15 Best Things to Do in Nashua, NH
Like its neighbor Manchester to the north, Nashua was once a major mill town, creating cotton textiles from the early 19th century through the mid-20th century.
Today, the brick buildings have been restored and converted into apartment buildings and office spaces, creating a beautiful historic riverside space with plenty of things to do for both locals and tourists.
The wealth of the city's industrial success resulted in a large number of impressive homes that now occupy the Historic District, as well as many beautiful public buildings that grace Main Street and the surrounding downtown area.
Nashua is home to several parks, all of which are very well-maintained. Tourists will find plenty of free activities right in town, from hiking and kayaking to ice-skating and skateboarding. There are also plenty of things to do with younger kids, with many excellent playgrounds, as well as indoor attractions.
Nashua sits on the Massachusetts border, hence its nickname "Gate City," and is just an hour drive from Boston.
Plan your visit with our list of the best things to do in Nashua.
1. Tour the Historic Mill District
The mills that helped define Nashua's industrial and economic backbone may not be producing textiles anymore, but they are still an integral part of the city's identity and appeal.
Designated a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987, the mill buildings are a beautiful historic landmark that make excellent subjects for photographers.
The best place to visit for views of the mill buildings, especially the clock tower of the former Mill #7 and the "Millyard" smokestack of the Picker Building, is a footbridge that spans across the river at the heart of the complex. There is public parking on the north side of the footbridge behind Cotton Mill Apartments, and a lovely walking path extends east along the river.
Address: Footbridge Access, 30 Front Street, Nashua, New Hampshire
2. Explore Mine Falls Park
Mine Falls Park encompasses 325 acres of forest, fields, and wetland along the Nashua River, the canals, and the Millpond. The falls are part of a man-made hydropower system that includes a canal system that diverts the river, with the first gates constructed in 1826.
The current Gatehouse, built in 1886, is located at one of the more convenient park access points just off Stadium Drive. You will find plenty of parking, as well as an excellent kayak put-in and a boat ramp. This is the westernmost access point in the park.
If you're visiting Nashua with your pup, these dog-friendly trails are an excellent place to visit for a stroll or hike. There are several access points along both sides of the river, including north side access via Lincoln Park and south side access at the end of Pine Street Extension and Technology Way.
3. Go Shopping Downtown
Nashua has seen a return of locally owned shops and businesses, and its relatively compact and walkable downtown area makes for a nice place to peruse.
There are several good antique shops, including Snap! Its Vintage and Picker's Paradise on Main Street, as well as a League of NH Craftsmen retail shop. There are also several boutiques, for both women and men, as well as specialty shops like the Meredith & Greene Candle Bar.
Many excellent local restaurants are right in downtown Nashua, with most offering outdoor seating. On Main Street, you can find a selection of creative twists on hearty favorites at Martha's Exchange, high-end seafood at Surf, and traditional Greek sandwiches at Main Street Gyro, just to name a few.
Thanks to the lack of sales tax in New Hampshire, Nashua is especially popular with shoppers who have hopped over the border from Massachusetts. This is particularly true for Pheasant Lane Mall, located right on the border, during the Christmas shopping season.
4. Take a Stroll through Southwest Park (Yudicky Farm)
Southwest Park, also known as Yudicky Farm, is a conservation area located in the southwest corner of Nashua that is particularly popular with bird-watchers.
The Conservation Loop trail is a 5.5-mile loop that is open to hikers, runners, and mountain bikers. There are also side trails that are dedicated mountain biking trails. Visitors can also meander along side trails that lead to a beaver dam, the "Legendary Oak," and around the edge of a small swamp.
For a shorter but rewarding stroll along Lovewell Pond, park at 583 Main Dunstable Road to access the Samuel A. Tamposi, Sr. Trail.
As you approach the water, a series of three large stone sculptures with informational plaques line the trail. Commissioned by the Nashua International Sculpture Symposium, these represent the work of a Native American artist, as well as artists from Vietnam and Costa Rica.
Address: 9 Jenny Hill Lane, Nashua, New Hampshire
5. Explore the Abbot-Spalding House Museum
One of the oldest surviving homes in Nashua's Historic District, this home was built in 1804 in the Federal style and underwent renovations in the early 20th century, which added elements of Colonial Revival architecture.
The home's original owner, Daniel Abbot, was notable as Nashua's first attorney and the president of several local enterprises, including the Nashua and Lowell Railroad, the Wilton Railroad, and the Nashua Bank. He was also one of the Nashua Manufacturing Company's founders, and has been nicknamed the "father of Nashua."
The home includes period furnishings, as well as exhibits about its various owners and Nashua history. Visitors can also explore the museum's library, which houses various texts related to the city of Nashua.
The house is owned and operated by the Nashua Historical Society (located next door). Visitors can take self-guided tours of the home between 10am and 3pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
Guests can also visit the Florence H. Speare Memorial Museum, also owned by the historical society.
Address: 5 Abbott Street, Nashua, New Hampshire
6. Visit Greeley Park
Greeley Park is one of Nashua's most beautiful public parks, located just a few minutes' drive from downtown. Adorned by plenty of large shade trees, the upper section of the park is perfect for picnics and strolling through the landscaped grounds.
This side of the park is also home to an attractive stone rest house that is home to a beautiful fountain and well-tended gardens. Families will appreciate the small but well-maintained public wading pool and a very nice playground that's set well back from the road and well-shaded. In the winter, the park welcomes sledding on its gently sloping terrain.
The lower section of the park is home to a baseball field, tennis courts, a large horseshoe playing area, a community garden, and walking trails. It also has a bandshell stage, which hosts music festivals and special events, and the lovely gazebo can be rented for special occasions.
Address: 100 Concord Street, Nashua, New Hampshire
7. Take a Stroll in Nashua's Historic District
Start your sightseeing tour of Nashua's historic district at the triangular park formed by Amherst, Concord, and Nashville Streets, a landmark that's instantly recognizable by the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.
This Civil War monument was erected in 1889, and marks the southernmost edge of the area that is home to the city's loveliest historic homes.
Surrounding the park are two of the area's most important buildings, including the district's oldest home, the 1803 Abbot House, as well as the beautiful stone countenance of the First Church of Nashua, completed in 1894.
With nice sidewalks on each side and ample space to pull over for photo ops, Concord Street is the ideal place to begin exploring. If you're short on time, this easy route will yield the most notable homes with minimal fuss, with well over a dozen fine Italianate, Federal, and late Victorian buildings that have been kept up exceptionally well.
Among the most notable homes on this route are the General George Stark House (1850s), the Samuel Dearborn House (1886), the George Anderson House (1901), the Stephen Barker House (1887), and the William Beasom House (1912).
If you take a moment to inspect the marker provided by the National Register of Historic Places, you might think there was some sort of embarrassing mix-up, but rest assured, there's a reason it declares the significance of "Nashville" and not Nashua.
Due to a disagreement in 1836, the section of town at the head of Main Street temporarily split from the city of Nashua, adopting the name "Nashville." Finally, in 1853, Nashville rejoined its neighbor to become part of Nashua once again.
8. Admire the Hunt Memorial Library & Nashua's Main Street Architecture
Sitting at the head of Main Street at the edge of the Nashville Historic District, the Hunt Memorial Building is a turn-of-the-century building that represents a good example of the Gothic Romantic style of architecture.
The building served as the city library until 1971, and in the same year was added to the National Register of Historic Buildings. It was restored in 2011 by the successors to the original architect, New Hampshire native Ralph Adams Cram. Today, the building serves as a meeting space and public venue for theater, music, and visual arts.
If you head south down Main Street from the Hunt, you will first come across a small but lovely public park called Deschenes Oval, which borders Railroad Square, home to several of Nashua's historic commercial buildings, including the Nashua & Lowell Freight House (1853), the Laton House Hotel (1878) and the Stearn's Block (1898).
Across Main Street from here, you will see the Whiting Building, a lovely example of Art Deco architecture.
Once across the river and on the busier section of Main Street, there are a variety of remarkable buildings to admire, including the Montgomery Ward building (1926), the Nashua Telegraph building (1928), the Chase Building (1847), and the particularly stunning Masonic Temple Building, completed in 1891.
Address: 6 Main Street, Nashua, New Hampshire
9. Take the Kids to Roby Park
Roby Park is an excellent place to take the kids to burn off some energy thanks to its well-maintained and attractive playground. Fully fenced-in for safety, the playground features shade canopies over the climbing equipment, several picnic tables, and a good swing set, along with plenty of trees to shade parents and babysitters while they watch.
In addition to sports fields, the park also offers a public skating rink. A skate session here is an excellent thing to do in Nashua in the winter; the rink is open until 8pm for free skate time, at which point the rink switches to ice hockey games.
Address: 126 Spit Brook Road, Nashua, New Hampshire
10. Visit the New Hampshire Holocaust Memorial
The New Hampshire Holocaust Memorial may be small, but it is well worth a visit for anyone who wants to take a few moments to reflect upon the far-reaching effects of this dark period of world history.
A set of railroad tracks create a somber entrance to the memorial, a solemn reminder of the final journey so many Jewish people unwillingly made. A series of monuments and engraved stonework bear messages of peace and love, donated by various faith organizations from the area to demonstrate solidarity beyond the bounds of religious creed.
There are several quiet places to sit under the shade of the trees while taking in the scene.
Address: 311-315 Main Street, Nashua, New Hampshire
11. Hang Out at the David W. Deane Skate Park
All ages are welcome at Nashua's public skate park, but families traveling with teens will really appreciate this safe and well-maintained space.
The park covers 20,000 square feet, with quarter pipes, extensions, banks, ledges, a kicker ramp, and two pool-style bowls among its many features. There is a shaded area for parents, friends, and spectators to stay comfortable while watching the action.
The riding surface is concrete, and both skateboards and BMX bikes are welcome. There is no charge to use the facilities, and it is open from 8am to 10pm daily, with full lighting after dark.
The skate park is located between the Nashua YMCA and the access point to the western end of Mine Falls Park, with plenty of parking available.
Address: 52 Stadium Drive, Nashua, New Hampshire
12. Visit the Nashua National Fish Hatchery
A visit to a fish hatchery may not seem like the most interesting thing to do, but once you step foot in the hatchery building, you will change your mind.
Depending on the time of year you visit, there may be Atlantic salmon in the massive "raceways" that line the walkway leading to the main office. No matter when you visit, you will be able to see itty bitty salmon in their tanks, often at varying stages of development.
Tours of the facility are free, and even those just exploring on their own will find that staff is eager to answer questions and explain how things work.
The Nashua fish hatchery is the 8th oldest in the nation, founded in 1898 in conjunction with the federal U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The fish raised here are transported to various lakes and rivers throughout the state.
The hatchery is also a great place for a nature walk, and despite its proximity to the city, the property is home to a great variety of wildlife. When you first arrive, don't be surprised if you're greeted by the resident bunnies and groundhog who keep an eye on the parking lot, but if you venture out onto the public trails, you may very well spot deer and other wildlife.
Address: 151 Broad Street, Nashua, New Hampshire
13. Hike the Nashua River Rail Trail
Constructed on the former rail bed of the Worchester & Nashua Railroad (later the Boston & Maine Railroad), the route extends a total of 12.3 miles from its Nashua Trailhead to Route 2A in Ayer, Massachusetts.
This is a dog-friendly trail that offers level terrain and plenty of shade along its route through the forest when leaves are on the trees. A little over three miles over the border into Massachusetts, it passes through a nice plaza in East Pepperell, and there are several waterways along the route, including Groton School Pond.
Address: Gilson Road at Country Side Drive
14. Go Sky Diving without an Airplane
Adrenaline junkies aren't left behind when it comes to finding things to do in Nashua, thanks to SkyVenture Indoor Skydiving.
Even those who aren't crazy about heights can enjoy the "skydiving" here, thanks to a vertical wind tunnel that lifts you into the air. With no downward movement, there is no falling sensation, allowing you to enjoy the weightless feeling while floating a comfortable distance from the floor.
SkyVenture is also home to Surfs Up, an indoor surfing facility that allows the land-locked to learn and practice their wave-riding skills on an endless wave.
The facility is also home to the "Fishpipe," an inflated barrel that spins to create a continuous waterslide. There is also a 24-foot rock climbing wall in a tropical indoor environment.
Address: 100 Adventure Way, Nashua, New Hampshire
15. Take the Kids to Fun World
Families with younger kids visiting Nashua will appreciate this attraction, which offers a good variety of indoor activities. The facility is free to enter, with a token system for rides and games.
The most impressive ride is Fun World's two-story carousel, an ornate and attractive ride that was built in Italy in 1999. There is also a "Himalaya" ride and an indoor roller coaster.
Fun World also has several arcade-style games, including driving games and pinball, as well as air hockey and Skee-Ball.
Younger children will love the three-story indoor playground, which features climbing, a ball pit, and a 101-foot slide. There is also a free toddler room and other play areas designated for the littlest guests.
Address: 200 Daniel Webster Highway, Nashua, New Hampshire