Lincoln is one of the best towns to visit in the White Mountains region of New Hampshire for families, and offers a really fun variety of things to do, as well as access to some of the most incredible outdoors activities in the region. If you’re planning a trip to the area, and are wondering about all the best things to do in Lincoln, NH, then I’ve got you covered. Let’s get started!
Is Lincoln, NH Worth Visiting?
Absolutely! Lincoln, NH is centrally-located within the White Mountains region, and allows you easy access to some of the absolute best things to do. There’s also a cute little Main Street, great restaurants, and Lincoln is also a gateway to the Kancamagus Scenic Byway, one of the most beautiful drives in New England in the fall season.
On top of all that, Lincoln is also home to some of the best kid-friendly activities in the area, as well as some of the most fun and scenic outdoors activities, including Lost River Gorge and the Lincoln Woods Trail.
Best Things To Do In Lincoln, NH
This post is going to be broken down into the overall best things to do in Lincoln, NH, sections that include specific seasonal activities, and also suggestions on things to do nearby. Let’s start with the overall best things to do!
1. Stroll Through The Charming Downtown
One of the easiest and most relaxing things to do in Lincoln, NH is to take a stroll down the charming Main Street. It’s not the largest of all the Main Streets in the area, but it does have some cute stores and eateries, and is backdropped by the gorgeous mountains at every turn. This is a great place to stop before heading out onto the Kancamagus Scenic Byway!
Pro Tip: Did you know that New Hampshire doesn’t charge sales tax, even for visitors? That means you can indulge in some serious retail therapy during your trip, and it’ll cost less than other states! Happy shopping 🙂
2. Ride New Hampshire’s Longest Gondola
One of the coolest things to do in Lincoln, NH is to take a ride on New Hampshire’s longest gondola, the White Mountain Express at Loon Mountain. This gondola runs during all four seasons, and is especially fun to do in the fall to admire the gorgeous foliage colors.
The ride up Loon Mountain is about 1.3 miles long, and once you get to the top, you’ll be able to take in stunning views of the surrounding landscapes.
3. Explore The Summit Of Loon Mountain (Including Glacier Caves!)
Once you’ve arrived to the top of the mountain, plan time to explore the summit! From there, you can connect to some of the scenic hiking trails, have lunch at the Summit Cafe and explore glacier caves.
Of those options, I think the glacier caves are the most fun to explore at the top of the mountain. Admission to the caves is included with your gondola ticket, and scrambling through the giant boulders that were formed during the ice age is such a unique and exciting experience.
4. Have Lunch & Make Pottery At Fired On The Mountain
For a memorable and relaxing experience, one of the best things to do in Lincoln, NH is head to Fired On The Mountain to enjoy a delicious lunch and create a special pottery piece to take home with you. Offering both classes to learn how to throw clay on the wheel, as well as paint your own pottery sessions, there’s sure to be an option that works for you.
After getting your hands in the mud, as they say, head to their vegetarian cafe for a really yummy lunch, which has comfort food favorites like grilled cheese, quesadillas and veggie burgers. Don’t forget to try some of their baked goods, too!
5. Look For Moose
If seeing a moose in its natural habitat is something on your New Hampshire bucket list, you’ll want to take a tour with Pemi Valley Moose Tours. These excursions are led by wildlife experts that offer insight into these majestic creatures, and have a 97% success rate in spotting them. During the tour, it’s also possible you’ll see other wildlife, including bears and foxes.
Keep in mind that tours are typically held in the dark, as that’s when the moose are most active. Tours take place from May through September each year.
6. Hike The Lincoln Woods Trail
One of the best hiking trails in Lincoln, NH is the Lincoln Woods Trail. This 9.5 mile trail offers amazing opportunities to explore the Pemigewasset backcountry, which is the largest area of its kind in the Northeast, and can be accessed from the Kancamagus Scenic Byway. If you’d like a shorter walk, you can also do parts of the trail to get a taste of the experience.
During the trail, you’ll cross scenic bridges, take in mountain views and walk by waterfalls. And of course, you’ll feel completely submerged into the very best that nature has to offer.
For this hike, you’ll want to be sure to offline maps, or have access to a trail map, as you won’t have cell service to help you navigate the path.
Best Things To Do In Lincoln, NH In The Summer
Some of the best things to do in Lincoln, NH are perfect summertime activities, including some really awesome kid-friendly parks and adventure courses. Here are the best things to do in the area in the warmer months.
7. Concur The Alpine Adventures Obstacle Course
Also nicknamed “Thrillsville,” this really fun obstacle course at Alpine Adventures is one of the best things to do in Lincoln, NH in the summer. After a quick (but comprehensive) safety run-down, you’re off to explore the course on your own, which is perfect because it allows you time to do everything at your own pace.
During the course, you’ll cross bridges, treehouses, rope ladders and lots more. If that’s not enough of a thrill for you, then you’ll want to look into adding ziplining to your day at the course!
8. Discover The Whale’s Tale Waterpark
For families, one of the best things to do in Lincoln, NH to cool off from the summer heat is to head to Whale’s Tale Waterpark. Regarded as one of the best water parks in all of New England, you’ll get your chance at learning how to surf waves, fly down countless slides and relax in their lazy river.
There are also food and drink options for both adults and kids (including extra special cocktail for the adults!), so you can really plan an entire here and not have to worry about bringing your own food and snacks.
9. Spend A Magical Day At Story Land
Heck, even as an adult, Story Land is kind of magical! It’s also one of the best things to do in the area with kids. Open seasonally from the end of May through Indigenous People’s weekend in October, the entire park is designed to feel like you’ve fallen into a magical story book land, and you’ll find rides, opportunities to dine with Cinderella, immerse yourself into Alice’s Wonderland and even go on a dinosaur safari.
Things To Do In Lincoln, NH In The Fall
Fall is probably my personal favorite time to visit Lincoln, and the foliage will put on some amazing displays at every turn. Here are some suggestions for things to do in Lincoln, NH that help you celebrate fall, and take in as much foliage color as possible.
10. Admire The Foliage Along The Kancamagus Scenic Byway
While this scenic drive is open year-round, it’s at its absolute best in the fall, and is one of the best drives you can take in New Hampshire to admire the foliage.
This scenic drive begins in Lincoln, and after 56 miles, ends in Conway. In between, you’ll have several opportunities to pull over at some scenic overlooks for amazing views of the mountains, and also take some really awesome hikes (including the Lincoln Woods Trail mentioned earlier), and explore some waterfalls.
To drive the entire route in one direction, I recommend budgeting about 1.5 hours, especially in the fall season, as people will slow down a lot to admire the foliage, and traffic can get backed up. You can also easily make a day of driving the byway, and stop to do a lot of hiking or admire the attractions along the way.
11. Hike Mount Pemigewasset
One of the best hikes for fall foliage in Lincoln is the hike to Mount Pemigewasset. Located in Franconia Notch State Park, this out-and-back hike is just under 4 miles long, and is the perfect moderate hike to get a workout without being super challenging.
At the top, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the mountains covered in a blanket of gorgeous fall color.
12. Take A Scenic Foliage Train Ride
One thing that the White Mountains region does really well is scenic train rides through the mountains, and fall is the best time to climb aboard. From the comfort of your seat in the train car, you’ll be able to enjoy stunning views of the changing leaves, as well as some of the best mountain views that you can only see by train (or by a very difficult hike!).
In Lincoln, the best option for a foliage train ride is Hobo Rail Road, which offers foliage train rides through the end of October. But since peak foliage typically happens in this area around the end of September, or the first few days of October, I would book your train ride during that time to really get the most out of it.
13. Have The Perfect Fall Day At Windy Ridge Orchard
One of the best places to go apple picking near Lincoln, NH is Windy Ridge Orchard. Even though it’s a 30-minute drive to get there, it’s well worth it to meander through their beautiful rows of apple trees, snack on their awesome cider donuts, and even have a yummy lunch at their Cider House Cafe.
I love visiting Windy Ridge because they also have some nice nature trails at the orchard, so you can really make a full afternoon of it, which is what makes the drive worth it.
Things To Do In Lincoln, NH In The Winter
Just like everywhere else in the White Mountains, Lincoln turns into a fun winter wonderland in the winter! If you’re looking for some ideas on things to do in the area in the winter, here are my suggestions.
14. See The Ice Castles
One of the few places in the U.S. where you can see the famous Ice Castles is right here in Lincoln! Well, technically it’s located in North Woodstock, but it’s only a short 5-minute drive from Lincoln. This is definitely one of the coolest (pun intended) things to do in the area in the winter season.
Each year, giant ice castle structures are carved, and create a true winter wonderland experience. Each year, the carvings are different, and offer unique attractions inside the castles like slides and caves to explore, so it’s always a surprise to see what they have in store each time winter rolls around.
Ice Castles in Woodstock typically opens in the beginning of January, and runs through the end of February or the first week of March. It’s entire dependent on the weather, so be sure to follow them on Facebook or subscribe to their e-mail newsletter on exact opening dates.
15. Ski Or Snowboard On Loon Mountain
Loon Mountain is one of the best ski resorts in the area, and it’s located right in Lincoln! This is also home to the state’s longest gondola, which you can take in the winter, too. But of course, the best thing to do on the mountain this time of the year is hit the slopes.
You’ll find everything you need at Loon to get set-up for a day of winter fun, including all kinds of runs from beginner to advanced, rental equipment, lessons and restaurants.
16. Go Snow Tubing
Loon Mountain is also home to not one, but two snow tubing hills. One of them is for those aged 8 and up, and the other is for smaller children.
The hill designated for older children and adults is awesome, and includes lift service to make going down (and back-up) way more fun and easy. The hill is also open both day and night, and the night time tubing sessions are a really memorable experience.
For families with very young children, check out the Tot Tubing Hill at Loon, which is for children 7 and younger. It doesn’t have a lift back up the hill, but since it’s designed for the little ones, the incline is pretty minimal.
17. Spend The Day In North Conway
North Conway has been voted as the best ski town in North America by USA Today, and it’s easy to see why when you visit. It has tons of access to skiing and snowboarding trails, since that’s the main attraction in the winter. But also has a lot to do for non-skiers, and it transforms into one of those towns that makes you feel like you’ve stepped inside of a snow globe.
Some cool things you can do in North Conway in the winter include ice skating at Schouler Park, cocktails at the ice bar at Stonehurst Manor, sleigh rides, sit down for some delicious and comforting cheese fondue and even dog sledding. It’s a true winter paradise!
To get to North Conway from Lincoln, you can drive the Kancamagus Scenic Byway, which ends in Conway. From there, it’s just a short 15-minute drive to the little village of North Conway.
Best Things To Do Near Lincoln, NH
Even though there’s so much to do right in Lincoln’s back yard, there’s also a ton to do nearby! Here are my suggestions of the best things to do near Lincoln, NH.
18. Spend The Day At Franconia Notch State Park
Spanning across both towns of Franconia and Lincoln, Franconia Notch State Park is one of the best things to do in the White Mountains and should definitely be on your itinerary if visiting Lincoln. There are so many iconic things to do in the park including Flume Gorge, the Artist Bluff Trail, Echo Lake and The Basin. I actually have an entire post dedicated to things to do in Franconia, including the state park, so you’ll want to click on that link below to help you plan your trip.
19. Spend The Afternoon In Littleton
While I love Lincoln, Littleton is probably my personal favorite town in the region, and if you’re staying in Lincoln, you’ll definitely want to plan an afternoon here. Littleton is home to one of the best Main Streets in the entire country, as well as the longest candy counter in the world at Chutters. I know that Lincoln also has a Chutters location, but sometimes, you just gotta check seeing the longest candy counter off your list, you know?
Besides that, you’ll also be able to roam through a charming downtown with a cute little covered bridge, and a relaxing riverfront walking path.
20. Explore Lost River Gorge
Located in Woodstock, and only a quick 10-minute drive from downtown Lincoln is Lost River Gorge. This is one you’ll definitely want to add to your itinerary! I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it as much as Flume Gorge, and while the actual gorge at Flume is a bit more dramatic and exciting, the boulder caves at Lost River really make this one worth a visit. It’s also much less crowded than Flume Gorge.
The trail begins with a walk down a bunch of stairs through the actual gorge, which is very lovely and scenic. But the real draw here is the boulder caves, which are fun, adventurous and such a unique experience. Some of them are a really tight squeeze, and you’ll want to be careful as you make your way through. In fact, one of them is so tight, you have to make sure you pass the size test before you can even enter. That one is called the Lemon Squeeze, and it’s quite the experience!
The trail ends with a beautiful covered bridge in the woods, and then a giant bird’s nest with views of the surrounding mountains, which makes for the perfect photo opp.
21. Explore Woodstock’s Downtown
While there are a lot of outdoor attractions near Woodstock, one of the best parts of this cute little town is the charming downtown. The Main Street is small, but packed with character, fun shops and great restaurants. It’s definitely worth a few hours of your time!
A really cool place to check out in Woodstock is the Woodstock Inn Brewery, which also has a restaurant that’s open for lunch and dinner, as well as outdoor seating.
Best Places To Stay In Lincoln, NH
The Riverwalk Resort at Loon Mountain is one of the best places to stay if you’re looking for a resort feel, and also want to walk into town. The resort offers amenities like a restaurant and winery right on-site, two pools, hot tubs, a complimentary shuttle to the mountain’s ski area in the winter and cozy accommodations.
The InnSeason Resort is another great hotel in Lincoln, and is only a short 5-minute drive to downtown’s Main Street. They also offer a complimentary shuttle to the mountain’s ski area in the winter, and have amenities like pools, hot tubs, tennis courts and a fitness center.
For a budget-friendly option, the Profile Motel & Cottages is a great choice. It’s only 2 miles from Franconia Notch State Park, and each room comes equipped with a fridge and microwave. The property also has an outdoor pool.
Best Restaurants In Lincoln, NH
- Gypsy Cafe – This is a really fun little gem with an eclectic menu and delicious food. Great option for either lunch or dinner.
- Black Mtn. Burger Co. – The perfect spot for a comforting burger after a long day of exploring the outdoors. They also have really great soups, and offer vegetarian burger options.
- The Common Man – A cozy spot for lunch or dinner with a really nice fireplace and awesome food.
Best Lunch In Lincoln, NH
My favorite place for lunch in Lincoln is the Purple Tomato, which is part sandwich shop, and part specialty food store and farm stand. Order at the window, and grab a table outside, or take your food to go. They also have a really great lobster roll here!
Best Time To Visit Lincoln, NH
The best time to visit Lincoln, NH is in the fall and winter. Peak foliage season in Lincoln is such a gorgeous time to visit, and it’ll seem like everything is alive with gorgeous fall color. And since Lincoln is a gateway to the Kancamagus Highway, this is the perfect time to visit.
Winter is also magical in Lincoln, and turns into a true winter wonderland packed with all kinds of activities from skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and tons more.
Peak fall foliage season, as well as winter, will be the most expensive times to visit, but they’re absolutely worth it!
Summer is also a wonderful time to visit to explore the hiking trails and parks. During the summer, you’ll experience the best weather, and fewest rainy days, making it easy to head out into the trails.
You may also enjoy reading:
- Best Things To Do in New England in the Fall
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- Best Haunted Houses & Places in New Hampshire You Can Actually Visit
- New England Bucket List Things You Must See & Do
- Best Things To Do in New Hampshire in the Winter
- Best Things To Do In Vermont in the Winter
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- Fall In New Hampshire: The Best Things To Do
- Vermont vs. New Hampshire In The Fall
- Where To Stay In New Hampshire In The Fall
How Many Days Do You Need In Lincoln, NH?
Lincoln is actually one of the smaller towns in the White Mountains, and if you’re just looking to explore the downtown area, you don’t need more than a few hours.
But, the best things to do in the area are definitely all the outdoor activities, and for that, I think 2-3 days is the ideal amount of time to see the top sites like Lost River Gorge, the Kancamagus Highway and the hiking trails.
If you’re doing a long trip to the White Mountains region, and are wondering how many days you should devote to Lincoln, you could even do about 1-2 days here, and cram in as much as possible. It’s definitely doable!
How To Get To Lincoln, NH
The best way to get to Lincoln, and really, the entire White Mountains region, is by car, as trains and buses don’t service this area.
The best international airport to fly into to visit Lincoln is Boston Logan International Airport, which is just over a 2-hour drive away. You’ll find the most flight options from this airport, as well as the cheapest flights. And the fun part with this option is, the drive from Boston to Lincoln is actually really fun, and offers some nice places to stop along the way if you wanted!
The next best option for an international airport is Portland, Maine. It won’t have as many flight options, but it’s about the same distance to Lincoln. You’ll also have the option to explore a bit of Maine before your drive to Lincoln, if you wanted to add that part of the region to your itinerary.
The closest region airport to Lincoln is the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Manchester, NH. This airport is about 1 hour and 20 minutes from Lincoln.
Best Way To Get Around Lincoln
The best way to get around Lincoln and the White Mountains is by car. If you arrive by plane, you’ll definitely want to rent a car at the airport and drive to Lincoln so you have it for your entire trip. This is really the only way to explore all the amazing attractions Lincoln has to offer, as buses and trains are not extensive in this region.
Is It Safe To Drive Around Lincoln In The Winter?
Yes! While Lincoln gets a lot of snow in the winter, it’s still safe to drive around on your one, as long as you exercise normal precaution.
I would highly recommend you rent a car with either snow tires or 4W Drive, however, as this will not only allow you peace of mind, but may also be necessary if you happen to visit on a high snowfall day.
But New Hampshire is really great about keeping roads plowed – even the Kancamagus Highway is maintained in the winter! So unless there’s a pretty epic blizzard during your visit, you’ll be fine to drive around in the snow. Just take it easy and never go faster than you’re comfortable with. Safety first!
That’s A Wrap On The Best Things To Do In Lincoln, NH
There you have it! All the very best things to do in Lincoln, NH and nearby. This really is a great little town to call home during your visit to the White Mountains region, especially for families. Between the options for iconic things to do in Franconia Notch State Park, the memorable experience of riding the longest gondola in New Hampshire, and all the fun day trips options, there’s definitely a little something for everyone in Lincoln.