Discover North Conway, NH
Discover North Conway, NH
If you find yourself dreaming of a relaxing weekend deep in the hills of the Northeast, far from the bustle of the city and up close to some singular natural wonders, it’s hard to do better than the White Mountains. Boasting the highest peaks in the East, several utterly unique granite features, and the best of New England village charm, this northern New Hampshire region promises to be the perfect family getaway or romantic retreat.
To really explore the rugged terrain and endless adventures the Whites have to offer, it’s worth staying in the very heart of the Mountain Valley—in the picturesque hamlet of North Conway. Not only is North Conway within spitting distance of all the finest hiking, swimming and general fun-having in the area, it is itself a lovely destination brimming with good food and drink, a rich history and generous hospitality.
Where to stay?
The White Mountains are widely known by the glamorous high-end resorts and hotels that populate their foothills. There’s the Mount Washington Hotel, where the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed, there’s the opulent Bretton Arms Inn, and the stately Manor on Golden Pond—the list goes on.
But if you’re searching for a family-friendly, affordable and wonderfully accommodating place to start your exploring, look no further than the Eastern Slope Inn Resort. With a wide variety of lodging options—ranging from couple’s suites to decked-out family townhouses—you can easily find a space that fits your needs. The in-house Flatbread Company Restaurant and Pub can help you refuel and wind down after a day of activity, while a nice soak in the hot tub or indoor pool guarantees relaxation.
If you and your travel buddies are in the mood for a slightly more down to earth stay, with slightly less going on (Eastern Slope has 250 rooms) consider the Merrill Farm Inn just a few minutes outside of North Conway proper. Built on seven acres spread out alongside the Saco River, a mix of rustic and modern room and amenities are sure to please everybody’s tastes. Don’t miss a delicious farm-to-table dinner at the adjoining Barn Restaurant.
What to do?
In the wintertime, the outdoor activity scene in Conway revolves around the cross country ski areas: Bretton Woods, Jackson Ski Touring, Great Glen Trails, Mt. Washington Valley —the list goes on. With endless Alpine and Nordic trails to traverse, no skier could grow bored on these upper Appalachian slopes. But what about the summer months? Unsurprisingly, a place with such rugged and varied terrain has plenty of stunning nooks and crannies for you and your crew to check out.
If you are a hiking bunch, several state parks will give you access to routes ranging from gentle to demanding, all with spectacular views at the top. For a straightforward stroll with a serious payoff, try Cathedral Ledge State Park, where a breezy one mile walk up a wide auto road opens out onto a 270 degree panorama of the surrounding ledges and peaks. For a more technical approach to the same lookout, try looping through Echo Lake State Park. If you’re looking for a bit more elevation, take the 30 minute drive to Crawford Notch State Park, where a bevy of well-marked trails will lead you up to the loftiest jaw-dropping lookouts in the Northeast.
For cyclists, the mountain and road biking options abound. The East Side trails of North Conway bob, weave and dip across bogs and up the backside of Cranmore Mountain, stretching across some 450-acres of wilderness. If you’re more of a pavement rider, the obvious choice is the famed Kancamagus Scenic Byway: cutting straight through the White Mountain National Forest, where it reaches elevations of over 3000 feet, the Kancamagus is most splendid in foliage but offers riders 36 miles of rolling hills and unbelievable views from spring till the end of fall.
If the weather’s warm enough, be sure to rent a canoe, kayak or tube and spend a few hours soaking up the sun and all the flora and fauna there is to see from the great Saco River. Check in with Great Glen Trails for kayak lessons. Just looking for a quick dip? Though you might get more than you bargained for, the one-of-a-kind Diana’s Baths showcases a 75-foot series of waterfalls, with various wade- and swim-able pools beneath.
Après Activity Activities
Whether you run, hike, bike paddle or swim in North Conway, be sure to wind up back downtown. The charming village is not only home to a dizzying array of high-end outlet stores for the shoppers among us, but also a surprising range of delicious and welcoming eateries. May Kelly’s Cottage Restaurant and Pub is a little slice of Ireland where you can start your night with a bit of corned beef or a meatloaf sandwich, and linger for hours of quality Guinness sipping and Irish Nacho munching—and did I mention the outdoor patio with live music?
Looking for a taste of that New England craft beer scene? Be sure to stop in at Moat Mountain Smokehouse and Brewing. Not to be missed: the brewery’s well-loved Czech Pilsner, or the Clockwork Manderina New England IPA. And as you sit sipping crisp pilsners and oaty brown ales inside the 175 seat brewpub, regaling your friends with your mountain biking exploits and hiking misadventures, munch on some Carolina Style Smoked Pork or a Mexican Barbacoa Bowl—at this joint, as in all of North Conway, you really can’t go wrong.