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

By Yankee Magazine

May 19 2017

New Hampshire White Mountains, Franconia

Franconia Notch, The Flume

Photo Credit : Kindra Clineff
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 in our “Best of the White Mountains” roundup.
Flume Gorge at Franconia Notch State Park
Best of the White Moutntains | Franconia Notch State Park, Franconia/Lincoln
Photo Credit : Kindra Clineff



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; 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;
Mount Washington Cog Railroad
Best of the White Mountains | Mount Washington Cog Railway
Photo Credit : 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; 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; 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;


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; 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; 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; 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; 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; 


Omni Mount Washington Resort at Bretton Woods | Historic New Hampshire Hotel
Best of the White Mountains | The Cave at the Omni Mount Washington Resort
Photo Credit : 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; 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; 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; 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; 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; 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; 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.comSelections originally appeared in print in 2014 and 2016.