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10 of the Most Quaint Small Towns in New Hampshire


New Hampshire, also known as the Granite State due to its abundance of granite quarries and formations, makes up one of the six states of New England. It is the home to a plethora of historic small towns that encapsulate what life is like in the Granite State. Explore the beautiful seaport of Portsmouth, the state’s first capital, or discover the historic architecture in Hanover; this state boasts an array of quaint attractions, landscapes, and amenities that are certain to please travelers. The following are ten of the most quaint small towns in New Hampshire.

Portsmouth

Debuting the list is Portsmouth, New Hampshire; the oldest settlement of the state, established in 1630, making it the second oldest city and the first capital of New Hampshire. It is also New Hampshire’s only seaport, Portsmouth.

For starters, water enthusiasts are sure to relish in this quaint town. Visitors can explore the USS Albacore, a former research submarine designed by the U.S. Navy to test experimental features in modern submarines, which is open to the public. Explore its interior, look through its periscope, and engineering spaces, and even check out the bunkrooms within this submarine. Portsmouth’s many historical buildings include the John Paul Jones house where the naval hero John Paul of the American Revolution lived in the years 1777 and 1781 until 1782, now turned into a museum. Another exciting site is the Wentworth Coolidge Mansion, a national historical landmark located 2 miles southeast of Portsmouth. It was once the refuge and Council Chamber of New Hampshire’s first royal governor, Benning Wentworth. To learn more about the history of Portsmouth, be sure to check out the Strawberry Bank Museum, with its historic houses and shops on their original 10-acre plot now dedicated to bringing to life from indigenous settler history to the present day. There is much to explore and learn here in Portsmouth.

Hancock

Named in honor of John Hancock, most famous for his disproportionately large signature on the Declaration of Independence, once owned 1,875 acres in this community. Folks that are interested in learning more about Hancock both the icon and the town, make sure to stop by the Hancock Historical Society Muse. This is the perfect stop for any history buff as it houses a collection of Hancocks’s archives and artifacts. The collection also includes items from the 18th to the 20th century related to Hancock, the town, and its residents.

As one of the oldest towns in the area, nearly every building on the main street is on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Hancock Village Historic District, which adds to its quaintness. One of which is the Hancock Inn, which is located in the heart of Hancock. It is also famous for being the oldest inn in New Hampshire, which has been in full operation since 1789. The inn offers delicious food seven nights a week during the summer and fall. Travelers do not have to be guests of the inn to visit this gem, the public is welcome to stay for dinner and take in the historic and warm atmosphere this inn gives off to visiting patrons.

Jackson

Jackson is a resort town located in the middle of the aesthetically pleasing White Mountains. It is a perfect destination for a summer or winter getaway. Visit the historic Trickery Barn built by Jackson B Trickey in 1868, the only remaining building of the Jackson Falls House, Jackson’s first hotel which was dismantled in 2008 and then re-erected in 2009-2010, where it now serves as the Jackson Public Library. The Honeymoon-covered bridge is most definitely a must-visit for travelers looking for a romantic moment. Built in 1876, this beautiful landmark has an adorable tradition behind it: it is said couples who kiss underneath the bridge are said to get good luck.

Many other must-see historical buildings are worth checking out, such as the Christmas Farm Inn built in 1778. Once home to the Rufus Pinkham family who made it an inn due to their thinking it would be more profitable for them. Their inn became so popular that they bought and added Jackson’s first church. Since then, The inn has been passed down from owner to owner, where it still operates as an inn to this day. Another distinctive spot is The Jackson house and apple farm, built in 1868, which provided cider, apples, and honey to the town of Jackson. It was then renovated and turned into a quaint bed and breakfast in 1985.

Littleton

A town folks will “Be Glad” they visited, as quoted from  Eleanor H. Porter’s well-known optimistic character Pollyanna. Speaking of the famous Eleanor H. Porter, check out the most welcoming attraction in New Hampshire. This bronze sculpture pays tribute to author and Littleton native Eleanor H. Porter’s previously mentioned character Pollyanna. Littleton Opera House is a stop travelers can not pass up while in Littleton. Constructed in 1894, this opera house hosts a wide range of art performances like plays and musicals as well as events like birthday parties. Interestingly enough, in the basement of Littleton’s Opera House is another must-see location. The basement hosts the Littleton Area Historical Museum, in which visitors can check out the many exhibits and documents of Littleton’s history that date back to the 18th century and were written by the town’s early settlers.

Hanover

Hanover is a quaint town that is home to the Webster Cottage Museum, located on the Dartmouth College campus, which was built in 1780. The first residents of this farmhouse were a couple, Sylvanus Ripley and his wife Abigail Wheelock, the daughter of Eleazar Wheelock, the founder of Dartmouth College. The museum features antiques from the 18th and 19th centuries, rooms highlighting the various eras of Hanover history, and the former residents who stayed at the farmhouse such as Henry Fowle Durant, who founded Wellesley College. Additionally, a historical marker commemorates the birth of BASIC, a high-level programming language created by Dartmouth College professors John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz in 1964.

Franconia

Once the location of the “Old Man of the Mountain,” a rock formation that resembled a man’s face, was also featured on the New Hampshire quarter dollar coin. Though the rock formation collapsed in 2003, travelers can survey the Old Man of The Mountain Profiler Plaza, which is arranged so that when you stand on footsteps marked with your height, close an eye, and look through a profiler pillar, you can “see” the old man in the mountain like it was before its collapse. It also features a monument honoring the much-loved emblem and a gift shop. You can also visit the former homestead of poet Robert Frost, known for poems such as Nothing Gold Can Stay, featured in the book and movie The Outsiders. His former residence is now a museum and educational center for poetry and has a collection of memorabilia and signed first works of Frost’s. It hosts gatherings, conferences, and school programs as well. For a healthy dose of nature, take a hike in the gorgeous Franconia Notch State Park.

Meredith

The oldest building in Meredith was built in 1812 and is now the Main Street Museum and Research Library. The exhibits display antiques and memorabilia from the Civil War and Second World War. The library contains sources of Meredith’s history, inventory, tax books that date back to the 1800s, and a collection of newspapers and other articles. In downtown Meredith sits The Horne Block, one of the most significant commercial buildings in Meredith, built in the 1890s and standing at three stories tall. This building was once a doctor’s office and a chiropractic office. Today, it houses apartments and retail stores.

Cornish

A small town with a rich history steeped in tradition and culture, Cornish has many must-see destinations for anyone traveling through the area. Starting with The Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge: the longest covered bridge in the United States. This is until the Smolen Gulf Bridge was built which surpassed The Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge by having a four-span covered bridge compared, to Cornish’s two-spanned bridge. Another spot worth visiting is the Saint Gaudens National Historic Site, which preserves the home, gardens, and studio of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, one of America’s most prominent sculptors. The site has original sculptures on display as well as reproductions of Augustus’s greatest masterpieces.

Exete

Exeter is a town with a rich history and serves as an excellent representation of the area. It was the war capital of New Hampshire during the Revolutionary War, as well as a seaport in the late 1600s to the early to late 1700s. One must-see spot in Exeter, the Gilman Garrison House, built in 1709 was home to the Gilman family who owned the first sawmills of Exeter later restored by William Dudley and transformed into what it is today, a regional museum that gives insight into how the Gilman family once lived. Exeter is also home to the American Independence Museum, made up of two buildings, the main building Ladd-Gilman House and the Folsom Tavern. The museum opened in 1991 when a rare copy of the Declaration of Independence was found in the attic floorboards of the house. The museum focuses on Revolution history, and the role Exeter and the Gilman family had in forming the new nation of Exeter.

North Conway

North Conway is located at the foothills of the infamous White Mountains, making it a trendy spot for tourists as it is the perfect spot for skiing, hiking, and taking a tour of the breathtaking natural scenery. The historic Conway Scenic Railroad opened in 1892 and operates over two railways, a line connecting from North Conway to Conway and a line connecting North Conway through to Crawford Nochard and Fabyn. The railroad’s main terminal is located in the heart of North Conway’s historic downtown, where visitors can take an old-fashioned train ride as all the trains are vintage restored locomotives and train cars! The Main Street in North Conway has many quaint shops to check out between ski sessions!

New Hampshire has many small towns that offer visitors the opportunity to step back in time and explore their historical landmarks, quaint charm, and rich heritage. Whether prospective visitors are looking for a quaint historic town or a charming and unique place to explore, there are plenty of small towns in New Hampshire to consider!

Source : World Atlas

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