New Hampshire: Railway tours, Colonial history, mountains and beaches

Waterfalls, like this one in White Mountain National Forest, are plentiful in New Hampshire. (Thinkstock)

Visiting the United States? There are 50 states in all. New Hampshire, a coastal state in New England, was a British colony, then one of the original 13 states. It’s rich in history and has gorgeous scenery, so whether you like to ski, swim, hike or canoe, you’ll find plenty to do year-round.

If you visit New Hampshire in September or October, you’ll be dazzled by the glorious fall foliage, with tree-lined hills and mountains crowned by a blazing display of red, orange and gold leaves.

Looking for a weekend getaway? New Hampshire is a perfect retreat; you can wander through historic houses, stay at a cozy inn and shop for antiques. And shoppers appreciate that New Hampshire, unlike most states, has no sales tax.

Enjoy urban life? Stop by Concord, New Hampshire’s capital, to explore its vibrant arts scene — including the SNOB (Somewhat North of Boston) Film Festival, an annual showcase for independent filmmaking. And don’t forget New Hampshire’s largest city, Manchester, with its notable museums and arts facilities.

Read more about New Hampshire and check out the other 49 states. If you need a visa to visit, here’s how to get one.

(State Dept./J. McCann)

Shaping the past, and the future

In New Hampshire, historic sites abound. Many date from the 1700s. Portsmouth’s John Paul Jones House and Museum (built 1758) is named for the Revolutionary War hero who once lived there.

The John Paul Jones House and Museum is a short walk from Market Square, in the heart of historic Portsmouth. (Daderot/Creative Commons)

And don’t miss the Warner House, also in Portsmouth. Admire its 18th-century furnishings and household items. Don’t forget its wall murals; they’re the oldest in the United States.

New Hampshire’s still making history. Every four years its primary elections, earliest in the nation and just a few days after the Iowa caucuses, mark the start of the presidential election season. Long before most other U.S. voters will have a say in selecting the major party candidates, New Hampshire voters are courted by would-be presidents and interviewed by reporters from around the globe.

During presidential election years, candidates converge on New Hampshire to make their case to primary voters. (Shutterstock)

On top of the world

Even if you don’t ski, you’ll want to head for the mountains to take in New Hampshire’s most breathtaking views. Enjoy a leisurely drive along the scenic Kancamagus Highway through White Mountain National Forest, with rest areas, hiking trails, waterfalls and the 914-meter-high Mount Kancamagus along the way.

Enjoy the sunset from Kancamagus Pass, on the Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest. (Thinkstock)

For a more nostalgic journey, board the Mount Washington Cog Railway — an authentic coal-fired steam engine train that’s been carrying visitors to the summit of Mount Washington since 1869. At 1916 meters, Mount Washington is the highest elevation in the northern Appalachian Mountains. When you reach its summit, you can see across four states!

You’ll always remember your ride on the Mount Washington Cog Railway. (Shutterstock)

Sand between your toes

There are only 29 kilometers of ocean shoreline in New Hampshire, but locals make the most of them. Hampton Beach is the state’s largest seaside playground, with a white-sand beach and boutique hotels. One of the town’s top attractions is its casino ballroom, a venue for live entertainment. Also, check out the Hampton Beach Sand Sculpting Competition, a four-day contest held in mid-June, and the Hampton Beach Seafood Festival, held the weekend after Labor Day.

For every child, his or her own castle! (Shutterstock)

A taste of New Hampshire

The pumpkin is the official fruit of New Hampshire, so it’s no surprise that pumpkin pie is a favorite dessert here. Try it with a dollop of whipped cream on top — it’s delicious!

Treat yourself to a slice of pumpkin pie when you’re dining out in New Hampshire. (Thinkstock)