If you’re looking for another New England gem, the quaint town of North Conway should be at the top of your list. With spectacular fall foliage, a charming downtown, and the White Mountains as your playground, you’ll have plenty of things to do in North Conway, NH.
With everything from scenic rides and unmatched viewpoints to adventures on land and water, there are all sorts of activities to choose from. The best part is that this town is great to visit year-round. So whatever your mood (and the weather), you’re sure to find a few excellent North Conway things to do in the list below.
Tip: Have a look at this guide to more activities in the White Mountains, New Hampshire.
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What to Do in North Conway, New Hampshire
Below are some of the top activities North Conway has to offer.
#1 Visit Echo Lake State Park
This beautiful 15.7-acre state park is the perfect place for picnics and enjoying nature near North Conway. It also has one of the easiest hikes in the White Mountains; the 1-mile Echo Lake Trail. This easy loop only takes about ten minutes but packs a punch with its views of the Cathedral and White Horse Ledges.
If you’d like a longer hike, you can extend your loop to the respective ledges and savor spectacular views along the way.
Thinking of bringing your pup along for the trek? They’re more than welcome on the back trail in the respective ledge areas, but only from the beginning of May to the end of October (just in time for a New England Fall road trip!).
Echo Lake also has a great beach for swimming in summer. Consider reserving a parking day pass online during peak season so you don’t have to worry about finding a parking spot. for any hikes, bring sturdy hiking boots!
Tip: Entry for children 6-11 costs $2, and adults pay $4. Season passes are available.
#2 Take the Conway Scenic Railroad
Take a trip back in time on one of the top North Conway Attractions; the Conway Scenic Railroad. This historic railroad was built in 1872 and used to form part of the Boston and Maine Railroad. After years of abandonment, the Conway Scenic Railroad reopened in 1974 as one of the top tourist activities in North Conway, NH.
There are three different routes to choose from to fit your needs. These are the Conway Valley Train, which lasts just under an hour, and the Bartlett-Sawyer Excursion Train, offering a 2-hour round-trip. However, if you’d like to go all out, the Mountaineer train is highly rated.
The Mountaineer train follows a roughly 60-mile loop through Crawford Notch and Mount Washington Valley. This activity in North Conway is especially impressive if you’re visiting New England in the fall, as it’ll take you through the heart of the fall foliage. Bring your camera gear to take some amazing pictures!
#3 Take in the Views from Cathedral Ledge
Cathedral Ledge is one of the most popular viewing spots in North Conway, offering spectacular vistas of the White Mountains, North Conway Village, and the Saco River. It’s a great sight to combine with Echo Lake for a 2.8-mile round-trip hike.
If you’re not in the mood for a hike, you can take a quick 1-mile ride up to the summit and park near the ledge. This spot is great to visit in the fall to see the mantle of fiery and golden hues. The road closes in winter, but the hiking trail is open all year round. So if you’re up for a snowy hike, the blanketed view will be a dreamy reward.
Rock climbers also frequent Cathedral Ledge. If you’re a keen climber, the east-facing wall has various routes, and the granite is similar to that in Yosemite. Make sure you wear sturdy hiking boots and sunscreen!
#4 Explore North Conway Village
Situated in the heart of the town, the North Conway Village features postcard-worthy architecture, exciting restaurants, and a few historic shops. Some of the most notable ones are the North Conway Five and Ten Store and Zeb’s General Store.
The Historic North Conway Five and Ten Cent Store is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been running since 1939. It’s the oldest continually running store in the village and sells everything from kitchen utensils to toys and books — with a dash of nostalgia, of course.
Zeb’s General sells all kinds of snacks and treats at an affordable price, with the top floor featuring souvenirs and products. Many of these products are made by local artisans, so you’ll be supporting this community while taking in its beauty.
The village is also where you’ll board the Conway Scenic Railroad. The station is easily identifiable by its Victorian-era architecture and yellow facade.
#5 Float Down the Saco River
The 136-mile-long Saco River offers one of the best things to do near North Conway, NH. It’s a popular paddling and tubing spot in the warmer months, hosted by the Saco River Tubing Center.
You can opt for a 1-, 3-, or 5-mile float down the crystal clear river and will get to swim along the way or stop at the picnic area for a quick lunch. There are even a few rope swings. Prices start at around $20 and include parking, shuttle service to the starting point, and life vests.
#6 Hike the Black Cap Mountain Trail
This 2.3-mile moderate loop trail is one of the most popular in North Conway, and with good reason. The trail leads through the Green Hills Preserve, filled with spruce, beech, and red oak trees. Once you’re above the tree line, you’ll come across bare granite rock and sweeping views of the trees.
This may sound redundant, but it’s another excellent spot to see fall foliage. It’s also a great place to view the sunset. So try to plan your roughly 30-minute hike to reach the Black Cap Mountain summit in time for the grand show.
To top it all off, your furry friends are welcome on this trail as long as they’re kept on a leash. The trail kicks off at the parking lot at the end of Hurricane Mountain Road.
#7 Admire Diana’s Baths
Set in the heart of the White Mountains, in the nearby town of Bartlett, Diana’s Baths is a series of cascades and pools in Lucy Brook. It was once the site of a sand mill, owned by the Lucy family, until the 1940s when the place was deserted. The Forest Service now takes care of this area.
You’ll come across smooth rocks and rushing white waters that feed into small wading pools and streams. It’s an excellent place to visit during the spring and summer months. The waterfalls are especially abundant in spring when the melted ice rushes down.
You can cool off in the waters or enjoy a picnic nearby, with the sound of the forest and waters as your music.
While this may not be in North Conway, it’s one of the best things to do nearby. Keep in mind that you’ll have to pay for a parking pass, so bring some cash along.
#8 Visit the New England Ski Museum
Situated close to the Conway Scenic Railroad and Schouler Park, the New England Ski Museum’s Eastern Slope Branch in North Conway opened in 2018. It’s a great place to visit if you’re looking for free things to do in North Conway, NH.
The museum aims to educate people on the history of skiing in New England through its archives and displays of historic equipment and clothing. You’ll get to learn about skiing’s roots in the U.S. and the White Mountains and purchase a small souvenir at the gift shop.
End your visit with a picnic or stroll in the nearby Schouler Park.
#9 Drive the Kancamagus Highway
This spectacularly scenic drive along route 112 is designated as an American Scenic Byway. And while you can easily complete the Kancamagus Highway within 2–3 hours, this road is best enjoyed on a day-long outing.
You’ll come across Kancamagus Highway attractions like waterfalls, historic sites, and covered wooden bridges. There are also a few picnic spots, so why not pack a picnic basket for the day?
You won’t find any restaurants or gas stations along this way, so plan accordingly. But you will find the occasional restroom at certain stops.
The road is at its busiest during the leaf-peeping season (September–October). So try to avoid the road during this time if you’re looking for a less crowded experience.
Tip: Enhance your scenic drive with a guided audio tour to learn more about this region’s history.
#10 Seek out the Covered Bridges
There are roughly 60 covered bridges in New Hampshire built during the 1800s, and you’ll find about six of them in and around North Conway.
The coverings for these wooden bridges were built to protect the wood from the elements, like snow and rain. Four of these bridges are still in use and waiting to be photographed. These include:
- Whittier River Covered Bridge: 19 Nuud, West Ossipee, NH
- Albany Covered Bridge: Passaconaway Rd, Albany, NH (situated along Kancamagus Highway)
- Honeymoon Covered Bridge: 16 Main St, Jackson, NH
- Saco River Covered Bridge: East Side Rd, Conway, NH
- Swift River Covered Bridge: 29 Birch Lea, Intervale, NH
- Bartlett Covered Bridge: 29 Birch Lea, Intervale, NH
#11 Get Active at Cranmore Mountain Resort
This resort just out of North Conway is the perfect playground for any year and season. During winter, the Cranmore resort is an excellent place for skiing and snow tubing, featuring 56 trails.
In the summer, this resort operates as Cranmore Mountain Adventure Park, offering adrenaline-pumping activities like zip-lining, a scenic chairlift, and a mountain coaster. There’s also a moderate, 3.7-mile Cranmore Mountain loop trail leading to the top of Cranmore Summit.
#12 Go Tax-free Shopping at Settlers Green Outlet Village
The only thing better than finding a bargain at a store is not having to pay taxes on it. And luckily for you, North Conway falls within New Hampshire, which is a tax-free sales state.
Set in the former White Mountain Airport, the Settler’s Green looks like a quaint little village. It has over 70 outlets featuring the likes of Nike, Coach, Micheal Kors, and more. There are also a few great places to eat and grab a drink, including Cheese Louise, Starbucks, and White Mountain Cupcakery.
Shopping not your thing? Head to Crawford Notch State Park instead!
Where to Stay in North Conway, New Hampshire
Below are a few hand-picked options on where to stay for the top North Conway, NH, things to do. Have a look at this guide to the coziest North Conway cabin rentals for more options.
Eastern Slope Inn Resort — $
Conveniently located in North Conway Village, the Eastern Slope Inn Resort offers suites, guest houses, and private cottages on a 40-acre property. Explore the nearby trails leading to the Saco River, visit nearby attractions, or cool off in the indoor pool at this 1937 inn.
Kearsarge Inn — $$
The quaint and homely Kearsarge Inn sits a mere 3-minute drive from Cranmore Mountain Resort, with many other attractions and lovely restaurants nearby. To top it off, the inn offers discounted tickets for ski lifts and provides a quiet escape from the peak season bustle in North Conway.
Couples Haven — $$$
This charming self-catering house nestled in the forest is the perfect option if you’re visiting North Conway with your significant other or a group of friends. The modern bungalow has everything from a hot tub to a firepit. Lounge on the deck, set off on the nearby cross-country ski trails, or explore North Conway, about a mile away.
Final Tips on North Conway Things to Do
Hopefully, this guide on what to do in North Conway, NH, has left you inspired and ready to get packing. North Conway may be small, but it’s definitely not lacking in fun things to do. With its proximity to the White Mountains and the Saco River, this town will be a great addition to your New England fall road trip.
If you’re looking for more leaf-peeping destinations, be sure to consider visiting Stowe, Vermont, in the fall. And this Acadia National Park fall guide has you covered on when, where, and how to see the best fall foliage in this coastal area.
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