New Hampshire’s White Mountains can be your perfect winter destination. Hotels provide classic New England charm, warm fireplaces, and, if you choose, all the luxurious modern amenities. Outdoors, you can ski, dogsled, or ride in a horse-drawn sleigh. Admire the homes and hotels lit up with warm holiday lights and accented by a blanket of white snow, visit a Christmas tree farm, and drink in that holiday spirit.
Although the region’s first explorers arrived in the 1600s, it took centuries for this rugged landscape to be settled. Eventually, writers like Robert Frost found inspiration among the mountains while Gilded Age hotels catered to summer guests who arrived via train. Later, skiing became popular and today remains an important draw for visitors from New England. Just fly to Mount Washington Regional Airport (hangars are available), rent a car, and go have fun.
Close to the airport lies another gorgeous hotel, the Mountain View Grand Resort and Spa. Opened in 1866 and renovated in 2002 to the tune of $20 million, the Mountain View is the quintessential New England luxury retreat. Dine in the 1865 Wine Cellar, indulge in spa treatments, roast s’mores by the fire, take a brisk winter guided hike, or stay for the Thanksgiving buffet and let the resort do the cooking. The nearby Inn at Whitefield (no longer an inn) offers a yummy comfort-food menu.
Explore the area to find even more activities. Franconia Notch State Park plays host to Cannon Mountain, one of the country’s original ski areas. Beginners choose the Tuckerbrook Family Area, but Cannon has the black diamonds too, plus the biggest vertical drop of any New Hampshire ski area. Ski fans will want to stop in to the New England Ski Museum to see local champion Bode Miller’s five Olympic medals and other treasures. And adults can rent snowmobiles from Northern Extremes, at the base of Mount Washington.
Adjacent to the airport, the Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge offers birdwatching plus a variety of snowshoeing and cross-country skiing routes. Even if you don’t stay at the Omni, you can still try dog sledding with the folks at Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel. Guests are encouraged to interact with the friendly dogs, many of which were “rescue sled dogs” that have found new, happy lives at Muddy Paw.
In Bethlehem, visit The Rocks Estate, a 1,400-acre estate that now hosts a Christmas tree farm and conservation education center. The Cold Mountain Café is a Bethlehem favorite, while the charming Adair Country Inn and Restaurant, tucked away from the main road, is simply superb.
Downtown Littleton is a New England gem. The town park has an ice skating rink and there’s a parade the day after Thanksgiving, complete with the arrival of Santa. Chances are, December will bring The Nutcracker to the historic Littleton Opera House. Any time of year, you can browse Main Street’s shops for antiques, art, sporting gear, fashion, or visit the world’s longest candy counter at Chutters. Thayer’s Inn offers a downtown setting within easy reach of shops and restaurants. And while in town, don’t miss Schilling Beer Co.—for the brews or the food.
Like B&Bs? The Lion and the Rose offers comfortable elegance in a beautifully restored 1895 Queen Anne Victorian Painted Lady B&B. Quaint Whitefield is convenient to the region’s activities and home to Grandma’s Kitchen, the place for meals just like at grandma’s. Whether you choose down-home or four-star, you’ll have a wonderful winter holiday in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.
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