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Picturesque towns soften the valleys of New Hampshire’s granite mountains and rivers curl around the rural state, carving landscapes into stone that leads out to a small but rugged New England coast. Ski resorts and cozy lodges make New Hampshire one the East Coast’s best spots for a winter getaway, while plentiful hiking paths snake through ancient forests in warmer months. As a bonus for those enjoying New Hampshire’s outdoor spaces, spring welcomes maple syrup season and fall comes with an impressive rainbow of colors as the leaves turn. Old New England architecture and historic buildings rival the scenery for views throughout New Hampshire in the bigger cities like Manchester, Concord, and Nashua, as well as charming towns like Peterborough and Hanover.
New Hampshire’s largest airport is Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT), which serves mostly destinations around the northeastern United States, but Boston’s Logan International Airport (BOS) is just 30 minutes from the state border and receives flights from major cities all over the world. Most of the state’s small towns are best reached by car, but buses from Logan airport (as well as South Station) serve many medium and large cities in the state. Amtrak’s Downeaster train route makes three stops in southern New Hampshire on its way from Boston to Brunswick, Maine, and while the Vermonter route from Washington, D.C. and New York City has only one stop in New Hampshire, it hugs the Connecticut River that forms the border with Vermont, and many stops are within minutes of the state.
New Hampshire’s distinct seasons include extremely cold, long winters; short, hot summers; falls marked by the stunning colors of the trees; and — so the joke goes — mud season. But locals and visitors alike embrace the subzero temperatures and icy conditions with plenty of ski areas and outdoor recreation, plus festivals that celebrate the snow, like Dartmouth College’s Winter Carnival, Keene’s Ice and Snow Festival, and Jackson’s Snow Sculpting Invitational. In spring, maple sap begins pouring from the trees, making it a good time to visit the state’s many sugar shacks for a taste of the seasonal treat, and, once the snow melts, a good time to explore lowland hiking trails. By fall, the focus turns to a different part of the forest, as the mountains become striped with bands of red, orange, and yellow that leaf-peepers love.
The tallest mountain in the Northeast towers above the state, its peak catching every type of weather that passes through, including high winds and the occasional summer snowstorm. Head to the summit — by foot, scenic road, or historic cog railway — to observe the impressive weather and enjoy the view over four states plus Canada.
Classic New England architecture, rolling green hills, and the gentle Connecticut River come together in the town of Hanover, home of Dartmouth College. The school’s presence allows the town to punch far above its weight, drawing world-class culture, while the institution’s long history supplies its well-maintained historic buildings. Walk in the footsteps of poet Robert Frost, canoe down the river, and ski at the Dartmouth Skiway next to the school’s Olympic-level race team.
A quirk of New Hampshire’s geography left the state with just 18 miles of shoreline, but from there, you can see these nine islands just off the coast. Nobody lives on the mysterious islands year-round, but you can tour them from boats, and, when tide conditions are just right, land on the rocky islands, which hold an 1821 lighthouse, a marine laboratory, and a wildlife refuge, among other things.