Home » Best Large and Small New Hampshire Towns for Art Lovers

Best Large and Small New Hampshire Towns for Art Lovers

by Ana Eastep

By Elisa Rodero 

New Hampshire has so much to love in the way of arts and culture. This list will help you build your itinerary for a trip to the Granite State, known for its quaint small towns, small city charm and large expanses of wilderness. 


Offering a city-sized arts scene with coastal New England charm, Portsmouth has a deep history as a ship-building port dating back to the American Revolution, still operational today as a military base. Whether you’re looking for museums that explore its heritage or seeking out more contemporary offerings, Portsmouth has something to suit your tastes. 

To get a true sense of Portsmouth’s history, Strawbery Banke Museum is a must-see; a visit to the site can easily fill half a day, but passes are good for two consecutive days. Set among 10 acres of historic buildings and gardens, costumed role-players create traditional crafts and interact with patrons to provide a sense of lived history. 

Once you re-enter modern life, you can select from among Portsmouth’s wealth of fine art galleries—so many, you may want to start planning your next visit already. Then, round out your trip at any of several live theater and performing arts venues; you’ll be sure to find entertainment from morning to night. 

Of course, no visit to any location is complete without exploring its culinary offerings, including the comfort food destination Mr. Mac’s, at which macaroni and cheese—in seemingly infinite variations—takes center stage. Or ask for restaurant recommendations at your local lodgings. 


Reinventing itself after a successful run as a factory town, Keene has become a small-town destination for art lovers everywhere. From a morning amble through a historical tavern museum to a live evening performance, Keene’s offerings allow you to travel through time in the span of one day.

Take a peek into history at the Horatio Colony Museum or Wyman Tavern, two historical buildings dating from the late 18th/early 19th centuries. Then, peruse the works of talented local artists at the Carroll House Art Gallery, a contemporary art space run by Keene State College, which also hosts exhibits and performances at its Redfern Arts Center

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, grab a bite at one of the many colorful restaurants and breweries. Keene has been making a mark on the New England food scene in the last few years by offering unique fusions, blending not only cuisine types but also food and art. Of particular note is Machina Kitchen & ArtBar, which serves as an art gallery and music venue in addition to serving organic farm-to-table fare. 

Finally, cap the day by taking in a live performance or art on screen event at the historic Colonial Theatre

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