Quantcast

Best of the New Hampshire White Mountains | Editors’ Choice Awards

Heading to the White Mountains of New Hampshire this year? Along with classics like driving the Kanc and taking the kids to Story Land or Santa's Village, we've got the perfect roundup of what to see, do, and eat while you explore the Whites.

4.57 avg. rating (90% score) - 7 votes
Flume Gorge at Franconia Notch State Park

Best of the White Moutntains | Franconia Notch State Park, Franconia/Lincoln

Kindra Clineff

BEST THINGS TO DO IN THE WHITE MOUNTAINS

BEST STATE PARK:
FRANCONIA NOTCH STATE PARK, Franconia/Lincoln

This park is home to state treasures such as the Flume Gorge, the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway, and the Old Man of the Mountain Profile Plaza and Historic Site. Route 93. 603-745-8391; nhstateparks.org/explore/state-parks/franconia-notch-state-park.aspx

BEST ART GALLERY:
LEAGUE OF NH CRAFTSMEN LITTLETON RETAIL GALLERY, Littleton

Everything here (jewelry, baskets, pottery, fiber arts, glass, and more) is made by hand by New Hampshire artists. Inspired? Sign up for a class taught by league members at the nearby Littleton Studio School. 81 Main St. (at The Village Book Store). 603-444-1099; nhcrafts.org/localsites/littleton

Mount Washington Cog Railroad

Best of the White Mountains | Mount Washington Cog Railway

Aimee Seavey

BEST ADRENALINE-RUSH TRAIN RIDE:
MOUNT WASHINGTON COG RAILWAY, Bretton Woods

While options for scaling Mount Washington’s dizzying 6,288 feet include hiking and driving, thankfully there’s also the only Cog Railway east of the Rockies—a 19th-century feat of engineering that’s been clinging to the steep slopes for 147 years. A three-hour round trip affords plenty of time to ogle views of the classic Omni Mount Washington Hotel, Vermont’s Green Mountains, and New Hampshire’s Presidentials. On the summit, you can explore the Extreme Mount Washington exhibit and historic 1853 Tiptop House. 3168 Base Station Road. 603-278-5404; thecog.com

BEST FRESHWATER EXPERIENCE:
ECHO LAKE, Franconia Notch State Park, Franconia

Cannon Mountain rises sharply over pristine Echo Lake, and the beach boasts a direct view of spectacular Franconia Notch—that deep cut between the Franconia and Kinsman ranges. Amid all that drama, this serene stretch of sand meets crisp, clear water (with a roped-off area for kids). Rent a canoe, a kayak, or a pedal boat on the spot at the Lakeside General Store, where you can also stock up on sunscreen and souvenirs. Franconia Notch State Park. 603-745-8391; nhstateparks.org/visit/state-parks/franconia-notch-state-park.aspx

BEST CHEESE & CRACKERS:
HARMAN’S CHEESE AND COUNTRY STORE, Sugar Hill

In business since 1955, Harman’s sells 11 tons of the “World’s Greatest Cheddar” every year. Described as “smooth and zesty,” it’s the real deal: whole milk, no added chemicals or colors, aged two years, cut by hand with a wire slicer. The red country store also features other goodies, like crackers, jams, moose memorabilia, local crafts, totes, T-shirts, and vintage Old Man of the Mountain cards. A tasty niche, well done. 1400 Route 117. 603-823-8000; harmanscheese.com

BEST PLACES TO STAY IN THE WHITE MOUNTAINS

BEST FAMILY INN:
CHRISTMAS FARM INN & SPA, Jackson

Near Storyland and Santa’s Village, this inn offers a playground, swimming pool, and nightly movies for the kids, plus Jacuzzis, fireplaces, and a spa for you. Two-night minimum. 3 Blitzen Way. 603-383-4313; christmasfarminn.com

BEST VIEW FROM AN INN:
1785 INN, North Conway

With a footprint spanning six prime mountain acres, it’s no wonder this inn has some of the best views of the Presidential Range. Soak in the vista from poolside, surrounded by a garden of tall, spikey pink-and-white cleomes, or from the dining room’s bay window while sampling cuisine that has garnered a host of culinary awards. 3582 White Mountain Highway. 603-356-9025; the1785inn.com

BEST FANTASY LODGING:
ADVENTURE SUITES, North Conway

Is that shag carpeting on the walls? The B-52s are cranking when you step into the Love Shack, one of 19 themed suites in this compound. In the stained-glass-encrusted Victorian spa, a heart-shaped Jacuzzi faces the mountains. If you can imagine it, it’s here, including The Club, with LED dance floor, DJ station, and disco balls. Breakfast is served, as you’d expect, in a 1950s diner. 3440 White Mountain Highway. 603-356-9744; adventuresuites.com

BEST LUXURY GETAWAY:
THE INN AT THORN HILL & SPA, Jackson

This 1895 mansion offers 16 rooms in the main house, including a deluxe beauty named for Stanford White, the renowned architect who designed this romantic retreat: “luxury with a view.” With a swimming pool and award-winning dining, the most stressful moment could be choosing your spa treatment. 40 Thorn Hill Road. 603-383-4242; innatthornhill.com

BEST ESCAPE:
DARBY FIELD INN & RESTAURANT, Albany

Eight miles from North Conway’s brand names and outlets (L.L. Bean to J. Crew), this family-owned inn is a port in the storm for weary shoppers. One that includes 13 cozy guestrooms; local artwork; a pub; or dining by candlelight on roast duckling, with 12 peaks, including Mount Washington, fanning out before you. 185 Chase Hill Road. 603-447-2181; darbyfield.com 

BEST WHITE MOUNTAINS DINING

Omni Mount Washington Resort at Bretton Woods | Historic New Hampshire Hotel

Best of the White Mountains | The Cave at the Omni Mount Washington Resort

AImee Seavey

BEST CLASSIC BAR:
THE CAVE, Omni Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Woods

We’ll take any excuse to swing by this historic landmark and marvel at its grandeur, dwarfed only by Mount Washington rising behind it. The hotel’s distinctive 1902 silhouette—a Spanish Renaissance ocean liner topped with red tile—took two years to build. Its veranda is legendary. But dig deeper and you’ll uncover The Cave, a “Prohibition Era speakeasy” oozing old-fashioned masculinity with vaulted brick ceilings and a gleaming wooden bar, hosting live entertainment and televised sports. The man cave every woman could love. 310 Mount Washington Road. 603-278-1000; omnihotels.com/hotels/bretton-woods-mount-washington

BEST BREAKFAST:
STAIRWAY CAFE, North Conway

Breakfast all day (there’s lunch, too) might include Maine lobster Benedict, pumpkin–pecan pancakes, or a “Bonzo Breakfast Burrito” with a side of homemade applesauce. The deck looks toward the White Mountains, but nothing’s as pretty as the “Vegetable Garden Scramble” that just arrived, or as comforting as this cozy nest buzzing with conversation and brimming with vintage décor. 2649 White Mountain Highway. 603-356-5200; stairwaycafe.com

BEST FUN TIME:
WILDCAT INN & TAVERN, Jackson

The Currier & Ives village of Jackson puts on its fun hat at this cozy tavern, where rustic meets après-ski, local musicians are on tap, and everything’s seasoned with a sense of humor. Lunchtime locals chow down on “Crazy Cajun Chicken Corn Chowder” and “Baja Fish Tacos.” Dinner might be chicken mac-and-cheese—because we can. Tuesday is “Hoot” night, one of the oldest open-mic nights in New England, with one-pound lobsters served. Weekends, anything might happen, just as long as it’s fun. 94 Main St. 603-356-8700; wildcattavern.com

BEST TRAIN DINING:
CAFÉ LAFAYETTE DINNER TRAIN, North Woodstock

It takes only 20 miles to travel back to a more gracious era aboard the three vintage Pullman cars of the Café Lafayette Dinner Train. Diners enjoy a five-course meal with a side of stunning river, mountain, and forest views. Blazing fall foliage is a seasonal bonus. Route 112. 603-745-3500; nhdinnertrain.com

BEST BREWPUB:
MOAT MOUNTAIN SMOKE HOUSE & BREWING CO., North Conway

This venue’s two essential products—beer and barbecue—are made on the premises, and both are among the best of their kind. Beers lean toward light and crisp (wheat, pale ale, pilsner, even blueberry ale) while the barbecue is big on smoke and sugar (the salmon is almost candied!). 3378 White Mountain Highway (Route 16). 603-356-6381; moatmountain.com

BEST WINE CELLAR DINING:
MOUNTAIN VIEW GRAND RESORT & SPA, Whitefield

The candlelit tables surrounded by bins holding 6,500 bottles are undeniably romantic. Food such as lobster–scallop stew and roasted locally farmed venison fit the elegant setting. Gentlemen will want a jacket and ladies will like a wrap, as the wine cellar stays cool all year round. 101 Mountain View Road. 855-837-2100; mountainviewgrand.com

BEST NEW MENU:
SNOWVILLAGE INN, Eaton Center

The inn’s new chef, Brian Anderson, pulls from local farms for his flavorful cuisine. Fan favorites include lobster corn chowder with pea shoots and cedar-plank salmon with blueberry port glacé. 136 Stewart Road. 603-447-2818; snowvillageinn-whitemountains.com

Selections originally appeared in print in 2014 and 2016.

MORE WHITE MOUNTAINS FUN

Comments
  • Theresa

    Riding up thru the White Mountains on Highway 93, my 9-year-old grandson, Josef, says: “I don’t know if this is disrespectful, but I’m really impressed with God right now!”

    Reply
  • My wife and I vacationed for the last 30 years in the Bartlett area, along with our our four children. We love to hike but we also loved going to Clarks Trading Post in Woodstock. Great family fun, inexpensive, and one price for all attractions.

    Reply
  • Having traveled there on a budget many times we have found fun, FREE things to do. Some favorites are: Glen Ellis Falls, Rt. 16, beautiful falls along a short hike (there are a lot of stairs but not all together), nice and cool on a hot day; Bretton Woods: take a lift ride in the summer time – it is free – (beware, the restaurant at the top is pricey, but you don’t have to eat there to ride), Willey House site on 302 east of Crawford Notch – feed the ducks, take a walk or a hike on the trails nearby – they have maps you can check out the trails on, enjoy an inexpensive ice cream cone (about $8 for 3!); hike Middle Sugarloaf – a fairly easy hike to a rock top for maximum view factor! Find Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge – but please keep it a refuge!! Visit Weeks State Park in Lancaster off Rt. 3 – Fieldstone summit tower (closed in winter) with excellent view; as well as outlooks along the entry road. Height: 2077 feet. There is also a museum but there is a fee for that. Pack a picnic! Cathedral Ledge off West Side Road in North Conway. Diana’s Baths, also along West Side Rd., parking fee charged. Pack a picnic here too!

    Reply
  • If you are travelling with young children Storyland in Glen, NH and Santa’s Village in Jefferson, NH are two nice places for small children. I have a photo on my desk right now of my 2 year old son at Heidi’s grandfather’s house in Storyland. The man had a wonderful tame chipmunk and my son is feeding the chipmunk out of his hand. It is a sweet loving photo. My son has photo’s of his children and grand children at some of the same photo ops at these sites!! He enjoyed it and took his own family back there to visit!!

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Enter Your Log In Credentials