Whether boasting steep drops and extreme skiing or romantic get aways in the picturesque mountains, there are many factors that make a great ski town! National Geographic scoured the world in search of the best! When all the powder was settled, North Conway came out in the top 25!
Just what makes a classic ski town? It starts, naturally, with skiing and snowboarding so good they attract people like youth-bestowing fountains. Then add an inviting mountain burg steeped in ski heritage, amenities, and culture. These are the 25 best. For insider tips, we asked local luminaries where to stay, play, and party, whether you’re on a budget or indulging.
—Aaron Teasdale (See the full article here)
North Conway, New Hampshire
Photograph by Greg Keeler, Cannon Mountain
Best For: History-buff families in the northeastern U.S.
North Conway may be less well known than many of the towns on this list, but only a few towns in North America can rival its skiing heritage. Tucked into Mount Washington Valley in the White Mountains, some of the first purpose-cut ski runs on the continent and a host of other innovations in grooming, lifts, and ski schools were developed here in the 1930s. North Conway was one of the leading lights in American skiing for decades before Western resorts rose to prominence. Much of that old New England character lives on today in the town of 2,349, where skiing is still tightly woven into the small community’s social fabric.
This may have something to do with the fact that there are no less than seven different downhill areas with an easy drive of town (and six Nordic ones). Visitors here will likely focus on three. Cranmore sits two miles from the main village. It’s an excellent starting point for families, with its revered ski school and abundant non-skiing activities, including indoor tennis, climbing walls, on-mountain tubing, and a plummeting rail-coaster ride. Attitash, seven miles up the valley, is the biggest of the bunch, with 73 runs and the region’s best terrain park. No-frills, expert-friendly Wildcat, a half-hour drive, is the wildest, tallest mountain of the three, with the most vertical and spectacular views of nearby Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast. Wildcat and Attitash now share the same owners and feature interchangeable lift tickets, so if the weather is belligerent at Wildcat, which is not uncommon, you can skip 16 miles over to the more sheltered Attitash.
Ask a Local
Tom Eastman, a ski historian and reporter for Conway Daily Sun, has lived and skied in North Conway for the last 30 years. Here are his recommendations.
Budget: The Yankee Clipper Inn
Swank: White Mountain Hotel & Resort
Cheap: Horsefeathers is great for families, with good pizza, pasta, and seafood.
Gourmet: Maestro’s has incredible Italian dishes.
Best After-Ski Party Spot
Red Parka Steakhouse & Pub is a skiers’ hangout, with live music on Fridays and Saturdays, and an open mic on Mondays.
Best Rest-Day Activity
Head for the Mount Washington Observatory Weather Discovery Center right on South Main Street, where kids can learn about meteorology and the peak’s record-setting wind speeds. Then go to Farm by the River Bed and Breakfast with Stables for a sleigh ride.
North Conway’s Classic Run
The Lynx Trail at Wildcat runs top to bottom and snakes its way across the fall line while enjoying sweeping views of Tuckerman Ravine and Mount Washington.