If your idea of the perfect way to kick off the holiday season includes sweet treats, overflowing Christmas decorations, snow-capped mountain views, and the (optional but encouraged) cozy charm of a New England bed and breakfast, then the annual Mt. Washington Valley Inn to Inn Cookie Tour is exactly what you’re looking for!
Taking place each year on the second weekend in December, the self-guided tour for enrolled participants runs from 11 to 4 on both Saturday and Sunday, stretching from Harts Location to Chocorua, NH. Each of this year’s thirteen participating inns will be opening their doors and offering fabulous holiday treats and decorating ideas to get you in the holiday spirit, set against the beautiful backdrop of the Mt. Washington valley. You’ll take away recipe cards from each inn so you can recreate your favorite treats at home, and once you’re done visiting each stop, you’ll also receive a brass snowflake ornament to take home and put on your own tree. Participants that opt for the lodging package can also rest their heads each night at one of the inns, and enjoy a full breakfast in the morning.
I was delighted to have the opportunity to participate in the 2011 Inn to Inn Cookie Tour. My sugar rush kicked off at the Riverbend Inn in Chocorua, where I was also staying for the evening. After checking in, I joined the throngs of fellow cookie-goers to admire the Christmas decorations and sample the inn’s treats.
While I believe each inn is only required to serve one signature cookie or treat, many serve two or three, and sometimes even more than that. You won’t ever be hungry — trust me.
Hopping into my car, I set out to visit the next inn (and then the next), sampling cookies and getting decoration ideas for my own holiday home. Sometimes I even spotted some familiar books on the sitting room shelves.
There were cozy fires at nearly every stop. None of the inns are more than 15 minutes driving away from one another, and many are much closer than that.
The Inn at Crystal Lake in Eaton was hosting a holiday craft fair in addition to welcoming cookie-goers, making it a busy and fun stop.
Then it was back on the road, which wasn’t a bad thing when the views were so pretty.
The high-altitude Darby Field Inn offered especially lovely dining views.
They also had several yummy cookies to keep me energized.
In North Conway, I first stopped at the wreathed Eastman Inn.
Their homemade peppermint marshmallows and rich peanut butter treats left me thirsty — time for hot chocolate!
Just down the road was The 1785 Inn.
It might be on a busy road in a bustling downtown, but inside everything is all 18th century, with cozy dining rooms and large fireplaces to keep things warm.
Some dining views were mountainous indeed.
The nearby Glen Oaks Inn in Intervale was also decked out for the holidays — look at that “Merry Christmas” tree topper!
The cheerful Old Red Inn and Cottages in North Conway draw visitors with their main inn…
But the cottages (and the inn’s overall brightness and warmth) are also a nice perk for families or those looking for extra privacy.
When I left the Old Red Inn and Cottages it was getting close to 4 pm, so I brushed the cookie crumbs off my sweater and headed back towards the Riverbend Inn to sleep off my sugar coma. In the morning, innkeepers Jerry Weiss and Craig Cox cooked up a delicious breakfast to get my day started right. Served in their beautiful dining room, the poached pear in yogurt with granola was heavenly, as was the french toast that followed. Nothing like more sugar on an already sweet weekend!
Heading back through North Conway for my final stops gave me additional lovely views of Mount Washington.
The Inn at Ellis River in Jackson was not only warm and cozy, it also served my favorite cookie of the weekend! Their White Mountain Mudslide Cookies were irresistible thanks to hints of Irish Cream Liquer and Irish Whiskey, plus cappuccino chips and bittersweet chocolate drizzle. Yum.
Finally, I made my way up the winding road to the secluded Notchland Inn in Hart’s Location, where I was greeted (as are most guests) by one of the inn’s two friendly Bernese Mountain Dogs, as well as the elegant and beautiful rooms the Notchland Inn is known for.
Stuffed and going a little sugar-crazy, it was finally time to pick up my snowflake ornament and head back home, full of holiday cheer and ideas for the coming weeks before Christmas.
Want more information about this year’s Inn to Inn Cookie Tour, taking place on December 8-9, 2012? Want to know more about the inns themselves? Check out the Inn to Inn Cookie Tour website and reserve your spot today! I can’t speak for your waistline, but the rest of you will certainly not regret it.