White Mountains, N.H. Planning & Tips

The Art of Smart Timing
The White Mountains are truly a three-season destination, with as much to offer in the "dead" of winter as in the height of summer. The premier skiing destination in the Northeast, the Whites offer plenty of knuckle-clenching action in the various ski mountains that cut into their slopes -- Cannon, Bretton Woods, Attitash and Waterville Valley among them. Summer is hiking season, with the caravans of the hard-core sallying forth to bag their share of 4,000-foot peaks, and us mortals following in their wake to take in the many family-friendly hikes in the state parks. Fall, meanwhile, is all about the foliage, which starts early on the heights, but lingers into early October in the valleys. That snap of the covered bridge backed by the red and gold of fall just says it all.

If you need extra enticements, the Whites are home to many events throughout the year. One that's been growing in popularity is the annual Chocolate Festival in late February, which sees inns and restaurants outdoing each other in chocolate treats for skiers at the end of the trails. Another favorite is the annual fall Rubber Ducky Regatta in Waterville valley, in which spectators put their fortunes on ducks dropped into the Pemigewasset River to see which will come in first. The following weekend, the annual Highland Games brings a bit of Scotland to New Hampshire with caber tosses, kilts, and of course, haggis.

Getting There and Around
For all the rugged wilderness, the White Mountains are easily accessible from major highways. Interstate I-93 cuts through the western peaks and Franconia Notch -- a two and a half hour drive from Boston to Lincoln. On the other side, North Conway is on Route 16, a three-hour drive from Boston.

Flying into Boston's Logan Airport is the most obvious option for the area, with the largest array of flights from both domestic and international locations. Before booking, however, it's worth checking out the somewhat misnamed Manchester-Boston Regional, which is an hour away from the White Mountains. You can often find deals from budget carriers, such as Southwest, to major carriers like Delta.

Off the Radar
Polar Caves Park
Don't expect to find any bears here -- the "polar" in the name refers to glaciers that swept down from the pole during the last ice age to grind out passages in the rocks. Now, families can play hide and seek among twisting passages and chambers of this natural phenomenon that appeals to the adventurer of any age. In addition to self-guided tours of the caves, the park has some rock-mining caves where kids can take home real mineral samples. A petting zoo with deer and peacocks is also onsite.

Visitors Bureaus
New Hampshire Travel and Tourism Development
White Mountains Attractions Association

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