What better time to take a romantic get away into the White Mountains than during our “shoulder season” through May and June. This is the time when we enjoy a little respite from the hustle and bustle of ski season and the warm sun-filled days of summer. There is still loads of activities to take advantage of, but there are also lots of mid-week specials and packages that will make your stay more affordable than ever.
Here’s a great article from our friend, Blythe Copeland, of Boston magazine, about a few of the great things to do!
Just a few hours north on I-93 lie the New Hampshire woods and waterfalls that inspired the likes of Robert Frost and Henry David Thoreau. Modern-day travelers can find their own inspiration along the 100-mile White Mountain Trail, a scenic byway dotted with information centers, trailheads, and picnic benches—all good starting points for outdoor adventures by bike, train, or foot.
By 1910, northern New Hampshire, with its temperate weather and awesome vistas, claimed more resorts than any other region in the country. Nearly a century later, the grand old hotels are all but gone, but visitors can still explore the woods and waterfalls that inspired the likes of Robert Frost and Henry David Thoreau.
A two-hour drive on I-93 lands travelers in Lincoln, at the start of the 100-mile White Mountain Trail that runs through the towns of Franconia Notch, Twin Mountain, North Conway, and Crawford Notch State Park, among others. The scenic byway is dotted with information centers, trailheads, and picnic benches. All make good starting points for outdoor adventures by bike, train, or foot.
The area is best known for its hiking trails, and experts and amateurs alike find more than enough to challenge themselves on its myriad peaks. At 6,288 feet, Mount Washington is the Northeast’s highest climb (www.mountwashington.org), but sudden weather changes and a steep rise—4,000 feet in just 4 miles—mean it’s not for novices. To get the same views without the workout, hop aboard the Mount Washington Cog Railway (800-922-8825, www.thecog.com), the first of its kind in the nation, for a three-hour round trip to the top. On a clear day, you can see four states, Québec, and the Atlantic Ocean.
Easier walking paths off the White Mountain Trail allow less hardy travelers to experience the lush woods on a smaller scale: from the 4-mile, moderate Nancy Pond Trail hike in Crawford Notch to the 1-mile Diana’s Bath walk just outside North Conway (get hiking guidance from the USDA Forest Service, www.fs.fed.us/r9/forests/white_mountain). Those looking to get off their feet can rent bikes in Gorham from Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center (603-466-2333, www.greatglentrails.com) and ride the 8-mile path through Franconia Notch State Park to the Flume Gorge (603-745-8391, www.flumegorge.com), a glacier-cut granite formation and waterfall. Or try whitewater rafting on the swift Androscoggin River (603-449-2628, www.northwoodsrafting.com) or swimming at Echo Lake State Park (603-271-3556).
Call ahead to Miller’s Café and Bakery in Littleton for a brown bag lunch of pesto caesar salad (16 Mill St., 603-444-2146), and park your crew at one of many spots along the Pemigewasset River in Lincoln. Afterward, pick up the Kancamagus Highway, a 34-mile-long, 2,855-foot-high road connecting the towns of Lincoln and Conway, and cruise past roadside waterfalls and bird’s-eye mountain and valley views.
If your little ones are feeling restless, Story Land on Route 16 in Glen (603-383-4186, www.storylandnh.com), a fairy tale–inspired amusement park, keeps families entertained with a roller coaster and water rides. And the popular Santa’s Village in Jefferson helps children get in the holiday spirit early with arts and crafts and the man in red himself (603-586-4445, www.santasvillage.com).
While in the area, don’t miss tax-free shopping in North Conway. The town is best known for its outlet center, Settlers’ Green (888-667-9636, www.settlersgreen.com), where browsers can buy discounted items from more than 60 stores. More-unique finds—handcrafted quilts, silver jewelry, local pottery—abound at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen (603-356-2441, nhcrafts.org). And the cozy Bavarian Chocolate Haus (603-356-2663), with its hand-dipped truffles, fudge, and nut clusters, helps you end your travels on a sweet note.