The New England city of Manchester, New Hampshire is known for its role in voting for the first presidential primary election, but there is a lot more to see and do here than just politics. This is a prime art and cultural destination in the Northeast that’s filled with history and some amazing restaurants too. As you explore the region in more depth on a road trip or weekend getaway, here are some of the top things to do in Manchester.
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Outdoor Recreation at Massabesic Lake
New Hampshire is full of natural beauty and outdoor treasures, some of which you can experience while staying in Manchester. A beautiful must-visit natural area is Lake Massabesic, which is ideal for picnicking, biking around the lake, hiking, and renting kayaks and canoes. Fishing and sailing are other popular activities on Massabesic Lake. The lake serves another purpose as the regional drinking supply and covers over 2,500 acres. Recreational trails are located in the area and allow pets on a leash. You can also go horseback riding on the gravel fire roads on Manchester Water Works property in the area.
Visit the Currier Museum of Art
A top local destination for art lovers is the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester. Founded in 1929, this museum was established by Hannah Currier, who was the wife of a state governor in the 1800s. Inside the museum, you’ll find works of art from famous artists like Georgia O’Keefe, Pablo Picasso, and Claude Monet. Part of the museum includes the Zimmerman House, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Check the museum’s website to learn more about the current exhibitions offered for paintings, sculpture, glass, ceramics, and furniture. The museum has a garden café for lunch and an art center that offers studio classes and summer art camps.
Catch a Game at the Northeast Delta Dental Stadium
Manchester is also home to its own baseball team and has a stadium worth checking out while you’re in town. The Northeast Delta Dental Stadium is where the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, a minor league baseball team, play their home games. This is a fun and family-friendly way to spend an evening in the city and perhaps see some fireworks after a winning game too. The stadium is located along the Merrimack River and also hosts concerts for the public.
Walk and Relax at Bass Island Park
A small but peaceful park that you’ll enjoy while visiting Manchester is Bass Island Park. This 1.2-acre recreational area is along the Piscataquog River and on Second Street between West Hancock and Cleveland Street. In an otherwise congested area of town, Bass Island Park offers a quiet place to launch a boat on the west side of Manchester. On the other side of Second Street is the Manchester Dog Park, where you can bring your dog to play and socialize leash-free in a 10,000-square-foot fenced area that is double-gated and open from dawn to dusk.
Explore the SEE Science Center
If you’re traveling to Manchester with children, an essential stop on your Manchester itinerary is the SEE Science Center. This is a hands-on museum with displays and exhibits that are fun for the whole family and teach kids about science experiments and the world around them. There are two floors of fun to explore here and see exhibits such as Electricity & Magnetism, Biologyou, and LEGO® Millyard Project.
Explore the City on a Scavenger Hunt
There is a lot to explore in the downtown area of Manchester if you enjoy restaurants, cafes, and bars. But one particularly fun way to experience the area is to do a scavenger hunt that involves finding around 120 objects while using a smartphone app. Bring your friends along and wander through the downtown area to find the objects and send in photos to get points. There are multiple categories for the objects you’re looking for, as well as a remote guide to text for help if you have questions. A downtown scavenger hunt experience typically takes about two hours and starts and ends at 1 City Hall Plaza. Your Operation City Quest team will even be able to see your score and compare it to others on the leaderboard.
Watch a Show at the Palace Theater
To further experience Manchester’s arts and culture scene, plan to watch a performance at the Palace Theater. This local venue has a theater company that performs a wide variety of plays and many shows suitable for children and youth. This is a historic theater that was built in 1914 and has hosted many famous performers, including Bob Hope and Harry Houdini. The Palace Theater has 834 seats, can accommodate additional wheelchair spaces, and has bars in the lobby for snacks and beverages. Check the venue’s website to see what’s playing during your visit to Manchester and book your tickets online.
Grab Food and Beer at the Stark Brewing Company
One of the top destinations for craft beer lovers in Manchester is the Stark Brewing Company on Commercial Street. The brewery’s history dates back to 1994, and it creates its beer on-premises using a 15-barrel brewhouse and all-natural process with no chemical preservatives. This is a brewery and distillery in Manchester that serves delicious food in addition to drinks. Brunch is served on Sundays in addition to the regular pizzas, burgers, entrees, appetizers, and desserts. You can book a brewery tour here to learn more about the brewing process and also stop by for fun weekly events, such as improv, open mic night, and dance lessons.