A beloved New England state, New Hampshire is best known for its White Mountains, home to the tallest peak in the American Northeast: Mount Washington, at 1,917m.
But the “Granite State” also has about thirty kilometers of seaside, wedged between Maine and Massachusetts. And with its white sand beaches, holiday homes, motels and pretty historic town - Portsmouth - we promise you it's worth a visit too.
Here are some good addresses and activities to try between Montreal and Portsmouth, for a road trip of about 600 km (one way) combining the mountains and the sea.
A covered bridge and a main street lined with local businesses: Littleton is a lovely place to stretch your legs. If you're feeling peckish, don't miss the very authentic Littleton Diner, which has been serving New Hampshire residents since 1930. Will you go for a classic lunch, a milkshake or a super hot dog?
Continue on to the Kancamagus Highway, a 55 km scenic route that connects Lincoln and Conway and winds through the White Mountains National Forest, a magnificent protected area covering 3200 km2 of lakes and peaks.
Do you know Huttopia Sutton, in the Eastern Townships? This is a glamping site where you stay in fully equipped tents or chalets. Well, there are also Huttopia sites in the northeastern United States, notably in the forest of Albany, New Hampshire. An ideal base camp for exploring the region, especially with the family, Huttopia White Mountains is located on the shores of peaceful Lake Iona. On site: a swimming pool, a pavilion with games and wi-fi and a food truck serving coffees, pancakes and pizzas.
A 20-minute drive from Huttopia, and on the edge of the White Mountains National Forest, the town of North Conway is perfect for the “after the outdoors”. It is full of restaurants, outlet stores and boutiques.
Looking for a restaurant? Among our favorites: the Chef’s Bistro, which focuses on fresh and local ingredients; the barley
For lunch, two darlings: Banner's, in Conway, for a classic two-egg-bacon in a local and unpretentious atmosphere. Or the Met Coffee House
By kayak, canoe, SUP or even by "tube", it is good to go down the Saco River, stopping here and there on its small sandy beaches. Saco Bound Outdoors in Center Conway offers watercraft rentals and shuttle service.
Hiking is a must in New Hampshire; the White Mountains National Forest alone has 1900 km of trails! Among our suggestions: Mount Williard (5 km) for a good climb and a view of Crawford Pass. Or, closer to North Conway, the Black Cap Trail (3.7 km), which leads to a beautiful view of the peaks.
A beautiful white sand beach and a main street lined with restaurants-bars, arcades and souvenir shops: this is what awaits you in the center of Hampton Beach. Nearby, on Ashworth Avenue, the motels follow one after the other. A few of them - but not all, it must be said - have recently been revamped. This is the case of the Surf House, which got a makeover in 2021 and offers a swimming pool and tidy rooms with pretty beach decor.
Not far away is Bernie's Beach Bar, where you can have a drink under the palapas, play beanbags on the terrace, eat lobster rolls at the bar and enjoy live musicians.
Need a breakfast that wakes you up the next day? Drive to the Airfield Cafe in North Hampton: this restaurant is right on the local airport runway!
It's not uncommon to see surfers on the beaches along the lovely Route 1A between Hampton Beach and Portsmouth. In Rye, at Jenness Beach, the Summer Sessions surf shop offers lessons and board rentals (as well as some really good iced lattes).
Beaches, coves, small islands: the surroundings of the coastal city of Portsmouth are so beautiful! Set off on a paddleboard with Portsmouth Paddle Co guides for an end-of-day tour near Goat Island. Magical.
Portsmouth will surely be one of your favourites. Bordering Maine, this coastal town founded in the 1600s is home to many buildings of yesteryear. For a guided historical walking tour, book through the Portsmouth Historical Society. For even more historical facts, head to the Strawbery Banke Museum, an open-air museum of authentic houses from different eras.
Then don't miss a stroll in the historic city center and near the old port, discovering the shops and the many gourmet addresses.
For local beer, Portsmouth Brewery has a proven track record: it opened in 1991. If you're more in the mood for a waterside dinner, head to Bow Street. Several establishments have a terrace at the edge of the water, with a view of the old port. This is the case of the Old Ferry Landing, where you can enjoy a small “lobster roll”, or the chic Surf Portsmouth, renowned for its sushi and delicious seafood, best enjoyed at sunset.
There are three options for climbing the famous mountain: by car on the Auto Road, on the Cog Railway (a train that has been in operation since 1869) or by hiking. Tuckerman Ravine trail is one of the most popular (12 km, difficult). You have to be well prepared, even for the ascent by car: nhstateparks.org.
* This road trip was made possible by Visit New Hampshire