As the second most-forested state in the U.S., New Hampshire lives up to its reputation as a leaf-peeper’s paradise. In autumn, view the evidence in a drive along the Kancamagus Highway. The mountainous state’s 9,304-square-mile triangle of land, which shares borders with Quebec, Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont, is equally famous for its residents’ fiercely independent attitudes. “Live free or die,” the phrase uttered by colonial general John Stark in the late 18th century and adopted as the state motto, still rings true today.
The Granite State claims the highest peak in New England, 6,288-foot-high Mt. Washington. Some of the world’s greatest wind speeds have been recorded at its summit. Winter brings hordes of skiers to the snow-capped peaks of the White Mountains to participate in the state’s official sport.
Non-skiers can scale Mt. Washington aboard the steam-powered Cog Railway. Built in 1869, the three-mile railway makes spines tingle as it climbs. From the top, views abound of the rounded granite mountains and the broad, deep, U-shaped valleys called “notches” in these parts.
To the south, in the Mt. Monadnock region, lies the pristine colonial village of Hancock. Visitors ooh and ahh over its postcard-perfect ambiance, replete with white-steeple churches, a 1789 country inn and a covered bridge.
For those who prefer watery pursuits, some 1,300 lakes and 40 rivers thread the state, along with 18 miles of Atlantic coastline. In the central part of the state, Lake Winnipesaukee ranks as New Hampshire’s largest lake, covering 72 square miles. A cruise on the islet-studded waters is an ideal way to spend a summer afternoon.
Travel back in time in the coastal city of Portsmouth, where the Strawberry Banke Museum preserves 42 structures dating from the 17th to the 20th centuries. North of the capital of Concord, Canterbury Shaker Village offers visitors a taste of what life was like in a quiet Shaker community in the 1780s.
On the banks of the Connecticut River, which forms the border between New Hampshire and Vermont, Hanover is home to Dartmouth College. Many of this Ivy League school’s venerable buildings edge the spacious village green.