Are you looking for things to do in Franconia NH? Then you’ve found the right blog! Today I break down 15 can’t-miss activities, sites, and locations in Franconia that you’re sure to love.
Franconia is a smaller town in New Hampshire, so people tend to overlook it. That’s a silly thing to do, if you’re taking notes!
With the Franconia Notch State Park a year-round draw-card, amazing ski areas right and left, and a fascinating history, don’t let the small size of this town put you off.
You can frolic outdoors or drink in the arts here, and there’s a little something for everyone.
Without further ado, let’s get stuck into the best things to do in Franconia, NH.
Where is Franconia, NH?
Before we get to the juicy details, let’s look at the basics. Franconia is a small town in Grafton Country, New Hampshire, but you knew that already.
It’s a small town that nestles in the White Mountains, meaning it’s gorgeous and picturesque. It’s best known for the gorgeous Franconia Notch State Park, which showcases some of the very best mountain scenery in the United States if you ask me.
In fact, I’d add it to my bucket-list travel destinations, it’s so beautiful.
While it’s not the best destination for those who love only warm weather, there’s plenty to do here year-round. Especially as the scenery is so good for skiing in winter, yet the summer hiking is superlative. There’s even a small beach and plenty of water sports.
While you’ll naturally want to focus on the spectacular outdoors here, there’s a surprising amount of other things to do in Franconia, NH.
Think museums, art, and historic architecture. It’s worth planning to spend at least a few days here, and you’re bound to enjoy every one of them.
The Best Time to Visit Franconia
This is going to depend on exactly what you want to do while you’re here, of course! So you should plan around the attractions you want to visit and the things you enjoy doing.
Most travelers like to hit the road when it’s warm and without snow, when rain is unlikely, and when weather is likely to stay stable. In Franconia, that’s going to be between the end of May and the middle of September.
Obviously, no snow means no skiing! The ski season in New Hampshire starts in mid-November and extends to mid-April. Generally, February and early March are seen as the very best months, with powder snow and, for March at least, fewer people.
So if you’re going to combine drinking in some Franconia Notch attractions with a ski tour, plan for those months, instead.
Where should I stay in Franconia?
Franconia doesn’t have the most variation in places to stay, as it’s a small town and slightly off the ski circuit. You’re bound to find a place you love. however. At all budget points, too. Cute B&Bs and places a little different from run-of-the-mill are the name of the game.
Some places will require a 2-day stay before you book in.
Sugar Hill has some lovely places, as does the Notch, and areas close to the White Mountains, so be sure to look there. Here’s a few places that get consistently recommended, but don’t be afraid to explore!
- The Franconia Inn
- Best Western White Mountain Inn
- Hillwinds Lodge
- Stonybrook Motel and Lodge
- Lovett’s Inn and Restaurant
- Franconia Notch Guest House
- The Chandler at White Mountain
- Sunset Hill House
Where Can I Eat in Franconia?
Where is the best food in Franconia? The good news is that there’s plenty of delicious places to eat, too. Most of the food in Franconia is English pub-style, so it’s tasty and appealing.
Whether it’s after a hard day’s hiking, or a day spent enjoying the town, you’re sure to enjoy what you find on offer. Here’s a great list of iconic local eating spots, but don’t be afraid to explore, too!
- The Franconia Inn
- Iron Furnace Brewing (Craft beer and pub grub, folks)
- Dutch Treat Restaurant
- Plain Kates’ Riverside Saloon
- Lovett’s Inn
- Hungry Bear Cafe
- Franconia Market & Deli
- Franconia Village Store (Great take-out lunches for hikes)
- Cannonball Pub
- Franconia Village House Restaurant
Things to do in Franconia’s Summers
Summer in this gorgeous corner of North America is a riot of hazy views, romantic sunsets, and long walks in the woods. It’s time to indulge all your senses and rejuvenate your soul.
Franconia Notch Recreation Path
There’s a million ways to explore the Franconia Notch State Park. It’s fantastic on a bicycle, however, and the 8.7 mile Franconia Notch Recreation Path is a can’t-miss.
Running the entirety of the park (and fully paved), it’s actually open all year round. But summer brings some of the best views of the White Mountains you’ll ever see.
260 Tramway Dr, Franconia, NH 03580-4402
The Rocks Estate
This entertaining estate is technically in Bethlehem, but I suggest a visit anyway. It’s just a hop away! Sometimes called the John Jacob Glessner Estate, there’s an activity like no other to enjoy here. A motor coach tour!
These can last up to 90 minutes, and it’s an experience everyone needs to enjoy once. We won’t spoil it further- just go!
4 Christmas Lane Bethlehem, NH 03574, (603) 444-6228
Of course, a summer in Franconia is a summer you should spend on the many beautiful hiking trails and outdoor activities in the area, so keep reading for tons more fun things to do in Franconia, NH, in summer.
Winter in Franconia, NH: Things to do
It’s time to explore a winter wonderland! There’s nothing better than skiing in this area, unless it’s more skiing, of course! But there’s plenty more to enjoy, too. So strap on your coziest boots and sip some hot chocolate, it’s time to have fun!
Cannon Mountain (Profile Mountain)
This towing 4000-foot peak is beckoning you to come and play. Known for rock climbing, skiing, and ice-climbing, winter fun awaits. Cannon Cliff offers a large, near-vertical rock face.
There’s plenty of hiking trails to enjoy if that’s not your thing. The aerial tramway is always a fun ride, too (more on that later).
260 Tramway Drive Franconia, NH 03580, Phone: 603-823-8800
Learn about Ski History
America’s ski history has strong ties to Franconia. That’s why the area is home to the New England Ski Museum. It’s a small, but fun, museum, and well worth a visit.
Learn about everything from the evolution of the equipment in the sport, to how it gained traction in the U.S. The museum is free, and it’s well worth spending in the gift shop, as there’s fantastic things on offer.
135 Tramway Dr, Franconia, NH 03580, Phone: 603-823-7177
Horse and Hounds Inn
No winter visit to Franconia is complete without stopping in (pun fully intended) at the Horse and Hounds. This traditional English-style country club was built in the 1940s. It’s become an iconic après-ski destination. Snuggle up in the warm wood-paneled dining room.
Devour delicious food made with the finest local ingredients, and enjoy the spectacular views. It makes a cozy home-base for exploring Franconia, and the views are exquisite in summer, too, so come any time.
205 Wells Rd, Franconia, NH 03580, Phone: 603-823-5501
The Franconia Inn was built in the late 1930s, in a colonial style, and it’s nestled in some of the most beautiful countryside you’ll ever see. See and be seen in the dining room.
Enjoy gourmet American cuisine by candlelight. Stay the night, and rise refreshed for some of the best cross-country skiing trails in the area. There’s a pool and outdoor hot tub if you come in summer, too, but skiing is a definite drawcard.
1172 Easton Rd, Franconia, NH 03580, Phone: 603-823-5542
Many of these spectacular winter attractions in Franconia are also fantastic to hike, walk, canoe, or play in summer, too. Of course, no visit to the area is complete without enjoying the natural wonders of Franconia Notch.
The entire park is a marvel for hiking, outdoor activities, and water sports, so don’t miss it off your list!
Hiking and Other Things to do in Franconia Notch and Surrounds
You can’t come to Franconia and not enjoy the hiking and walking trails that thread the area. It’s some of the most spectacular scenery in North America, and it’s waiting for you to enjoy it.
The 800-ft natural chasm is known for its breathtaking beauty. With the gurgling Flume Brook to keep you cool and soothe your soul, there’s covered bridges and tinkling waterfalls to enjoy.
Children can squeeze into the ‘Wolf den’- a ‘hidden’ area accessible only through tight rocks. Or simply stroll the full 2-mile loop. The area is open between May and October.
There is an admission fee, but it gives you access to the entertaining exhibits at the Visitor Center, too.
852 Daniel Webster Highway, Franconia, NH 03251, Phone: 603-745-8391
Hike the Frost Place trails
Did you know that famous poet Robert Frost lived here for 5 years from 1915? The Frost Place is now a nonprofit center dedicated to poetry, in his memory. If you’re of a poetic mindset yourself, there’s a retreat for poets.
Most of you will want to head to the museum, however, to explore more about Frost’s life. But the biggest drawcard of all is a beautiful half-mile nature trail. Keep an eye out for the poems lining the route on your way!
158 Ridge Rd, Franconia, NH 03580, Phone: 603-823-5510
This lovely full-service restaurant and pub is fully family-friendly. Open Wednesday to Sunday, there’s live music on Saturdays to enjoy. Home-cooked dinners using fresh and seasonal ingredients are the name of the game.
While there’s a lovely heated pool, it’s the easy access to miles on miles of beautiful hiking trails that draws visitors.
1474 Profile Rd, Franconia, NH 03580, Phone: 603-823-7761
The Basin Cascade Trail
This 2.5-mile long, moderate hiking trail is a stand-out, even among the beauties of the Franconia Notch State Park. The trailhead rises close to Lincoln.
There’s a staggeringly beautiful waterfall to enjoy on the trail. It’s also family-friendly, and you can bring Fido too!
As you can see, fun in Franconia Notch means fun in the outdoors. Let’s look at just a few of the many spectacular outdoor activities you can enjoy here and in the greater Franconia area.
Outdoor Fun in Franconia
Franconia and outdoor fun go hand-in-hand. There’s plenty to do, whether it’s snowy or summer. Here’s just a smattering of the fun things to do outdoors here.
Franconia Notch State Park
You simply can’t visit the area without visiting the park. This area is packed with outdoor recreation opportunities. Paddle canoes and boats on the lake (rental is at hand). Jump in for a swim. Cycle the local bike path.
You can even camp in the park, or along the shores of Echo Lake, if you’d prefer. It seems like there’s nothing you can’t do in this beautiful park, except stress!
260 Tramway Dr, Franconia, NH 03580-4402, Phone: 603-823-8800
Echo Lake is a great place for all things water sport. Kayak, paddle, swim… whatever takes your fancy. You can picnic on the shores when you’re done, or explore some of the other wonderful sites in the park.
Echo Lake Beach also makes a fun summer destination if you’re in the mood for great hiking and some beach time!
260 Tramway Dr, Franconia, NH 03580-4402, Phone: 603-823-8800yVisit the Old Man of the Mountain Plaza
The Old Man of the Mountain was an iconic landmark for the area. It collapsed in 2003, however. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a visit! The new Mountain Profile Plaza has a viewing platform over the cliff.
There’s also the on-site Visitor’s Center to enjoy. A unique art installation honors the lost iconic feature, too. You can also head down to canoe at Profile Lake, which is right below you.
Franconia, NH 03580, Phone: 603-823-8800
Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway
The only Aerial Tramway in the area, this was also the first to be built in North America. If climbing the brutal 4000-ft of Cannon Mountain isn’t for you, soar in style to the summit. If you’re lucky, you can see 4 states and into Canada with clear weather.
Enjoy the walking paths, be awed at the views on the observation deck, and snack at the cafe. It’s only open from May to October, but it’s a must-see.
260 Tramway Drive Franconia, NH 03580, Phone: 603-823-8800
Outdoor fun is simply the name of the game here. There’s plenty more to do if you’re in an adventurous spirit, so don’t hold back!
Waterfalls and natural marvels in Franconia
Many of the Franconia Notch Park trails hide hidden waterfalls and tumbling water to enjoy. Like Shenandoah National Park, it’s an area rich in them. We’ve mentioned the falls on the Flume Gorge and Franconia Notch RecreationTrial, but there’s plenty more to find.
Falling Waters Trail
This is my favorite trail for waterfalls in Franconia. There’s 3 spectacular ones. Swiftwater, Cloudland, and Stairs. You can get here easily from the Lafayette Campground, or start from the trailhead parking lot.
Clinging to the edge of the Walker Brook ravine, it’s a trail you’ll come to love. The views from the top are well worth the effort! The trail branches a little, so make sure you stick to the trails and don’t get confused.
If you want to add some extra difficulty, Little Haystack is a challenge for any hiker.
While it’s my favorite waterfall trail, it’s far from the only one in the area. So don’t be afraid to explore and have fun! The tranquil crash of the waters will be your guide.
Camping sites in Franconia
We’ve mentioned some fantastic campsites in our list of 15 fun things to do near Franconia, NH. So don’t forget to enjoy them too. But I have to give a shout-out to Lafayette Campground.
Smack-bang in the middle of the Franconia Notch State Park, you can spend a night in some of the most beautiful wilderness you’ll ever experience.
As you can see there are many things to do Franconia Nh and tourism is thriving. From cozy inns and pubs to vertical rock faces and plunging waterfalls, the area has a little of everything.
It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a winter wonderland of skiing, or a summer packed with hikes. The natural beauty of the area is sure to woo your heart and soothe your soul.
If there are any other places you want to explore or thinking of visiting then be sure to check out our other travel articles at TravelCroc.com.