White Mountains, NH – 150 Years of Adventure

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WHY GO: The 800,000-acre White Mountains Range in New Hampshire has been drawing tourists since our country’s independence. Though not quite tamed, man has left his mark on these stony hills, making money by highlighting Mother Nature’s finest features. And selling fudge.

In fact, in 1869, the Cog Railway on Mount Washington was the first transportation system built specifically for tourists. Though not quite “Offbeat” or unsung, many attractions here are in private hands, and have been for generations – a rarity in the increasingly corporate world of tourism.

Boardwalk on Twinway Trail in the White Mountains

Drive the “Notches” (called “gaps” or “passes” elsewhere) through the mountains, and pull over for spectacular hikes, kitschy but worthwhile attractions, great food with breathtaking vistas, and lodging for every taste and pocketbook. Check out Bath, Littleton, Tamworth and other Classic New England church-spire towns.

There is so much packed into these 800,000 acres, The Getaway Mavens have divided the White Mountain Region into Eastern, Western, and Northern White Mountains. Combine all three for a weeklong visit or snag a few days in one or two.

Tip – If you intend to visit most of these places, reserve a White Mountains Attraction Pass, which will get you and a friend into 17 White Mountain attractions, including the Cog Railway and Santa’s Village, for $399 (a $1200 value).

Mount Washington Cog Railway, Bretton Woods NH

Table of Contents

Things To Do In The White Mountains – Northern Region

DO: Mount Washington Cog Railway, Bretton Woods

The top of Mount Washington in New Hampshire, the highest peak in the Northeast, is known to have “the most extreme weather” on the planet. Winds have been recorded at 231 MPH.

But that didn’t stop one man, Sylvester Marsh, who had gotten lost on a 1856 climb to the summit, from dreaming up a way to transport tourists to the top of the mountain more directly (and with less uncertainty).

He and several engineers fashioned a new kind of rail, one with a chain in the middle that, when gripped by gears in the train, enabled it to climb safely and steadily. Opened in 1869, this Cog Railway was the first mountain climbing cog railway in the world, now on the National Historic Register, and surprisingly, in private hands.

Cog and Water Tower, Cog Railway, NH

Originally utilizing dirty coal fired steam power, most engines have recently been converted to the cleaner and more efficient Bio-Diesel, which also makes the trip faster. Now, the train climbs at a speedy 5.5 MPH, and takes 47 minutes to ascend to the top of Mount Washington, elevation 6,288 ft.

The Cog Experience

Along the way, you’ll hear tales and learn a good amount from your jolly (and sometimes really funny) brakeman – who narrates the trip through a headset while watching the track. He’ll encourage you to try to stand in the center isle while the train car makes its way up “Jacob’s Ladder” – a 37.8% grade 300 feet off the ground, once called “the most treacherous trestle in the world.”

Top of Mt. Washington on Cog Railroad NH

At the summit, you’ll have an hour to check out the historic 1853 Tip Top House – a hiker’s hostel, the Mount Washington Observatory, and take a picture by the summit sign before heading back down (45 minutes).

Despite its turtle-pace, this is one fun and thrilling ride – and enjoyed by kids to seniors – who all get into the spirit of the climb. Definitely worth three hours of your day. Runs May-October, check website for specifics. $68 adults, $39 kids for three-hour ride and summit visit.

Franconia Notch State Park

DRIVE/VISIT: Franconia Notch State Park

After Nathanial Hawthorne visited Franconia in 1832, he wrote the short story – “The Great Stone Face” about the Old Man in the Mountain. The tale influenced tourism, and by the 1860’s, White Mountains-bound stagecoaches were bursting with well-to-do visitors from Boston and wealthy New Hampshire mill towns. Though the Old Man in the Mountain fell on May 3, 2003, there’s still plenty to see.  Start with these:

Flume Gorge in Franconia Notch State Park - New Hampshire

SEE: The Flume

Hike two miles round trip from the Visitor’s Center or take the bus and walk 1 mile round trip (lots of uphill walking either way, FYI) to the granite chasm overflowing with thundering water. A series of stairs and walkways take you under, over and pretty much through the Flume. Incredible. May-October, $31 Combo Ticket with Cannon Mt. Tramway.

The Basin, Franconia Notch State Park

STOP: The Basin

It’s a two-mile drive from The Flume between Exits 34A and B. Park on the right side of the road in the dedicated parking area and walk under I-93 for about ten minutes to the spot in the riverbed that forms a bowl. A quick, pretty photo op.

Cannon Aerial Tramway, NH

VISIT: Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway/ New England Ski Museum, I93 Exit 34B

Olympic medalist, Bodie Miller, earned his chops on this mountain, and in fact you can see all of his Olympic Medals in a glass case at the compact and worthwhile Ski Museum adjacent to the Tramway.

Bodie Miller Olympic Medals, New England Ski Museum, NH

Be sure to ride the 70-person tramcar, which whisks skiers and sightseers to the summit of Cannon Mountain in 8 minutes. Even in fog, the ride itself is fun. And here’s a little trivia – the bar at the top of the mountain serves the highest beer on tap in New Hampshire. May-October, $29 Combo Ticket with The Flume.

DRIVE/VISIT: Pinkham Notch 

Glen Ellis Falls

SEE: Glen Ellis Falls

You must park your car on the southbound side of 16, and take a tunnel to the other side to access this 64 ft. waterfall. Be aware, there are hundreds of steps down (and then up), but the payoff is worth it. It’s a spectacular cascade. Plan on 30 minutes, longer for slower walkers or for those who get winded easily climbing stairs.

Wildcat Gondola Ride, NH

RIDE: Wildcat Gondola

In winter, you take it to the summit to ski. In summer/fall, it’s for the views. The ride is slow and steady (13 minutes), but not worth it if visibility is nil – unless you are accessing the Appalachian Trail on top. In fog, best to try the 2,100 ft. Zip Line or play a game of Disc Golf, both available from the foot of the mountain. Mid June – Mid Oct, daily 10-5, $15. 

Main Street, Littleton NH

VISIT: Littleton, New Hampshire

As opposed to North Conway, a town most associated with White Mountains tourism, Littleton is a lived-in, community-minded burg filled with small town charm and optimism.

Pollyanna, Littleton NH

It’s no surprise that the author of Pollyanna, Eleanor Porter, was born and raised here. Naturally, there’s a statue of Pollyanna (in the guise of her Hollywood iteration, Haley Mills) at the entrance of the town library. But there are several other must-sees spots in Littleton, including:

Chutters, Littleton NH

SHOP: Chutters

Mike and Carol Hamilton opened Chutters in 1995. It has since become a stand-alone tourist destination, with The World’s Longest Candy Counter at 112 ft (Guinness World Book 2000).

Chutters is stocked with every kind of candy you or your kids have ever heard of. There’s all flavors of Jelly Belly’s, fruit slices, candy corn, chocolate shells, licorice twists, rainbow shoe lace licorice, sour everything, rock candy, gumi-fantasia (including 3-foot long gummi snakes, gummi flip-flops, gumi chicken feet), and tennis gumballs – all in jars lined up to infinity, and most priced by weight ($12.99 lb).

SEE: Jax, Jr. Theater

Jax Jr. Theater’s  retro façade probably hasn’t changed much since Bette Davis (who lived the next town over) arrived here for the premier of her movie, “The Big Lie,” in 1941.

Dan Solomon, Northern Lights Music, Littleton NH

SHOP: Northern Lights Music

Owner, Dan Solomon, loves of all guitars. But he especially adores  historic electrics (1955 Fender Telecaster – $26,000, 1956 Les Paul -$11,500), and Santa Cruz acoustics. Some are clad in the most stunning tigers-eye wood ever found gracing a musical instrument.

Riverwalk Gateway, Littleton NH

WALK: Riverwalk Gateway

Duck beneath the multi-colored umbrellas and head downstairs to the newly developed riverfront. Follow the walkway along the Ammonoosuk River to Harmony Park, where you can literally make music. pedestrian-only covered bridge, and the very hip and hot new tasting brewery, Schilling – in a 1796 mill building (see below).

RENT ATV: White Mountain ATV Rental, Gorham

Roam the offroads of Jericho Mountain State Park, or go on a guided Evening Moose Tour. 2-seater rentals, $158 for 2 hours, Moose Tours $60 per person.

Santa in residence at Santa's Village, NH

VISIT: Santa’s Village, Jefferson, NH

This tip of a hat to St. Nick has been a Presidential Highway (Rt. 2) attraction for generations, and you don’t have to be of the Christmas-celebrating persuasion to enjoy it. Begin by talking to Rudolph outside the main gate – an animatronics reindeer with keen listening and speaking (ok, human powered) skills.

Pay $36 for a full day of fun (per person), and stop in first at “Elf University” to pick up a punch card that you’ll use around the park, and then return for a gift.

Santa's Sleighride, Santa's Village NH

There are, in fact, gifts and rides aplenty here. Ride the monorail “Skyway Sleigh.” Seek out the Blacksmith who gives out Nail Rings in return for a smile. Decorate a Gingerbread Boy or Girl and then eat it.

Take a spin on the junior Roller Coaster, Antique Car Ride, A “Yuletide Log” Flume Ride, “You-Tubing Hill.” Check out the Disney-like “Jingle Bell Jamboree.” Get wet on the interactive multi-level water-park and water slide. And sit in a real 319-seat movie theater – cool when the heat gets to be too much outside. 

Roller Coaster, Santa's Village, Jefferson NH

Of course, Santa is in residence every day. And there’s one religious section of the park, marked by a large wooden cross – a gift from a guest who loved visiting every year – where guests love to pose in the human scale Manger Scene.

My absolute favorite spot, though, is the Reindeer Barn, where dozens of engaging, soft-antlered, doe-eyed animals nuzzle up for food (available from Santa’s elves).

Feeding Reindeer at Santa's Village, Jefferson NH

Santa’s Village, ever the family-friendly theme park, operates in all weather (staff will hand out umbrellas when it starts to rain), lends out strollers and wheelchairs for free, and allows visitors to bring in their own food. In November and December, the park is lit with 400,000 lights. Open Memorial Day to Weekend before Christmas, $36 (discounts for younger children and seniors), includes all rides and activities all day long.

Clarks Trading Post, NH

Things To Do In The White Mountains – Western Region

VISIT: Clark’s Trading Post, Lincoln

Yes, Clark’s sells over 10,000 lbs of fudge per year. But this complex is so much more than a gift shop. Plan on two hours or more to get an overview – more if you are a nostalgic type (or have kids in tow).

First opened in 1928 and now run by it’s fifth generation, Clarks began as an Eskimo Sled Dog Show and Souvenir Shop. It has since morphed into a Bear and Chinese Acrobat Show and Theme Park, with a brick Main Street that seems straight out of The Truman Show.

Ice Cream Fountain, Clarks Trading Post, NH

The Clark family has a tendency to import facades and whole structures (like a 120 ft. long, 30 ft high Covered Bridge) from other New England towns. Its museums are stocked with Americana sure to trigger nostalgia in many a boomer.

The counter at the Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor came from Jack Sharkey’s Bar in Boston. You’ll find a whole exhibit on Moxie Soda (ne, Tonic). Avery’s Garage features an authentic “Moxie Mobile,” complete with fiberglass horse.

Drink Moxie, Clarks Trading Post NH

Ride a steam train, scale a climbing wall, ride Segways and bumper boats, make your own candles, stuff your own toy (like Build a Bear, but cheaper), and of course shop.

But the reason most people come to Clark’s is for the Bear Show. Maureen Clark is the head bear trainer, and deems it a “privilege to work with them.” Right now, there are seven performing Black Bears – some were abandoned, some orphaned, some born here.

Maureen begins instruction early. She can quickly tell the difference between “showman” and shy. Training is compassionate and respectful of the bears.

“We don’t use whips, sticks or threatening devices,” she says. “What we do have are spoons and treats.” And though they seem domesticated, the bears are wild animals. “They still have all of their teeth and claws.” Respect, indeed. Open May – Oct (check website for times), $20 per person for all shows and activities.

Polar Caves, NH

VISIT: Polar Caves Park, Rumney (about 14 miles from Squam Lake)

Whenever the word “Fudge” shows up on a tourist attraction sign, I generally run the other way. But good thing I didn’t – because once you get past the fudge, the trinkets in the souvenir shop, the Gold-Panning, the Thai pheasants chasing each other in small cages, the petting zoo and duck pond, you get to what you REALLY came for: The Polar Caves.

Hiking Polar Caves, NH

Don’t expect caverns with stalagmites and stalactites. These series of haphazard boulders that seemed to have fallen hundreds of feet off the adjacent granite cliff (but are actually remnants from the last glacier) are arranged in such a way as to create the nooks and crannies perfect for squeezing through, up and around.

Though it helps to be a contortionist (or a kid) to get through some of these dozen passages that exhale cool air throughout the year (thus the name), parents and even grandparents in good shape love it, too. Daily 10-5  May – Mid Oct, $16.50 adults, $11.50 kids.

Lost River Gorge, White Mountains NH

TOUR: Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves, N. Woodstock

Combining elements of The Flume and Polar Caves, this attraction’s claim to fame is its intricately designed and wrought wooden stairways and boardwalks that weave in and around boulder caves throughout a narrow gorge.

In many cases, you’ll hear the river, but not see it. Hence the “Lost River” moniker. A fun way to get your dose of exercise and nature. Early May to Mid Oct, 9-6, $18 adults, $14 kids.

The Brick Store - Bath NH

VISIT: Bath NH

This tiny town is home to several terrific spots. One is “America’s Oldest General Store” – the 1790 Brick Storewith wide planked sloping porch. Outside, a cute outhouse-style smoker emits the delightfully pungent odor of smoking meats and fish. Inside there’s a whole array of quirky, trendy “down-home” products including  ‘Bacon Fudge Pops” for $2.59, and Brick Store brand sodas.

At The Hop 50’s Ice Cream Shop, Bath NH

Next door, though At The Hop 50’s Ice Cream Shop sells commercially made Hershey’s Ice Cream, the décor is absolutely one of a kind. Walk in just to see every inch of wall and ceiling blanketed with 45’s, posters and other memorabilia.

Artist Craig Pursely at his easel, Bath NH

One shop down, at the American Heritage Gallery of Art, find portrait and landscape artist, Craig Pursley, at his easel inside a buggy without wheels. He paints five days a week, and closes after foliage season when “there’s no heat, no insulation and no tourists.”

Dianas Bath, North Conway New Hampshire

Things To Do In The White Mountains – Eastern Region

HIKE/SWIM: Diana’s Bath, Bartlett (near N. Conway)

Walk 1.2 miles round trip to a series of cascading pools of water. Utterly enchanting. On weekends in the summer, you’ll be far from alone.

New England Postcard, Tamworth NH

VISIT: Tamworth

I know it’s already a cliché, but this really is the “Quintessential New England Village” – as plenty of postcards are of this particular Church and farm. Tamworth is increasingly notable for several reasons:

Remick Country Doctor Museum, Tamworth NH

Remick Country Doctor Museum and Farm 

If you’ve ever been curious about the life of dedicated, tireless country doctors, spend a few hours here. Father and son doctors, both Edwin Remick (though the son was Edwin Crafts Remick) saw to this farming community for a total of 99 years between them.

For most of that time, the Remicks were the only physicians in Tamworth. They saw patients from this remarkably pretty homestead until the death of “Younger Remick” in 1993.

Pharmacy at Remick Country Doctor Museum, Tamworth NH

The young Dr. Remick donated his home, his father’s home, and the farm to be run as a museum so that future generations would know what the life of a country doctor was like in the 20th century.

A tour here is a fascinating and stereotype-busting exploration of that life.

Touring the 1808 Captain Enoch Remick House brings you through the doctor’s office and home. It  had been an inn before it was left to the older Remick in 1904. Upon his father’s death in 1935, Dr. Edwin Crafts Remick took over the office and continued his father’s work for 58 more years until his own death in 1993.

Doctor Remicks Office, Tamworth NH

The office, though small and compact, is a revelation. Left as it looked in 1993, the doctor’s desk, a small changing area, an examination table, and medical implements were all crammed in one room.

The pharmacy stood inches away, in the former inn dining room, its cabinets still full of tinctures and remedies.

Patient Ledger, Remick County Doctor Museum, Tamworth NH

Curators discovered a 1948 ledger and turned it to Jan 3. It itemized the few dozen patients seen that day, what they paid, reason for visit, and if they paid in cash or “other.”

The Older Doctor graduated medical school in 1894. The younger, from Tufts, in the early 1930’s. Together, they saw to generations of locals – mostly to remove fishhooks and teeth, deliver babies, and treat ailments.

Dr and Marion Remick House, Remick Country Doctor Museum, Tamworth NH

Enter the Visitor’s Center through the younger Remick’s home – a very modest house on the street that he lived in while practicing medicine in his father’s home.

Exploring the Remick Home

Upstairs is staged as it might have looked around the 40’s, when food rations were in effect and people sat around the radio, listening to the latest Fireside Chat from FDR.

A poster detailing “A Day in the Life of a Country Doctor” provides perspective on this vocation. These men were certainly not in it for the money. In 1929, an office visit was $1. A house call $3. By 1993, an office visit was $17.50, house call $30.

Both father and son tended to animals on their farm, and ran a dairy which supplied pasteurized milk to local schools. You can still pick up meats, eggs, and herbs from an herbalist on site and see farm animals on a half mile path around the farm through the woods. Open year round Mon-Fri 10-4, Summer Mon-Fri 9-5, Sat. 9-4. $5 admission.

Barnstormers Theater, Tamworth NH

Barnstormers Theater – A professional theater since 1931, this was one of America’s first Summer Stock theaters and still going strong.

Tamworth Distillery, NH

Tamworth Distillery and Mercantile

This modern, barn-like place – a “test kitchen” for Philadelphia’s funky Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction –  is one cool “organic” distillery. Distillers pick plants from a backyard garden to create “herb-infused spirits.” Come in for a complimentary sip of White Mountain Vodka, or Eau De Vie unaged apple brandy from heirloom apples. Good stuff.

Lyceum Market, Tamworth NH

Tamworth Lyceum

 A new upscale rustic market with great sandwiches like the Peanut Butter, Banana, Honey on Baguette.

DRIVE: Kancamagus Highway

Opened in 1958, this 32 ½ mile long East-West Federally Designated Scenic Byway is replete with natural and man made features. Traveling from Conway to Lincoln see: 

Albany Bridge, The Kank Highway NH

Albany Covered Bridge

A lovely traditional bridge over the clear Swift River.

Lower Falls, White Mountains NH

Lower Falls

Take along your bathing suit and chill out on large, smooth rocks on the river. Great for flume riding on hot days. A very popular spot.

Rocky Gorge Scenic Area

 A mini Franconia Notch Flume. Continue across the bridge to a tranquil Falls Pond to beat the crowds.

Scenic Views – pull over where instructed for great White Mountain views.

EXPLORE: North Conway

This town is the touristiest in the White Mountains, and for that reason, I will leave it up to other writers to cover it. There are plenty of hotels, inns, restaurants and shops (including outlets) here to keep you busy for days.

View on hut to hut hike in the White Mountains

Hut To Hut Hiking: White Mountains

One of the most extraordinary things to do in the White Mountains is to hike from hut to hut, high up above the clouds. The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) runs several lodges–some like the Highland Center Lodge in Crawford Lodge–accessible by car. 

Highland Center is a great base for exploring the White Mountains on its own, or as a jumping off point for hikes. And the hut to hut system is a fantastic way to go far on strenuous trails, without having to lug full packs.

AMC Greenleaf Hut in the White Mountains

Our 5 Day Hut to Hut Itinerary worked out as follows:

  • Day 1) Stop at The Brick Store in Bath NH for snacks; Stay at Highland Center Lodge
  • Day 2) Shuttle from Highland Center to Old Bridle Path Trailhead; Hike to Lonesome Lake Hut (1.6 miles)
  • Day 3) Hike from Lonesome Lake Hut to Greenleaf Hut (4.1 miles)
  • Day 4) Hike from Greenleaf Hut to Galehead Hut (6.6 miles)
  • Day 5) Hike from Galehead Hut to Zealand Falls Hut (3.7 miles)

Best Restaurants White Mountains NH

Waterwheel Breakfast and Gift Shop, Jefferson NH

EAT/BREAKFAST ALL DAY: Waterwheel Breakfast and Gift Shop, Jefferson

In an antique Sugar House, Waterwheel, known for its thin, but hubcap sized crepe-like buttermilk pancakes has been packing ‘em in due to rave reviews.

Trish and Kevin Arakelian purchased this stand-alone gift shop (on Route 2 – the Presidential Highway between Gorham and Jefferson) in 1999, adding a homey restaurant component.

Try the Mount Washington – 4 pancakes, three eggs, home fries and bacon for $11. Or just go for the very yummy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Pancakes. One will do you just fine.

Cascade Coffee House, NH

COFFEE/PICNIC: Cascade Coffee Shop, N. Woodstock

Just a couple of miles from Clark’s Trading Post, this urban-style deli is the best for artisanal coffees, meals in a bowl, sandwiches and wraps. Order a sandwich to go.

Windy Ridge Orchards Wine, NH

EAT/LUNCH: Windy Ridge Orchard and Cider Mill Café/ 7 Birches Winery, North Haverhill

Far from town, this windy hilltop spot, formerly just an apple orchard, now features a great lunch Café and tasting room for homemade Apple and Blueberry Wines (under the 7 Birches name).

A family destination as well (with outdoor playground), you can munch on great donuts and pick your own apples and blueberries. You can also taste fruity and more traditional wines in a lovely Craig Pursley Art Gallery/7 Birches Winery Tasting Room, and pick up apples ($6.50 half peck), wine, honey, books, homemade peanut butter and local crafts in the gift shop. Café open June 15-Labor Day, Gift Shop open till Dec. when Windy Ridge turns into a Christmas Tree Farm.

Barry the Bartender at Adair Country Inn, Bethlehem NH

EAT/DINNER: Adair Country Inn, Bethlehem 

I’d stake the Salmon with Bourbon BBQ Sauce ($25) over greens against any dish in New Hampshire – it’s that good. As are the other farm-to-table offerings on the menu. If you’re dining solo, ask to eat in the atmospherically dark and clubby bar area, where amiable bartender, Barry, will make sure you don’t feel so alone.

EAT/DINNER: Stickney’s at Mt. Washington Hotel, Bretton Woods

Even if you don’t stay in the Grand Hotel most identified with NH’s White Mountains, a meal here will give you an idea of what it’s like. Stickney’s is first and foremost a steakhouse. Steaks are grilled in Montegue Ovens at 1800 degrees, and served with the most spectacular Garlic Fingerling Potatoes (Filet Mignon – $36-$42 for 8oz and 10oz).

1865 Wine Cellar Restaurant at Mountain View Grand Hotel, NH

EAT/PROPOSE: 1865 Wine Cellar at Mountain View Grand Hotel.

Snuggle with your honey among the bottles of vino in this uber romantic restaurant.

Schilling Beer, Littleton NH

DRINK/DINNER: Schilling Beer Co, Littleton

Opened in 2013, out of staters have discovered this cool spot inside a 1796 mill building right on a rapid river. Views are great, beer is wonderful, and even the flatbread from a wood-fire oven is terrific.

The Wentworth Hotel

EAT/DINNER: The Wentworth, Jackson

Even before you’re filled with admiration for the food, there’s the menu. Not exactly what’s written on it, though you’ll find classic dishes like Mussels and Veal entrees in the $20’s, and tweaks on the classics like Cucumber Mellon Gazpacho.

Open up the hefty menu, though, and the thing lights up like a Kindle. Though it’s not the only reason you should book a table in this very elegant, Venetian Glass votive lit, linen-clothed table dining room, it is certainly a conversation piece, and one that you’ll be discussing over a lovely dinner.

EAT/LOCAL FAVES: Locals and guests alike also rave about the Red Fox Bar & Grill and the Christmas Farm Inn.

White Mountains NH Hotels

Room at Adair Country Inn, Bethlehem NH

STAY: Adair Country Inn, Bethlehem

Owned by Cathy and Joel Bedor (who also co-own the Mt. Washington Cog Railway) this exclusive 11-room hideaway is just seconds off of I-93, though so quiet and tranquil, you’d never know it.

Built by Frank Hogan (attorney for Teddy Roosevelt) as a wedding gift for his daughter in 1927, this elegant establishment was home to Dorothy Adair Guilder until her passing in 1991.

Dorothy’s hats, and her husband’s books, including a signed copy of Ulysses S. Grant’s Personal Memoirs, were kept as reminders of these former residents.

Adair Country Inn Garden, Bethlehem NH

The inn and its 200 acres of landscaped grounds, designed by the sons of Frederick Law Olmstead, are preserved as if time has stood still. Each room features a billowing luxurious featherbed and other stately appointments.

It is the height of privilege to sit on the patio overlooking the lush gardens, sipping a glass of wine, before heading into the dinning room or the darkly atmospheric former library, now a fabulous bar, for dinner (see Where to Eat). Rooms from $199 – $349 include gourmet breakfast (with popovers), afternoon tea with homemade treats. 

Mountain View Grand, NH

STAY: Mountain View Grand Hotel, Whitefield

Called Mountain View House when first opened in 1865, this Grand Hotel was closed for 16 years. It reemerged in 2002 beautifully renovated. Views of the White Mountains are spectacular, the gardens are stunning, and the 1865 Wine Cellar Restaurant has earned a reputation as a popular place to pop the question.

Even if you don’t stay here, ask to see the Oldest Operating Elevator in New Hampshire. And if you do, sign up for Axe Throwing, a unique “way to unwind” for guests over 15. There’s a movie theater, indoor pool, “Meet the Farmer” tours, and plenty for couples and families to do. Rooms start at $229 per night.

Bretton Woods Mount Washington Hotel, NH

STAY: Omni Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Woods

The most recognizable of the three Grand Hotels remaining in New Hampshire (two in the White Mountains – see above, and one in Portsmouth), this imposing white and red resort is easily identified from afar.

The soaring, massive lobby with crystal chandeliers is both hushed and bustling. Verandas in the front and back are stocked with chairs, where patrons sip beverages while drinking in majestic views. Rates from $200 per night (does not include taxes of $57).

STAY: Thayers Inn, Littleton

Built in 1843, this historic landmark hotel has hosted several presidents and many presidential hopefuls who pontificated from the portico overlooking Main Street.

Guestroom Inn at Elllis River, Jackson NH

STAY: Inn at Ellis River, Jackson

Homey, cozy and country-cute, the Inn at Ellis River may not top some of the review charts. But tell that to guests who rave about the place and keep coming back.

Part of the reason is the setting –right on a stone-dappled river. Partly its because the owners, John and Mary Kendzierski, who purchased the 22-room inn in early 2015 after staying here multiple times over the last 18 years, have put their heart and soul into running it.

Bar and Billiards, Inn at Ellis River, Jackson NH

There’s no denying that the spotless rooms with wrought iron or carved beds, quilts, and flat screen TV’s, and John’s fresh-baked scones, croissants and featured hot dishes delivered with a friendly smile each morning create a nurturing, cocooning atmosphere.

Pool, Inn at Ellis River, Jackson NH

But the extras, like the inviting swimming pool on a hot day, and the billiards room with full bar popular with gatherings of friends or family reunions, sets Inn at Ellis River apart.

Breakfast room, Inn at Ellis River, Jackson NH

Breakfast is served in an adorable bright dining room, where you can choose to keep your conversation to your own table, or engage other guests in discussion (my choice). Rooms and suites from $159-$359. Includes made to order gourmet breakfast, bottles of water, snacks, use of pool, billiards room, wi-fi.

The Wentworth Hotel, Jackson NH

STAY: The Wentworth, Jackson

Not to be confused with Portsmouth’s Wentworth By the Sea, this 61 room in-town inn, considered a “Mini-Grand Hotel” is “country” of a different sort – more French Provincial than American cute.

Renovated in 1991 by Swiss-born Fritz Koeppel to elegant effect, redone Deluxe Rooms sport a streamlined mint green/orange pallet with new mattresses, fireplace, huge flat screen TV’s, marble bath, steam shower and private hot tubs.

“It’s all about the guest experience. The owners have spared no expense.” Standard rooms start at $133 offseason, $167 in season. Deluxe rooms starting at  $347 include breakfast.

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