Set in New England, one of America’s favorite vacation destinations, Manchester, New Hampshire is the areas largest city north of Boston. Rated 23rd in a list of the 100 Best Cities To Live in America, Manchester has flourished from its days as an historic mill town. The city is the birthplace of several famous Americans including Adam Sandler, Seth Meyers, and Louis O. Coxe, is widely considered a must-visit destination.
Rich in history, this bustling urban center is the largest arts, cultural, and entertainment mecca in New Hampshire. With so much to do, see, and experience, visitors to Manchester will never find themselves in a dull moment.
1. Visit The Currier Museum of Art
Founded by former New Hampshire governor, Moody Currier, this historical art museum was established “for the benefit and advancement of humanity. Featuring European and American artwork, the collection contains renowned pieces form the likes of Matisse, Picasso, Monet, and a countless other acclaimed artists. Stroll through the halls of the Currier Museum of Art and take in the breath-taking pieces that can only be found here.
2. Walk Through the Zimmerman House
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Zimmerman House is a must-visit when traveling in New Hampshire. The only Wright home open to the public in New England, it is owned and operated by the museum, ensuring that the modern art, sculpture, and pottery that lay within are maintained and preserved. Take a guided tour through the grounds and marvel at the design created by one of the most acclaimed heroes of modern architecture.
3. Marvel at the Amoskeag Fishways
The Merrimac River is a historical site that was once used to power the 19th century textile mills that dominated the New England economy. Making an appearance in several American literary classics, this famous river is now home to the Amoskeag Fishways. Created as a ladder to safely allow fish to pass the dam created for textile production, the center hosts interactive exhibits and programs that teach hands-on history and ecology. Consider taking a guided tour with the Fishway’s staff and discover the natural gems and critters local to the Merrimac River watershed.
4. Play the Granite State Escape
For interactive indoor fun, Granite State Escape offers a unique game experience for Manchester visitors. Upon entering, participants are locked in a jail cell only to be released by successfully solving a series of puzzles and answering brainteasers. Working together as a group, this game is the perfect team-building activity or collaborative fun for families. Can you escape before the time runs out?
5. Catch a Game at the Northeast Delta Dental Stadium
Partake in one of America’s greatest pastimes, and catch a ball game at the Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, home to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats AA baseball team. Located in Downtown New Hampshire, the stadium sits close to many of the city’s landmarks, giving visitors the perfect excuse to catch an exciting game after a day of sight-seeing.
6. Explore Lake Massabesic
For the outdoor traveler, Lake Massabesic is said to be one of the most beautiful areas in all of New England and local legends tell that famous Native American chief Passaconaway was lain to rest on the lake. While traveling along the north part of the lake, a thunderstorm hit, indicating the presence of the “Great Spirit.” Passaconaway’s canoe was struck by a bolt of lightening and disintegrated, taking the Chief with it. While legends may not always be true, the awe-inspiring beauty of the lake is, making it the ideal sport for fishing, kayaking, or relaxing on the banks.
7. Discover the Manchester Millyard Museum
Housed in the historic Amoskeag Millyard, the museum is a permanent exhibit that takes visitors through time, as far back as 11,000 years ago. Starting with the Native Americans who fished the Amoskeag Falls, the story narrates the evolution of the area and continues through to the booming businesses of the 20th century. Home to one of the largest textile companies in the world, The Millyard Museum walks visitors through the development of the powerful Amoskeag Manufacturing Company.
8. Test Your Skills McIntyre Ski Area
For seasonal, recreational fun, consider spending a day on the slopes at the McIntyre Ski Area in Derryfield Park. The hill has 180 feet of vertical space and has runs for all skill levels from beginners through to experts. For those who don’t ski, snowboarding, tubing, and lessons are available. After an afternoon on the slopes, visitors can relax at the chalet cafe before stopping at the retail shops for some shopping fun.
9. Enjoy Interactive Fun at the SEE Science Center
Unlimited interactive fun can be had at the SEE Science Center. In pursuit of scientific discovery, the science center engages visitors of all ages in their hands-on exhibits. Discover the wonders of light, sound, electricity, machines, and more at the center’s permanent displays. It is always a surprise to see what the SEE Science Center has in store with the changing traveling exhibits. Will you discover the world of dinosaurs in the robotics dinosaur exhibition? Perhaps you might learn about the homes of the future in the Hybrid House project? Visitors are sure to expand their minds and learn the curiosities of science.
10. Catch a Show at The Palace Theater
The historic Palace Theater finds its home in downtown Manchester close to all of the city’s amenities. This 865-seat theater is home to its own professional company and hosts several youth and teen programs. Built in 1914, the ornate details, class, and beauty of the building transports guests through time. From jazz and blues to performances of Broadway hits, there’s sure to be a show for everyone at The Palace Theater.
11. Tour The New Hampshire Institute of Art
Established at the turn of the 19th century, the New Hampshire Institute of Art is one of the state’s oldest design schools. Complimenting the Institute’s educational programs, the school’s gallery hosts a series of works to engage and provoke thought and imagination. The carefully curated exhibitions present the works of regional, American, and international artists specializing in all areas from illustration to performance art.
12. Enjoy the Outdoors in Livingston Park
Enjoy the beautiful New England whether and breath in the outdoors at Livingston Park. Take a scenic stroll on the boardwalk around Dorrs Pond, or feed the ducks and enjoy the wildlife. The one mile loop of trail system allows for leisurely walks or a pleasant bicycle ride and children are welcome to cool-off on summer days at the splash play pool center.
13. Shop at the Mall of New Hampshire
Enjoy shopping tax-free at the acclaimed Mall Of New Hampshire. With over 100 brand-name retail stores and services, shoppers can find the trendiest fashions, hottest electronics, and must-have home goods. This spacious, two-storey mall is sure to have that perfect New England souvenir you’ve been searching for.
14. Visit St. Joseph’s Cathedral
Loved by Manchester residents, St. Joseph’s Cathedral is located in the downtown district. Whether you wish to attend a service or visit to walk the grounds and appreciate the architecture, this Catholic church welcomes all. Large stained glass windows and handsome marble finishes please visitors and churchgoers in its awe-inspiring grandeur. Founded to serve the Irish immigrants, this historic church is a point of pride and joy for Manchester residents.
15. Enjoy Some Laughs at Headliner’s Comedy Club
Headliner’s is considered one of Manchester’s best kept secrets. Hosting several comics each night, the comedy club never disappoints. The intimate show room ensures that there are no bad seats and that each and every visitor will become immersed in the show.
16. Cheer With Crowds At SNHU Arena
Visit the SNHU Arena and cheer on New Hampshire’s best sports teams. This indoor events center is the largest facility in Manchester, seating upwards of 10,000 people. Home to local hockey and basketball teams and hosts to countless major events, there is always a must-see event at the arena.
17. Discover The Lee Scouting Museum
Founded in 1969 by well-known Manchester scouters, the Lee Scouting Museum is a unique piece of American History. With a mission to preserve the heritage of scouting and inspire new generations of Scouts, the museum collects artifacts and publications treasured by the organization.
18. Stroll Through the Historic Downtown
Home to the historic Millyard, Downtown Manchester is a bustling center with countless things to do and see. Take a stroll through the streets and appreciate the revitalized mill buildings now occupied by modern, local businesses. Shop the unique boutiques and enjoy local cuisine at one of over one hundred restaurants in the area. In walking distance, you can find such landmarks as the SNHU Arena and the Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. After hours, an exciting nightlife brings together visitors and locals alike to kick back and let loose.
19. Play a Round of Golf
The links at the Derryfield Country Club are sure to please beginners and expert golfers alike. This 18-hole golf course is located in the heart of Manchester and takes great pride in its well-maintained grounds. Lessons are available for the entire family and an indoor PGA Tour Simulator makes for year-round golfing fun. Not just for golf, the club has live entertainment playing from afternoon until eventing on the deck during summer months. In the winter, Derryfield Country Club is a popular spot for the locals to enjoy sledding.
20. Take a Trolley Tour
If you are lucky enough to find yourself visiting the area during one of the city’s Open Doors nights, be sure to join in on the Manchester Trolley Tour. Hop on the free trolley that drives around to the arts and cultural downtown venues where you can learn about Manchester, engage in activities, and experience beautiful art.
21. Discover The Franco-American Center
One of the region’s most important cultural institutions, the Franco-American Centers mission is to preserve the heritage of French communities. The center hosts art and historical exhibitions that promote the cultural and artistic expressions of Franco-Americans. Discover a new world and take part in one of the centers many activities.
22. Outdoor Skating at Dorrs Pond
Lace up your skates and experience the wonders of New England winters. Outdoor skating on Dorrs Pond has been a Manchester tradition since 1934 and is an activity enjoyed by all ages. Just across from the pond in Livingston Park, patrons can warm up by the wood stove while taking in their surroundings in a winter wonderland.
23. Remember the Fallen at Manchester’s Military Squares
The New Hampshire Military Squares are small areas to commemorate the city’s citizens who lost their lives serving their Country. Fourteen different memorial squares rest, scattered throughout the city, and remind passersby of the sacrifices made for them. Take some time to visit these Military Squares, and silently thank the brave soldiers that gave their lives for American freedom.
24. Indulge in Local Cuisine
With hundreds of restaurants to choose from, Manchester provides a wide-range of cuisine from casual to fine-dining. For a dining experience unique to New Hampshire, visit Republic Cafe and enjoy its locally sourced produce. Their “Farm to Table” menu is carefully curated to serve diners the best that New England farms have to offer.
25. Take a Historic Walking Tour
Presented by the Chamber of Commerce and the Manchester Historic Association, this self-guided walking tour steers visitors through the history of Manchester. There are two different tours to choose from, each taking about an hour of walking at a leisurely pace. Should participants choose to take the Millyard route, they will pass by key stops such as the Millyard Museum, Jefferson Mill, the Overlook Falls, and City Hall. Alternatively, the second route takes parties downtown along a route with such highlights as the NH Institute of Art and the Franco-American Museum.