Domestic Travel

Top 10 Things to Do in New Hampshire in Winter Off the Slopes

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Last Updated on March 3, 2021 by epapp

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.

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10 Can’t-Miss Activities While Visiting New Hampshire in Winter

1. Drive the Kancamagus Highway

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.

Although I’ve only experienced Massachusetts and Vermont in the fall thus far, I’m planning to return to capture The Kanc in full color.

PHOTO TIP: The Kanc is so stunningly beautiful that you’ll probably witness numerous people stop to photograph it during your visit.

Watch out for cars if you decide to capture it from the middle of the road as we did. I recommend shooting with a telephoto lens (70mm – 300mm) if you do.

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.

PRO TIP: I suggest fueling up and relieving yourself prior to hopping on. Fortunately, you’ll find rest stops and other conveniences at each end, regardless of which way you enter/exit the highway.

Attractions Along the Way

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.

How to Get Here:

The Kancamagus Highway begins just east of Lincoln, runs along NH Route 112, and continues eastward towards Conway.

2. Explore White Mountain National Forest

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.

How to Get Here:

The White Mountain National Forest is located at 71 White Mountain Drive in Campton, New Hampshire.

3. Hike Franconia Notch State Park

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.

PRO TIP: Make sure to wear boots with good traction when hiking to this covered bridge in winter, as the descent is a bit steep.

I’m sure this area is also stunning in the fall, with all of the foliage colors.

How to Get Here:

Franconia Notch State Park is located at Flume Gorge, Daniel Webster Highway in Lincoln, New Hampshire.

4. Ride the Snow Train to Attitash Mountain Resort

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.

How to Get Here:

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.

5. Visit Ice Castles 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!

What to Expect When Taking Photos Here:

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.

PHOTO TIP: I recommend finding a cavernous area to shoot. Not only will this limit (or eliminate) people from wandering through your shot, it’s also a great deal warmer than shooting out in the open air. (I should know, I was dressed as Elsa from Frozen, after all!)

Also, if you’re getting dressed up like me, I recommend tucking your dress into pants under a warm coat. Since re-entry isn’t permitted, you won’t be able to go back to your car to change. However, there are portable toilets located throughout the property, should you need one.

I’d also suggest framing your shot in advance as much as possible. This way, you can get in and out without causing too much of a disruption in the traffic flow.

Additional Attractions Beyond the Ice Castles

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!

How to Get Here:

Ice Castles New Hampshire is located at 24 Clark Farm Road in North Woodstock.

6. Go Dog Sledding

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!

How to Get Here:

Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel is located at 32 Valley Road in Jefferson, New Hampshire.

7. Visit the Highest Peak on the East Coast

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.

How to Get Here:

The Marshfield Base Station is located at 3168 Base Station Rd in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.

8. Check Out Omni Mount Washington Resort

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!

FUN FACT: Part of Kubrick’s film, The Shining, was shot at Omni Mount Washington Resort!

How to Get Here:

Omni Mount Washington Resort is located at 310 Mount Washington Hotel Road in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.

9. Go Sledding

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.

10. Photograph the Winter Wonderland Scenery

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.

Some of my favorite spots to photograph in New Hampshire include:

  • 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:

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!

Did you find this post useful? Pin it to your boards!

51 thoughts on “Top 10 Things to Do in New Hampshire in Winter Off the Slopes

  1. New Hampshire is really high on my fall/winter USA bucket list! The ice castles look so amazing, and I really love the Frozen vibes your photos give off. Your photos in general are stunning! Thanks for sharing this helpful, informative post 🙂

    1. That’s great, it’s such a beautiful (and underrated) destination! The Ice Castles were cool, but I’d be interested to visit some of the ones in other locations (which seem to be a bit larger). Thanks so much for your kind words regarding the photos!

  2. I’d love to explore White Mountain National Forest and see the covered bridge at Franconia Notch State Park! I haven’t had a lot of experience with snow, so I feel like it would be a magical experience

      1. Hi there, I just wanted to let you know that Mt Washington (6,288), also known as Agiocochook, is not the highest peak on the east coast, but in the Northeast. The highest is Mount Mitchell (6,684), and second highest is Mount Craig (6,6437), which are both along the AT in North Carolina. There are actually 7 peaks higher than Mt Washington on the east coast.

        1. Hi Becky, I really appreciate you taking the time to leave this note. I’ve done additional research and made the update, thanks again!

  3. That shot of you in the blue dress at the ice sculpture park is incredible. (All of your photos are beautiful!) We haven’t had any snow where I live this year, so I’m a bit jealous of your winter wonderland. Oh and that Omni hotel looks fancy! 🙂

  4. New Hampshire looks like such a magical winter wonderland! It’s absolutely breath-taking! I’d love to do all of these things! A winter hike to admire the views or a ride on the snow train both sound wonderful. I’d definitely love to visit the Ice Castles though…they look amazing! Thanks for the great guide!

  5. Wow! New Hampshire looks so beautiful. I am DEFINITELY making my way there sometime this year (I’m thinking fall), but you definitely inspired me and your photos are so beautiful! 🙂 I didn’t realize New Hampshire’s mountains are that high! Also your dresses are stunning from this trip.

  6. I’m not much into snow sports, so it’s good to see all the things to do in New Hampshire in winter other than the typical winter sports. It would be fun to try dog sledding!

    1. I can completely relate because I’m the exact same way. That’s why NH really impressed me. There’s still so much to do even if you’re not a skier/snowboarder. And YES, I need to try the dog sledding next time!

    1. Thanks so much, Lyndsay. I’m so glad you liked the photo tips. I’ve become really passionate about photography so I’ve been enjoying sharing more about that.

  7. Oh my goodness, New Hampshire looks like the perfect winter getaway! I would love to go hiking in the White Mountain National Forest and ride the snow train! What a magical way to enjoy the winter season. Thanks for sharing!

  8. New Hampshire looks like a winter wonderland! It’s amazing to discover how many things you can do there. Also, your pictures are so good! I love them 🙂

  9. You’ve transported me to winter wonderland! Love the shots with your telephoto lens of the road… and the ice castles shots turned out so wonderfully! Loved reading this guidet

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