The picture is pleasant for families who visit New Hampshire's Mount Washington Valley. For starters, there's that gorgeous backdrop of the White Mountains. Then there are a lot of activities -- hiking, biking, swimming, and kiddie attractions -- plus a lot of money-saving lodging packages and some free activities, too. Let's look first at some of the packages at properties that have pools and children's areas or supervised children's activities:
--Fox Ridge Resort in North Conway's shopping district has a two-night package for two adults and two children that includes a day at the Story Land theme park, a full daily breakfast, and a deluxe room. Prices start at $376 for midweek stays.
Visit www.foxridgeresort.com or call 800-343-1804.
--The Grand Summit Hotel presents the grandly named Grand Summer Vacation package. Guests stay mountainside at Attitash Bear Peak and each day, every family member receives $35 worth of ''Fun Spots" to spend on resort activity, dining, shopping, and such attractions as Story Land, Attitash Bear Peak, and the Mount Washington Cog Railway. Prices start at $79 a person per night, double occupancy.
Visit www.attitash.com and click on Lodging Options or call 800-223-7669.
--The Royalty Inn in Gorham has a two-night attractions sampler with tickets to Story Land one day and Santa's Village the next. Also included are two nights' lodging and a breakfast buffet. Sample prices: $268 for two family members and $468 for five. Children under age 3 are free.
Visit www.royaltyinn.com or call 800-437-3529.
As for family freebies, there are playgrounds at Settlers' Green Outlet Village and the North Conway Community Center, free concerts in Schouler Park, walks on the self-guided nature trails at Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center or Wildcat Mountain, and free tours of the historic Mount Washington Hotel. A visit to the Weather Discovery Center in North Conway, meanwhile, requires a donation but it gives your children a variety of activities, including an opportunity to experience what it is like to be atop Mount Washington when record-setting winds of 231 miles per hour roar by.
For a guide to Mount Washington Valley, including more lodging ideas, call 800-DO-SEE-NH or visit www.mtwashingtonvalley.org.
Art discount Morgan's Way Bed-and-Breakfast in Orleans is giving customers who book by Nov. 15 a $50 gift certificate to the Orleans Art Gallery. Prices at Morgan's Way range from $110-$150 depending upon the season. A one-bedroom poolside cottage rents for $900-$1,200 a week.
Call 508-255-0831 or visit www.morganswaybandb.com.
Rockwell's Stockbridge The 230-year-old Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge wants you to see the Norman Rockwell Museum's current exhibit, ''Hometown Hero, Citizen of the World: Rockwell in Stockbridge," with more than 60 artworks from the last 25 years of the legendary illustrator's life in bucolic Stockbridge. Included are overnight accommodations, dinner, and breakfast for two, a welcome gift, and two tickets to the exhibit, which runs through Oct. 31. The Rockwell's Stockbridge Package is $325 Sunday-Thursday, including taxes and meal gratuities.
Call 413-298-5545 or visit www.redlioninn.com.
Hot N.E. website The New England Inns & Resorts Association lists Hot Deals -- its members best-priced vacation packages -- at www.newenglandinnsandresorts.com. More than 300 properties are on the site.
'Rings' package Movies are not enough for the fervent fans of a certain series. ''Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy: The Exhibition" will make its US premiere at the Museum of Science in Cambridge this month, featuring hundreds of pieces of memorabilia from the epic film trilogy and a behind-the-scenes look at how the movie was made.
The Hotel Marlowe's Lord of the Rings package includes deluxe accommodations for one night and two VIP tickets to the exhibition, within walking distance of the hotel. The vouchers also offer entry to the museum's other exhibit halls. Guests are also entitled to these hotel amenities: evening wine hour and morning coffee and tea service in the lobby living room, in-room high-speed Internet access, and use of the fitness room and outdoor mountain bikes. The package is available Friday, Saturday, or Sunday nights, tonight through Oct. 16. Rates start at $199 tonight through Sept. 6 and $219 Sept. 7-Oct. 16.
Call 800-825-7140 or visit www.hotelmarlowe.com.
Fascinating fact According to LasVegas.com, which tells you a whole lot about the city, the casinos give away $3 million in free stuff every day to get customers through their doors. No doubt they would like you to hit the slot machines, which are responsible for 60 percent of their profits.
Killington getaway You don't need the ski slopes to spend time at Killington Resort Villages. From $116 a person per night, the Romantic Green Mountain Getaway includes lodging in the Killington Grand Resort Hotel and Conference Center, breakfast and a romantic dinner at the hotel's restaurant, two 50-minute massages, and a Vermont Welcome Basket.
(The fine print: A two-night minimum is required.)
Visit www.killingtonresortvillage.com or call 877-4-KTIMES.
Red Sox package A Play Ball Package at Boston's Fairmont Copley Plaza includes one night in a newly renovated guest room and two hard-to-get infield grandstand tickets to a Red Sox game. Rates start at $375, and the package is available Aug. 13-Sept. 5.
Call 800-441-1414, 617-267-5300, or visit www.fairmont.com/copleyplaza.