New Hampshire’s White Mountain range provides a natural escape from summer’s heavy heat. With the cooler nights and an abundance of outdoor family-friendly activities, it is the perfect backdrop for an active family vacation. Within the area, Bretton Woods, is known for its creative use of the mountain landscape to provide all-season entertainment for every age. Once you are used to the somewhat remote area, there’s no need to venture out as you are in one of the prettiest and fun-filled family destinations in the Northeast.
On our recent stay at Omni Mount Washington Resort, one of our first stops was at the “Activity Desk” where the concierge helped us navigate the long list of family attractions in the area. Whether you are looking for adventurous mountain fun or simply a baby sitter so that you can relax at the spa, the service-oriented staff is excellent. Most of the activities are run by the resort, however some are brought in by vetted third party vendors.
Hiking trails start right at the Omni Mount Washington Resort
1. Hiking: Free and fun, a perfect combination. There are plenty of trail options of varying degrees of difficulty very close to the property. Omni offers daily-guided hikes (starting at $40 per person), as well as a complimentary Appalachian Mountain Club lead hike on weekends.
2. Stream Swimming: Swimming in the stream right at the base of the property is a highlight. As you follow the stream up to Ammonoosuc Mid Falls and Upper Falls, the swimming areas get more daring. Although there are people who jump off Upper Falls, beware it’s more difficult than it looks due to an undercurrent and there have been fatal accidents. Floating in rafts on the lower section offered the perfect amount of adventure for us.
3. Rock Climbing: The outdoor West Wall Climb offers and 3-hour guided outdoor climb appropriate for kids 8 and older ($115-$175). Then there is also an indoor Slopeside Climbing Wall and its perfect for kids ages 4 and up ($10 for 10 minutes).
4. Ride to the Top: There are many ways to enjoy the heights in the area. Take the complimentary quad-lift at Bretton Woods to the top of the ski slope. Enjoy lunch at Lattitude 44 where the views are beautiful. Another option is to can catch the Cog Railway for a 3-hour trip on the historic train — exciting due to the very steep climbs. Finally, you can always get a pass for the Auto Road to the top of Mount Washington, the Northeast’s highest mountain.
Stream swimming is not as easy as it looks
5. ATV Tours: If you opt to ride the chair lift to the top of the mountain, you can also hop on ATVs and go for a scenic tour of the area. This activity is appropriate for kids 4 and up (starts at $12 for kids and $32 for adults and lasts 1 hour).
6. Dog Sledding: Don’t miss this! This was our favorite activity, even though we weren’t able to get out on a ride. We were so interested that we toured the Muddy Paws facility and learned that this non-for-profit company uses the proceeds from the tours to support the rescue of sled dogs. I was blown away by the dedication and passion of the owner, Kate. Kids just have to be 3 to go and no worries, the dogs are so friendly! (Prices start at $45/person).
7. Zip Line: One of the areas hottest attractions! There are two ways to zip. First, is the Williwaw Racing Zip for kids 4’6 and over age 8 (starts at $15 per ride and runs about 20 minutes). Then there is the Canopy Tour, which is more adventurous, (starts at $89 per person and runs three and ½ hours). My older kids were dying to do this, however, my little one did not want to be left behind. I had done it on another trip to the area and it was thrilling. There were four adults in our group of 12 that opted out at different points because it was too scary. The rest of us loved it!
8. Horseback Riding: The barn itself looks like an estate and offers pony rides, carriage rides and equestrian instruction. Weekday, there is also a Barn Buddies program where the kids, with adult supervision, can help around the barn from 10-11am (costs vary).
9. Mountain Biking: There are extensive mountain biking trails for both cross country and downhill. If you are looking for something a little different there are also “Mountain Scooters” which are like pumped up Razor scooters.
10. Fly-fishing: The Ammonoosuc River that runs through the property provides the perfect backdrop to refine your fly-fishing skills. For teens 13 and older, there are casting clinics, however, younger children can participate on trips booked privately through the Activities Concierge.
Editorial Note: Nancy received complimentary accommodations and meals at Omni Interlocken Resort. Photos by Nancy Solomon