Our family has had a pretty incredible summer in the White Mountains. We’ve gone hiking and camping, found some swimming holes to cool off in, and spent time with family and friends. There is still so much we want to do and luckily summer is not over! We still have two weeks to explore the White Mountains, and many of the 17 Attractions will be open weekends through Columbus Day, or beyond! Check out what is still on our bucket list this summer and consider adding them to yours!
We love the zipline course at Alpine Adventures, but this summer we want to try their Thrillsville Aerial Adventure Park for a dose of adrenaline. This self-guided tour includes bridges, cargo nets, rope ladders, a small zipline, a climbing tower, and a simulated free fall. I think the kids are most excited about getting some air on the BigAirBag Stuntzone.
Attitash Mountain Resort is one the mountains we make sure to get to each winter. We also have to hit up the Mountain Coaster and Alpine Slide while we’re there in the summer. One thing we were really interested in doing is their waterslides. Did you know that they are the only outdoor waterslides in the Mount Washington Valley? Choose between 3 different routes on the Aquaboggen Slides and go through hairpin turns, and tunnels before landing in the pool. Slide down the Sidewinder Tube Slides on one of their 3-person rafts. We’re looking forward to splashing around at Attitash this summer.
Which tram car do you like best at the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway…Mustard or Ketchup? It’s always a toss-up with our family. Both cars are a lot of fun and get you to the summit of Cannon Mountain (4,080’) in about 7 minutes. Once you get to the top, the view is incredible and you can even get a bite to eat at the top. One thing we really enjoy doing is walking along the Rim Trail which heads to the Observation Tower. This is the perfect little walk, only 1500 feet, to get to the tower, and you are surrounded by the wonderful smell of pine trees, and incredible views of Franconia Notch.
One thing we have been meaning to do is get an old-fashioned picture taken of us at Kilburn’s Photo Parlor at Clark’s Bears. The staff at the Parlor have been taking silly and fun old time photos of families for 40 year and this will be our year! Half of the fun is rummaging through and trying on the many costume and prop combinations on their envious costume racks. Photos are printed for you and you have unique memory of your time at Clark’s. After getting your photo taken, walk down their authentic looking Main Street and wander through the museums, shops, and ice cream shop.
Our family loves to eat, and we especially enjoy unique dining experiences. The kids are also train fanatics, so we are intrigued by the dining cars at the Conway Scenic Railroad. They run different trains throughout the day where you can either enjoy lunch or dinner on board. The Notch excursion offers a 3-course lunch as you ride through incredible scenery to Crawford Notch, the Conway excursion is a shorter ride and is a great option for families with small children, and the Bartlett excursion serves either lunch or dinner on a relaxing ride “over the river and through the woods”. Bon Appetit!
Cranmore Mountain Resort is such a great mountain for our kids to ski at, but it is also an exciting summer playground as well. The chair lift will bring you to the top for ice cream, and we have had so much fun exploring the Aerial Adventure Park and the Mountain Coaster. This summer, the kids are excited to check out the Soaring Eagle Zip Line which is located at the base of Cranmore. You feel like you are flying as you accelerate 700 feet down the mountainside along a cable.
We always make sure to go to the Flume Gorge in the summer and this year will be no different. It’s a great place to get in a quick walk, see a beautiful waterfall, and surround yourself with nature. The Visitor Center has an informative 20-minute video to watch, a café, and a gift shop with White Mountains souvenirs. Once you walk past Avalanche Falls, you have the option of taking the shorter path back to the visitor center, but we’re going to take the longer route which is a less steep path with beautiful views and you can walk across the Sentinel Pine Bridge, which was built from a large pine tree that fell in 1938, and look down into the waters of the Pool. This will be the perfect chance to get some nice family photos!
When our family wants a nice, relaxing experience, we head to the Hobo Railroad. The train ride itself is a 1 hour and 20 minute ride along the Pemigewasset River and we learn a lot about the natural and historic aspects of the region from the conductor. We’re going to make sure to head to not miss out on the Hobo’s Nature by Rail series, where a naturalist from the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center does a presentation on animal behavior and brings an animal like a porcupine or owl. The last two presentations are August 24 and 31, so if you miss those, the Hobo is open through mid-October and you can check out their Superhero themed Cornstalk Critters.
The kids love the gondola at Loon Mountain Resort because it’s a quick and scenic way to get to the top of the mountain. We all love the stunning views from Herbert’s Observation Tower, and exploring the extensive trail system. But one thing we are all excited about this summer is the glacial caves. Didn’t know Loon Mountain had glacial caves at the summit? You’ll have to check them out like we are. The boulders that make up the caves were deposited during the last ice age and the cave system meanders through the forest for an out of this world experience.
Have you found Lost River Gorge & Boulder Caves? We find it every summer! One thing we hadn’t discovered was their Evening Guided Lantern Tours. Such a fun concept! You get to see the caves at night with only the light of lanterns and headlamps (and a friendly and knowledgeable guide!) to get you through. For a delicious end to your tour, stay for a campfire and s’mores.
Our car has climbed Mount Washington several times on the Mount Washington Auto Road, which is a 6 mile, mostly paved road to the summit of Mount Washington. There are many scenic overlooks that you can stop at for photo opps or just drive straight on through. If driving yourself is not for you, you can opt to have a guide drive you in one of their Stage Coach vans. This summer, we plan on exploring the Alpine Garden Trail whose trailhead starts around the 6-mile marker point on the Auto Road. This is about a 3.0 mile out and back trail which brings you to the Alpine Garden Research Natural Area. The flowers and plants you’ll see can only be found at this altitude, which is pretty fascinating.
What a spectacular year to visit the Mount Washington Cog Railway as they are celebrating 150 years of rail service to the summit of Mount Washington. Back when Sylvester Marsh had the idea for the railway, people thought it was a crazy idea and told him he should build a “Railway to the Moon”. So, in theory, he did. As you take the hour long ride to the summit, marvel in the history of this incredible technological feat. I think we’ll be wearing party hats and blowing out a candle on a cupcake as we sing “Happy Birthday” as we ride the rails. Too much? Not nearly enough!
Polar Caves Park is on our summer bucket list each summer and the kids love exploring the nine granite caves, the Animal Park, and the Baker River Mining Sluice. This summer though, the kids are going to prove how brave they are by climbing the Glacial Wall. It’s a great first foray into outdoor rock climbing and there are varying levels depending on age and ability. There are natural and man-made foot and hand holds to help you make it to the top. There is a more advanced option called the Polar Ascent which is a guided experience that challenges the participant to navigate a 172 foot long iron way and then rappel back down to base camp.
Santa’s Village is one of those theme parks that the kids request to visit here summer. As a family, we have our favorite rides and activities; the Elfabet Game, feeding the reindeer and getting rings for the whole family at the Reindeer Shoe Blacksmith Shop. It’s easy to spend an entire day at Santa’s Village and not do everything. One ride we will not be missing this summer is You Tubing. I feel that this ride gets overlooked and it is quite a blast. Everyone grabs a tube then heads up the magic carpet to the top. (Incredible views await you from here!) Hop in your tube then slide down the hill. You can either go down by yourself, in tandem, or race a friend.
I used to visit Story Land as a kid, and it’s fun sharing that nostalgia with the kids year after year. While some rides stay the same like the Bumper Cars, the Bamboo Chutes, and the Woman in the Shoe, some change, and are made all the more awesome. We’re really excited to see how the Safari ride has been transformed into the Rap-Tour Safari. The kids love dinosaurs so I am sure this will be a highlight of their summer. The premise of the ride is that the safari tour guide is missing and the kids have to solve the mystery of where the guide is. Dino fun ensues!
Summer is not complete without a visit to Whale’s Tale Waterpark. I love that the kids can enjoy the waterslides, tubes, and wavepool, and the adults can enjoy the lazy river or just relax on a beach chair and everyone is safe and having fun. One feature that is super cool is Shipwreck Island. It’s fun for the entire family as there are slides, tubes, and a large bucket that dumps water when it gets too full. We head here first and spend most of our day here.
Wildcat Mountain is big on views and summer fun. We love taking the gondola to the summit and just staring in awe at the sweeping view of Mount Washington. We usually bring a picnic lunch up to the top and spend some time just relaxing. Our family has recently become interested in disc golf, and we were excited to find out that Wildcat’s Alpine Disc Golf is an 18-hole course that you access from the Snowcat Chairlift and work your way back down the mountain. The kids better watch out…mom loves to have fun but she can also be quite competitive.