White Mountains Base Camp: North Conway NH

You’ve heard of New Hampshire’s White Mountains, their towering snowcaps and myriad opportunities for adventure. Winter is the perfect time to head for a higher elevation, and you’re thinking about making your move. There’s one problem, though — the White Mountains are pretty big, and you can’t just type the name of a mountain range as your GPS destination. One of the towns you’re looking for is North Conway NH, and we’ve got the scoop on how to plan a perfect weekend away there. It’s a prime spot for family winter vacations, outlet shopping trips with no state sales tax, and of course, some of the best skiing and snowboarding this side of the Mississippi.

Credit: New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development
Credit: New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development

Day One: Shopping and Dinner Downtown

Arrive in the afternoon and get oriented with a walk around town. It’s a window shopper’s paradise, with some of New Hampshire’s finest craft goods. Artisans and shopkeepers are always welcoming visitors to chat about their trades. Specialties include art, books, home furnishings, and antiques. Kids will enjoy watching the glassblowers at Earth and Fire Studio Gallery and parents will love the artistry at the White Mountain Artisans Gallery. For a bargain on some of the best-known clothing brands, head to the Settlers’ Green Outlet Village with stores like J Crew, Gap, Nike, Banana Republic, Ralph Lauren, L.L. Bean, Brooks Brothers, and Liz Claiborne.

Once you’ve walked or shopped up a healthy appetite, take your pick among North Conway’s top-notch dining options. Kids and parents alike will love Flatbread Pizza Company, serving up tasty wood-fired pies using local and organic ingredients. We also like Moat Mountain Smokehouse and Brewing for its hearty burgers and BBQ, not to mention its craft beer selection.

Day Two: Winter Adventure and Family Ice Skating

Rise early and eat breakfast at your North Conway bed and breakfast before heading out to take advantage of the Mount Washington Valley’s incredible outdoor activities. Whether you’re looking to ski, snowboard, ice-climb, tube, snowshoe, or even dogsled, you can do it in North Conway. A great spot for skiers and snowboarders of all ability levels, Attitash Ski Resort is just a 15 minute drive into the hills. For a little more speed, open up the throttle at Northern Extremes Snowmobiling, which offers rides on freshly groomed snowmobile trails.

Fill up your tank with some suds and pub fare at Delaney’s Hole in the Wall or consider The 1785 Inn‘s exquisite fine dining menu. For your Saturday evening entertainment, lace up your skates for family ice skating night at Ham Arena. The arena also offers figure skating and hockey lessons.

David Brossard Flickr (CC by 2.0)
David Brossard Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Day Three: Train Rides, Water parks, and Treats for the Ride Home

After a rugged day out in the winter elements, round out your trip with a day of relaxation. Start out with a family ride on the legendary Conway Scenic Railroad. This old-fashioned railroad follows the Valley Trail’s historic route during the winter and the Notch Trail in the summer. After your ride, float down the lazy river or stretching out for a deep tissue massage. There’s an indoor relaxation option for the whole family, ranging from the indoor water park at Kahuna Laguna, to the Spa at Mountain View resort. Give your body a break from winter before heading home! Stop by Zeb’s General Store before heading home for a true New England experience. This candy and souvenir store has just about everything, ranging from honey sticks and fudge to maple syrup, specialty cheese and meats, handwoven baskets and clothing.

Where to stay in North Conway, NH:

There are a wide variety of hotels in North Conway, ranging from classic New England Bed & Breakfasts like Riverside Inn, Stonehurst Manor, Bernerhoff Inn, Eastern Slope Inn and Resort, New England Inn and Lodge, and White Mountain Hotel, to full fledged resort complexes like Red Jacket Mountain View Resort. Feel free to stay at one, go out to dinner at another, and then visit the spa or ski trails of another. The concentration of high-quality hospitality options is astounding, making for a surefire successful weekend away in North Conway, New Hampshire.

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