Your Guide to a White Mountains Road Trip

All roads lead to scenic views and an endless outdoor playground in these breathtaking New Hampshire mountains.

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Each season brings a new reason to travel through the White Mountains in New Hampshire. A road trip through this area of New England is a popular choice, not just because of the four-season scenery and array of activities, but the roads through New Hampshire’s mountains are plenty, meaning, it’s the driver’s choice on how to proceed from point A to point B. Before you plan your journey, brush up on these 15 road trip tips.

Where are the White Mountains?

The White Mountains are part of the northern Appalachian Mountains. They cover almost 25 percent of the Granite State and even reach into parts of western Maine.

White Mountains road trip

Autumn tourism in White Mountain National Forest...John Greim/Getty Images

The Kancamagus Highway stretches for 32 miles and climbs almost 3,000 feet through New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Also known as Highway 112, this roadway has an abundance of scenic stops, ranging from overlooks to hiking trails and winding rivers and streams. The White Mountain Visitors Center can be found from exit 32. Discover more of the most scenic road trips in America.

What to do in the White Mountains

What’s great about the Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center in Gorham is the abundance of actives available, making it a one-stop-shop, so to speak. From cross-country skiing to snowshoeing or tubing in the winter to kayaking, biking, and birding in the other seasons, visitors not only have the option for guided tours but can rent all of the needed equipment right on the spot.

Indoor activities in the White Mountains

Daily Life In Portsmouth, NHBoston Globe/Getty Images

For the days when the weather doesn’t cooperate, a variety of indoor activities can be found in the New Hampshire White Mountains. Kids of all ages enjoy the Living Shores Aquarium in Glen and the Weather Discovery Center in North Conway. Museum-lovers have no shortage of choices: from the New England Ski Museums in Franconia and North Conway to the Museum of the White Mountains in Plymouth or the Remick Country Doctor Museum and Farm in Tamworth to The Strawberry Banke Museum in Portsmouth. If you’re looking to get more active, North Country Climbing Center in Lisbon or an Escape Room in Littleton or North Conway will get the brain and body working.

Where to shop in the White Mountains

It’s easy to decorate your arms with shopping bags in North Conway. Tax-free outlet shopping is among the many reasons visitors come to New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Settlers Green boasts 70 stores like Gap, Banana Republic, Polo Ralph Lauren, and more, while easily accessible from White Mountain Highway. If your New Hampshire Mountain getaway takes you closer to Tilton, the Tanger Outlet Center Can be found on Laconia Road. Find out 15 of the best national park road trips to take all year long.

Where to eat in the White Mountains

New England Road Trip in the FallJen Lobo/Getty Images

To start the day, locals and visitors alike flock to The Stairway Cafe in North Conway. The small breakfast spot usually has a wait that is well worth it. According to Tripadvisor, the most popular restaurant in Lincoln is Black Mtn Burger Co., which, as the name suggests, is known for its delicious burgers, cooked over an open flame. If the drive takes you through Jackson, a charming country store called J-Town Deli serves up sandwiches and a whole lot of local personality.

Where to stay in the White Mountains

The iconic place to stay in the New Hampshire Mountains is The Omni Mount Washington Resort, located in Bretton Woods. This luxury property is full of history and breathtaking views, making it a favorite stop for families, couples, solo, and business travelers. Amenities include skiing, tennis, golf, and a full-service spa. Be forewarned: it’s one of the most haunted hotels in America. For travelers looking for all of the perks but who want the feel of a bed-and-breakfast, the Omni Bretton Arms Inn is located at the foot of the Omni Mount Washington Entrance and provides shuttles up to the main resort. It’s a great place to stay during a nice mini vacation to the Granite State.

Best time to visit the White Mountains

Scenic View Of Lake Against SkyAnthony Tulliani / EyeEm/Getty Images

While winter sports enthusiasts will say the colder months, and hikers and campers will say the summer; it’s hard to top the fall in the New Hampshire mountains when the leaves are resplendent in their many colors. Read on to find out 24 more of the best places for fall foliage.

For more on where to go and what to see around the country, check out our Ultimate American Road Trip Guide.

Some sites listed here may not be open or may have limited hours or other restrictions due to COVID-19. Please check with them before you go.