8 Best Places for Fall in New Hampshire
When we think of Fall we often think of the beautiful towns of Vermont or the aspens in Colorado. But New Hampshire has some of the most glorious foliage of all. From the end of September to October taking a drive in New Hampshire is like stepping into a world of mesmerizing color.
From the beautiful white mountains, the scenic drive along the Kancamagus, or visiting the charming towns of Sandwich or Conway, you'll find so much to see and do.
Cozy sweaters, pumpkin-spiced everything, and of course gorgeous fall foliage!
New England as a whole is known for its stunning fall foliage. As a matter of fact, until I took my own fall road trip through New England, I actually thought that those bright fall colors were all fake! But let me tell you – they are completely real! No color enhancement or photoshop needed.
But New Hampshire in particular has its own set of fall perks. While leaf peeping is definitely the highlight of fall in New Hampshire, that’s certainly not the only thing to do there! You can also take time to attend fall festivals, carve pumpkins, go apple picking, and so much more.
If you want to experience everything fall-related that New Hampshire has to offer, I’ve got you covered. Without further ado, here’s my guide to the best places for fall in New Hampshire.
- When Is the Best Time to See the Leaves in New Hampshire?
- What Is the Best Time to Visit New Hampshire in the Fall?
- What Is the Best Airport to Fly Into in New Hampshire?
- What Should I Pack for Fall in New Hampshire?
- Best Places for Fall in New Hampshire
- White Mountain National Forest
- Albany Covered Bridge
- Franconia Notch State Park
When Is the Best Time to See the Leaves in New Hampshire?
Every year, the fall leaf-changing season changes slightly. Typically, it takes place at some point between the middle of September and the middle of October. That said, to make sure you see the fiery leaves during any given year, I highly recommend using a fall foliage prediction map.
What Is the Best Time to Visit New Hampshire in the Fall?
If the leaves come between the middle of September and the middle of October, so should you! After all, that’s one of the best parts of fall in New Hampshire. This time frame also happens to coincide with many of the state’s best fall festivals.
What Is the Best Airport to Fly Into in New Hampshire?
Since all of the states in New England are small, you actually don’t have to fly directly into New Hampshire. As a matter of fact, if you’re coming from another part of the country, it might be easier to fly to a larger airport, like Boston Logan International Airport or Albany International Airport.
If you’d prefer to fly into New Hampshire directly, you can check out the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.
What Should I Pack for Fall in New Hampshire?
Layers are your best friend when it comes to fall weather. During that time of year, the weather typically changes quite a lot over the course of a day. So when it gets a little too chilly, add another layer. If it gets too hot, take one off.
Some other necessities include a warm coat, gloves, and even sunscreen! Also, if you plan on tackling some of the hikes I recommend later in this article, you’ll want a pair of hiking boots. These are my favorite hiking boots, and here’s my full guide on what to pack for hiking.
Best Places for Fall in New Hampshire
White Mountain National Forest
White Mountain National Forest covers a huge chunk of New Hampshire (and even a little bit of Maine!). This forest is so large that it actually includes a few other spots on this list – but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve a feature of its own!
This 800,000-acre forest is absolutely massive. It’s filled with thriving oaks, maples, and pines – which all fully embrace the fiery colors of fall. The scenery is so gorgeous that it actually brought tears to my eyes!
One of the most popular ways to experience autumn in White Mountain National Forest is by driving on Kancamagus Highway. This 34.5-mile road is filled with absolutely breathtaking fall foliage. Feel free to pull over and get a closer look!
If you’d like to completely immerse yourself in the reds, oranges, and yellows of fall, I recommend going on one of the many hikes in White Mountain National Forest. Mount Tecumseh, Mount Moosilauke, and West Rattlesnake Mountain are all fantastic options.
When checking out the best places for fall in New Hampshire, you don’t want to miss out on Conway. This little town is home to the Conway Scenic Railway, which is an old-fashioned railroad experience that takes you past some of the brightest fall colors and the cutest small towns.
The Conway Scenic Railway offers three different railroad excursion options. We opted for the Bartlett-Sawyer Excursion, which allowed us to pop into cute shops, dine at fantastic local restaurants, and of course do a little leaf peeping.
As you can imagine, this is quite a popular attraction in New Hampshire. To guarantee your spot, it’s a good idea to book tickets in advance.
Not far from Conway is the adorable little town of Sandwich. In addition to a fun name, Sandwich boasts a fantastic location. Situated in the beautiful White Mountains and on the stunning Squam Lake, it’s absolutely picture-perfect. And when this natural landscape is decked out in the rusty reds, golden yellows, and bright oranges of fall, it becomes even more incredible.
If you time it right, you might be able to take part in the Sandwich Fair. This annual festival holds quite an array of competitions and demonstrations. While there are some fall-inspired activities, like pumpkin carving, there are also many more unique ones. Check out the skillet tossing, ox pulling, and the pick-up truck pulling competitions.
Albany Covered Bridge
The Albany Covered Bridge is not just beautiful. It also has quite a bit of historical significance.
All of New England, not just New Hampshire, is filled with covered bridges. These bridges served as a way for more isolated farmers to go into town on their stagecoaches. Once there, these farmers would both buy the goods that they needed and sell the products that they had. Without these covered bridges, life would be much harder for these important farmers!
Of course, with the advancement of transportation technology, covered bridges are not as much of a necessity anymore. That said, they are still lovely to look at, especially when they’re surrounded by the beautiful colors of fall! And the Albany Covered Bridge is particularly stunning. You won’t want to miss out on it!
Walpole is another spot that’s definitely one of the best places for fall in New Hampshire. With fantastic leaf peeping, cute cafes, and adorable farms, what more could you ask for?
First, let’s talk about the colorful autumn leaves. Like most of New Hampshire, you can simply stroll around Walpole and see loads of stunning fall leaves.
As a matter of fact, you can walk all the way to one of the town’s cute cafes for a fall drink! After all, is fall really complete without a fall treat? Try the hot chocolate from L.A. Burdick Handmade Chocolates, the hot maple drink from Moon Dog Café, or the maple latte from Rockingham Roasters. (Just as a note, those last two technically are across the border in Vermont, but they’re less than a 10-minute drive from Walpole, New Hampshire.)
Last but certainly not least, there are the amazing farms. Walpole is known throughout New Hampshire for its many fabulous farms, including Walpole Valley Farms, Boggy Meadow Farm, and Walpole Mountain View Winery. But one of the most popular ones to visit in the fall is Alyson’s Orchard for some prime apple picking.
If you need more than just a quick day trip to Walpole, you can spend the night! One of the best places to stay is The Inn at Valley Farms. After all, once you see how incredible the farms in Walpole are, you won’t want to leave!
Read more: Best Places for Fall in Vermont
Once you cross through the lovely Honeymoon Covered Bridge, you’ll known you’re in Jackson. It’s actually more of a popular vacation destination in the summer and winter, but it’s just as incredible in the fall.
Given Jackson’s location in the stunning White Mountains, hiking is definitely the best way to see all of the fall colors. A few of the best hikes in town include the Jackson Scenic Loop, Double Head Trail, and Winniweta Falls Trail.
But hiking isn’t the only type of fall fun in Jackson! As a matter of fact, this small town has its own autumn tradition: The Return of the Pumpkin People. Dozens of pumpkin-headed characters are spread throughout the town. One of the best ways to remember this unique tradition is by taking pictures with the quirky characters.
Franconia Notch State Park
So far on this list of the best places for fall in New Hampshire, I’ve listed a lot of small towns. And while those little towns are some people’s dream fall vacations, others prefer more nature-focused trips. If the latter sounds like you, I highly recommend visiting Franconia Notch State Park.
Franconia Notch State Park is known as one of the most picturesque parts of New Hampshire – and it only gets better in the fall. With towering mountain peaks, glimmering lakes, and fiery leaves, it looks like it was plucked straight out of a fairytale!
This beautiful state park offers a few different ways to see the amazing natural landscape. The easiest way is to simply drive on Interstate 93, which is the mountain pass that winds through the park. If you’d prefer to be a little more active, there are many hikes that are worth the effort, including Artist’s Bluff Trail, the Flume Gorge Trail, and Lonesome Lake Trail.
But if you’d like to catch a different view of the fall leaves, you can take to the sky! Hop aboard the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway and see the gorgeous colors of autumn from above.
There’s one main reason that the little town of Laconia made it onto this list: the New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival. This fantastic festival – formerly known as the Laconia Pumpkin Festival and the Keene Pumpkin Festival – boasts loads of pumpkin-centric activities. But it is most well-known for its THOUSANDS of pumpkins.
The New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival previously snagged the world record for the highest number of lit jack-o-lanterns in one place! While it has lost the title a couple of times to worthy competitors, this committed festival always seems to reclaim it. As of 2021, No one has managed to beat the New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival’s 2013 record of a whopping 30,581 lit jack-o-lanterns.
If you happen to be from a nearby area, you can help contribute to this world record-breaking number by bringing a pumpkin of your own. If not, you can participate in the festival’s many other activities.
While at this awesome festival, you can carve a pumpkin, devour a delicious pumpkin pancake breakfast, and stroll through the pumpkin beer gardens. As for non-pumpkin related activities, you can participate in a 5k, take a ride on a zipline, and play a few fun games. And you definitely can’t forget to take a picture with the massive, 34-foot wall of jack-o-lanterns!
So there you have it! The best places for fall in New Hampshire. I hope this information helps you plan the most amazing autumn trip!