Nestled between the northern White Mountains and the Connecticut River, the town of Littleton, NH, is equal parts business and shopping hub and outdoor escape. It’s been named one of the best places to live in America, and its downtown has won big accolades as well. That’s no surprise, given Littleton’s lively arts scene, summertime festivals and street performers, local boutiques and shops, and distinctive features such as the statue of Pollyanna, the Littleton Grist Mill, the covered bridge over the Ammonoosuc, and Littleton Opera House’s octagonal clock tower. With its ideal location in the shadow of the mountains and along the river, Littleton prides itself on being a walkable community, both around town and on a 22-mile network of hand-built trails. Read on for some of the best things to do, places to eat, and lodging in charming Littleton, NH.
It’s practically a requirement for visitors to go for a hike or walk while in Littleton, given the beauty of its location and its accessibility to trails. There are plenty of options: Find wildflowers and walk along the edge of a pond at the Dells. Go for a quiet stroll in the woods on the Pine Hill Trails. Check out a great view of the town from Kilburn Crags. Hike, ski, or mountain bike on the 20-plus-mile PRKR MTN trail system. Or make a day of it and head into the White Mountains for some more challenging hiking, or do some skiing at nearby Cannon Mountain.
Part of the draw of Littleton is its proximity to two lovely rivers. Stroll the riverwalk or enjoy a picnic on the banks of the Ammonoosuc River, or head to the Moore Dam on the Connecticut River for some boating or fishing.
Find one-of-a-kind shops in Littleton’s fun and funky downtown. Willy Wonka dreams are made at Chutters (named a 2013 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Penny Candy”), where the “World’s Longest Candy Counter” runs the entire length of the store, offering a rainbow of candy in all shapes and flavors. Another record-setter is Lahout’s Ski Shop, aka “America’s Oldest Ski Shop,” a fourth-generation family business that carries all the equipment, brands, and apparel that hardcore New England adventurers expect. Part indie book shop, part quirky toy shop, Little Village Toy & Book Shop overflows with fun finds (there’s more than 20,000 items in stock). For home, clothing, and trinkets unique to northern New Hampshire, check out boutiques like Just L, Pentimento, and Bella Funk Boutique.
Music lover? Check out Northern Lights Music, a trove of new, used, and vintage guitars and instruments. Art lover? The Littleton League of NH Craftsmen gallery features some of the finest jewelry, art, photography, and mixed media from local artists. Be sure to check out the many independent galleries around town, too.
From prepared foods to fresh produce to craft beers, all your grocery needs are met at this member-owned store serving the North Country. The 13,500-square-foot store featuring local produce and products is conveniently located near Littleton’s downtown and Interstate 93.
No trip to Littleton is complete without a stop at this iconic eatery. In operation since the mid-1930s (with a couple of facelifts over the years), the diner has become a favorite spot for both locals and visitors (including many politicians during election season). Bring your appetite, because the portions are generous and the prices are low. Named a 2010 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Pancakes.”
Enjoy the experience of cracking open a cold one in a converted 18th-century gristmill at this brewery and taproom, where you can choose one of Schilling’s European-inspired, small-barrel-brewed beers or other select local craft beers. Pair it with top-notch pub grub, including rustic Neapolitan-style pizza. Named a 2015 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best New Brew.”
This chef-owned restaurant on Main Street is the place to go for casual yet high-caliber dining. The low-key atmosphere and frequently changing menu keeps diners coming back for meals that encompass everything from fresh baked bread to smoked salmon to chocolate truffles. Named a 2016 Yankee Editors’ Pick for “Best Dessert.”
Get a taste of Littleton history with a stay at Thayers Inn, first opened by a successful local merchant in 1850. Today, its Greek Revival facade is still a highlight of the Littleton historic district — and while slanted doors and crooked floors serve as fun reminders of its age, the oldest continuously operated hotel in the White Mountains now has modern-day amenities and style, with 35 rooms and suites and on-site dining.
You can’t miss the bright Beal House Inn, just off Main Street. This smaller inn has four suites and two standard rooms to choose from, lounges with fireplaces, a copper-top bar, and an adjoining restaurant with American tavern fare. The decor is a tasteful blend of old and new, and the location is walking distance from many attractions in town.
For a private retreat away from downtown Littleton, book a stay at the Adair Country Inn, which has sprawling scenic grounds, walking trails, and gardens surrounding the 1927 country estate turned inn and restaurant. The inn features a fireside dining room, outdoor patio, library pub, and granite tap room with a pool table – all adding to the relaxing ambiance that makes this place in nearby Bethlehem, New Hampshire, a great escape.
This post was first published in 2018 and has been updated.