New Hampshire offers creative, educational destinations that will thrill students of any age. The Granite State’s mix of sandy beaches, quaint towns and untamed mountain landscapes will turn a student trip into a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
Situated about an hour west of Manchester, Stonewall Farm is truly a winter wonderland. The 250-year-old working farm is open year-round for activities such as nature hikes and petting zoo visits. In winter, it becomes a snow-covered dreamland with sleigh rides and snowshoe adventures. The farm offers students the chance to try ice harvesting with antique tools, or they can try a sweet treat in the sugar house on a maple sugaring tour. The programs are educational, and students will learn about the process, biology and chemistry of sugaring.
Master Sand Sculpting Classic
Sand castles are not an unusual sight at Hampton Beach, but the Master Sand Sculpting Classic takes it to the next level. Every June, 200 tons of sand are imported to the beach, and competitors gather to turn it into an unlikely art museum. The sand-sculpting competition has a different theme each year. Large, intricately designed sand sculptures fill the beach and draw huge crowds of curious onlookers. Students will marvel at the science behind the windscreen that protects the sculptures and the skill of the artists vying for the $15,000 prize. They can even try their hand at sand-sculpting through free classes on the beach.
Bretton Woods Canopy Tour
Students aged 12 and older will never forget zip lining through the heart of the White Mountains with a Bretton Woods Canopy Tour at Mount Washington Resort. The tours are great for groups and last only two or three hours. Students will brave nine zip lines, some of which are 830 feet long, and take in jaw-dropping views while dangling 200 feet above the ground. This unforgettable adventure offers students the chance to learn about local ecology, geology, cultural history and lore while soaring through ancient hemlock trees in the shadow of snow-capped mountains.
Franconia Notch State Park
Franconia Notch State Park in White Mountain National Forest is a must-see stop for students. They can hike the famous Flume Gorge, a natural granite structure stretching 800 feet at the base of Mount Liberty, or take a dip in Echo Lake. Rangers lead environmental workshops, special tours, guided hikes and Discover the Power of Parks programs that promote outdoor learning and respect for wilderness. The park is also home to an aerial tramway with sweeping views and the remnants of Old Man of the Mountain, immortalized by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Daniel Webster as “The Great Stone Face.”
Canobie Lake Park
Canobie Lake Park in Salem offers 85 thrilling rides and a variety of live shows from music and magic to science and fireworks. Founded in 1902, it has a vibrant history and has been a fixture of New Hampshire family fun since opening. The park offers educational programs and presentations linking the rides to a typical science and math curriculum.
Arts and Science
Mt. Washington Observatory and Weather Discovery Center
Located in White Mountain National Forest, Mt. Washington Observatory and Weather Discovery Center is a nonprofit weather and climate change research center that is dedicated to educating the next generation of environmental scientists. The observatory offers many active educational programs from summit adventures to day hikes. Students can explore the 6,288-foot-tall peak known to have some of the world’s most extreme weather and views extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the Adirondack Mountains on a clear day. They can learn about weather and climate change through hands-on exhibits, mock tornadoes and a chance to interview a meteorologist.
Squam Lakes Natural Science Center
Squam Lakes Natural Science Center in Holderness allows students to hike nature trails that wind through animal habitats to get a close look at black bears, bobcats and mountain lions. Students can explore Big Squam Lake on a guided cruise to learn more about the wildlife and history of the area. They can use binoculars to get a closer look at the animals from the lake, or enjoy animal encounters with a handler on land. They can even hike to the summit of Mt. Fayal to take in scenic views and see more woodland creatures in their natural habitat.
Capitol Center for the Arts
Concord’s Capitol Center for the Arts is a student’s paradise, with a whole series of performances dedicated to education and targeted toward a younger audience. From The Giver and Peter Rabbit Tales to Romeo and Juliet and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, CCA’s student shows are the perfect way to introduce students to the performing arts. The recently renovated historic venue is open for groups wishing to host an event, and tours are available upon request.
By Sara Stokes