There are many places I could suggest you vacation in New Hampshire. And my goal is to share many of those places with you. However, let’s start right here in my home city. On paper it could look like a questionable option. That’s why I’m here to give you the scoop on why you want to plan a family vacation to Manchester, New Hampshire.
Location! Location! Location!
Why stay in Manchester? It’s always helpful to have an airport near your destination and Manchester, New Hampshire is located relatively close to not one, but two airports. First up, we have our very own (nice) airport just ten minutes outside the city (MHT). Second, Logan International (BOS) is also fairly conveniently located just an hour away (I love having options when it comes to flying!)
If you’re a road tripping family like we are, it’s also convenient to drive to with a major highway running right past the city.
It’s also centrally located with a wide variety of things you can do on vacation.
- Local attractions
- 1 hour from Boston
- 45 minutes from the ocean
- 1 hour from the lakes
- 1.25-1.50 hours from the White Mountains
Where to Stay in Manchester, NH
There are two main areas of Manchester, NH that hotels are located in – center city and the southern part of the city. We’ve never stayed at hotels in the city so I can’t give personal experience on them. However, we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Manchester Airport (S. Porter St.) several years ago and had a wonderful experience. This was 3 years ago so I can’t tell you if it’s still as wonderful. We generally have good experiences at Holiday Inn though. We also stayed at SUPER 8 (Brown Ave.) and it was simple but clean and quiet. Again, that was a few years ago.
Where to Eat in Manchester, NH
Really, I wanted to put the food first. That’s how we roll around here when we travel – “What’s the best food in XX?” And we do have some good food right here in Manchester, New Hampshire. Between the places I’ve been to and the places friends can recommend we’ve got you set on every meal you could need and then some. Here are a couple categories of dining in Manchester, NH that you will find useful while visiting.
Visiting and looking at trying something not on this list? This list is not comprehensive as we’ve visited some more places. These just happen to be the ones we most recommend. Shoot me a message and I’ll tell you what I know about it.
Fine Dining (but still comfortable)
- The Foundry – a little higher end with a local farm to table focus and the food is amazing – burgers, scallops, French fries, steak – it’s all been great. (Free parking. You can bring the kids if you want but you may not prefer it as much for young children as it’s a little quieter.)
- Cotton – We’ve never had a bad meal at this speakeasy-style restaurant. My favorites are the Steak Diane and Fried Chicken. (Free parking if you park in the smaller lot directly beside the restaurant. You can bring the kids if you want but you may not prefer it as much for young children as it’s a little quieter.)
- 900 Degrees – This Italian restaurant/pizza joint serves wood-fired pizza and is one of our favorites for pizza. I also happen to like the tiramisu. (Free parking. You can definitely bring the kids here with ease).
- The Thirsty Moose – a small tap house chain that features 100 draft beers and has good food. It gets a little loud later in the evening. (On-street metered parking. Casual enough to take kids.)
- The FARM Bar and Grille – They have great salads and you can’t go wrong with the pulled pork sandwich.
- British Beer Company – the fried fish dinner and shepherd’s pie are delicious. (Free parking. Kid-friendly.)
- Backyard Brewery – this restaurant/brewery is a little south of the city but it’s worth the extra few minutes to get there. They have a well-rounded list of beers on tap and the food is always good. We love the fried fish, flat breads, and burgers especially. (Free parking. Kid-friendly.)
- Puritan Backroom Restaurant – I’m partial to the chicken tenders. My husband is not. They soak them in pineapple juice so they do have a sweeter taste. They also have other delicious meals. If you don’t go for dinner go for their ice cream. (Free parking. Kid-friendly.)
Quick-Serve Dining with Seating
- Midtown Cafe at the Beacon – located on the main strip of downtown, this cafe is a quick serve coffee and sandwich shop. Their breakfast sandwiches and lunch are really good. Their chicken salad is amazing (and simple). You can also get a good latte here. And if you’re craving a muffin they are freshly baked and delicious. (On-street metered parking is limited but there is a public lot on the block behind Elm St.)
- The Bridge Cafe – another quick serve cafe with sandwiches, salads, smoothies, and coffee. If you love potato salad with dill I recommend that as your side. The Reuben, Chicken Caesar Sandwich, and Greek Chicken Wrap are all tasty. (metered on-street parking. Plenty of seating. Kid-friendly.)
- The Local Moose – not to be confused with the Thirsty Moose, this cafe has a simple menu but all the food is good. (Free parking. Kid-friendly.)
- Noodz – quick-serve restaurant that serves, noodles, ramen, rice bowls, and dumplings. (On-street metered parking. Kid-friendly space but no kids’ menu.)
- A&E Coffee and Tea – you won’t get a bad latte here. I also love their chai (you can even get it in decaf if you want.) If you don’t mind spending a little extra their breakfast sandwiches are so good.
- The Local Moose – I know I have them listed in quick-serve but they are also a coffee shop. On the weekends they bake gourmet donuts that are scrumptious and they always have a selection of housemade baked goods.
- Midtown Cafe at the Beacon – another coffee shop that’s listed under quick-serve but I don’t want you to miss it if you’re just looking for a coffee fix. If Britt’s working tell her Heather sent you.
What to See and Do in and Around Manchester, NH
What to See and Do Indoors
- SEE Science Center
- Currier Art Museum
- Millyard Museum
- Zimmerman House
- Aviation Museum of New Hampshire
What to See and Do Outdoors
- Fisher Cats Game (minor league baseball)
- Hike/walk at Massabesic Audubon Center (technically Auburn, NH)
- Livingston Park – playground and a nice 1 mile “hike” around the pond (easily doable for kids)
Great Day Trips from Manchester, NH
- Hiking in the White Mountains. We love visiting The Basin and Kinsman Falls (free parking and entrance. The Basin is handicap accessible. Hiking along the falls is doable for young kids with some help but is relatively steep.) 1.25 hour drive
- Boston – If you don’t want to drive into the city I recommend driving to MBTA’s Oak Grove Station on the Orange Line and taking the T in. 1 hour+
- Trip to the beach – there are a number of beaches you can visit in northern Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Most of them have an entrance/parking fee but are worth it for the day. We enjoy going to Rye Beach. 45-minute drive
- Visit the lakes – enjoy beaches, boating, and even scuba diving at Lake Winnipesaukee. 1.5-hour drive
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