Kidcations in Mt Washington Valley, NH
Traveling with the kids isn’t always the first choice, but for families with grade school children, summer time means family time. This summer, we decided to take the family vacation in Mt Washington Valley, NH. This little corner of New Hampshire, surrounded by 660,000 acres of White Mountain National Forest, is perfect given all the outdoor adventure, great kid-friendly attractions, and lodging and dining choices. We had no trouble finding two fabulous kid-friendly lodging choices. Given my penchant to experience as many inns as possible, we decided to "sleep around the Valley" and therefore experienced two great inns which really have accommodating both kids and adults figured out well.
Our first night was spent at Whitney’s Inn in Jackson, NH. Set at the base of Black Mountain (, a popular family ski resort in winter and horseback riding destination in summer, we were so impressed with everything offered here. Don Bilger, Whitney's owner, says the three P's are the key to his success - pool, pub and pond. While there's so much to do in Jackson and the surrounding Mt Washington Valley, the Bilgers have created a little destination oasis here, so for those in search of total relaxation, there's no need to have to leave.
Because this was a "kidcation" we stayed in a family suite in the building adjacent to the main inn. The kids were thrilled that they'd have their own room with a TV then quickly pointed out that there was another TV in the bedroom. The kids slept on a fold out couch in the spacious living room, which also had a kitchenette and dining area, plus a gas fireplace and a lovely patio overlooking the rest of the inn complex and Black Mountain. The entire inn was renovated within the last year, after the Bilgers bought it. The Adirondack-style log furniture and mirrors framed with branches are all complimented by quilts embroidered with pine cones, pine boughs and whimsical bear-moose-porcupine fabrics. I got the chance to see a few of the rooms at the inn, which also offered the beautiful hand-carved pine beds and Adirondack decor. They were quiet and romantic and offered just the right amenities - private fireplaces and beautiful views.
my daughter, Calli, swimming at Whitney's Inn
The kids and I headed immediately for the pool, and made quick use of the very cool pool toys. The inn also offers a beautiful pond stocked with trout. There are paddle boats there too. Just pick up a fishing rod and worms from the inn, and you're set for an afternoon of fun. My little girl was afraid to go over the bridge leading to the pond, for fear of the troll she believed lived underneath! (Note to self: lay off on the scary fairy tales!).
Breakfast was beautifully served in a dining room overlooking horses grazing and Black Mountain trails. I can't imagine how beautiful this will be in the fall. There were six or seven breakfast entree choices, with lots of kid-and-adult-friendly choices. During the summer, the majority of guests are families filling the dining room. However, very aware of the need for couples to have a relaxing place to dine, they also offer a separate, lovely quiet dining room for adults. The food was outstanding.
The inn also has a restaurant and pub, which we didn't get the chance to visit, but makes for the perfect destination. Whether you're a traveling family or a couple seeking romance, Whitney's is ideal.
From there, we moved on to the Cranmore Mountain Lodge in North Conway, NH. Here's another place that has accommodating families figured out! As a former pre-school owner, Frederique (who to my surprise was a woman), the co-owner of the Lodge, has filled the children's living room with quality toys, action figures, trucks, board games and more. A large TV is found here too. For adults, an adjacent living room offers leather couches and a guitar and grand piano. You name it, and the kid/teen diversions are here including a pool, hot tub, ping pong table, stocked pond for fly fishing, tennis court, barn and built-in playmates (there are three children/teens in residence).
There are a wide variety of room choices from the bunkroom, offering climbers and hikers the ideal place for showering and a warm bed for $30 per person to pet-friendly suites that'll accommodate up to a group of ten. Many rooms offer multiple beds, some with bunk beds too. For history buffs, the Babe Ruth room, where the Babe actually slept, is filled with wonderful letters, memorabilia and photos. All rooms have private baths, phones and a free wi-fi signal is easily found throughout the property.
Breakfast is hearty and delicious. The Kid's Menu sports twelve choices from eggs to pancakes, to a grilled cheese or a McLodge sandwich. The adult menu is equally diverse and breakfasts will keep you going for a long time. My kids loved the cocoa with whipped cream. I loved the homemade applesauce. I was impressed to see they offer a number of gluten-free options including a gluten-free French Toast and cereals.
my daughter, Kim Han, enjoying cocoa for breakfast at Cranmore Mountain Lodge
The Cranmore Mountain Lodge is a member of NH Sustainable Lodging, and has fully embraced an active recycling and reuse program. Breakfasts are complimented by herbs and offerings from the inn's organic garden. Throughout the inn, chem-free cleaners are used and while AC is available, windows in rooms open to allow mountain breezes, making AC unnecessary. A towel re-use program and partnership programs with local businesses help to remind guests to travel lightly.
There are so many great family attractions in Mt Washington Valley. It's surrounded by 660,000 acres of White Mountain National Forest, so hiking, biking, waterfalls and wildlife watching options abound. We attended the free Wednesday family hike at Wildcat Mountain. It was a guided hike with a naturalist from Tin Mountain Conservation Center. The kids loved playing mini golf at White Mountain Family Golf. We visited the Weather Discovery Center, the only museum in the country dedicated to weather, and got to experience the recreation of recording the highest winds in history atop Mt Washington in 1931 (231 mph, a record that's never been exceeded). Then topped off our visit with my children’s' favorite amusement park, Story Land (storylandnh.com), where story book fantasy rules. We loved the shows there, including a real circus! We were thrilled to be able to attend the family Bar-B-Q at Eagle Mountain House. On top of a scrumptious dinner of chicken, ribs, burgers, dogs and cookies, they offered a blow-up bouncy house, face painting, lawn games and even a bon fire for s’mores all topped off by a gorgeous view of Crawford Notch and beyond. After dinner, each family attending receives their s’mores kit complete with marshmallows, graham crackers and Hershey bars.
my children enjoying children's games at the Eagle Mountain House
I met a family from New Jersey vacationing here too. They were amazed at the affordability and scenic beauty of Mt Washington Valley. They told me a family vacation at the Jersey Shore would have cost twice as much. They also marveled at the beauty of the White Mountains region.
Whether it’s an immediate or extended family vacation, Mt Washington Valley, NH has just what you want to need Mom, Dad, Grandparents and all the kids happy.
For more information on visiting Mt Washington Valley, call 1-800-DO-SEE-NH (800-367-3364) or visit www.Mtwashingtonvalley.org. For information on family friendly B&Bs and inns, visit www.BedandBreakfast.com.
Marti Mayne is the B&B Editor for Wandering Educators.