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Madame Sherri’s Castle
Photograph: Visit New Hampshire

11 unique experiences you can only have in New Hampshire

From millennia-old rock structures to towering waterfalls, these are things you can only experience in the Granite State

Written by Gerrish Lopez in association with Visit New Hampshire

To get a sense of what makes New Hampshire truly special, look no further than this collection of unique places and experiences you can only find in the state. We’re talking about quirky, unusual attractions and one-of-a-kind historical sites. To earn some serious Granite State street cred, take a weekend and set out to take in as many of these memorable activities and experiences as possible. If you’re looking for other fun things to do that, while not quite as unique, are just as true to the state, check out our list of the best things to do in New Hampshire.

Discover more about New Hampshire

Sarah's Hat Boxes: part of the 'How I Live Free' series by Visit New Hampshire.

This arcade on Lake Winnipesaukee’s Weirs Beach is officially the biggest in the world, certified by Guinness. With close to 600 classic arcade and pinball games (all pre-1989), it’s an old-school gamer’s heaven. Funspot is also a year-round indoor entertainment mecca with bowling, mini-golf, bingo and more spread over three floors and 75,000 square feet.

2. Purgatory Falls

Why such a sinister name for these lovely falls in Lyndeborough? Legend has it the falls were used as a kitchen by Satan himself. As the story goes, Satan invited some churchmen to a bean feast at the falls. While cooking the pot (heated by the fires of Hell), he let it get too hot, which melted the rock around his feet and got him stuck. Visit the falls and you can see formations known as the “Devil’s Beanpot” and “Devil’s Footprint.”

You don’t need to hike to get to the top of New England’s highest peak. The 7.5 mile Auto Road will get you to the summit where you’ll enjoy spectacular 360-degree views. Drive yourself or book a tour and enjoy stunning scenery on the way up. Great Glen Trains at the base of the mountain offers snow coach tours in the winter as well as skiing, snow tubing, snowshoeing and fat bike tours.

No one knows for sure who built these strange rock structures arranged in an astronomically accurate fashion in Salem. It’s been claimed they’re more than 4,000 years old, built by Native Americans, Irish monks, or just some 18th century farmers. Follow the half-mile trail to explore the ruins. The site is even open for winter exploration, with snowshoe rentals available. Keep an eye out for the alpacas that call America’s Stonehenge home.

This carved, egg-shaped stone is an alleged out-of-place artifact found in a town near Lake Winnipesaukee. The four inch tall, two-and-a-half inch wide stone is polished smooth and carved with mysterious symbols. Some say it was carved by ancient peoples, some say an artisan in the 1800s. You can decide for yourself, as it can be viewed at the New Hampshire Historical Society in Concord.

Madame Sherri was an eccentric socialite who threw glamorous parties at her castle in the middle of a forest in Chesterfield until she fell on hard times and died in poverty in 1965. The dramatic stone staircase ending mid-air, as well as the foundations, a cellar area and stone columns are all that remain today; the top half of the staircase crumbled in July of 2021. The Madame Sherri Forest is a 513-acre forest with trails, a pond and information about the legendary Madame Sherri.

The most prominent peak in southern New Hampshire is one of the most-climbed peaks in the world. An average of 125,000 people climb this mountain every year. Unlike other mountains of its altitude, Monadnock is bald at the top due to two massive fires in the 1800s. There are many trails leading to the summit, where you’ll enjoy amazing views of the region.

8. Sunken Forests of Rye

Head near Odiorne Point State Park in Rye at low tide to view the stumps of an Ice Age forest. Also known as the “Drowned Forest,” you’ll see roots of different coniferous trees including white pine and hemlock. The trees have been determined to be about 3,500 to 4,000 years old.

Another Guinness record-holder for New Hampshire, Chutters in Littleton boasts the longest candy counter in the world. A former preacher opened the store in the early 1900s. The 112-foot counter is filled with colorful candies of all types, from nostalgic candies of the past to modern favorites.

The Lucknow Estate, known as Castle in the Clouds, is open seasonally to the public. It’s an Arts & Crafts-style mansion with sprawling gardens overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee. The drive up the road to the property passes beautiful vistas, and a trolley ride leads to the house. Architecture fans will enjoy the home’s hand-crafted elements. Period furnishings decorate the house, and an art gallery features a rotation of works. Dine at the Carriage House Restaurant and stroll the trails that lead around the property and into the mountains.

An entire annual festival has sprung up in Exeter to commemorate the sighting of strange lights in the town in 1965. A local 18 year old reported the sighting to the police but nothing came of it other than stories, and eventually a celebration of all things alien. Held each September, there are talks by UFO researchers, activities, food, and family fun all in the name of charity. While it may not be as big as the annual event in Roswell, NM, it’s fun for all and spotlights the quaint town of Exeter.

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