In the summer, families tend to head to the beach or the mountains to escape the heat. The White Mountains of New Hampshire offer so much to families of all ages, from gorgeous lakes to strenuous hikes – and even moose safaris. Living in Rhode Island, our family has had a chance to visit this area frequently, including a recent visit to North Conway. While we still have so much to discover, here are just a few of the family-friendly activities we have enjoyed in the White Mountains.
Flume Gorge in Lincoln
Located on the western side of the White Mountains, Flume Gorge is a natural gorge at the base of Mount Liberty. After stopping in at the Visitor Center, you can hike up to the gorge, which rises 70 to 90 feet and, at points, is only 12 to 20 feet across. There is a lot of uphill walking and stairs if you do the full two-mile hike, but you can also just walk up and enjoy the cool air around the gorge while taking in the beautiful views.
Connecting Lincoln and Conway New Hampshire, this 34.5 mile scenic highway is a classic drive for fall leaf peepers and others that just want to enjoy the spectacular scenery at a leisurely pace. Along the winding drive through the White Mountains, you rise to nearly 3,000 feet above sea level while taking in views of the Swift River, Sabbaday Falls, Lower Falls and Rocky Gorge.
Diana’s Baths in Bartlett
As you approach North Conway, a worthwhile detour is a stop at Diana’s Baths. After a .6 mile walk into the forest, you will find a series of waterfalls, cascading over rocks and ledges and forming shallow pools below. The water is chilly but refreshing on a hot day and you will find people of all ages swimming, splashing and picnicking around the falls.
Story Land in Glen
Story Land is a perfect stop for families with toddlers, preschoolers and early elementary school-age children. This old-fashioned amusement park features rides and attractions based on classic fairy tales. Cinderella might not be Disneyfied but little ones won’t mind and the older kids will probably enjoy the Roar-o-Saurus roller coaster or the Bamboo Shoots log flume.
Attitash Mountain Resort in Bartlett
For families seeking a bit more adventure, the Attitash ski resort offers plenty of summer fun. Since I was a kid spending my summer vacations in Vermont, I have loved alpine slides and Attitash is one of the few still around. They also offer water slides, a mountain coaster, ziplines, Euro-bungy, and a climbing wall for a full day of fun.
Mt. Washington Auto Road
For years we have wanted to drive the Mt. Washington Auto Road, but when we were there we either didn’t have time or the weather wasn’t cooperating. On our trip last month we were in a race against the clouds to make it to the summit. Unfortunately the clouds won and it was all we could see from the top but we did get pretty views at vista points along the way. Just be warned that this drive is NOT for the feint at heart. You will climb in low gear at 20 mph on a very narrow, twisty road with no guardrails. The entire round trip will take at least an hour with stops to enjoy the view.
Where to Stay
The Red Jacket Mountain View Resort in North Conway is a great option for families visiting the White Mountains. This classic hotel is walking distance to downtown North Conway, but really offers families all you need right on premises. In addition to the Kahuna Laguna indoor waterpark, they offer an arcade, outdoor pool, playground and tons of family activities including a campfire and marshmallows or family movie nights on the lawn. The waterpark is a huge hit with the kids after a busy day. They have four big slides that come off of a three-story tower – two body slides and two tube slides, along with a 25 person hot tub, wave pool, toddler play around and larger play structure with a giant tipping bucket.
The Red Jacket offers a variety of rooms, including townhomes and family rooms with sleeping lofts for the kids. If you don’t want to have breakfast at the hotel, I’d recommend Peaches, just down the street in North Conway, for their delicious pancakes and crepes.
Disclosure: Tamara received a complimentary stay at the Red Jacket Mountain View Resort and admission to the Kahuna Laguna water park for purposes of facilitating a review. All opinions are her own.