Welcome to New Hampshire Sign. Exploring Southern New Hampshire with Kids

As a mom, planning family trips can be both exhilarating and daunting. But fear not! Southern New Hampshire offers many family-friendly activities and is only a few hours’ drive from Cape Cod. From historical landmarks to outdoor adventures, exploring Southern New Hampshire with kids will show you that there’s something for every member of the family to enjoy.

Southern New Hampshire is about a two to two-and-a-half-hour drive from the Cape. It all depends on that ever-present Boston traffic. While I used to be able to breeze through the city in the middle of the day, that is no longer the case, so check with your navigation system before planning your route and be prepared to adjust from going through to going around the city if (when) the traffic backs up.

Discovering Concord

Nestled along the Merrimack River, Concord, the capital city of New Hampshire, is a convenient base of operations for your Southern New Hampshire adventure. A quick 20-minute drive south takes you to Manchester, the state’s biggest city. In turn, driving about 20 minutes north finds you in the Lakes Region and on the doorstep of the White Mountains. 

Love farms? Beech Hill Farm and Ice Cream Barn in Hopkinton is open seasonally and is a favorite attraction with my kids when the weather is warmer. I’m not sure which they like best—over 75 flavors to choose from, the petting zoo, or the giant sand pile in the back with plenty of diggers to go around. Diamond Hill Farm offers scenic views, trails, and a seasonal market that sells local products. Get further in touch with nature at the Susan N. McLane Audubon Center and Silk Farm Wildlife Sanctuary in Concord. See some animals and enjoy the trails around the property, including a giant treehouse.

No visit to Concord is complete without a trip to the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center. Named in honor of Christa McAuliffe, the local teacher who died in the Challenger disaster, this interactive museum celebrates space exploration and science. From hands-on exhibits to planetarium shows, there’s plenty to ignite curiosity in young minds.

Exploring Manchester

Kick off your Manchester adventure at the SEE Science Center, where kids can engage in interactive, hands-on STEM exhibits and marvel at the giant LEGO® Millyard Project. From dinosaurs to physics and cooking chemistry, there are many options to keep kids entertained and engaged. 

For a taste of local history, visit the Millyard Museum, located in the heart of Manchester’s historic mill yard district and right next door to SEE. Delve into the city’s manufacturing past through immersive exhibits and guided tours, offering insights into the rise of the textile industry in the 19th century. This one is better for older kids.

The Amoskeag Fishways Learning and Visitors Center is a fun addition to your time in Manchester. There will be a lot to see if you can time your visit during the fish migration in the spring. It’s a fantastic way to make the connection to seeing the herring run here on the Cape.

For a dose of culture with the older kids, don’t miss the Currier Museum of Art. It showcases a large collection of European and American artwork. From classic paintings to contemporary sculptures, there’s plenty to inspire creativity in visitors of all ages. The Currier has a helpful family guide on its website on how to get the most out of your visit. 

Get the Wiggles Out

When we need to get the wiggles out, my kids love to visit Altitude Trampoline Park in Concord or Krazy Kids in Pembroke. We have also spent hours playing at Cowabunga’s Indoor Playground in Manchester. It’s packed with indoor inflatable fun for the kids and has plenty of tables for parents.

Family-Friendly Dining

After a day of exploration, refuel at one of Concord or Manchester’s family-friendly eateries. Grab a kids’ meal served on a frisbee at the Red Arrow Diner in Concord or Manchester. Follow up with homemade ice cream at Arnie’s Place on Loudon Road in Concord. Head to family-friendly Puritan Backroom Restaurant in Manchester for the best chicken tenders and ice cream in town. Pro tip: the tenders are delicious on top of their tasty and generously sized Greek salads. Are you looking for breakfast? We always go to Tucker’s, which has several locations around the Concord and Manchester areas.

Concord and Manchester are great destinations for a family getaway in Southern New Hampshire, with an array of attractions catering to kids of all ages. Be sure to return to this guide when you plan a trip to the Granite State with your kids!

Ally Piper
Ally is a summer visitor turned year-round resident celebrating her 10th anniversary of calling Cape Cod home. She is a writer and artist squeezing her creativity into the cracks while raising two energetic curly-haired kiddos (currently 6 & 4). Her children’s book GOLDEN HOUR: A CAPE COD STORY tells the story of a typical summer day for her family while visiting her grandparents in Orleans. Now, Ally counts herself incredibly lucky to be able to share all the beauty and magic of Cape Cod with her husband and children. From hiking to boating, you’ll often find them exploring and taking advantage of everything the Cape offers families.


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