New Hampshire is home to an abundance of charming small towns and bustling big cities perfect for a weekend getaway. Enjoy the historic feel of Salem or visit energetic Manchester, the “business capital” of the state. From exploring historic museums in Concord to whale watching boat tours in Portsmouth, there are plenty of attractions situated in proximity to many New Hampshire vacation rentals. Take a look at the most exciting cities and towns in the New England area.

1. Portsmouth

portsmouth
Source: Flickr/Doug Kerr

As the third-oldest town in the United States, Portsmouth is the ideal vacation destination for history buffs and explorers. Spend your weekend touring the historic homesteads of the city that date back to the mid-1700s or see the historical artifacts at the Discover Portsmouth Center and the American Independence Museum. Outdoor enthusiasts can opt for a whale watching boat tour with Portsmouth Harbor Cruises or hike along the Lighthouse trail on a Saturday afternoon. Thrill the kids with a trip to the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire when the weather is cold or let them make a splash at Water Country during the summer months.

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2. Nashua

new hampshire lake autumn
Source: Flickr/Marc Nozell

Spend your weekend getaway immersed in the artistic culture of Nashua. When you time your vacation for October, take part in the Art Walk Weekend hosted by the city. Nashua also offers something for those wanting a history lesson. Tour the Nashville Historic District to see architecture dating back to the early 1800s. If you’re seeking activity, this New Hampshire city delivers. Head to Greeley Park to toss the ball around with the kids on the ball fields or tour the gardens and hiking trails in the park. Mine Falls Park is a popular option for cyclists. With access to the river, you can kayak or canoe with rentals from Nashoba Paddler Rentals.

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3. Hanover

connecticut river rivercrest
Source: Flickr/Matthew Simoneau

Hanover is the ideal spot if you want a vacation rental overlooking the Connecticut River. Take a dip in the water with canoes and kayaks from the Ledyard Canoe Company or admire the water while hiking along the Appalachian Trail in Hanover. Snow-filled adventures leave you from sliding down the slopes at the Dartmouth Skiway while the fall gives you the opportunity to hop on board the Fall Foliage Train Ride. Spend a few hours touring the Montshire Museum of Science or the Enfield Shaker Museum before picking up some fresh produce at the Sugarbush Cheese and Maple Farm.

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4. Salem

corkscrew at the canobie lake park
Source: Flickr/flatluigi

Spend your weekend in a small town that offers access to the big city when choosing Salem as your vacation destination. Salem sits on the border of the Boston area and serves as the southern gateway to the state. Explore the area when heading to Canobie Lake Park that features more than 40 rides to entertain the kids and live music during the summer festivals. Salem is also home to America’s Stonehenge where you can learn a thing or two about the astronomic rock calendar. Hike through the Salem Town Forests to see the leaves changing in the fall or get in some retail therapy at the Mall at Rockingham Park.

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5. Concord

new hampshire state house
Source: Flickr/Teemu008

A vacation rental in New Hampshire’s capital city puts you in the heart of educational, artistic, and outdoor attractions. Tour the New Hampshire State House on a Saturday or see the thriving arts culture of Concord when visiting the Capitol Center for the Arts or the McGowan Fine Art Museum. The beauty continues as you stroll through the Millbrook Gallery and Sculpture Garden to see the impressive exhibits. When you want some adventure on the water, rent a few canoes or kayaks from Quickwater Canoe and Kayak. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy a nature adventure on the Winant Park Hiking Trails.

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6. Manchester

white mountains new hampshire
Source: Flickr/Peter Rintels

When you want the hustle and bustle of a big city for your weekend getaway, choose a cozy vacation rental in Manchester. Dubbed the “Business Capital” of New Hampshire, this city is thriving with an active art and historic scene. Take a Historic Walking Tour to see landmarks such as the Saint Joseph Cathedral or the Zimmerman House, or see the masterpieces on display at the Currier Museum of Art. Live performances draw crowds to the Palace Theater and the Majestic Theatre on the weekends, and the SEE Science Center is a must-do when the kids are along. Take advantage of the snowfall in the winter months when skiing and snowboarding on the slopes at the McIntyre Ski Area before warming up in your Manchester vacation rental.

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7. Dover

cocheco river dover
Source: Flickr/PSNH

Dover, the oldest town in New Hampshire, is chalked full of attractions for your family. Walk along the downtown streets to view the old restored cotton mills or stop in at one of the specialty shops or art galleries. The historic buildings in the downtown area showcase the age-old architecture with a mix of modern accents. Your children can get wild and wacky at the Woodman Institute Museum that features unusual hands-on exhibits. A vacation rental in Dover also puts you adjacent to the Cocheco River where you can canoe or kayak with rentals from Seven Rivers Paddling.

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8. Keene

new hampshire autumn
Source: Flickr/Amy Meredith

For small-town charm, Keene is the ideal spot for your weekend getaway in New Hampshire. Take a leisurely walk through the downtown area, rich with historic architecture and specialty shops, such as the Toadstool Bookshop and Unbridled Chocolates. Snap a family picture at the colorful Central Square before treating the kids to an afternoon at the Cheshire Children’s Museum. Outdoor enthusiasts can hike the Mount Monadnock area while history buffs can tour the Wyman Tavern Museum or the Horatio Colony Museum. Show the kids what a real working farm looks like when stopping in at Stonewall Farms.

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