7 Most Inviting Cities in New Hampshire

Historically thriving with a collection of granite quarries, the Granite State is known more for its friendly nature, fishing industry, dairy country, and thriving foothills beneath the White Mountains, all of which lend an inviting atmosphere to every type of traveler. Less famous than its New England brothers in neighboring Massachusetts and Maine, these New Hampshire towns offer an authentic taste of the region in a serene atmosphere, whether you’re food hunting along the revamped, red-brick downtown of Dover or in the sleep of Sugar Hill as a historic mountain village. with a sweet name, 600 inhabitants and goodies. Plus, whether it’s mountains or a scenic coastline, every city has something unique to share with curious travelers.


Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, New Hampshire.
Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, New Hampshire.

As the name implies, Cornish is a cute riverside town with a down-to-earth atmosphere that you can enjoy during a relaxing getaway in the state’s Upper Valley, just across the road from Windsor, Vermont. Nestled along the lush banks of the Connecticut River, from the Blow-Me-Down Bridge to the most popular activity of canoeing, the Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge is a world-class attraction that shines with a small-town atmosphere. Once the longest covered bridge in the United States and in continuous use since the 19th century, the wooden tunnel connects the two states in a span spanning the entire width of the river. It offers beautiful photo opportunities in fall colors that are ideal for a New Hampshire postcard.

Back in town, the Chase Inn is a wonderful place to stay if you’re coming for Old Home Day, an annual summer celebration. Steeped in nature, the Cornish State Wildlife Management Area offers plenty of outdoor activities, while riverside walks can turn into walks or longer bike rides in the Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park with trails, gardens and preserved buildings. Once the summer home of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the great American sculptor, visitors can meet artisans in their residence, watch demonstrations or sign up for a course if they’re not into rafting, swimming or snowshoeing in the season in question.


Aerial view of downtown Dover, New Hampshire.
Aerial view of buildings in the city center of Dover, New Hampshire

Located at the top of the confluence of the Bellamy and Piscataqua rivers, on the Maine border, this up-and-coming city welcomes visitors for a riverside stroll through its heart to view its historic red-brick downtown. For the best food and drink combination, Thompson Tavern serves delicious snacks on terraces overlooking the dam, while the casual atmosphere and brick-oven pizzas draw families to La Festa Brick & Brew before having an ice cream at Dover Delite or Cowlicks dairy bar . Still, the hole-in-the-wall diners treat visitors to a local atmosphere, with corners like Fat Dog Kitchen and 2 Home Cooks.

After a meal, nature lovers can spend their days outdoors at Vaughan Woods State Park, minutes east, or on the Gonic Trails, just north, for the active. There’s something intriguing for all ages at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire, including a monthly evening for adults put on by the Dover Brewery 7th Settlement. Just west, in Lee, the Haunted Overload is one of the most spookily creative attractions in New England, where you can enjoy the Halloween spirit even in the summer.


View of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.
View of the Ivy League Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Located on the Vermont border across the Connecticut River, Hanover, ‘Where the Appalachian Trail Meets the Ivy League’, is a truly unique city to experience in different ways. Outdoor adventures, world-class art, fine dining and great architecture come together to create New England charm. The inviting local is home to Dartmouth College and has a population of less than 12,000. They are your best guide for tips between philosophical conversations. With an intellectually stimulating feel permeating the atmosphere, the college welcomes any group to stroll the campus.

Take part in a section of the legendary Appalachian Trail, which acts as a subway for travelers passing through Hanover. This favorite stop features attractions such as Nathan’s Garden, the stoic Baker-Berry Library, and the popular Hood Museum of Art. Nestled in picturesque landscapes in dense forests, Hanover offers endless opportunities for nature lovers year-round, from riverside walks or paddling the Connecticut River to the local ski hills and trails in winter.


Aerial view of Lincoln and the surrounding White Mountains.
Aerial view of Linclon, New Hampshire and the surrounding White Mountains.

Lincoln is a picturesque town in the illustrious foothills of the White Mountains. It is one of the state’s top winter destinations. White Mountain National Forest attracts skiers and snowboarders with a sense of hustle and bustle, making it the place to learn or master the skill of skiing Loon Mountain. Nearby Alpine Adventures offers year-round off-roading and ziplining opportunities. For a summer experience, Franconia Notch State Park is one of Mother Nature’s best blessings in this city. Boaters are welcome along the Pemigewasset River, which offers boundless nature for breathtaking adventures such as Flume Gorge. Located at the base of Mount Liberty, the canyon is accessible for hiking, camping, and waterfall hunting, with nice views of the many gems during a picnic after an easy two-mile loop.

Back in the city, the friendly residents are always willing to have a drink or a chat. At the most recent count, Lincoln has a population of 1,600, and places like Seven Birches Winery and White Mountain Bagel are bustling with life. From delicious food and drinks to lively conversations, few cities are as inviting and beautiful as Lincoln.


The Congregational Church in Rye, New Hampshire.
The Rye Congregational Church in downtown Rye, New Hampshire.

Like the name, it’s cute, but there’s a lot to admire in Rye, a town that covers more than half of its 60 square kilometer area and is made up of wetlands or swamps of breathtaking beauty. Just five miles from Portsmouth and near the Maine state line, Rye attracts nature lovers, adventurers and photographers – so beautiful that visitors feel like sitting down with an easel and painting the inspiring landscapes. The coastal town, which overlooks the deep Atlantic Ocean, features attractions such as the Water Country Water Park and the Wallis Sands State Park, with its beach and sweeping sea views.

Named after a city in England, this oceanfront city boasts most of the state’s famously short 20-mile coastline. With a population of approximately 5,600 and eight miles of inviting seacoast, visitors can experience the best of New England in a serene, more local setting. From boating to other popular water spots, the Seacoast Science Center invites enthusiasts to hands-on discoveries of the marine and coastal world, regardless of age.


View of Main Street in Seabrook, New Hampshire.
Aerial view of the main street of Seabrook, New Hampshire.

Seabrook is a southern gateway to the Granite State. Located near the Massachusetts border, just 40 miles from the Greater Boston area, the city thrives thanks to the early industries established by Quaker settlers. Established in 1638 and named in honor of the streams that meander into the Atlantic Ocean, Seabrook is home to quite a few, which meander through the extensive salt marshes and feed into the rich surrounding agricultural scene. From Seabrook Beach to the mouth of the Blackwater River, there’s plenty of room for sunbathing, kayaking and walking, while a recent surfing trend makes Seabrook a real find to hang a tenner in the tiny state. Additionally, the Seabrook Back Dunes and the Seabrook Beach State Reservation create a beautiful area full of scenic views and charming opportunities.

This historic city connects the northern and southern parts of the region, offering a mix of both and a legacy of the fishing industry in world-class restaurants and attractions. Brown’s Lobster Pound may be the best contender for Maine’s lobster, with a lively atmosphere and similar dishes. Visitors can enjoy attractions such as the Brook, a casino and the famous Hampton Beach State Park across the street, so there is something for everyone in the city. The city also lights up during Independence Day in July, and fireworks blaze a trail from neighboring Massachusetts.

Sugar Hill

St. Matthew's Chapel in Sugar Hill, New Hampshire.
St. Matthew’s Chapel amid the White Mountains in Sugar Hill, New Hampshire.

Don’t be fooled by the sweet name and slumberiness of this small, historic mountain village with charming buildings from the past. Home to approximately 600 lovely residents and easy to miss between Franconia and Littleton. This town is often called “New Hampshire’s best kept secret.” The real name comes from the area’s large grove of sugar maples, which, combined with the dominant view of Mount Washington, provides the illustrious landscape of the interior. Additionally, the city is located along the White Mountain National Forest, so visitors can choose from activities such as hang gliding, hiking, climbing, and sightseeing. After the outdoor activities, there is no shortage of tasty food to recharge body and mind. Polly’s Pancake Parlor is an ideal first stop to explore a hearty stack, and the picturesque red Harman’s Cheese & Country Store, a dairy lover’s paradise, the latter to stock up on the 13 tons of high-quality white cheddar cheese it produces annual.

New Hampshire is home to a variety of towns, each with its unique charm and attractions. From the coastal towns of Rye and Seabrook to the mountain towns of Lincoln and Sugar Hill, there’s something for everyone in the Granite State. Nature lovers will enjoy hiking in the White Mountains or kayaking on the Connecticut River, while history buffs explore the many historic sites, including the Cornish State Wildlife Management Area and Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park. Plus, without urban distractions, every experience is much more memorable.