When the leaves start to show their brilliant colors, you will want to hit the road in New Hampshire. Fill up your car and start exploring throughout the Granite State’s countryside. As you begin your journey of discovery, make sure you add these enchanting drives to your next itinerary.
Currier and Ives Scenic Byway
The Currier and Ives Scenic Byway is a must-see on any trip. You can get your fill of history and beautiful scenery all at once on this road. As you pass through the small towns and rural areas, this road trip is more laid-back and less traveled than other places in the state. For most visitors, the journey starts in Salisbury with a look at the birthplace of Daniel Webster. You can see the restored two-room cabin from the 1700s.
The byway will pass through a plethora of early 1900s fields and farms. Once you reach Contoocook Village, you can explore the specialty shops or grab a picture at one of the town’s covered bridges. During the autumn season, you will want to make a stop at one of the apple orchards for some homemade cider or a baked pie. The second-growth forests along the Currier and Ives Scenic Byway share another secret with its visitors. If you travel by foot, you can often see the original stone fences that were built by the settlers dating back 250 years. You will end your journey in the town of Henniker. While you are there, make sure to try your hand at some white-water rafting on one of these exciting rivers.
Great North Woods Drive
If you are looking to see a more wild side of New Hampshire, wander down the Great North Woods Scenic Drive. This 120-mile winding drive will bring you closer to the native wildlife than any other ride in the state. For nature-lovers, this trail will give you ample opportunity to see moose, deer, and black bears. The remote location is a perfect place to view the changing fall colors without crowds of sightseers. In addition to that, you have the chance to see some spectacular sights on the way. In the town of Berlin, you can still explore the historic paper mill that dates back to the early 1900s. A motorcycle shrine known as Shrine of Our Lady Grace makes its home in Colebrook, and many riders will stop and pay their respects there. Finally, your trip will end in Stark but make sure to visit the covered bridge in town. The autumn leaves frame the bridge for an enchanting photo opportunity.
American Independence Byway
Within the 21 miles of this road, there is a ton of history jammed packed along the way. If you are a history buff, this drive is a must-see for your road trip. This byway starts in Exeter, which is the former capital of the state and the home of the American Independence Museum. While the museum hosts their Independence Festival in July, you can still enjoy some fun festivities. The museum offers the Lunch & Learn series where you can hear talks about the history of the area. As you continue along the road, you will pass through Hampton Falls (also known as Old Mill Road). This path is one of the earliest roads in the country. While you’re in Hampton, make sure to stop at James House. This historic home is one of the finest examples of First Period Colonial architecture in the state.
Connecticut River Scenic Byway
This beautiful byway really shows its charm during the autumn season. As the byway twists and turns along the Connecticut River, you will wind through many charming towns with picturesque views of the river. One particular village of note is Walpole. This small town is full of historic buildings and inspired Louisa May Alcott to write “Under the Lilacs.”
A stop in town would not be complete without a visit to the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site. When you visit, make sure to take time for a tour of the home and gardens of the acclaimed sculptor. In the town of Orford, a group of homes along the Connecticut River is known as the Seven Swans. They are often called the most beautiful group of Federal-style houses in the country. The byway concludes near the town of Littleton. Situated near the White Mountains, you can find another covered bridge, known as the Riverwalk Covered Bridge, that cuts through the downtown area.
Colonial New Hampshire Seacoast Drive
This 40-mile drive begins in the port city of Portsmouth. During the 18th and early 18th century, this city was a vibrant and hard-working waterfront. You can still see the historic building near the pier. Portsmouth might not be the bustling port city, but you can see the fishermen working to deliver those fresh catches of the day. Take time to sit at one of the cafes and enjoy a hot beverage as you gaze over the waterfront. While most visitors crowd the city in the summer, the fall is an excellent opportunity to see Portsmouth at a slower pace. Another plus with a fall visit, you will have a chance to see the blazing autumn sun setting over the water.
Take the causeway to New Castle that winds around the island and past Wentworth-by-the-Sea. You can also see early examples of America’s military history at Fort Constitution and Fort Stark. On your way to Hampton, make your next stop at Odiorne State Park. This oceanfront park features a stunning coastline with some of the most breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. The byway will also take you through Exeter, one of the four original colonial towns in New Hampshire. Once you have finished in the former colonial capital, make sure to take the original 18th-century route (Route 27) that will lead you back to Hampton.
With these scenic routes, you can get a little taste of the natural beauty and historic areas of New Hampshire. During the fall season, the Granite State does not disappoint with scenery that will take your breath away and enchant your next road trip.