Already a member? Please login below for an enhanced experience. Not a member? Join today

Winter wonderlandWinter wonderland

White Mountains, New HampshireWhite Mountains, New Hampshire

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.

  • Skiers at Bretton Woods look toward the Omni Mount Washington Resort. Mount Washington and other Presidential Range peaks rise in the background. Photo courtesy Omni Hotels & Resorts.
  • A hiker and his friend at the summit of Mount Pierce, one of the notable peaks in the Presidential Range. Photo courtesy NHDTTD/Michael Ware.
  • Mount Washington and Mount Adams rise above the Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. Photo courtesy NHDTTD/Ting Cal.
  • The 25,000 square-foot Omni Mount Washington Resort spa brings the outdoors inside to treatment rooms with sweeping views of Mount Washington, the Presidential Range, and Crawford Notch. The resort’s Spa-tacular package includes champagne and other amenities. Photo courtesy Omni Hotels & Resorts.
  • Traverse the white fluffy stuff during a fun, horse-drawn sleigh ride. Photo courtesy Omni Hotels & Resorts.
  • On the grounds of the White Mountain National Forest, the Bretton Woods Nordic Center is one of the largest cross-country areas in the East. The 100-km trail network crosses open fields, meanders through woods of spruce and fir, passes beaver ponds and mountain streams, and traverses open hardwood stands. Enjoy classical and skate skiing or snowshoeing on beautifully groomed trails. And don't forget to stop off at the warming yurt or the rustic, backcountry cabin on Mount Stickney. Photo courtesy Omni Hotels & Resorts.
  • The Bretton Woods Mount Washington Resort has a snowmobile park specially designed for kids. Photo courtesy Mount Washington Resort.
  • The Bretton Woods Canopy Tour takes nature lovers and thrillseekers across a series of tree-top zip lines while descending over 1,000 feet of elevation. It’s the longest zip line canopy tour in New England and one of the longest canopy tours in the Continental U.S. High-flying suspension bridges and hiking trails connect the zip lines, and the tour concludes with the Williwaw Racing Zip Line, a dual, side-by-side zip line that leads right to the Bretton Woods base area. Photo courtesy Omni Hotels & Resorts.
  • Close to the airport, the Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa offers panoramic mountain views, luxurious accommodations, winter activities, and a litany of spa treatments. Photo courtesy Mountain View Grand Resort.
  • Aerial view of the state-owned Cannon Mountain ski area inside Franconia Notch State Park. Photo by Greg Keeler.
  • Northern Extremes can rent you a snowmobile or take you on a guided trip. Their Mount Washington location is near 200+ miles of trails. Photo courtesy Omni Hotels & Resorts.
  • Arrange a dogsled tour through the Omni resort or separately through Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel. You won’t believe the energy and enthusiasm these dogs bring to their job. Photo courtesy Muddy Paw.
  • Visit The Rocks Estate in Bethlehem to see their beautiful Christmas tree farm. Once the summer home of a wealthy Chicago family, this regal estate is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. You’ll find several well-preserved houses and barns, miles of stone walls, and views of the Presidential Mountains. During the season, handmade wreaths and a myriad of locally made gifts and crafts fill the gift shops. Christmas trees are available from the retail lot, cut-your-own, or by mail order. Free weekend horse-drawn wagon rides can be reserved for those who buy a tree or tree/local hotel package. In late winter/early spring, learn how maple syrup is made with their hands-on Maple Tours. Photo by McPhaul.
  • Sights in downtown Littleton include a picturesque pedestrian bridge over the Ammonoosuc River, classic New England church steeples, and a statue of the quintessentially cheerful character Pollyanna. The unique Main Street shops are just the place to find perfect holiday gifts. Photo by Paul Hayes.
  • An early January sunrise casts a warm glow over the snow-clad Presidential Range of the White Mountains. The Omni Mount Washington Resort offers guided climbs up Mount Washington, as well as guided backcountry skiing and ice climbing. Photo by Jackie Robidoux, @j_robidoux.

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.

The Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods caters to visitors’ every need. This stunning display of Spanish Renaissance architecture, built in 1902, was the last of the grand hotels constructed in the White Mountains. Guests can enjoy two complimentary Bretton Woods ski lift tickets each day of their stay, as well as two optional meal plan choices. That’s right, there’s alpine and Nordic skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and snowshoeing, all within minutes of the hotel at the Bretton Woods Ski Area. The resort also offers a luxurious spa for men and women; indoor climbing wall; fine and casual dining, including two four-diamond restaurants; dogsled and horse-drawn sleigh rides; ice skating; and a year-round zip line tour. In summer it offers golf, horseback riding, hiking, and fishing.

A male northern cardinal adds a bright blaze of red to a winter-dormant tree. Cardinals don’t migrate in winter. Photo by Jackie Robidoux, @j_robidoux.

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.

Thayer’s Inn, in downtown Littleton, has been lodging travelers since 1850. Its Grill One Eleven bistro and tavern downstairs serves lunch and dinner from an eclectic menu. Photo courtesy Thayer’s Inn.

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.

Formal dining in the 1865 Wine Cellar at the Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa, where the ever-changing menu might include smoked duck, poached skate, ribeye, local pork, or truffled mushroom ravioli. Photo courtesy Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa.

Share your favorite destination in the AOPA Hangar: Places to fly, things to do, where to eat!

Crista Worthy

Crista Videriksen Worthy

Crista Videriksen Worthy has been flying around the United States with her pilot-husband Fred and their children since 1995, and writing about fun places to fly since 2006. She has single-engine land and sea ratings. Her favorite places to explore are the backcountry strips of Idaho and Utah's red rock country. She currently lives in Idaho and serves as editor of The Flyline, the monthly publication of the Idaho Aviation Association. To suggest future destination articles, send an email to [email protected]
Topics: US Travel

Related Articles