- Written by Rob Struble
- Category: Things To Do
CONWAY — Who says nothing in life is free?
Families hoping to travel on a shoestring this summer can find plenty to do in New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Valley. Economical lodging packages are available and even the shopping is more affordable here, with no sales tax and 200 or so outlets, gift shops, boutiques, craft and antique shops. Visit www.mtwashingtonvalley.org to learn about all the lodging packages and tax-free shopping options.
While you’re visiting here are a few free and inexpensive activities the whole family can enjoy:
• Playgrounds: Traveling with young children? You’ll find a the Charlie Sprague Playground right in the middle of North Conway, next to Schouler Park, at the North Conway Community Center ( 356-2096). If you have a little one who loves fire engines, the North Conway Fire Station is right next door.
• Waterfalls: Diana’s Baths is a half mile from the turnoff to Cathedral Ledge on West Side Road. A scenic walk in takes you to cascading falls, waterspouts and granite basins along Lucy Brook. Then, a quick drive up Carter Notch Road in Jackson brings you to Jackson Falls. Bring a picnic lunch and take in the babbling series of falls at picnic tables provided.
• Mount Washington Observatory: The Weather Discovery Center ( 356-2137): The only museum in the country dedicated to weather, this special place offers a hands-on, interactive science museum, bringing the wonder of the atmosphere right to your fingertips! It features interactive displays, conversations with weather observers on top of Mount Washington and a replica of the weather station when the then highest winds of 231 mphwere recorded on top of Mount Washington on April 12, 1934. You actually feel what it was like to be there.
• Nature walks: Enjoy a nature walk on the self-guided nature trail at Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center or Wildcat Mountain. Directions: Take Route 16 past Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and you’ll find Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center ( 466-2333) at the base of the Mount Washington Auto Road ( 466-3988), and Wildcat Mountain ( 466-3326) just about a mile beyond (fees are charged for both the Auto Road and the Wildcat Express scenic gondola and Ziprider).
• Ride the wind: Fly a kite on the fields surrounding Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center ( 466-2333) or in Schouler Park.
• Candy: Watch chocolate being made at Bavarian Chocolate Haus on Route 16/White Mountain Highway in North Conway.
• Trains: Have an ice cream and watch the trains arrive at Conway Scenic Railroad ( 356-5251). Visit the train museum to learn more about trains, at either the Conway Scenic Railroad or the Mount Washington Cog Raliway ( 278-5404). Directions: Route 16/White Mountain Highway in North Conway Village, or Route 302, Bretton Woods.
Or take a ride on the Silver Lake Railroad in Madison (www.silverlakerailroad.com). The volunteer-run railroad offers train rides by donation, with 55-minute, six-mile round trips through the backwoods of Madison. Trains departing the historic Silver Lake Depot, on Route 113 in Silver Lake, Sept. 26-27 and Oct. 3-4 at noon, 1, 2, and 3 p.m.
• The great outdoors: Affordable (and sometimes even free) clinics and lectures are offered by the Appalachian Mountain Club, at both Pinkham Notch ( 466-2727) and the Highland Center ( 278-HIKE) at Crawford Notch. These include guided hikes, clinics and presentations. You can even pick up a free coloring and activity book for the kids and view interpretive displays at the AMC’s Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. For a full schedule, visit www.outdoors.com.
For complete up-to-date information on vacation planning, including all the lodging, dining and attractions fun, and to subscribe to a free E-Traveler newsletter, visit www.MtWashingtonValley.org or call 1-800-DO-SEE-NH (900-367-3364).
UPDATED BY TE 9-14-15
Happy trails to you, as you and yours take to local riding centers of Mount Washington Valley to enjoy the sights and sounds from horseback.
Trail rides are offered at Attitash Mountain ( 800-223-7669 or 374-0961) in Bartlett, Black Mountain ( 800-698-4490) in Jackson , the Farm By The River B & B with Stables ( 888-414-8353) off West Side Road in North Conway, the Stables at Bretton Woods ( 278-8989), and Snowycreek Outfitters LLC (603-086-0789) in Brownfield, Maine. Boarding of horses, riding lessons and training are offered by Donna Mori of Amori Stables (603-662-9079; www.amoristables.com) of Banfill Lane off Tasker Hill Road in Conway.
Fields of Attitash
Located just 1/4-mile east of Attitash Lodge, the Fields of Attitash are home to the resort's horseback riding and hand-led pony rides along the banks of the Saco River and through the Fields at Attitash. The Stables are open daily, June 14 to Sept. 1. No reservations, based on first-come, first-served basis. Last ride out at 4 p.m.
Attitash's trail guides lead groups on horseback rides at walking pace along the tranquil Saco River and through the Fields of Attitash. Hour-long and 30-minute rides are available. No riding experience is necessary.
Riders must be 8 years or older and taller than 48 inches. Weight restriction is a maximum of 250 pounds.
Young riders may experience the magic of a shorter pony ride, hand-led by Attitash guides, exploring wooded paths and the Fields of Attitash. For further information, visit www.attitash.com/horseback-riding.
Scenic Black Mountain Stables
Scenic and fun, Black Mountain Stables' diverse trail riding programs are great for all members of the family.
Elevation is what sets Black's riding trails apart: the base of Black Mountain is at 1,250 feet and their rides venture up to a 2,000-foot elevation. The views at this altitude are simply breathtaking. In addition, Black's skilled guides and well-trained horses offer a safe and enjoyable experience for even the most novice riders. Trail rides are offered daily at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. through the end of October. Reservations are recommended and may be made by calling 383-4490. Children's riding lessons are offered. For younger children, Black offers pony rides at the base from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Black's one-week Horse Camps are offered for children ages 8 to 12 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, starting July 7. Learn about horses, ride at least twice daily and swim.
For a truly memorable adventure, go for an overnight horseback tour — ride halfway up the mountain to Black's ski patrol cabin, and enjoy s'mores and great cooking by the campfire. Sleep in the cabin, rise to a great breakfast and then ride down for a fun family outing on the trails. Visit www.blackmt.com for more information. Saddle up!
Farm by the River B & B with Stables
Voted a "Yankee Magazine Editors’ Pick, 2001," the Farm by the River Bed and Breakfast with Stables is a great place to go for a New England horseback riding vacation — and best of all, the trails and stables are open to the general public as well as inn guests.
Nestled on 70 scenic acres, just two miles from North Conway Village, this awarding-winning bed and breakfast inn, with nine charming rooms, operates year-round stables with 18 resident horses. The farm has been in co-owner Rick Davis' family for over 240 years.
It's open to the general public year round, daily for scenic horseback rides (offered even in the winter), horse-drawn sleigh or carriage rides and wagon rides. Private Victorian sleigh rides for two to four people or join in with others in the large sleigh (takes up to 12 to 16 people). Pony rides are available too.
For further information, call 1- 888-414-8353 or 356-2694 for the inn, or 356-6640 for the stables or visit www.farmbytheriver.com.
The Stables at Bretton Woods
Just a few steps from the Mount Washington Hotel and Bretton Arms Inn, the Stables at Bretton Woods offer equestrian activities for all levels. In addition to daily group and individual rides, interactive programs invite you to engage in some equestrian fun with friends and family. Carriage rides are also offered. Advanced reservations are encouraged. Programs run from mid-May throgh mid-October. For reservations, call 278-8989 or for more information, visit www.omnihotels.com/FindAHotel/BrettonWoodsMountWashington/ResortActivities/SummerFun/EquestrianCenter.
Snowycreek Outfitters LLC
Snowycreek Outfitters (603-086-0789; www.snowycreekoutfitters.com) of 125 Corn Hill Road in Brownfield, Maine, offers several ways you can get out and enjoy nature on the back of a horse. From one- ad two-hour rides to all-day rides, there is sure to be something that will fit your time your budget and your sense of adventure. Located in the foothills of the White Mountains Snowycreek Outfitters provides horse-related recreation in some of New England’s finest landscapes along forgotten farm roads and wooded trails. They also offer wagon rides.
CONWAY — From ice skating and hockey to curling, the Ham Ice Arena is very much the “coolest place in the valley,” especially in summer.
Located on West Main Street in Conway. the Ham ( 447-5886) features public skating sessions (rentals available), stick-and-puck sessions (full equipment and helmets are required); youth learn-to-play hockey programs; and adult women's, men's and co-ed leagues.
The Mount Washington Valley Skating Club offers figure skating lessons for all ages and abilities. For further information, visit www.mwvsc.org or call Madeleine at 986-1650 or Emily at (207) 925-1090.
For more on the league, join the Mount Washington Valley Curling Club Facebook page. For information on the Ham, visit www.hamarena.com.
UPDATED BY TE 5-14-14