New Hampshire is a true winter playground for just about anyone, even if you don’t ski! Of course, there’s plenty of slopes to go around, but if you’re looking for tons of gorgeous winter scenery, cozy hotels and cabins, charming towns to explore and fun ways to play in the snow and celebrate what winter is all about, this post shares the best things to do in New Hampshire in the winter. You may actually look forward to winter after reading this, so let’s get started!
Things To Do In New Hampshire In The Winter – White Mountains
One of the best places to visit in New Hampshire in the winter season is the White Mountains region. Between cute and cozy little towns to explore, stunning mountains, awesome ski resorts and countless outdoor activities, it’s impossible to run out of things to do. Here are all the best things to do in New Hampshire in the White Mountains during winter.
1. Ski, Of Course!
One of the most popular things to do in New Hampshire in the winter is ski, and whether you’re a pro, or looking to hit the slopes for the very first time, this is one of the best states to visit. You’ll find lots of different ski resorts to choose from, including some great ski-in, ski-out hotels, and a really fun apres ski atmosphere.
Here are some ski resorts and hotels to check out in New Hampshire:
- Cranmore Mountain Ski Resort
- Bretton Woods Ski Resort
- Mount Sunapee Ski Resort
- Attitash Mountain Village
- Mountain Club At Loon
- The Inn At Thorn Hill
2. Splurge On A Stay At The Omni Mount Washington Resort
One resort I didn’t mention above because it deserves its very own place on this list, is the Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods. As one of the top luxury resorts in all of New England, if you’re looking for a fun way to splurge or celebrate a special occasion in the winter, this is a place you’ll want to consider.
The resort is a destination in and of itself, and offers amenities like an on-site spa and restaurants, luxury and cozy accommodations, free shuttles to the ski base, equipment rentals, snowshoeing, snowtubing and sleigh rides just outside your room door. It’s really a one stop shop for the perfect winter getaway.
And, of course, you can’t ignore the incredible mountain views every step you take around the resort grounds!
3. Explore North Conway
It’s been voted as the best ski town in North America, so if you’re looking for a memorable winter getaway, North Conway is a place you’ll want to visit. Even if you don’t ski, it has everything you need for a cozy getaway including a very cute little downtown, restaurants featuring fondue service, sleigh rides and the Scenic Conway Railroad (but more on that in a bit).
Location Tip: North Conway is very close to Jackson, which is home to Nestlenook Farms and the Snowsculpting Competition event. See more about those below.
4. Ride The Cog Up Mount Washington
One of my favorite things about New Hampshire in general is that they do an amazing job with railroad tours, which is something very unique to this area. One of the coolest railroad tours they offer is The Cog, which takes visitors up Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast.
In the winter, it’s not safe to go to the summit, but you can get pretty close with a ride on The Cog. Winter excursions take you to Waumbek Station, which is at an elevation of 4,000 feet. Considering that the mountain is just over 6,000 feet, that’s still pretty high in the dead of winter!
Once you reach Waumbek Station on Mount Washington after your scenic ride, you’ll be greeted with warming huts, fire pits and hot beverages to enjoy while you take in the breathtaking views.
5. Drive The Kancamagus Highway
Everyone knows that the Kancamagus Highway is the best scenic drive for fall foliage, but did you know it’s also one of the best things to do in New Hampshire in the winter? The entire route is serviced and plowed all winter long, and makes for a very scenic and relaxing winter drive (as long as it’s not a blizzard, of course!).
This scenic drive takes you through the heart of the White Mountains National Forest along Route 112, and passes by awesome trails, waterfalls, a covered bridge and other beautiful overlooks. It’s an entirely different experience in the winter season, so even if you’ve done it in the fall, I highly suggest you try it out in the winter, too. Many of the overlooks are just as stunning, and you get a real snow globe feeling while driving around.
This drive connects the towns of Lincoln and Conway, and depending on where you’re staying during your trip, you can begin or end in either town. And it’s only about 34 miles long, so it doesn’t take long if you don’t make any stops.
6. Experience Ice Castles
The little town of North Woodstock, close to Lincoln, is home to one of only 5 Ice Castle displays in the country. If you plan to visit in the winter, this is definitely something you’ll want to consider adding to your itinerary for a very magical experience.
Ice Castles features stunning works of art in the form of, you guessed it – castles. But it’s much more than that. Displays change each year, and can also feature ice slides, caves, craw tunnels and sometimes sleigh rides. It’s worth it to experience, even if just once if your lifetime.
Ice Castles in New Hampshire typically runs from the beginning to January through the end of February, and sometimes into the first week of March. But it’s entirely dependent on weather, and they do a wonderful job keeping everyone updated on their social media pages.
7. Ride The Snow Train To The Attitash Mountain Resort
Another wonderful and scenic railroad ride is on the Snow Train, which brings you up to the Attitash Mountain Resort in the mountains. Run by Conway Scenic Railroad, the Snow Train is a more affordable option compared to The Cog train ride, and allows visitors to plan long layovers at the resort to enjoy all the fun winter activities.
Once at the resort, you can enjoy sleigh rides, skiing, snow tubing or a cozy mountain-side lunch before making your way back down to the village on the train.
This train departs from North Conway Village, which is perfect if you’ve chosen that as your home base for your trip.
8. Dine On The River At Schilling Beer
One of the best things to do in New Hampshire in the winter is to get cozy indoors with a pint of the local brews, and one of my favorite places to do that in the White Mountains region is Schilling Beer in Littleton.
Right on the Ammonoosuc River, both their tasting room and taproom are extra cozy this time of the year, and feature scenic views of the river and covered bridge. I also really love their pizzas, so this is a really great spot to nestle into on a cold day.
9. Walk To Flume Covered Bridge
Franconia Notch State Park is a popular attraction in the summer and fall, but there’s still a few fun things you can do here in the winter, too. If it’s not too snowy, you can walk to Flume Covered Bridge at Flume Gorge, which will look especially beautiful with the white snow all around it.
In the winter months, the actual Flume Gorge walkway will be closed, but Flume Covered Bridge is one of the very first things you encounter on the trail before getting to the gorge, and access is still open to the public.
Pro Tip: The walk down to the bridge is fairly steep, so it’s a good idea to pack spikes or boots with good traction for this walk. Otherwise, it should be pretty easy!
10. Admire Snow Sculptures In Jackson
In the little town of Jackson, you can enjoy the NH Sanctioned & Jackson Invitational Snow Sculpting Competition in January! During the event, the best of the best when it comes to ice sculptures will be creating works of art out of 8-foot tall chunks of ice, and visitors are welcome to stand by and watch them work.
If you’ve never seen ice sculpting in person before, I highly recommend it. Seeing it in person, and witnessing how much talent and heart goes into these pieces, is truly amazing to take in.
The event typically takes place during a weekend, and carvers begin to work on Friday, with their pieces needing to be finished on Sunday for judging, so that’s a really great day to visit, too.
Pro Tip: While in Jackson, be sure to stop by Honeymoon Covered Bridge for a cute photo opp!
11. Go Snow Tubing
It’s hard to not find places to go snow tubing in the White Mountains in the winter season, and this is a really fun way to play in the snow if you’re not into skiing. Plus, it definitely makes you feel like a kid again, and having been a few times as an adult myself, I can confirm it’s super fun.
Most of the big ski resorts will have tubing parks, include tubes to use during your session and usually have a lift system so you don’t have to climb back up the hill. Here are some really great tubing parks to check out:
- Tubing Hill at Bretton Woods Nordic Center
- Attitash Mountain Resort
- Tubing Park at Cranmore Mountain Resort
- Loon Mountain Tubing Park
- King Pine Snow Tubing
- Pats Peak Snow Tubing
12. Have A Dog Sledding Adventure
One of the most memorable things to do in New Hampshire in the winter is to book a dog sledding adventure. If you’ve ever wanted to glide through the forest with these beautiful pups through the snow, I can’t recommend this enough.
Now, the most important thing to know if that you book with an ethical group. You may be wondering if dog sledding is an ethical activity, and it absolutely is, as long as you do your research. Many people don’t realize that these dogs actually love to pull sleds. That’s what they’re bred for, and if they’re not working, they’re unhappy. They also love being in a working pack with a strong leader and getting direction. This is a fun activity for them, and it’s just as fun for you to be a part of.
One place I recommend you check out is Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel. The pups are all well-loved and cared for, and there are a few different tour options to choose from. All tours include time with the pups, too, which is honestly the best part.
13. Try All The Outdoor Winter Sports
New Hampshire is a mecca for all things outdoors in the winter, and if you’ve ever wanted to broaden your horizons and try something new, this is a really great place to do it. Activities like snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and fat biking are readily available everywhere.
Most places will also have rental equipment nearby, too, making it really easy to join in on the fun.
14. Get Pampered At The Soaking Pot
After being outside in the snow all day, one of the best things to do in the winter is to relax with a soothing foot bath at The Soaking Pot. Located in North Conway, The Soaking Pot creates specialized baths to sooth cold and tired feet, which is such a fun way to treat yourself in the winter (especially after skiing all day).
Soaks can also include massages for the ultimate relaxation experience.
15. Get An Adrenaline Rush With Winter Zip Lining
Alpine Adventures in Lincoln has put together a customized course for those looking for an adrenaline rush in the winter. Combining all the very best lines from their park, winter zip lining includes 6 runs that vary in length and height, so pretty anyone is guaranteed to love it.
And the best part? You’ll be surrounded by amazing views of fresh snow on the pine trees and the mountains. It’s a win-win.
16. Eat All The Pancakes At Polly’s Pancake Parlor
Why does eating pancakes in the winter taste so much better? If you’re with me on this, then you’ll want to make sure you add an amazing breakfast at Polly’s Pancake Parlor to your itinerary. This famous restaurant is, of course, known for their pancakes, but all the breakfast foods here are pretty great.
Located in the scenic town of Sugar Hill, it’s worth the trek here to fill up before heading out for a day of playing in the snow.
Pro Tip: For an extra fun souvenir to bring home, keep an eye out for Polly’s Pancake Parlor pancake mixes sold in many of the shops around the area.
17. Visit An Indoor Water Park
Yep, you read that right! The White Mountains is home to Kahuna Laguna, a year-round water park that can be found at the Red Jacket Mountain View Resort in North Conway. If you’re looking for a break from all the snow, this is an awesome place to spend the day.
Inside the water park, you’ll find a wave pool and lots of water slides to choose fly down.
Note: Kahuna Laguna is temporarily closed as of 2022 after a fire at the resort, but plans to reopen in the future.
Romantic Things To Do In New Hampshire In The Winter
If you’re planning a winter getaway to New Hampshire to celebrate a special occasion or just want to plan lots of quality time with your partner, here are my favorite romantic things to do in New Hampshire during the colder months.
18. Visit Nestlenook Farms In Jackson
I don’t think there’s a more romantic place to be in New Hampshire in the winter season than Nestlenook Farms. Located in Jackson, this little farm knows how to celebrate all things cozy in the winter, and offers scenic sleigh rides, the cutest little park for ice skating, magical snowshoeing paths through the woods and fire pits for romantic snuggles.
Oh, and did I mention that the grounds are completely aglow with twinkle lights?
You can also book an overnight stay on the farm, too, for the ultimate cozy experience.
19. Experience The Chocolate Festival
Known as the “sweetest day on the trails,” this chocolate festival is the best way to spend a romantic afternoon together. Businesses along the cross-country ski and snowshoe trails band together and create delicious chocolate treats for tastings as you make your way through the snow-covered trails.
Past creations have included specialty hot cocoa drinks, traditional milk and dark chocolates, baked goods and gourmet chocolate creations.
This event typically takes place in February each year, and tickets are required to participate. Don’t want to make your way through the trails to get to the good stuff? No worries! Each stop is an actual business (like an inn) and welcome people to drive directly there for a fun road trip. Click here to book your tickets!
20. Book A Cozy Cabin For Two
Any mountain region in the winter is bound to be cozy when you book a cabin, and the White Mountains is no exception. One of the most romantic ways to celebrate winter in New Hampshire is to book a cozy cabin for two, and plan to spend a lot of time snugging inside, lighting a fire, watching movies, and admiring the views.
Here are a few places to check out that would make for a perfect winter getaway:
- Romantic Country Cabin w/ A Fireplace
- Treehouse Cabin w/ A Hot Tub
- Tiny House in the Woods w/ A Fire Pit
21. Go On A Winery Tour
Right at the RiverWalk Resort in Lincoln, NH, you’ll find the Seven Birches Tasting Room. But even better? You can take a tour and talk to the winemakers!
During this guided tour, you’ll get to learn about the wine-making process, ask questions, tour the wine production room and sample different varieties. You also get to keep your tasting lass as a fun souvenir of your tour.
Things To Do In Portsmouth, NH In The Winter
Portsmouth is one of my favorite places in all of New Hampshire, and also makes for a wonderfully cozy winter getaway. It’s obviously a bit different from the atmosphere in the White Mountains, and here in Portsmouth, you’ll find a more city vibe that still feels rather quaint and charming. Here are some of my favorite things to do in Portsmouth in the winter.
22. Experience Vintage Christmas
If you’re looking for one of the most charming Christmas getaways in New England, Portsmouth should definitely be on your short list. Their Vintage Christmas celebration is a great way to kick off the holiday season, and includes the opening of the skating rink at Strawbery Banke Museum, candlelight strolls, special holiday performances at the local theater and gingerbread house contests.
23. Skate At The Picturesque Rink At Strawbery Banke
Even though the holiday season is usually the kick-off for the picturesque skating rink at the Strawbery Banke Museum, it’s typically open through the entire winter season.
Puddle Dock Pond transforms into a charming little ice rink that’s backdropped by the historic houses at the museum. Ice skate rentals are also available for a small fee, or you can bring your own!
24. Indulge In Retail Therapy – Tax Free!
Did you know that New Hampshire doesn’t charge sales tax? For that reason, this is an awesome destination to indulge in a little retail therapy. And Market Square in Portsmouth is one of my favorite shopping areas in all of New England.
There are really amazing specialty and independently-owned boutiques in Portsmouth, and if you’re looking to get started with some holiday shopping, or are just on the hunt for a few ways to treat yourself in the winter season, you’re likely to find bags of things to bring home with you.
25. Unwind With A Massage
Winter is a great time to focus on yourself and practice a little self-care, and getting a massage is such a great way to do that. Work out the kinks from the stress and excitement of the holiday season at one of the several massage therapy boutiques in Portsmouth.
Here are a few places to consider:
- Elements Massage
- The Gift Massage and Bodywork
- Portsmouth Massage Therapy
- Face Body Spirit
26. Snuggle In With A Book And Cocktail At Book & Bar
There’s something extra comforting about getting cozy with a good book in the winter, right? Well, to elevate that experience even more, one of the coolest things to do in New Hampshire in the winter is to head to Book & Bar, where you can buy your next great read, and also grab a cocktail (or beer, or really, any other drink you want).
Not only do they have both a bookstore and a bar, but they also serve really great food, so you can grab a cheese board, pretzel bites or some spinach and artichoke dip, too. On select nights, they also host live music performances.
27. Take In A Show At The Music Hall
The Music Hall is such a gem in Portsmouth! As an old Vaudeville theater from the 1870s, it still hosts incredible music and live performances to this day. On a cold wintery night, one of the best things to do is take in a show, and you’ll find everything from stand-up comedy, book readings and musicals at this very historic and special little theater.
Other Great Things To Do In New Hampshire In The Winter
28. Go Beer Tasting At The Flight Center In Nashua
The Flight Center in Nashua is such a great place to spend a cold wintery day. They’ve made it into a space that invites people to relax and spend quality time together, all while serving up some of the best craft beers from the New England region.
And not only can you get a beer flight or pint here, they also have a great food menu with pizzas and other comforting favorites like nachos, fried pickles and charcuterie.
29. Explore The Cute Town Of Walpole
Walpole is a cute little town in southern New Hampshire that’s only about 30 minutes from Keene, and I find it especially charming in the winter. Now, there’s not a ton to do in Walpole, but that makes it a very relaxing way to spend a beautiful wintery afternoon.
During your visit, you’ll want to start with grabbing a delicious cup of hot cocoa from L.A. Burdick that you can sip on while you stroll. If you get hungry, pop into the Hungry Diner for some awesome farm-to-table food (including local beers and hard ciders!). For dessert, pop into the parlor at Walpole Creamery and try their seasonal flavors (yep, even in the winter).
30. Shop The Winter Farmer’s Market In Concord
November through April, shop for all your local foods at the Concord Winter Farmer’s Market! Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you can’t source out fresh and delicious local foods, and this farmer’s market is a great way to stock up on special ingredients for a hearty and cozy winter meal.
Not only will you find local foods here, you’ll also be able to browse through speciality items like handmade soaps, crafts and even treats for your pets.
31. Meander Through Exeter
Exeter is another lovely and charming little town in New Hampshire that makes the winter season enjoyable and exciting. And it’s only a short 25-minute drive from Portsmouth, so if you’re visiting one, you can easily venture over to the other for the ultimate southern New Hampshire winter vacation.
Exeter is not only a cute little town, it also makes all the winter activities you think of when visiting the White Mountains accessible in the southern half of the state. You’ll be able to go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snow tubing in Exeter.
But, if it’s a more relaxing and peaceful winter getaway you’re looking for, you can slow down a bit with an afternoon at the spa, strolling through the beautiful shops and cozying up at a charming inn.
32. Attend A Winter Festival
There are so many winter festival throughout New Hampshire every winter that it’s hard to keep up with them all! But one thing’s for sure, they’re all really fun and a great way to get outside and celebrate winter.
Keene does a great job with their Annual Ice and Snow Festival, which includes snow ball fights, lots of hot chocolate and ice sculpture contests.
Another awesome one to check out is the Winter Carnival in Hooksett, where you’ll find lots of winter contests, sledding, corn hole games and yes, more ice sculpting!
33. Visit A Sugar Shack
At the end of the winter season in New Hampshire, the maple harvest begins! This actually flows into spring, but in New Hampshire, winter pretty much lingers through April in most areas. But during this time of the year, sugar shacks are open, and offering tastings! Some even do tours of their tree taps if you time your visit just right.
Some really awesome sugar shacks to check out are:
- Benton’s Sugar Shack in Thornton – Awesome breakfast restaurant, with a cute little store where you can buy their own syrups. They also have a viewing area to watch the syrup being made.
- Folsom’s Sugar House in Chester – Cute little shack which offers tastings, all kinds of maple products to take home and demonstrations.
- Blueberry Hill Sugarworks in Raymond – An adorable little shack known for their whiskey barrel aged syrups.
- Ben’s Sugar Shack in Temple – One of the larger sugar shacks in the state that offers lots of maple products, syrups and even has maple donuts!
- Stuart & John’s Sugar House in Westmoreland – A sugar shack with an awesome restaurant that has all kinds of maple foods to order – including maple pull-apart squares!
Best Places To Stay In New Hampshire In The Winter
Aside from the Omni Mount Washington Resort, which was mentioned earlier in this post, these are my suggestions on the best places to stay. I included a mix of awesome ski resorts in the White Mountains and charming hotels in Portsmouth.
The RiverWalk Resort at Loon Mountain in Lincoln is an awesome choice for skiers in the White Mountains. The resort offers a free shuttle to the mountain base, an on-site spa, restaurant and winery tasting room, and turns their pool into an outdoor ice rink in the winter.
The Glen House in Gorham is another amazing option in the White Mountains region. Nestled right on the auto road to Mount Washington, the highest peak in New England, it offers cozy rooms (some with views of Mount Washington!), an indoor heated pool, a restaurant and plenty of winter activities right at your finger tips.
A great budget option in North Conway is the Comfort Inn & Suites. If you’re looking to explore everything this cute little town has to offer, their prices in the winter are very fair, and rooms are clean, comfortable and cozy.
The Hotel Portsmouth right in the heart of Portsmouth is an awesome choice for a winter getaway. It’s only a short walk to Market Square for shopping and restaurants, and the rooms are updated and modern, but super cozy at the same time.
For a budget option in Portsmouth, I really like recommending the Port Inn & Suites. It’s just a few minutes from downtown, and the rooms here are clean, spacious and comfortable, while saving you a few extra bucks during your stay.
What Is The Weather Like In New Hampshire In The Winter?
New Hampshire is actually the third snowiest state in the U.S., so it’s pretty safe to plan on having snow if you visit in December, January, February or March. It can vary a bit by region, but the White Mountains will often be colder than the rest of the state because of the higher elevation. There, you should anticipate daily averages of around 25°F during the day.
South of the White Mountains, you can expect average daily temperatures of around 30-35°F.
If you plan to fly in, you’ll definitely want to rent a car with snow tires or 4W Drive. You don’t need both, but one or the other will suffice.
Just keep in mind, though, that as with any New England state, there are flukes in weather patterns. While it’s safe to say it will be cold and snowy in New Hampshire in the winter, you may also have random days where it feels closer to 40°F, and is bright and sunny. New England is definitely moody, and I always like to remind people that it could have a mood swing at any time!
What To Pack For Winter In New Hampshire?
Now that you know what to prepare for in terms of temperatures and snow, here are some things to consider packing for your winter trip to New Hampshire:
- A good parka. I’ve used Eddie Bauer winter parkas like this one for years and swear by them for most winter trips.
- Warm, waterproof boots. I’m a big fan of Sorel boots because they keep me super warm, and they’re also stylish. I like these for playing in the snow, and these for walking around towns. The important thing to make sure is that your boots are waterproof so you stay dry and warm!
- Base layers. These from Amazon work really well, are inexpensive, moisture-wicking and will help keep you warm when playing in the snow.
- Warm socks that will keep you dry. I recommend these Darn Tough socks in all my winter packing lists because they’re truly worth the investment and come with a lifetime guarantee. Plus, they’re made right in Vermont, so you’re keeping it in the New England family.
- Warm hats, gloves/mittens and scarves. I really like these North Face beanies because they’re extra warm, but also look cute. But always go for warmth over style when shopping for your New Hampshire winter vacation.
- HotHands! You have no idea how much these come in handy for very cold days. Buy a pack on Amazon and thank me later.
- Waterproof snow pants if you plan to do anything in the snow, including dogsledding, snowtubing, skiing, etc. If you need some for your trip, these from Amazon will do the trick.
- For clothing when not playing in the snow, jeans and sweaters work great. I also often layer my sweaters with turtlenecks underneath for extra warmth if needed.
Pro packing tip: Keep your wardrobe casual for this trip! Unless you’re planning on a very fancy dinner out in a place like Portsmouth, everything is very casual here, and there’s no need to pack any fancy clothes.
You may also enjoy reading:
- Best New England Winter Getaways
- Christmas in New Hampshire: Where To Go & Festive Things To Do
- Best Things To Do In Vermont in the Winter
- Best New England Christmas Towns
- The Ultimate New England Bucket List
- Things To Do In Newport, RI In The Winter
- Things To Do In Maine In The Winter
- Things To Do In Portland, Maine In The Winter
- Gorgeous New Hampshire Covered Bridges You Should See
- Fall In New Hampshire: The Best Things To Do
That’s A Wrap On The Best Things To Do In New Hampshire In The Winter
And there you have it! Now that you know all the very best things to do in New Hampshire in the winter season, hopefully you’re feeling inspired to plan your own adventure. It truly is such a magical state to visit in the colder months, and they really know how to celebrate the best of winter, including featuring the seasonal flavors at restaurants, cozying up by a post-ski fire pit and offering so many options to play in the snow. Happy planning!