Top 12 Best Things to Do in Hanover New Hampshire

You’ll find plenty of things to do in Hanover NH, a beautiful college town with a charming downtown, outdoor recreation, and fantastic cultural opportunities.

A library spire on Dartmouth College campus in Hanover NH

Hanover is a lovely college in northern New Hampshire just over the border from Vermont and home to the renowned Dartmouth College.

This quintessentially New England town has it all – a lively, walkable town center with a variety of retail stores and eateries, hiking and outdoor recreation galore, and vibrant cultural activities.

Hanover is a great destination to spend the day. Or, spend the night and combine a visit with other nearby towns such as Quechee and Woodstock, Vermont.

It’s easy to find plenty of things to do in Hanover NH, in any season. Here are the top twelve.

Explore Dartmouth College Campus

A white building on Dartmouth College campus
Photo credit: Kane5187

Without a doubt, the central focus of Hanover, NH, is Dartmouth College.

This Ivy League school’s campus features a mix of red brick and colonial buildings. The oldest building on campus, Webster Cottage, was built in 1780.

A central point of the campus is The Green, which, as the name implies, is a grassy area crisscrossed by a few sidewalks. Baker Library is straight across The Green to the north and is the academic center of campus. The original section of the library is built to model Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

Since Dartmouth’s campus is adjacent to Hanover’s town center, it’s easy to take advantage of both – wandering among college buildings, retail stores, and eateries.

For a more detailed self-guided tour of the campus, click here.

Stroll, shop, and eat in Hanover’s picturesque downtown

Hanover’s vibrant downtown is quintessential New England, making it one of the best things to do in Hanover NH. The town’s varied storefronts harken back to a previous era, embodying a small-town vibe.

Exploring the downtown is a pleasure. It’s incredible how many interesting shops, boutiques, cafes, and restaurants are in this small town.

Here are a few popular places to check out:

  • Lou’s Restaurant and Bakery: this homey diner has been a fixture of the community since 1947. Check out The Big Green Breakfast
  •  The Dartmouth Co-op: for over 100 years, this retail store has provided students and visitors with Dartmouth gear and apparel
  •  Still North Books & Bar: every college town needs a bookstore, and Hanover’s is a delight. When you’re done browsing books, pick up a light meal in the cafe

Attend the Dartmouth College Hopkins Center for the Arts

Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth College
Photo credit: Kane5187

Dartmouth’s campus is full of fun things to do, and the Hopkins Center for the Arts is one of them.

This theater has a rich lineup of performances throughout the year, including music, theater, film, and dance. The center contributes to the cultural vibrancy of Hanover, attracting both students and the wider community.

You can find the Hop, as it’s commonly referred to, across Dartmouth Green next to the Hanover Inn. Check the website for the latest shows and performances. (4 East Wheelock Street)

Visit the Montshire Museum of Science

The Montshire Museum of Science  - among the best things to do in Hanover NH
Photo credit: H0n0r / Creative Commons

Just a six-minute drive across the Connecticut River in Vermont is the Montshire Museum of Science.

This family-friendly attraction is a must-see if you’re visiting Hanover with young children.

Montshire Museum of Science is on a 110-acre property and offers over 150 exhibits on everything from nature to technology, the physical sciences, and astronomy. Many of the exhibits are interactive, and a number are outdoors.

One especially fun exhibit during warm-weather months is the David Goudy Science Park. Kids can splash and play in a 250-foot-long watercourse, creating dams and sluices to change the water flow.

Montshire Museum is open from 10 AM to 5 PM, seven days a week. Admission is $20 for adults and $17 for children ages 2 to 17. Check the website to confirm times and prices. (1 Montshire Road, Norwich, VT)

Hike the Appalachian Trail

An Appalachian Trail plaque
Photo credit: Artaxerxes / Creative Commons

The Appalachian Trail, which runs from Maine to Georgia, traverses right through the center of Hanover, providing the perfect opportunity to hike this famed trail.

You can pick up the trail, heading north, on Lebanon Street, just across from Barrymore Road. A Mobil gas station will be on your left.

The southern route of the trail crosses a few roads in Hanover. From the Lebanon Street position, hikers must follow the road northwest toward the town center. Turn right on South Main Street, left on West Wheelock Road, and across the river into Vermont.

Visit the Dartmouth College Hood Museum of Art

The outside of the Hood Museum of Art - among the best things to do in Hanover NH
Photo credit: Daderot / Creative Commons

One of the other fun things to do in Hanover NH is to explore the Hood Museum of Art on Dartmouth’s campus.

The Hood has 65,000 objects in its collection, making it one of the largest of any college or university in the United States. It features a variety of artwork from diverse cultures and periods.

Some of the most important holdings in the collection include six Assyrian stone reliefs from the palace of Ashurnasirpal II and a fresco by José Clemente Orozco titled The Epic of American Civilization (1932–34).

Admission to The Hood Museum of Art is free. Check the website for museum hours. Note that the Hood is closed on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. (6 East Wheelock Street)

Experience the Lebanon Opera House

One of the fun things to do in Hanover NH is catch a performance or event at the Lebanon Opera House, a regional cultural hub.

Only about a fifteen-minute drive from Hanover’s town center, this opera house showcases live music, theatrical productions, and comedy skits, to name a few.

Tickets to events can be purchased online. (51 North Park Street, Lebanon)

Visit the King Arthur Baking Company

If you love exceptional baked goods or enjoy baking at home, you’ll want to stop at the King Arthur Baking Company while in the Hanover area.

King Arthur mills some of the highest quality flour in the country, and its headquarters is just across the river from Hanover in Norwich, VT.

The King Arthur campus includes a retail store, cafe/bakery, and a baking school. Classes at the school are typically one day and a few hours long, making it possible for visitors to participate. (135 US Route 5 South, Norwich, Vermont)

Partake in Winter Activities at Dartmouth Skiway

The exterior of the Dartmouth Skiway - among the best things to do in Hanover NH
Photo credit: Redjar / Creative Commons

One of the best things to do in Hanover NH in the winter is to spend time at the Dartmouth Skiway.

According to the website, this lowkey ski mountain is “a return to the simple, unvarnished New England ski experience with that quintessential Dartmouth character”.

The Skiway features two main lifts on two ridges. Most runs are blue and green, but there are a few black diamonds, too. Tickets are a reasonable price of $30 – $35 per day. And kids under five ski for free! (39 Grafton Turnpike Road, Lyme Center)

Cross-country ski at the Oak Hill Outdoor Center

two people cross country skiing

Another fun thing to do in the winter in Hanover is cross-country ski at the Oak Hill Outdoor Center.

Here, you can purchase a day pass to ski on the center’s groomed trails. Snow-making equipment is employed when the cover is thin, and lights illuminate the trails in the evening. Ungroomed trails are also accessible to extend the distance.

One-day passes are available for $20 for adults (ages 18-64), $15 for seniors (ages 65 and up), and $10 for youth (under age 18). (59 Oak Hill Drive)

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Visit Storrs Pond Recreation Area

If you’re looking for outdoor recreation while visiting Hanover, the Storrs Pond Recreation Area is a fantastic facility to check out!

This scenic spot offers opportunities for playing on a splash pad, swimming in a pool or pond, renting canoes, paddleboards, kayaks, or paddleboats, hiking, mountain biking, disc golf, and more.

Check the website for daily admissions rates. The facility is open from May through October. (59 Oak Hill Drive)

Explore Mink Brook Nature Preserve

Another outdoorsy activity in Hanover, NH, is to explore the Mink Brook Nature Preserve.

This 112-acre preserve is a habitat for bears, wild brook trout, and numerous other animals. Walking trails throughout the preserve wind through wooded areas and along a brook – perfect for a light hike or bird watching.

The Mink Brook Nature Preserve is just south of Hanover Center. Parking can be found at the end of Brook Road.

A photo of Kerry Flatley leaning against a wall

About Kerry Flatley

Kerry Flatley has lived in New England for the past 26 years. She has roots in Maine & Massachusetts, family in New Hampshire, and grew up close to the Connecticut border. She loves all that this region has to offer – the ocean, mountains, islands, history, villages, and cities. When she’s not writing about New England, she’s relaxing at home in the Boston suburbs with her two teenage daughters and husband.

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