Lucy Pares grabs her scarf and heads to New Hampshire for a snow-filled adventure
I’ve only visited New Hampshire in the summer and, as such, have enjoyed warmer activities such as wakeboarding, hiking and playing around in speedboats on the lake. So, it’s safe to say I was sceptical about our winter-sports itinerary as we flew into Boston Logan airport. But by the time our return journey was upon us, I was convinced that the state is a perfect destination for snow loving families.
Our whirlwind tour began at Mill Falls at the Lake hotel, a cosy rustic group of inns an hour-and-a-half’s drive from the airport. Located in Meredith, next to Lake Winnipesaukee (try pronouncing that), Mill Falls at the Lake has four different inns to choose from. We stayed at Church Landing, where each room boasts a cosy fireplace and sofa area, with a balcony looking out over the snow-covered lake. It made for a wonderfully restful sleep.
In the morning we ate in The Lakehouse Grille, the in-house restaurant, where we were greeted by very friendly, slightly eccentric staff, who promptly offered me cream in my coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice and a huge plate of French toast. Fed and watered, we headed over to Alpine Adventures in Lincoln, a 45-minute drive away. Alpine Adventures own six-wheeled Swiss Army transport vehicles, called Pinzgauers, perfectly built for offroading adventures.
With a leg up from our guide, I clambered into the back of the truck and we set off on a bumpy (but not uncomfortable) journey to see the panoramic views of the White Mountains. Offroading is great for a family adventure, as each vehicle can take up to 11 passengers and anyone over the age of three can ride. Don’t forget to wrap up warm and wear waterproof clothing, as the vehicles have open sides to allow for the best views.
Next stop was Loon Mountain, only a 15-minute drive from Alpine Adventures, to go ziplining. We zoomed 700ft across the Pemigewasset River and then back again on a higher line. Two expert instructors instilled us with confidence as they checked and rechecked our harnesses, then one stayed at the start with us, to encourage the nervous over the edge of the platform, and the other caught us at the other end. There’s no minimum age for ziplining, but there is a minimum weight of 23kg and a round trip (across the river and back) costs an affordable £22.
Loon Mountain is an easy place to base yourselves for an entire day. There’s no chance of the kids getting fidgety, as there’s a host of activities available, including ice-skating, snowshoeing, downhill skiing, cross-country skiing and indoor climbing.
After an action-packed day, we reached our destination for the night, the Mountain View Grand Resort. Built in 1865, this enormous resort is steeped in history, with the oldest elevator in the whole of New Hampshire, still manned by a concierge.
We pulled up in front of the resort and were greeted by clear views of the White Mountains, then welcomed warmly into a large, and very grand, lobby area. To say the Mountain View is a large hotel is an understatement – it’s huge – yet it still manages to retain the cosy charm of a smaller establishment, with its comfy armchairs, squashy sofas and flickering fires. Not just a hotel, Mountain View Grand Resort offers a plethora of activities, ranging from the gentle and relaxing to the active and bizarre – we toured the on-site ‘fiber farm’ in the morning, and were throwing axes by lunchtime (not as dangerous as it might sound!). The morning tour of the farm is perfect for youngsters. We met Bruce, an attention-seeking rooster, and Chippy, the llama who thinks he’s a sheep. We cuddled the goats, and helped collect chicken eggs. It’s hands-on, fun and heart-warming to see how well the farm workers know and care for each animal. Other activities the resort offers include mountaineering, dog-sledding and golf. For those who want a bit of peace and quiet, you can climb to the top floor and enjoy the tower spa with its infinity hot tub and striking views.
There’s also an in-house movie theatre for a cosy family night in. With an active morning at Mountain View Resort behind us, we hopped in the car and headed over to Northern Extremes in Bartlett (about a half-an-hour’s drive) to go on a snowmobile tour. There, Bob kitted us out with snowpants, jackets, gloves, moon boots and helmets, so if you don’t have any gear, don’t panic. Just remember to wear plenty of warm layers. The tour was exhilarating, and got the adrenaline pumping with speeds of up to 45mph. We followed a winding trail that zig-zagged up the side of a mountain, through the trees, and gave us incredible views when we reached the top. When we stopped, our highly entertaining guides had us throwing ourselves on the floor making snow angels and diving for cover as they started snowball fight after snowball fight.
We only booked a one-hour excursion, but I’d definitely recommend a longer trip for such a fantastic family activity. Kids need to be older than five to ride as a passenger, and you must have a driving licence to operate the skidoo.
Our final accommodation pit stop was Christmas Farm Inn & Spa, where we enjoyed a wholesome, not to mention enormous, supper with Sandra and Gary, the lovely owners. Christmas Farm Inn is a collection of lodges dotted on the hillside above the main house, forming a small community of beautifully rustic, and very cosy, cabins. When staying here with kids, it’s best to either opt for a barn studio or one of the seven uniquely decorated cottages. The barn studios, which used to be haylofts, have been converted into four two-storey apartments and are perfect for multi-generational holidays or groups of friends. The cottages are the definition of charming, with their large sitting areas and fireplaces. These are great for smaller families, as they have two bedrooms in each, with a shared sitting room and a sofabed. Kids aged 12 and under stay free, and there’s a generous children’s menu in the restaurant.
One of New Hampshire’s most quirky attractions is right on the doorstep. The Remick Country Doctor Museum & Farm, a 200-year-old working farm, is the only country doctor museum in New England, and one of only three in the United States.
We enjoyed a Christmassy open-hearth maple-syrup-cooking experience, and a tour of the sugar shack plus a ‘sugar on snow tasting’ – a time-honoured tradition of sweet maple syrup drizzled on snow that makes for a surprisingly delicious icy treat. An early start the following morning meant we sleepily threw our ski gear on and headed to breakfast, where Sandra and Gary filled us up with French toast, fresh fruit and yet more of that delicious locally made maple syrup. We needed the energy, as we were headed over to Attitash for a last ski before our flight home that evening.
At the bottom of the mountain, we were greeted by our very friendly (and patient) instructors, who fitted us with skis, boots and poles and helped us hoist ourselves onto the ski lift for a morning of hair whipping, face-freezing skiing. Attitash is very scenic, with wide runs cascading downwards, winding through the trees, with clear views of Mount Washington across the valley. New Hampshire. Would I return? You bet I would – this is a destination with a host of activities for families, no matter your kids’ age – and no matter the time of year.
Norwegian flies a year-round direct service 4 times a week between London Gatwick and Boston. £233 return (adult); £147 return (child under 12).
A week’s car hire from Boston Logan International Airport costs from £171, based on travel from September. Drive time from Boston Logan airport to Manchester, the first city as you enter New Hampshire, is 1 hour, while from the airport to the White Mountains is around 2.5 hours.
Where to stay
Church Landing at Mill Falls costs from £230 per night for a family of 4. millsfall.com Mountain View Grand Resort costs from £210 per night for a family of 4.
More information on snowy family holiday in New Hampshire