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A red covered bridge with a light grey roof. In the foreground is a path leading to the bridge. In the background are trees.

8 quaint New Hampshire towns you need to visit right now

None that far from Boston

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No other U.S. region does charming quite like New England. That includes New Hampshire, where several of the Granite State's small towns provide vacationers and weekenders the perfect mixture of covered bridges, historic homes, and bucolic inns.

Even better, the eight towns herein are all within reasonable driving distance of Boston (just like these Massachusetts towns). A couple are even conveniently located off Amtrak's gloriously scenic run to Portland.

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1. Hanover

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The town of roughly 12,000 souls is located on the Connecticut River and is famously home to Dartmouth College. Check out the school's Hood Art Museum or simply window-shop downtown. That area of Hanover is like Cambridge's Harvard Square writ slightly larger.
Doug Kerr via Flickr.

2. Exeter

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Like Hanover, Exeter is probably best-known for a school it hosts: the Phillips Exeter Academy, a major prep school. But, like Hanover, there's more to the town of approximately 15,000. Start with the American Independence Museum, which is exactly what it sounds like: a tribute to the founding of the country. Or (like with Hanover) hit the ever-quaint downtown. Exeter is easily accessible via the Amtrak from Boston to Portland.
A row of houses along a street with cars. The houses are various colors and styles. John Phelan via Flickr.

3. Hancock

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Like a good covered bridge? Or a charming inn from the 18th century? Maybe gravel paths in lieu of sidewalks is your bag? All and more are in store in tiny Hancock (pop. 1,500 or thereabouts). The inn in question is the Hancock Inn, which dates from 1789, and the covered bridge is the Hancock-Greenfield Bridge off Highway 202.

4. Portsmouth

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This coastal city of roughly 22,000 is probably the most easily reached on the map: It's basically the halfway point on Amtrak's Boston-to-Portland run. There are tons of eateries and breweries to check out in Portsmouth and just beyond, and a lot of history as well. Architecture fans in particular, take note: The Strawberry Banke Museum is a collection of 40 restored buildings from the 17th to the 19th centuries.
A row of grey houses with flagpoles attached to the exteriors. There are United States flags attached to the flagpoles.

5. Jackson

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Jackson is the quaint New Hampshire town for the sporty set. There's plenty of hiking, biking, skiing, and whatnot to be had in and around this town of no more than 1,000 souls. Its Honeymoon Bridge, dating from 1876, is one of the oldest covered ones in the state.

6. Meredith

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This town of about 6,500 is in New Hampshire's lake district, and includes a scenic railroad that can wend you through said district. There is also plenty of public space along Meredith's own Lake Winnipesaukee.

7. Littleton

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Smack-dab between the Connecticut River and the White Mountains National Park, this town of about 6,000 includes a very quaint downtown (look for the Pollyanna statue and "the world's longest candy counter" at Chutters) and a very scenic riverside esplanade.

8. Sugar Hill

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Talk about quaint. Sugar Hill has barely 500 year-round residents and a country store that makes its own cheddar. The town is on the edge of White Mountain National Forest and proximate to several ski areas. Sugar Hill, too, bills itself as "the newest town in New Hampshire," the state having incorporated it in 1962.
Rene Rivers via Flickr.

1. Hanover

Hanover, NH
Doug Kerr via Flickr.
The town of roughly 12,000 souls is located on the Connecticut River and is famously home to Dartmouth College. Check out the school's Hood Art Museum or simply window-shop downtown. That area of Hanover is like Cambridge's Harvard Square writ slightly larger.

2. Exeter

Exeter, NH 03833
A row of houses along a street with cars. The houses are various colors and styles. John Phelan via Flickr.
Like Hanover, Exeter is probably best-known for a school it hosts: the Phillips Exeter Academy, a major prep school. But, like Hanover, there's more to the town of approximately 15,000. Start with the American Independence Museum, which is exactly what it sounds like: a tribute to the founding of the country. Or (like with Hanover) hit the ever-quaint downtown. Exeter is easily accessible via the Amtrak from Boston to Portland.

3. Hancock

Hancock, NH
Like a good covered bridge? Or a charming inn from the 18th century? Maybe gravel paths in lieu of sidewalks is your bag? All and more are in store in tiny Hancock (pop. 1,500 or thereabouts). The inn in question is the Hancock Inn, which dates from 1789, and the covered bridge is the Hancock-Greenfield Bridge off Highway 202.

4. Portsmouth

Portsmouth, NH 03801
A row of grey houses with flagpoles attached to the exteriors. There are United States flags attached to the flagpoles.
This coastal city of roughly 22,000 is probably the most easily reached on the map: It's basically the halfway point on Amtrak's Boston-to-Portland run. There are tons of eateries and breweries to check out in Portsmouth and just beyond, and a lot of history as well. Architecture fans in particular, take note: The Strawberry Banke Museum is a collection of 40 restored buildings from the 17th to the 19th centuries.

5. Jackson

Jackson, NH
Jackson is the quaint New Hampshire town for the sporty set. There's plenty of hiking, biking, skiing, and whatnot to be had in and around this town of no more than 1,000 souls. Its Honeymoon Bridge, dating from 1876, is one of the oldest covered ones in the state.

6. Meredith

Meredith, NH
This town of about 6,500 is in New Hampshire's lake district, and includes a scenic railroad that can wend you through said district. There is also plenty of public space along Meredith's own Lake Winnipesaukee.

7. Littleton

Littleton, NH 03561
Smack-dab between the Connecticut River and the White Mountains National Park, this town of about 6,000 includes a very quaint downtown (look for the Pollyanna statue and "the world's longest candy counter" at Chutters) and a very scenic riverside esplanade.

8. Sugar Hill

Sugar Hill, NH
Rene Rivers via Flickr.
Talk about quaint. Sugar Hill has barely 500 year-round residents and a country store that makes its own cheddar. The town is on the edge of White Mountain National Forest and proximate to several ski areas. Sugar Hill, too, bills itself as "the newest town in New Hampshire," the state having incorporated it in 1962.