For many New England skiers, March is their favorite month. The days are longer; the sun is stronger; and the snow is softer. Located off Interstate 93, a little more than two hours from Boston, Lincoln, N.H., and its popular ski resort, Loon Mountain, make for the perfect getaway. Even after the sun sets, Lincoln offers a handful of après-ski lounges and good restaurants to keep the mountain crowd happy into the wee hours of the morning.
An easy stroll from the Octagon Gondola is Loon’s ski in-ski out property, the Mountain Club
(90 Loon Mountain Road, www.mtnclub.com
, 800-229-7829, $125-$292). The hotel features lockers for skis, affordable breakfast buffets in the morning to get you energized ($13.95 for adults, children age 11 and under free), the only slopeside spa in the state, and the requisite pool and outdoor hot tub to watch skiers fly off the jumps later in the afternoon. A two-minute drive from the slopes at Loon is the Nordic Inn
(227 Main St., www.nordic-inn.com
, 866-734-2164, doubles start at $238-$338, two-night minimum). The one-, two-, and three-bedroom condos with full kitchens are well-suited for families.
Start your day at Brittany’s Cafe
(Route 112, www.kancmotorlodge.com/cafe.html
, 603-745-4899, breakfasts $2.95-$8.95) at the Kancamagus Motor Lodge, across the street from The Common Man restaurant. They feature a variety of omelets, Belgian waffles, eggs Benedict, and blueberry pancakes. For lunch on the mountain, head to the Slopeside Deli
(60 Loon Mountain Road, www.loonmtn.com/info/winter/dining.aspx
, $6-$13) near the gondola for a Lincoln Express Reuben or steak and cheese sandwiches, paired with homemade chips. For a town with a year-round population of about 1,300, there are a surprising number of good dinner options. Start at the mother and son run Gypsy Cafe
(117 Route 112, 603-745-4395, entrees $14.99-$22.99). The eclectic menu features Indian-style chicken samosas, Middle Eastern lamb loin dipped in the best hummus this side of Tel Aviv, Mexican fajitas, and a spicy Thai red curry duck. Wash it down with one of their strong margaritas, and you’ll understand why the place feels so festive. The Common Man
(10 Pollard Road, www.thecman.com
, 603-745-3463, entrees $14.99-$23.99) opened its second New Hampshire restaurant in Lincoln in 1985, converting a former family farmhouse into a warm and welcoming room that fills up quickly on weekend nights. The menu is heavy on comfort food for all ages like mac ’n’ cheese, meatloaf, New England pot roast, and tender prime rib.
During the day
Opt for the gondola at Loon
(60 Loon Mountain Road, www.loonmtn.com
, 800-229-5666, 49 trails, lift tickets $73 for adults, $53 ages 12 and under), which always seems to move quicker than the line at Kancamagus Express Quad. Head to the top of Loon Peak and then make your way down one of the many blues like Upper and Lower Pickled Rock. Another beaut, Upper Speakeasy, is socked in the snowed-under pines and rewards skiers with great views of mountains that make up the spine of the Whites all the way to the snow-encrusted rim of Mount Washington. After lunch, head over to the relatively new South Peak trails, like Boom Run which snakes along the ridge of the mountain. Non-skiers should venture four miles east of Lincoln on the Kancamagus Highway to find a wooden suspension bridge that signals the start of the Lincoln Woods Trail
. A great hike year-round, the 2.9-mile path heads deep into the forest along the shores of the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River. If the weather outside is frightful, head indoors to shop at Lahout’s Country Clothing
(127 Main St., www.lahouts.com
, 603-745-6970). They’ve been selling outdoor garb, shoes, and ski supplies since 1920. Just down the road, Kathleen Sherburn sells her quilts, placemats, wall hangings, and fabrics for people who want to create their own patterns at Pinestead Quilts
(31 Main St., 603-745-8640).
Gordi Eaton was on the 1960 and ’64 US Olympic ski teams and coached his soon-to-be wife, Karen Budge, on the 1968 team. Their restaurant and après-ski lounge, Gordi’s Fish & Steak House
(260 Main St., www.gordisfishandsteak.com
, 603-745-6635, lunch and dinner from $3.99) is a veritable treasure trove of memorabilia from their Olympian days, with ski bibs hanging from the rafters and old skis nailed to the walls. Order local Tuckerman Ale on draft, grab a basket of fresh popcorn, and settle into one of those comfortable chairs by the fireplace for the night. If you’re feeling antsy, you can always check out one of the flicks playing at Lincoln Cinemas IV
(Main Street, www.lincolncinema.com
Stephen Jermanok blogs at www.ActiveTravels.com.
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