Every region of New Hampshire offers a good dose of winter fun, from zip-lining through the forest to ice skating in a historic seaside town. With its abundance of snow and ice, winter in New Hampshire creates an unbeatable seasonal playground filled with unique, adventurous, and (most important!) fun activities. The state’s seven distinct regions offer everything from zip-lining through the forest to carving fresh powder on the slopes; more mellow options include pond skating by the ocean and sipping gourmet hot chocolate. So no matter who you are and what you love to do, you can find some great ways to enjoy the New Hampshire winter. Here are some of our favorite ideas to get you inspired.
EMBRACE THE COLD
WINTER ZIP-LINING | MOUNT WASHINGTON RESORT, BRETTON WOODS
If you like going along for the ride, consider zipping up to 165 feet above the ground at speeds of up to 30 mph in the heart of the White Mountains. The three-hour guided tour offers a little bit of excitement, a little bit of education, some pretty incredible views, and a whole lot of fun.
COSMIC SNOW TUBING | GRANITE GORGE, KEENE
There’s snow tubing, and then there’s cosmic snow tubing. Granite Gorge Ski Area in western New Hampshire offers some of the state’s best snow tubing with the unique added fun of neon lights, disco balls, glow-bead necklaces, and a DJ on Saturday nights.
ALPINE SKIING | WATERVILLE VALLEY RESORT, WATERVILLE VALLEY
With 50 trails and 11 operating lifts, this smaller full-service resort rarely sees large lines. Plus, all the trails are covered by snowmaking technology, freeing skiers of dependence on finicky Mother Nature. The warmer, south-facing slope is an added bonus for those who aren’t big fans of the chill factor.
GIANT SWING | CRANMORE MOUNTAIN RESORT, NORTH CONWAY
It’s like a fair ride but much bigger, and in the middle of winter. The Giant Swing at Cranmore Mountain in North Conway allows up to four people at a time to swing high into the sky — a thrilling new way to enjoy mountain views.
CROSS COUNTRY SKIING | JACKSON XC, JACKSON
If immersing yourself in a winter wonderland sounds tempting, head to Jackson, where you’ll find 56 expertly groomed cross-country skiing trails, including easier backcountry skiing and more intense skate skiing on an international race course. Cold? Stop at the warming cabin, grab a hot beverage at Cocoa Café, or try out any of the pubs, inns, and eateries right off the trails.
SNOWSHOEING | BEAR NOTCH SKI TOURING CENTER, BARTLETT
Strap on some snowshoes and go for a walk among waterfalls, meadows, riverside views, and hills along the 40-plus miles of groomed trails at Bear Notch Ski Touring Center in northern New Hampshire. Grab some rentals if you don’t have equipment, and be sure to warm those fingers and toes afterward with hot chocolate or soup in the warming hut.
SNOWCOACH TOUR | GREAT GLEN TRAILS, GORHAM
Mount Washington in the winter is an awe-inspiring place. Given that it’s home to some of the most extreme winds and weather in the world, getting above its tree line in the winter is only for expert mountaineers. Less experienced adventurers, however, can hop aboard the SnowCoach, a 12-passenger vehicle that rides on four tracks rather than wheels, for a trip into the subarctic environment as it journeys two-thirds of the way to the summit and back down again.
MOUNTAIN COASTER | GUNSTOCK MOUNTAIN RESORT, GILFORD
Can’t make it to Florida? Meet New Hampshire’s winter take on Disney World. The Mountain Coaster’s two-person carts chug uphill through the forest before plunging down and around at speeds of up to 25 mph. You can use the cart’s braking system to slow the ride to a pace of your comfort.
ICE SKATING | LABRIE FAMILY SKATE AT PUDDLE DOCK POND, PORTSMOUTH
There’s plenty of great shopping and dining to be had in the beautiful Seacoast region of New Hampshire, but a great addition to any winter day here involves putting on some skates and gliding out onto Puddle Dock Pond at Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth. Rentals and lessons are available.
FAT BIKING | MOUNT WASHINGTON VALLEY SKI TOURING CENTER, INTERVALE
Does biking through the Mount Washington Valley sound like a dream? Add the elements of winter and a bike with supersized tires, and you’ve got yourself a terrific way to do some wintertime exploration. Mount Washington Valley Ski Touring Center in Intervale has groomed trails in the Whitaker Woods specifically for biking, making it a perfect place to try out this relatively new winter sport.
ICE CASTLES | ICE CASTLES, LINCOLN
If you’re in the Lincoln area and are up for a chilling but delightful experience, Ice Castles is a magical place where you can wander through towering ice structures or play on ice slides. Since all the attractions here are carved from approximately 25,000 pounds of ice, the start and end dates each year are weather-dependent, but recent seasons have run from mid-December until early March.
SNOWMOBILING | PITTSBURG RIDGE RUNNERS, PITTSBURG
Northern New Hampshire has some of the best snowmobiling in the country, so if you prefer to get your winter fix at high speed, consider heading to the Great North Woods. The Pittsburg Ridge Runners, the state’s largest snowmobile club, grooms more than 200 miles of trails connecting to Canada, Vermont, and Maine.
SLED DOG ADVENTURE | MUDDY PAW SLED DOG KENNEL, JEFFERSON
Hurtle through snowy scenes of the White Mountains behind a team of rescue dogs at Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel in Jefferson. There’s a variety of tour options, and guests are given the opportunity to harness and hitch the team — and maybe even help drive the sled.
ESCAPE THE COLD
HOT CHOCOLATE | L.A. BURDICK HANDMADE CHOCOLATES, WALPOLE
The home base of the famous handmade chocolate brand L.A. Burdick is situated in the classic small town of Walpole. The shop and café on Main Street offers a wide array of chocolates, pastries, and drinks in an environment perfect for relaxing or visiting. Try the decadent “drinking chocolates,” including dark, milk, and white chocolate options.
MOVIE THEATER | RED RIVER THEATRES, CONCORD
There’s something really cozy about heading to a movie theater on a cold winter night, and a great place to go is right in downtown Concord. At the state-of-the-art Red River Theatres, you can discover independent films, enjoy the classics, and check out local and regional film projects.
PANCAKES | POLLY’S PANCAKE PARLOR, SUGAR HILL
Sometimes a cold winter day simply demands a stack of warm, delicious pancakes. And you’ll get just that at Polly’s Pancake Parlor in Sugar Hill. It’s a truly local experience, given that the pancakes are made from scratch and topped with New Hampshire maple syrup. The light, fluffy flapjacks have made the place famous for over 75 years.
BEER | THE FLIGHT CENTER, NASHUA
Thanks to New Hampshire’s ever-expanding craft beer scene, you can enjoy a cold one at multiple breweries in every region of the state. If you’re hoping to try a wide selection of local brews, though, head to the Flight Center in Nashua. The lounge and bottle shop has 48 rotating taps, allowing visitors to try some of the best New Hampshire and New England beers.