New Hampshire

Top 9 Things to do in North Conway, New Hampshire

by Sarah Lamagna
Updated January 03, 2023

things to do north conway new hampshire
Photo: Keith J. Finks

As a gateway to the White Mountains, New Hampshire’s North Conway is full of adventure and beauty.

You haven’t really experienced the White Mountains unless you’ve made your way through North Conway. It’s a quaint town on the southeastern side of White Mountain National Forest with everything you’d expect from historic New England.

Colonial homes? Check. Magical main street? Check. Old-timey train station? Yup, they’ve got that, too.

But North Conway is so much more than a run-of-the-mill small town. The best way to experience it is to stay in the area, but it’s worth a day trip if you don’t have much time.

Whether you use it as your base camp to hike or snowshoe in the area, or you’re visiting from out of state, make sure to check all of these must-do activities off your list.

1. Take to the tracks.

conway scenic railroad
Photo: Neil Mewes

Adventure awaits along the train tracks of the Conway Scenic Railroad. You can choose between three train excursions depending on what you’re in the mood for. The Mountaineer trip is the longest journey and also the most scenic. Take this during peak fall foliage and make sure to book the dome train car to get the full experience.

The journeys take you past Mount Willard and over the stunning Willey Brook Bridge. There are also several specialty excursions throughout the year including the Snow Train during winter and Santa’s Holiday Express train to the North Pole  at Christmastime.

2. Live your childhood dreams at Storyland.

storyland new hampshire
Photo: D.T. Christensen

It might not live up to Disneyland standards, but Storyland is just as fun for your children (and better on your wallet). Sitting just north of town, Storyland is full of kid-friendly rides and plenty of entertainment and even has rides themed after classic tales like Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland.

There are plenty of more exciting rides too. The Roar-O-Saurus is a wooden coaster built in 2014 and is now the fastest ride in the park. It, along with rides like the Bamboo Chutes log flume and Dr. Geyser’s Remarkable Raft Ride, are sure to keep riders of all ages entertained.

Related read: 10 Things to Do in the Fall in New Hampshire

3. Get your hike on.

Diana’s Baths new hampshire
Diana’s Baths. Photo: Allard One

North Conway is in the heart of the White Mountains. It is, by far, one of the most beautiful places in the country, and there are endless trails just waiting to be hiked. Luckily, there are a few trails right in town that are great for any adventurer. The trail up Black Cap is short and has a huge payoff at its summit — 360-degree views will greet you at the top, including a perfect line of sight to Mount Washington.

On warmer days, head to Diana’s Baths, where you can lounge in the dozens of pools along the cascading waterfalls. For a longer adventure, hike up to the Mount Kearsarge North Fire Tower and stay overnight to wake up to an incredible sunrise over the Whites.

4. Go souvenir shopping at Zeb’s.

 

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A trip to North Conway is not complete without a visit to Zeb’s General Store. From local, handmade soaps to children’s books and New Hampshire souvenirs (including tons of maple and balsam items), Zeb’s has everything you need.

Be prepared to squeeze through the aisles since Zeb’s is popular with locals and tourists alike. And don’t forget to head upstairs too: it’s filled with books, homemade goods, kitchen items, and more. But one thing you can’t leave without is the freshly made fudge — it’s iconic!

Related read: 12 Best Cabin Rentals in New Hampshire

5. Grab a beer at Moat Mountain Brewery.

There are several places to grab a beer after you’re done adventuring through the area, but nothing compares to Moat Mountain Brewery. Their Czech Pilsner and Pale Ale (called Iron Mike) are their most popular beers and both go perfectly with barbecue — which is conveniently also served at the brewery.

It’s a favorite among locals and tourists so expect it to be crowded, especially on weekends. They don’t take reservations either, so there might be a wait if you come at peak times, but the atmosphere and beer are well worth it.

6. Brunch at Stairway Café.

 

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There aren’t that many places to grab breakfast when walking down the main street of North Conway. But one eatery not to miss is the Stairway Café. Their dining area is cozy and the menu is fantastic. Try their lobster benedict when it’s in season or one of their classic scrambles.

In the summer, make sure to sit on their balcony, perfect for people-watching. It has the best view of the surrounding mountains and the Conway Scenic Railroad station. Due to their small dining space, you might need to wait upwards of an hour to get seated. It’s worth the wait though!

Related read: 11 Luxurious Glamping Spots in New Hampshire

7. Welcome in some spirits at New Hampshire’s only organic distillery.

There’s no shortage of places to grab a drink in North Conway, but Cathedral Ledge Distillery should be at the top of your list. They have a variety of spirits to fit whatever mood you might be in, including classics like American whiskey, bourbon, and barrel-rested gin.

But they also have specialty cocktails like the Fig Cider Martini (it’s as delicious as it sounds) and the Maple Orange Crush. You can also buy a bottle to bring the fun home. They also have several infused vodkas like horseradish, aquavit, and fig!

8. Get lost at a bookstore.

 

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In my opinion, there are a few things that New England towns need to be considered the “perfect small town.” They need a coffee shop (Metropolitan Coffeehouse and Frontside Coffee Roasters are favorites), a general store (Zeb’s is magic), a city park or playground (North Conway has both!), and a bookstore.

Thankfully, North Conway is home to White Birch Books, located in the southern part of town. The purple, Victorian home looks unassuming, but when you walk through the doors, it’s wall-to-wall shelves of books. Whether you need a good mystery, biography, or romance (or simply a hiking guide), they’ve got it all.

Related read: Top 10 Best Campgrounds in New Hampshire

9. Go shopping.

north conway five and ten
Photo: D.T. Christensen

North Conway is full of quaint and quirky shops so you can get something for everyone. For the fashionista in your life, head to Penny Lane’s Boutique, Spruce Hurricane, or It’s My Girlfriend’s Consignment Boutique. If you have anyone in your life that is hard to shop for, you’re bound to find a good gift at Poppy & Vale or the North Conway Five and Ten.

For your spa-obsessed friends, head to Fields of Ambrosia to pick up all their bath and body needs. Then stop by North Conway Olive Oil Company for any chefs-to-be you might know. End your shopping experience by getting something for the kids at the Toy Chest. Not only will you feel good about getting some great gifts for your friends and family, but you’ll also be supporting small businesses with each purchase.

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