Park Pairings

8 Awesome Options for Family Exploration & Entertainment

It’s a classic summer vacation dilemma. You want to unplug, take in revitalizing air and scenic views, and create lasting family memories. Your kiddos, on the other hand, may be all about the excitement and entertainment of theme parks. Lucky for the whole family, New Hampshire brings the best of both all within a quick drive. While it’s certainly tough to narrow down from 93 state park properties and dozens of beloved attractions, here are some particularly perfect park pairings for your gang to try this summer.

Franconia Notch State Park & Clark’s Trading Post

In the heart of the White Mountains, Franconia Notch State Park is loaded with spectacular sights and experiences. There are endless hiking trails amidst mountain views. Echo Lake offers a beautiful and soothing place to swim, and The Flume Gorge features cascading waterfalls amidst moss-covered rocks and fern-lined paths. Just 5 minutes down the road is Clark’s Trading Post, a New Hampshire staple that’s been capturing the imaginations of families for generations. It was founded in 1928 as a roadside attraction and this family-run theme park features live bear shows, train rides, water blaster boats, a Segway park and much more.

Weeks State Park & Santa’s Village

When it comes to having it all from your family summer vacation, there’s really nothing like New Hampshire’s White Mountains. You can bask the magnificent panorama of 4000-foot peaks from Weeks State Park and meander tranquil trails one moment and your kiddos can be immersed in the magic of Santa’s Village the next. This classic holiday-themed attraction opened in 1953, and features the Ho Ho H20 Water Park, Santa's Yule Log Flume, Antique Cars, Santa’s Express Train, live shows and more.

Diana’s Baths & Storyland

The breathtaking cascading waters of Diana’s Baths bring relaxation and a perfect place to picnic, while cool, sun-dappled pools at the base of waterfalls offer a refreshing spot for a dip. And just 20 minutes away is the theme park Storyland. They’ve been making childhood memories at this family-run attraction for over 60 years. Treasured storybook characters come to life at this family-fun spot offering entertainment for all ages with rides and rollercoasters including the Roar-O-Saurus and Whirling Whales. They’ve also got live shows and games to keep everyone happy.

Odiorne Point State Park & Water Country

Odiorne Point State Park allows families to absorb rich history, science and the stunning raw beauty of the New Hampshire seacoast all in one place. Your family will love exploring and collecting shiny rocks, seashells and natural treasures around the park, with its salt marshes, wooded walking trails, and both sandy and rocky coastline. And just a few miles away is Water Country, where you’re gonna wanna have your swim suits handy. Tweens and teens go wild for water rides like the Racing Rapids & Plunge, Triple Giant Slides and Double Geronimo, while little ones adore Ollie Octopus, Bubble Bay and Pirate’s Pool and Lagoon. Make your plans now for some epic slipping and sliding this summer!

Mine Falls Park & Canobie Lake Park

Start your day with a walk in Mine Falls Park along the lovely winding Nashua River and wooded trails. Pack a picnic to enjoy in this serene spot before heading over for some family fun in the sun at Canobie Lake Park. Just a half hour away, it has something for everyone, whether your family’s in the kiddie stage, just wants a water park, or seeks the thrills of roller coasters and action-packed rides.

Mount Monadnock & Kimball Farm

There’s a reason why Mount Monadnock is the most hiked mountain in North America, (and 3rd most hiked in the world!) At over 3,000 feet, the panoramic views at the summit are simply beautiful. Steep rocky spots make it a true intermediate hike, and may not be suitable for small children. But with many scenic spots to stop and rest along the way, and a selection of trails with varying degrees of difficulty, it’s a rewarding trek that could be the start of a wonderful family tradition. Hiked up a little hunger? Head just 20 minutes down the road to Kimball Farm where you’ll enjoy delicious seafood and sandwich options, and 50 flavors of their well-known homemade ice cream. After that, pack in the entertainment with pitch and putt, bumper boats, batting cages, mini golf and more.

Ellacoya State Park & Gunstock Mountain Resort

The gorgeous views of Ossipee Mountains at Ellacoya State Park make this a perfect place for a little picnic, dip in the lake and wooded walk. Afterward, head to the heart of Lake Winnipesaukee and experience a brand new mountain roller coaster, ziplining, aerial treetop tours, off-road Segway tours, lift rides and climbing at Gunstock Mountain Resort.

Mount Sunapee State Park & Mount Sunapee Adventure Park

Mount Sunapee may be known for some pretty sweet skiing, but when school’s out, the region transforms into an ultimate summer retreat. There are dramatic views, boat rentals, lakeside beaches and plentiful hiking trails in Mount Sunapee State Park, while the Mount Sunapee Adventure Park provides canopy zipline tours, a mountain bike center with rentals and endless trails. You can also make fond memories traversing the treetops in aerial courses, scaling the climbing wall, playing disc golf and other family activities. The spas and indoor pools at the multiple area lodges never hurt anyone either.

Enjoy your family adventures in New Hampshire, and as always, educate yourself over at HikeSafe before you head out!