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Best things to do in Franconia

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Where in the world: USA  /  New Hampshire  /  White Mountains  /  Franconia

Top 15 things to do in Franconia

1. Franconia Notch State Park

Franconia Notch State Park is a public recreation area and nature preserve that straddles eight miles (13 km) of Interstate 93 as it passes through Franconia Notch, a mountain pass between the Kinsman Range and Franconia Range in the White Mountains of northern New Hampshire, United States. The northern part of the park, including Cannon Mountain and Echo and Profile lakes, is in the town of Franconia, and the southern part, including Lonesome Lake and the Flume, is in Lincoln. Attractions in the state park include the Flume Gorge and visitor center, the Old Man of the Mountain historical site, fishing in Echo Lake and Profile Lake, and miles of hiking, biking and ski trails.
The park is home to Cannon Mountain, a state-owned ski resort started in the 1930s. The mountain is named for a rock formation in the shape of a cannon found on the summit, but the "Old Man of the Mountain" formation was by far the more famous; it collapsed in May 2003. Cannon is also famous for being one of the most challenging hills in New England. It boasts an aerial tram, which runs year-round, ferrying sightseers to the summit in the summer time and skiers in the winter. At the base of the tramway is the New England Ski Museum, with exhibits on the history of alpine skiing in New England and America.
On the west side of the notch, halfway up the side of Cannon Mountain, is Lonesome Lake, an easy day hike up the Lonesome Lake Trail from the state park's Lafayette Place campground. The Lonesome Lake Hut, one of numerous well-kept huts throughout the White Mountains that are maintained by the Appalachian Mountain Club, is found at the southwest end of the lake, near its outlet. Huts offer meals and lodging (reservations are recommended).

Opposite Cannon Mountain, on the east side of the notch, are the Eagle Cliffs, so named for the eagles that sometimes roost there. The Greenleaf Trail, a hiking trail, winds around the south side of the cliff and up to Greenleaf Hut, another AMC hut. East of Greenleaf Hut and outside the state park is the 5,249-foot (1,600 m) summit of Mount Lafayette and the Franconia Ridge Trail (also the Appalachian Trail). The Appalachian Trail continues north to Mount Washington and eventually to Mount Katahdin in Maine.

Beneath a waterfall in the Pemigewasset River is a granite pothole about 20 feet (6 m) across known simply as "the Basin". It was scrubbed out by stones dragged (and eventually deposited) by the retreating North American ice sheet, and since made smooth by 15 millennia of rapidly whirling pebbles and grit. Below the Basin is "Old Man's Foot", a distinctively shaped rock formation, also the natural result of Pemigewasset's erosive energy.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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2. Cannon Mountain

Nestled within the White Mountains, Cannon Mountain boasts towering cliff faces, forested slopes, and extensive ski areas open to the public. Stop by the mountain, located within the bounds of a state park, and marvel at its 1,240 m (4,080 ft) facade of sheer rock. Try your hand at climbing on one of the mountain's several routes, popular among visiting enthusiasts. In the ski season visitors flock here thanks to the variety of runs and slopes serviced by a system of ski lifts. Alternatively, just pop on some comfortable hiking shoes and make use of the area's crisscrossing network of trails offering sweeping views over the surrounding terrain.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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Tours including Cannon Mountain:

3. The Basin at Franconia Notch State Park

The region that holds The Basin at Franconia Notch State Park recognizes the natural wonder beneath a waterfall in the Pemigewasset River. At 9 m (30 ft) wide and 4.5 m (15 ft) deep, the granite pothole was formed over 25,000 years ago by melting glacial water. As the water flowed, it eroded the bedrock. Fifteen millennia have since smoothed the rock surfaces to leave a polished look. As part of Franconia Notch State Park, a visit to the basin can be included within a larger hike that winds through the park, or you can just enjoy the short walk to this geological wonder.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
Learn more about The Basin at Franconia Notch State Park
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4. Franconia-Sugar Hill-Easton

Suggested duration: 2 hours
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5. Flume Gorge, Lincoln

Marvel at the natural beauty of Flume Gorge as you enjoy a self-guided walk between its massive granite walls overgrown with mosses and ferns. Stop by the visitor center to learn more about the state park or to warm up over a cup of tea before you start the loop through this scenic chasm, first discovered in 1808. Note that the hike includes a number of stairs and some uphill trekking. You will be richly awarded with amazing views of waterfalls, caves, and growths of flowers.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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Tours including Flume Gorge:

6. Cathedral Ledge, North Conway

Cathedral Ledge, a popular rock-climbing spot, offers an unrivaled view of Echo Lake and the surrounding townships. Take a short drive to the top of this sheer granite cliff, or hike the 2 km (1.2 mi) Bryce path from the bottom of the ledge for a more challenging visit. Rock climbers consider the cliff face a challenging and satisfying climb. Both novice and experienced climbers can ask about guides to lead them up.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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7. Avalanche Falls

Suggested duration: 2 hours
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8. Kancamagus Highway, North Conway

A two-lane highway that attracts drivers for its seasonal colors, Kancamagus Highway runs through White Mountain National Forest. The route follows the river valley up the Kancamagus Pass, offering sporadic stops for photographers. The road meets with Interstate 93 and four other smaller highways that lead to larger cities. You'll find refreshments and gas stops located around these intersections.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
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Tours including Kancamagus Highway:

9. Santa's Village, Jefferson

Santa's Village is a Christmas-themed amusement park located in Jefferson, New Hampshire.

Most of the 23 rides have Christmas or winter-themed names, such as "Rudy's Rapid Transit Coaster" and "The Great Humbug Adventure". The rides are designed for families with children under age 13. There are also three theatres, two of which present live shows and a third that features a 3-D film called A Tinkerdoodle Christmas. Visitors can visit Santa's home, sit in his rocking chair, and have a picture taken with Santa.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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11. Bretton Woods Canopy Tour, Bretton Woods

Resort Toll-Free: 800-258-0330


603-278-4ZIP (4947)


THE SPA in The Mount Washington Hotel:

Reservations/Info: 603-278-4286


Snow Phone: 603-278-3333

Operations Office: 603-278-3320

Resort Toll-Free: 800-314-1752


Snow Phone: 603-278-4414

Nordic Desk: 603-278-3322

Resort Toll-Free: 800-314-1752
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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12. Shelburne Museum, Shelburne

An open-air museum, Shelburne Museum houses more than 150,000 works depicting historic New England life. The Impressionist paintings, folk art, quilts and textiles, furniture, 17th- to 20th-century artifacts, and American paintings are housed in 38 exhibition buildings arranged to mimic historic New England architecture. Twenty-five of these buildings are historic and were relocated here for the museum. Three separate tours are offered daily and included in the price of admission. Learn about Colonial Revival, the history and mechanics of 1906 steamboat, or American art on the tour of your choice. Because the depth and scope of the museum is so huge, your ticket is good for two days.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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13. The Frost Place

The Frost Place is a museum and nonprofit educational center for poetry located at Robert Frost's former home on Ridge Road in Franconia, New Hampshire, United States. The property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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14. Off-Road Tours, Lincoln

Suggested duration: 2 hours
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