From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.
Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.
While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:
More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.
Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.
Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.
Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.
More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.
The most populous city in northern New England, Manchester combines northeastern charm with urban adventure. Here are our favorite things to see, do, experience and explore in Manchester, New Hampshire.
*Note: Some of the suggestions may not be doable due to coronavirus closures, but keep this list handy for when things start opening back up more! Be sure to check individual pages for specific operation details.
Fortunately for those in Manchester, this part of New Hampshire is absolutely surrounded with beautiful, preserved natural spaces ripe for exploration. Here are a few of the best state and national parks in and around Manchester, NH.
The largest developed preserve of its kind in all of New Hampshire, Bear Brook State Park encompasses more than 10,000 acres of countryside, and offers an incredible multiplicity of fun outdoor to-dos. Whether it’s land-based options you’re after, like hiking and cross-country skiing, or you long to get out on the water for canoeing, fishing and more, you’ll find what you’re looking for at this large and idyllic state park.
Small but mighty, Clough State Park may only consist of 50 acres — but it’s a smaller, developed part of the larger Piscataquog State Forest offering boundless lakefront views and recreation opportunities, making it especially popular for swimmers and sunbathers in the hot summer days. The park is named after a man who, back in the 1920s, donated a few hundred acres of land for the creation of the Clough Reservation, including some lands that were flooded by the creation of Lake Everett.
Covering a 400-acre section of New Hampshire countryside, Greenfield State Park is known for its wide variety of natural landscapes, including rolling green hillsides, swampy bogs, forest cover and more. The park offers plenty of recreational opportunities in both the summer and winter months, from hiking and swimming to cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. It also features a 900-foot lakefront beach specifically set aside for campers.
A small, 44-acre park inside the city limits of the town of Kingston, NH, Kingston State Park is nestled onto the shoreline of Great Pond, and for that reason draws many visitors for watersports and activities like swimming, fishing and kayaking. The park also offers developed amenities such as a playground, volleyball and badminton courts, horseshoe pits and more, making it a great destination for family fun of all varieties.
Favored by hikers for its 500+ acres of pristine forests and miles of trails to explore, Miller State Park also allows adventurous visitors to summit the 2,2000-foot Pack Monadnock, making for amazing views of the surrounding landscape. This park also offers excellent opportunities for wildlife spotting, and its trail network includes Wapack Trail, which runs for more than 20 miles and crosses state lines into Massachusetts.
A sprawling 5,000-acre preserve, Pawtuckaway State Park is named for both the mountain range and lake that lie within its borders, and creates an incredible exploration opportunity for adventurous visitors. Whether you’re looking to chill out on a lakeside beach or get gritty on one of its many hiking trails, you can take your time and relax, camping at the on-site campground and spending a whole weekend if you want.
An 80-acre preserve offering, among other attractive features, a 1,000-foot curved beach along its namesake lake’s shore, Silver Lake State Park is a particularly popular getaway when the New Hampshire summer sun is beating down and everyone’s looking for a way to cool off. If you’re not swimming or boating, enjoy picnicking along the lakeshore.
Whether you’re looking for a quick and scenic stroll or a more challenging trek, there are an abundance of diverse hiking trails available in the Manchester area. Here are some of the best, no matter your fitness or interest level!
At four miles in length and less than 200 feet of elevation gain, Tower Hill Pond Loop Trail is one of the most popular hiking opportunities for beginners and those looking for a relatively leisurely jaunt. As its name suggests, this beautiful trail runs alongside a pond, offering a combination of waterside views and beautiful forest cover.
Want to go chasing waterfalls? It’s (relatively) easy with the Wildcat Falls trail, which runs a total of only two miles out and back and sees less than 100 feet of elevation change. Its lovely namesake falls cascade into a babbling brook below, and the trail is also open to friendly, well-behaved dogs, so long as the remain on leash for the entirety of the adventure.
Looking for a slightly longer waterfall adventure? Purgatory Falls via Purgatory Brook Trail runs five miles altogether and sees a little more than 300 feet in elevation change, making this a moderately challenging hike (but one that’s certainly well worth the effort). The dramatic falls are paired with forest views and a few wide-open fields, giving you something of everything.
At just over five miles in length and seeing almost 900 feet in elevation change, North Mountain Loop and Pawtuckaway Lookout is a moderate-to-challenging hike that offers plenty of opportunity for fresh air and exercise, not to mention the sheer joy of being out in the wild in such scenic surroundings. Beautiful in both the sun and snow, this is a hike not to be missed.
If you’re ready for a more serious undertaking, try out the Ted’s Trail to Carolyn’s Trail Loop. Running almost six miles altogether and seeing more than 1,300 feet in elevation gain over that time, this trail certainly involves some thigh-burning — but it’s still not too strenuous for most in-shape hikers to achieve. For the efforts, you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous green hillside views and yet another waterfall. This hike is also well-known among bird watchers.
Whether to keep yourself warm in the winter or to keep yourself fueled for summer adventures, you’re going to need a meal (or several) in Manchester. Good thing this town is stocked full of incredible restaurants. Here are just a few of the best eateries in town, whether you’re after Italian, Mexican, or something else entirely.
Want all the comfort of an incredible Italian restaurant meal, but in the coziness of your own home? Pesto Craft Kitchen is a unique carry-out-style establishment that does all the work for you so all you have to do is take it home and enjoy. Choose from refreshing salads, hand-crafted pastas, and a range of other indulgent favorites that are sure to leave satisfied. Single and family-sized portions available!
If you like traditional Indian food, you’re bound to love Nepalese eats, and Café Momo is a local favorite for meals that are simultaneously exotic, delicious, and affordable. Enjoy flavors from across Nepal offered with a delightfully refined American presentation, and keep in mind that this type of cuisine is also heavy on the plant-based options — so there are plenty of offerings for vegetarians and vegans here!
Sometimes, nothing but the spicy and satisfying flavors of Mexican cuisine will do — and if you’re after the best Mexican restaurant in Manchester, we recommend you get yourself to Consuelo’s Taqueria, post-haste. Offering all your favorite tacos and burritos in a relaxed atmosphere at affordable prices, this place will fill your tummy without emptying your wallet.
Offering cooking from an award-winning chef in one of the most happening districts of Manchester, Cotton Restaurant is a favorite for elevated American eats amongst locals and visitors alike. Along with indulgent menu items like crab cakes and butternut squash ravioli, this spot also offers a full bar and several mean drink specials.
Looking for the best Asian restaurant in Manchester? Look no further than Masa Japanese Hibachi, a local go-to for all things Japanese. Whether you’re after hot entrees like teriyaki, fried rice dishes, noodles, or even sushi, you’ll find what you’re after at this grill and full sushi bar. Be sure to leave some room for tempura-fried or mochi ice cream at the end!
Whether you’re striking out on the town solo or having a look around with friends and family, there’s so much to see and do in Manchester! Here are some of our top options for this weekend — and beyond.
Manchester offers tons of family-friendly to-do opportunities. Here are some of our faves.
Even kids who find science class boring can be persuaded to rethink their assessment when they get to enjoy hands-on science fun. SEE Science Center offers children of all ages the opportunity to see why life in this world is so exciting with their own two eyes — and hands. The museum also offers regular events and programs for adults and kids alike, making this truly an educational and entertainment destination for the whole family!
Whether you have a young aviation enthusiast amongst your ranks or not, your family will fall in love with all things air travel when you visit the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire. Offering a unique look into the history of this unique human travel accomplishment, this museum is a must-visit for everyone in Manchester, no matter how long (or short) their stay.
There’s no shortage of fun things to do under the New Hampshire sun, but what about after hours? Don’t worry — the sidewalks don’t all roll up at 5 p.m.! Here are some of the fun things Manchester has on offer even after the sun goes down.
If you’re in Manchester around spooky season — and you have the stomach for it — you owe yourself a trip to Spooky World Presents Nightmare New England, a unique and impeccably detailed haunted house experience. Step, if you dare, into the thrilling and chilling Brigham Manor or climb aboard a haunted hayride. Either way, be warned: this attraction is not for the faint of heart!
Whether you’re looking for things for couples to do in Manchester or you’re just after a relaxed night out with yourself, Chunky’s Cinema Pub is an iconic and worthwhile New Hampshire experience. Along with its range of big box-office hits and noteworthy indie films, this cinema is known for its delicious eats, comfy seating, and friend customer service.
Don’t want to have to spend a bundle to get familiar with Manchester? Good thing you don’t have to! Here are some of the best affordable options to consider in town.
Featuring a wide range of American and European art, including painting, sculpture, photography and more, the Currier Art Museum is a worthy destination and also the regular site of fun cultural events, including tours, live classical music performances, and all-age-friendly Family Days. Admission starts at just $15 per adult, and discounts are available for other demographics, including seniors, youths, and students.
A petting zoo, yes — but Charmingfare Farm is also so much more. Along with the opportunity to get up close and personal with a variety of fun farm animals, kids and adults alike will love other attractions like hay rides, pony rides, and a store stocked with all sorts of farm products like fresh eggs, raw milk, veggies, compost, and more.
It’s true: there are plenty of amazing things to do in Manchester that are totally free of charge! Here are some of our suggestions.
Yes, you read that right: we’re not talking about alley cats but Cat Alley, a unique side street in Manchester that’s been covered by the likes of Atlas Obscura. Decorated with an array of cat-tastic artwork, this street is technically known as Dean Court, and you can visit (and get plenty of Instagram fodder) completely free of charge.
Along with all the incredible state parks listed above, Manchester is lucky to host many smaller regional and city parks, each of which features its own unique attractions. For example, head to Derryfield Park to enjoy contemporary playgrounds and picnic pavilions, Arms Park for a scenic riverside walk or run, or Pine Island Park for a variety of historical attractions, including the sites of an old Ferris wheel and carousel.
We could all use some R&R from time to time, and a great massage or haircut can make a big difference in how we carry ourselves. Here are the best day spas and salons in the Manchester, NH area.
In some ways, a spa isn’t just a destination you head to to bliss out: it’s a state of mind. That said, that state of mind is a lot easier to access when you’re in a physical oasis that offers every spa service you could want, and then some. Tucked into the DoubleTree by Hilton in downtown Manchester, The Spa Within features massage in a wide range of modalities, skin care treatments, hair removal, hands-and-feet treatments, and more. Truly, whatever you’re after, you can likely find it here.
Professional haircuts and color are just the start at Elavina Salon and Spa, which is also known for its aesthetics and skin boutique as well as special occasion services. Whether you’re getting ready for your wedding day or just getting ready for a Wednesday, this place will ensure you look as great on the outside as you feel on the inside.
Staying in shape will do more than ensure you look good: it will ensure you have the strength and physical fitness to take on all the ups and downs the day might offer. Here are the best gyms and yoga studios in Manchester, NH for those in need of a quick workout.
Offering a quintessential gym environment stocked with all the cardio, strength-training, and other equipment you need to make your goals a reality, FitLab Fitness Club is the Manchester go-to for gym rats and newbies alike. Personal trainers and childcare are available to help make fitness accessible for everybody!
Yoga is all about finding the balance — both physically and mentally. YogaBalance offers Manchester residents the unique chance to hone their practice in a comforting and nurturing environment, as led by compassionate teachers and professionals.
As great as Manchester is, everyone needs a vacation from time to time. Here are the best day trips and weekend getaways in this part of the country.
Looking to get away from it all? Standing in front of the Atlantic Ocean can do wonders for your psyche — and Hampton Beach State Park is a sprawling New Hampshire waterfront that’s only 40 minutes away from Manchester. Head out for the afternoon and be back in time for dinner, or make a mini-vacation out of it.
Whether it’s at Halloween or any time of year, a trip to Salem, Massachusetts is fun from both a historical and contemporary perspective — and you don’t have to believe in ghosts to get a kick out of the local haunts. It’s only an hour away… but you could also add just a little bit more travel time and end up in Boston!
As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Manchester that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Manchester? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.