ASN Weekends is our travel series dedicated to giving you exact 48-hour itineraries for how to maximize an adventure travel destination. This edition of Weekends was produced with support from our friends at Visit New Hampshire.
Countless hikers, climbers, and explorers visit the White Mountains in New Hampshire in the summertime (the Presidential Peaks are among some of the most challenging terrain of the famous Appalachian Trail).
However, we'd argue that winter might be the most magical season to visit New Hampshire. Small towns with historic charm, beautiful mountains to explore, and the lively and friendly locals make for a great trip in what feels like a winter fairytale.
And the best part? There’s plenty to do for adults and kids alike, so you don’t have to sacrifice your own cravings for adventure just to keep the little ones entertained.
We've designed an action-packed itinerary that immerses you in some of the very best winter adventures in New Hampshire, and keeps the whole family active and happy.
Your homebase will be Jackson, New Hampshire, blissfully tucked away in layers of evergreens, rivers, and rolling mountains, and in close proximity to multiple ski resorts and charming New Hampshire towns.
Fly into Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and drive a little over two hours. While it might not be the quickest destination to reach, the beautifully remote location is one of the most appealing aspects.
Where to Stay
The best way to experience a classic New Hampshire winter is to stay at one of the beautiful historic hotels in the area. If outdoor adventure is calling your name, you will love Eagle Mountain House in Jackson.
While traveling with a family requires some creativity, the Eagle Mountain House makes an adventurous lifestyle feel seamless. Before the kiddos wake up, mom or dad can hop on the freshly groomed ski track to get some exercise before sunrise.
The central location between ski resorts and trails makes it easy to pop back into the hotel between adventures for meals or downtime.
What to Do
5 – 6:30 pm: Dinner at Red Fox Pub
While the east coast is dotted with pubs and breweries, the whole family will love the Red Fox Pub. Pull up to a table near the fire while you warm up and browse the menu.
Everything is delicious, but you'd be remiss to not order something from the woodfire grill. Try the cedar-plank salmon or the maple-glazed half chicken, and definitely try to sneak a handful of the homemade potato chips from your kid's plate.
The Red Fox Pub has a play room and a movie room so you can enjoy a nice meal while the kids stay entertained.
7 – 8 pm: Ice Skating and Horse-Drawn Sleighs
After dinner, head across the street to the Nestlenook Farm. Whether your family decides to ride a horse-drawn sleigh or go ice skating on the frozen lake, the twinkling lights will make the experience absolutely magical.
Ice skaters glide under bridges and across the frozen lake, and even just grabbing some cocoa and watching the skaters from one of the fireplaces is beautiful.
If ice skating isn't your thing, your family will be enchanted by the sleigh ride through the snow. Bundle up under the blankets as a team of Clydesdales pulls your sleigh across the farm and through the night forest.
8:30 – 10:30 p.m: Bonfire at Eagle Mountain House
When you get back to the Eagle Mountain House, grab some chocolate-chip cookies from the front desk and head out back to the bonfire, where you'll find families hanging out and socializing.
Indoors, the historic lobby is the heart of the Eagle Mountain House. Pack a few board games and some snacks, find a corner and hang out.
7 – 9 am: Cross-Country Skiing in Jackson
So you've never cross-country skied? Don't let that stop you from experiencing the world-class cross-country track at the Jackson XC center. You don't need to be an expert to enjoy the 150km of trails that wander through fields and wind through forests. By the end of the morning, you'll understand the zen and beauty of the sport.
While there are plenty of adventurous trails to explore, there are also many groomed, beginner trails for those who have never cross-country skied. If you have little ones, grab a polk and pull them with you on the trail. Even a beginner will love gliding along the river through the woods to the cocoa cabin. Trust me, this will be one of the highlights of your trip.
9 am – 12 pm: Breakfast at Peaches and Exploring North Conway
You've burned a ton of calories cross-country skiing, which is good, because you want to come to Peaches with a roaring appetite. While the omelettes are delicious, the sweet side of the breakfast menu is to die for. Whether you're craving crepes, Belgian waffles, or any variety of pancakes, you won't be disappointed.
After breakfast, explore the dreamy town of North Conway. You’ll love perusing the antiques shops, toy stores, and gift shops to find the perfect token to take home.
You can also duck into the local coffee shop, go ice skating on the small-town rink, or check out the train engines at the station during their off season.
12 – 2 pm: Snowmobiling through Bartlett
You don't have to be a “sledneck” to enjoy climbing up the beautiful wooded trails in Bartlett on a snowmobile. Maybe you want to enjoy the ride and share a snowmobile with your significant other, but there's nothing wrong with wanting to feel the power of driving one yourself.
Whether you are more interested in incredible vistas overlooking Mount Washington, or whether you love the thrill of going fast (NH speed limit is 45 mph for all trails), the Northern Extremes guides have designed trips to cater to everybody's taste. From helmets to snow pants and everything in between, you'll have access to all the gear you need to ride. The adrenaline from the speed, mixed with beautiful mountain views, are the perfect combination.
2 – 4 pm: Snow Hiking
While New Hampshire is famous for its summertime hiking, the trails are even more magical (and less crowded) in the wintertime. Whether you plan a day-hike up Mt. Pierce, a shorter hike up Mt. Willard, or even just explore the banks of Jackson falls, your kids will love an excuse to get their wiggles out. Be sure to rent some snowshoes or hiking spikes, and don't forget the camera.
5 – 7 pm: Night Tubing on Cranmore Mountain
Just because the sun has set, doesn't mean that you have to call it a night and head inside. Bundle up and head to Cranmore Mountain Resort for night tubing and the mountain adventure park. A magic carpet takes you and your tube to the top of the 10-lane tubing hill before you go screaming down the hill.
Pro tip: Ask the tubing attendant for a "wicked fast spin" at the top of the hill before he sends you down. Upgrade to the Mountain Adventure pass and you can ride the giant mountainside swing or take a rollercoaster or zipline down the mountain.
7 – 8 pm: Dinner at Flatbread Company
If you ask locals where they like to eat after a day on the mountain, they'll send you to Flatbread Company for pizza. The pies are fire-roasted in ovens right in the center of the dining room. With homemade ingredients, and cocktails made from liquor from the local distillery, you'll taste a slice of love from North Conway.
8 – 9 am: Breakfast at The Sunrise Shack
Before a day of skiing, you'll want to fuel up with one of the best breakfasts in New Hampshire. While there are many beautiful touristy places for brunch, the Sunrise Shack is a favorite of locals. When you try their coffee, you'll understand why. Fill up on blueberry pancakes (made with plump fresh blueberries) or huevos rancheros before a big day of skiing.
10 a.m. – 3 pm: Skiing Wildcat Mountain
While there are several excellent mountains to ski near North Conway, if you love sweeping mountain views, steep terrain, and hanging with the locals, Wildcat Mountain is your resort. The most adventurous skiers and beginner skiers alike will find terrain that they love with the stunning backdrop of Mount Washington.
A big part of why we ski is for the community, and in New Hampshire it’s no different. You'll ride the chair lift with seasoned locals, racers, and families that are proud to call Wildcat their home mountain.
3 – 5 pm: Farewell Dinner at Ptarmigans Pub
The perfect way to finish a weekend of mountain adventure is to spend some time with the people you love around a table. Head to Ptarmigans Pub for a little apres action (and to give your legs a rest before you head back into the office tomorrow). Grab some food and beverages, listen to the live music, and kick back with the people you love.
Photos by Brooke Froelich
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