Family Vacation Ideas in New Hampshire's White Mountains

Mount Washington, New Hampshire
Panoramic Images/Getty Images

The White Mountains in northern New Hampshire are a four-season getaway, with a national forest, sensational scenery, as well as some fun attractions such as scenic railroads, gorges, Santa's Village, and more.

Mount Washington Valley

Twenty-seven towns dot the Mount Washington Valley and the area is fabulous for backroad drives through pretty farmland, over covered bridges, and natural swimming holes in parks and public areas. 

As the highest peak east of the Mississippi, Mount Washington is king of the White Mountains range, and at its base is National Historic Landmark Omni Mount Washington Resort with a 900-foot verandah, summer kids camp and winter skiing at Bretton Woods. The Omni Mount Washington Resort offers many outdoor activities and an Adventure Center with family packages.

Don't miss a ride on the historic Mount Washington Cog Railway, which which makes the climb to the 6,288 foot summit, where you can can take in the spectacular panoramic view spanning the mountains and valleys of New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont, north into Canada, and east to the Atlantic Ocean.

In nearby North Conway, Red Jacket Mountain View Resort is a kid-friendly hotel offering family-size guestrooms (and two-bedroom townhomes), an arcade, and a 40,000-square-foot indoor water park with water slides, activity area, and kiddie zone.

Love to cycle? Bike the Whites offers three-day inn-to-inn biking tours combining the Great Outdoors, good meals, and luxury accommodations. Billed as "New England’s most affordable inn to inn biking tour," the outfitters lets you plan a route at your own pace each day; maybe stop by a swimming hole or picnic spot. Expect to ride 20 to 50 miles /day on backroads in rolling terrain. Packages include luggage transfer, breakfasts and dinners, emergency repairs, bike storage, customized route planning.

Lost River Gorge

How cool is an underground waterfall in the White Mountain National Forest? Discovered more than a century ago, the Lost River Gorge in North Woodstock offers underground caves, many still lit with lanterns, that visitors can explore on self-guided tours over wooden walkways, bridges, even ladders. Kids can get a Junior Gorge Guide sticker at the end of the visit.

Waterville Valley

Best known as a winter ski area, Waterville Valley is a good-value, kid-friendly getaway spot with year-round outdoors fun. Waterville Valley is also home to the Curious George Cottage, the summer home of H.A. Rey and Margret Rey, creators of the Curious George series of children’s books.

Appalachian Mountain Club

Love outdoor adventures? The Appalachian Mountain Club Highland Center at Crawford Notch offers many free programs and seasonal all-inclusive packages that include lodging, meals, activities, and gear. All-inclusive Summer Family Adventure Camps are offered with daily guided activities, outdoor skills programs, and evening programs. For the hearty, there are lodge-to-hut multi-day trips in the fall.

Camping in the White Mountains

The White Mountains offer plenty of wonderful camping opportunities at national forest campgrounds, state parks, private campgrounds, and in backcountry. See Camping for more on camping in the White Mountains.

- Edited by Suzanne Rowan Kelleher

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