North Conway, New Hampshire, is nestled in the heart of Mount Washington Valley in New Hampshire’s picturesque White Mountains.
Its location means access to scores of outdoor activities, and its quaint downtown village is full of shops and restaurants, making it a popular tourist destination. North Conway could see 15,000 to 17,500 visitors per weekend during a successful winter season, according to the White Mountains Attractions Association. During long weekends and school breaks, that number could climb to 20,000.
“I love being in the center of North Conway Village on a beautiful blue-sky day and seeing Mount Washington front and center,” said Marti Mayne, publicity manager for the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce. “I love the allure of the mountains and all the outdoor recreation. And I love that it’s a community that really embraces tourism.”
With 13 ski resorts within 30 minutes from town, skiers have plenty of options. But the area is rich with activities for non-skiers as well, Mayne said.
“There’s amazing snowmobiling, winter hiking, incredible tax-free shopping,” Mayne said. “So it really offers up something for everybody.”
Whether you are going for the day or a weekend, Mayne provided her picks for where to eat, stay, and play in this winter paradise.
Dine beside tall windows with panoramic views of the mountains at Ledges, located inside The White Mountain Hotel & Resort. “I love it because of the location,” Mayne said. “I love the views. They have a fabulous Sunday brunch. They have a great Friday night Seafood Fest also.” The Sunday brunch offers chef-attended omelet and carving stations, homemade corned beef hash and soups, Belgian waffles, and eggs Benedict. The four-course seafood menu on Friday nights, which the restaurant calls its weekly Seafood Fest, features dishes like a cod and lobster duo, orange ginger diver scallops, and a classic broiled seafood platter. (2560 West Side Rd.)
This casual dining spot dishes up everything from burgers to pad Thai to chicken and broccoli penne Alfredo. But it has a special treat for ice cream lovers: “They have a cute little ice cream shop right inside, which makes it fun for the whole family,” Mayne said. The restaurant’s old-fashioned ice cream parlor, Spoons, features a 16-seat-long counter and serves Gifford’s ice cream from Maine. (2679 White Mountain Highway)
“It’s probably one of my big go-to places because it’s great food and a good variety,” Mayne said. The restaurant has an eclectic menu of everything from salad and burgers to sushi, and prides itself on its homemade recipes and locally-sourced veggies and meats. Sports lovers can head to Delaney’s Sports Tavern, located inside the restaurant, where the walls are covered in sports memorabilia and seven TVs show New England sports teams in action when there are games. (2966 White Mountain Highway)
For those traveling with kids, check out the 25-acre Red Jacket Mountain View Resort, Mayne said. Splash the day away at Kahuna Laguna, a 40,000-square foot indoor water park that has four high-speed tubes, water basketball, a wave pool, and a 175-gallon tipping bucket, as well as a cafe and arcade. “Your kids are going to love this place,” Mayne said. “It’s an attraction in and of itself.” Choose between mountain-view rooms with jacuzzis, townhouses, and multiple-bedroom family suites. The resort also has two restaurants, a lounge with live entertainment, and family activities, such as story time and movie nights. (2251 White Mountain Highway)
If you like to shop, you can’t beat The Green Granite Inn and Conference Center for location, Mayne said. “It is walking distance to all the outlets,” Mayne said. This family-friendly spot offers several types of rooms, such as one-bedroom suites and rooms with bunk beds perfect for families traveling with kids. Spend time beside the cozy lobby fireplace or in the indoor hot tub and pool. “You just feel like you’re in a lovely ski lodge,” Mayne said. Ask for discount ski tickets available at the desk. (1515 White Mountain Highway, Route 16)
The Cranmore Inn, near Cranmore Mountain, is loaded with history—the quaint spot has been welcoming guests since 1863—and has 17 guest rooms and two apartments within walking distance from town. “The innkeepers are lovely, really nice people,” Mayne said. The bed and breakfast has an afternoon coffee and tea service, where guests nibble homemade treats. Soak in the outdoor hot tub, which is open year round, or relax in front of the fireplace. And, of course, every day begins with a cooked-to-order country breakfast. (80 Kearsarge St.)
At Cranmore Mountain, skiers can take on 56 trails serviced by nine lifts over 170 acres. But there’s another way to explore Cranmore: Adventurers will love the Cranmore Mountain Adventure Park, Mayne said. Take a coaster through the woods (at a leisurely pace, or reach speeds of 25 miles per hour — you decide) or a zip line for two 700 feet down the mountainside, or ride a giant swing with three friends. Another option: Gear up for 10 lanes of tubing at the nearby Cranmore Tubing Park. “On the weekends, they do what’s called a Cranapalooza,” Mayne said. “It’s really geared toward kids, with face painting, music, s’mores on the square, stuff like that. Sometimes they do fireworks, too.” (239 Skimobile Rd.)
Are you fascinated by weather? At the Weather Discovery Center in North Conway Village, you can enjoy plenty of hands-on weather-related exhibits, such as a wind room and air cannon. Mount Washington, at 6,288 feet above sea level, is the tallest peak in the northeast and dubbed “Home of the World’s Worst Weather.” According to the Mount Washington Observatory, the average temperature between 1935 and 2015 was 27.2 degrees Fahrenheit, and snowfall of greater than an inch has been recorded on the mountain in every month of the year. The center invites guests to connect with an observer living and working on top of Mount Washington during a daily activity called “Live from the Rockpile.” Bonus: Admission to the center is a mere $2 for adults and $1 for kids 7 and up. (2779 White Mountain Highway)
“You cannot come to North Conway without doing some shopping,” Mayne said. North Conway, famous for its outlet shopping, boasts 60 stores in its Settlers’ Green Outlet Village shopping area (2 Common Ct.). There are plenty of independent shops and boutiques worth exploring, as well, Mayne said. For example, at Zeb’s General Store, you can scoop up more than 5,000 products, including New England cheeses, sauces, and marinades. “Zeb’s has the largest collection of New England-made specialty foods in the country,” Mayne said. And don’t forget to stop at the store’s impressive old-fashioned penny candy counter to buy some of your favorite sweet treats. (2675 White Mountain Highway)