New England is full of beautiful hidden spots, and New Hampshire is no exception. Whether it’s your first time visiting the Granite State or your 100th, you’ll fall even deeper in love with this humble state after visiting one of these awe-inspiring hidden gems. After settling into your New Hampshire vacation rental, venture out to explore these amazing low-key attractions.
1. Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge, Jefferson and Whitefield
This pristine wildlife refuge encompasses about 6,000 acres of protected land between the White Mountains and the Upper Connecticut River Valley of New Hampshire’s North Country. It’s often been called the “crown jewels” of New Hampshire’s landscape, and it’s easy to see why. The ponds, wetlands, and forests of this refuge are truly unique and picturesque. There are a wide variety of hiking trails ranging from the most adventurous to just a casual stroll, outstanding wildlife viewing opportunities, and beauty beyond compare.
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2. Madame Sherri’s Castle, Chesterfield
Madame Sherri, New England’s glamorous queen of scandal, made a name for herself designing elaborate costumes for Broadway productions, most notably the Ziegfeld Follies. After her husband died, she decided to build a unique place in the woods of Chesterfield, New Hampshire, to hold parties for her theater friends. Her lavish parties continued until her money ran out, and then the “castle” fell into disuse. It was destroyed by a fire in 1962, but a section of its grand staircase remains. The stairs are sturdy enough for climbing, but be careful. There are no handrails!
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3. Saint-Gaudens National Historical Site, Cornish
This property was once the home and studio of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, a famous sculptor of the twentieth century. Come to see over 100 of his artworks in the galleries and on the grounds. Explore the nature trails or take a stroll through the stunning gardens with sweeping views of Mount Ascutney. You can also discover your hidden talents during a sculpture class or enjoy live concerts and other events during the summer.
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4. King Ravine Trail
The more popular ravines like Tuckerman and Huntington tend to get all the attention (and crowds). However, with its massive boulder field and the soaring ramparts of Mount Adams and the Durand Ridge, King Ravine looks like something straight out of Lord of the Rings. Despite being close to the Appalachian Trail and many of the more popular peaks of the Presidential Range, you’ll still get a sense of remoteness and isolation. You can access the trail from Lowe’s Path Trailhead on Route 2. Follow Lowe’s path for 1.8 miles before turning left onto King Ravine Trail. It’s a challenging hike, so unless you’re a very fit an experienced hiker it’s better to focus on exploring the area rather than reaching the summit. You might just find a hobbit hole!
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5. Mystery Hill: America’s Stonehenge, Salem
Mystery Hill is nothing like Stonehenge except for the fact that it’s made out of stone. It consists of a series of small stone walls, odd stone arrangements, underground chambers and a one-acre granite outcropping that has rock structures built on it and has been carved with grooves, possibly drainage ditches. No one knows the origins for sure, but there are many interpretations, including Native American, Irish, and Middle Eastern origins. Come try to solve the mystery for yourself!
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6. Benson’s Park, Hudson
This beautiful park was once a zoo, and many of the old animal cages and other whimsical exhibits still remain. The main attraction is the old gorilla exhibit. The cage is still there for your to walk around inside. It’s dog-friendly and the perfect place for a leisurely walk outdoors. There’s also a massive playground and recreational areas with picnic tables. Nearby is Benson’s Animal Farm Museum and Gift Shop which houses memorabilia from the old zoo.
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7. Mount Hight, White Mountain National Forest
This hike is great for discovering some lesser-known areas of the White Mountain National Forest. Even though it’s not as tall as Carter Dome, it’s still very special because of the panoramic views. You might even be inspired to explore more remote sections of the Forest, like the Wild River Valley and Evans Notch. There are two different ways to get to the summit of Mount Hight, or you can do the hike as a loop.
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8. The Basin, Lincoln
The Basin was once described as “perhaps the most remarkable curiosity of its kind in New England” by Henry David Thoreau. Referred to lovingly as a “pothole,” this 30-foot-wide, 15-foot-deep bowl had its beginning some 25,000 years ago as the Ice Age came to a close. Water flowing from melting glaciers eroded the solid granite bedrock, and for thousands of years, sand and stones were whirled around by the force of the river, causing this rock formation. No swimming is allowed so you’ll have to save that for the pool at your vacation rental!
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9. Frost Point, Rye Beach
This hidden beach is on the backside of Odiorne State Park, Tucked between the Gulf of Maine and a beautiful, small harbor. It’s a great place to pull up, take a walk in the woods, go for a swim, or just hang out. The waters are relatively safe, and because of its positioning, it’s the perfect place to watch the sunset.
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10. Great Hill Fire Tower, Tamworth
In the late 1800s to early 1900s, fire towers were used to spot and respond to wildfires. The tower on top of Great Hill wasn’t actually used for fire scouting, but this beautiful tower provides you with fantastic 360-degree views. It’s also a great hike for the whole family! If you’re starting at the parking area between Great Hill Road and Hemenway Road, it’s an easy stroll along the wide path to get to the fire tower. You can also reach the tower from the Betty Steele Trail. The tower is still open, so anyone not afraid of climbing the 35 feet to the top can enjoy the view.
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