New Hampshire’s nickname, the Granite State, might sound bleak, but the reality is anything but; the scenery is magnificent. Its unspoilt, densely wooded mountains are the stuff that hikers’ and skiers’ dreams are made of – particularly in the 800,000-acre White Mountain National Forest.
Meandering through the forest, the 55km Kancamagus Scenic Byway (“the Kanc” to locals) is particularly beautiful in autumn, when an influx of “leaf-peepers” can slow traffic to a crawl.
In the north of the forest looms Mount Washington – a tourist draw since the mid-19th century and, at 1,916 metres, the loftiest mountain in the Presidential Range.
An hour’s drive south, the Lakes Region is equally idyllic. More than 200 lakes lie amid the hills and mountains, with miles of hiking trails, sandy lakeside beaches and excellent fishing. Further south still is the state’s short stretch of coastline. Here, Hampton Beach draws the crowds with its seafood festival, while Portsmouth, established in 1623, salutes its seafaring past with tours of a decommissioned submarine and boat cruises out to the nearby Isles of Shoals.
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Typical of New England, New Hampshire has long and cold winters, short springs, mild summers, and beautiful autumns. Winter starts in November and lasts through March. In January the temperature hover around the zero degree (Celsius) mark. Snow is everywhere, but mostly in the White Mountains. Spring warms up to the 10s and mid-teens, with an occasional snowstorm. June to August is summer, with temperatures in the low to high 20s inland while the coast stays a bit cooler. Autumn is beautiful with the leaves changing colour. The colours start to change in the higher elevations in mid-September and last through the end of October at the coast.
Summer is the peak tourist season. This is when most visitors step off their New Hampshire flights and take to the New Hampshire beaches, lakes, and mountains. Winter is a close second from November through March, creating a play land for snow enthusiasts. Autumn is also busy with the leaf peepers coming to see the foliage.
Spring weather can be unpredictable and the black flies in late May can deter visitors, but the flowers are starting to bloom and bed-and-breakfasts often offer off-season rates. Late spring also brings daredevil skiers to Tuckerman Ravine.