range of lenses for versatility.
For instance, you’ll definitely want to include a telephoto in the mix. This will allow you to capture the detail and drama of the landscapes.
That said, one of the downsides of a telephoto lens is that you’ll lose a bit of depth to your photos.
To combat this, we also shot a number of our photos at or around 35mm, to capture a wider scope of the winter scenery.
- Kancamagus Highway
- Inlets of the White Mountain National Forest (accessible from The Kanc)
- The Russell-Colbath Homestead
- Side streets offering views of Mount Washington
I hope you’ve enjoyed this round-up of the best winter activities in New Hampshire.
Frankly, if we had more time, I could probably make this listicle twice as long, but I’ll just use that as my excuse to visit again!
For additional inspiration, I encourage you to check out my other posts on the New England area:
- Most Bewitching Places to Experience Woodstock, Vermont in the Fall
- Where to Experience the Magic of Woodstock, Vermont in Winter
- What to Do on Nantucket to Avoid the 15 Worst Rookie Mistakes
- 10 Fun Things to Do in Kennebunkport
- The Prettiest Lighthouses in Portland for Your Charming Maine Vacation
- The 1-Day Acadia National Park Itinerary You’ll Want to Steal
- Most Breathtaking Places to Experience Fall in The Berkshires
- Most Instagrammable Towns North of Boston
- 10 Dreamy Gardens in Connecticut You Can’t Miss
Have you been to New Hampshire in winter before? If so, what were some of your favorite activities? Let me know in the comments below!