Live like a robber baron at the elegant, four-star Omni Mount Washington hotel. Several restaurants, including the fabled main dining hall, offer grand views of the mountains. Seek out the hotel’s old speakeasy, the Cave, and you can pretend it’s Prohibition all over again. A 25,000-foot spa and two adjoining golf courses mean you may never want to leave. If you tire of gazing from the veranda, book an outdoor adventure through the hotel. The three-hour Canopy Tour has four zip lines, rope bridges and other treetop balancing acts with views of the Presidential Range ($99 a person). Too scary? Let your little one ride a kiddie ATV ($20) or drive them yourself on a much bigger machine in a guided tour through the bush. It’s messy, unbridled fun (from $60). The nearby Bretton Woods scenic chairlift ride is free. Rooms from $279. 603-278-1000; omnihotels.com/mountwashington
Another great base for hikers is the Highland Center Lodge, run by the Appalachian Mountain Club. An incredible outdoors-themed playground is just the start. Free nature programs and walks occur daily; we hadn’t even checked in before a staff member was waving my kids over to look at sun spots with a special telescope. Private rooms start at $113 a person a night; high huts run about $118 a night (including breakfast and dinner). Bretton Woods at Crawford Notch on route 302; 603-466-2727; outdoors.org/lodging
WHAT TO DO
Start kids on easier hikes that end with a natural reward. In the White Mountains, AMC’s Zealand Falls Hut is beside a rocky waterfall, and there’s a glacial lake by Lonesome Lake Hut. “If you get [to the end] and there’s a fantastic view, that helps wipe away the pain,” says AMC naturalist Nancy Ritger.
When you need a break, head to the Mount Washington Cog Railway, the first of its kind in the world. At the track’s steepest point (37-per-cent grade), you’ll gain 35.5 centimetres of elevation for nearly metre forward. At the top (1,916 metres), you can see into Quebec on a clear day. Adults, $64. Bretton Woods, at the end of Base Station Road, off route 302. 603-278-5404; thecog.com
Here’s one way to keep the kids content during the drive home. Stop in quaint Littleton, NH, at Chutters – home of the world’s longest (34-metre) candy counter. Let them fill a small bag and savour their selection slowly. 43 Main St., Littleton, NH, 693-444-5787, chutters.com
Shopping anyone? New Hampshire doesn’t charge tax on retail goods, and less than hour away from the White Mountain resort area are the outlet malls of North Conway. The newest hotel in town is just down the street: Residence Inn by Marriott. Rooms from about $200 (U.S.) a night. 1801 White Mountain Highway; northconwayresidenceinn.com.
The writer was a guest of New Hampshire Tourism. It did not review or approve the article.