An Incredible Fall Trip to the White Mountains of NH

by | Sep 27, 2022 | Destinations, Family Adventures, North East, Traveling with Teens, USA

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While the gorgeous White Mountains of New Hampshire are a spectacular place to visit any time of year, the area is particularly charming from late September to mid-October when the granite state is covered in an array of vibrant red, orange, and yellow. Opportunities for lots of outdoor fun and family adventures are abundant, and there is no shortage of epic views of the majestic mountain ranges and gorgeous natural landscapes. Having grown up in the southern part of the state, I may be a bit biased, but I can’t think of a more perfect place to enjoy an autumn weekend than the White Mountains of New Hampshire. For the best spots to visit when vacationing with family in the fall, check out this guide I put together.

 

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Hiking the White Mountain National Forest

There are so many great hiking trails in the White Mountains and surrounding area that I always have a hard time deciding where to go. Among the best spots are Crawford Notch State Park, Pinkham Notch, and Diana’s Baths Waterfalls. There is also a 160-mile stretch of the  Appalachian Trail that runs through the granite state (nicknamed so because of its numerous granite quarries and its preference for small government.) One of my all-time favorite places to hike with my kids is the Flume Gorge in Franconia State Park. The natural gorge, which extends 800 feet from the base of Mount Liberty, is one of the most breathtaking hikes in New Hampshire. The walk is an easy-to-moderate two-mile loop perfect for young families like mine. On a recent visit, we enjoyed the amazing views of waterfalls and rock formations and had a blast crawling through the wolf den path before stopping to snap a photo at a scenic covered bridge and later take in the massive glaciers. 

 

Making our way to the top. Photo by Kim Falchek

 

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Exploring Mount Washington

And speaking of mountains, a trip to New Hampshire definitely warrants a visit to Mount Washington. This majestic mountain is the highest peak in the Northeast and is one of the area’s most popular spots in the presidential range. On a clear day, you can see up to five states (and parts of Canada) from the park on the summit of the mountain. For those that love to hike, the trip to the top of Mount Washington is challenging but rewarding. It is approximately 4-5 ½ miles one way and is recommended for experienced hikers. For those that may not be up for a rigorous climb on foot, there are several other great ways to reach the top. If you have a reliable vehicle and aren’t fazed by a steep drive full of twists and turns, you can bring your car on a scenic drive up Mount Washington Auto Road. Guided van tours by experienced and knowledgeable drivers are also a great option for visitors. For those with children that are crazy about trains, a ride on the Mount Washington Cog Railway is a really fun way to travel. 

 

A ride on the Cog Railway is so much fun! Photo by David Trinks on UnSplash

 

Pro Tip: Weather conditions at the top of Mount Washington may be very different than at the base.  Be sure to pack a warm sweatshirt or jacket as it can often be chilly.

Views From The Water 

If water views are your preference, a trip down the Saco River is a relaxing way to spend a few hours. The Saco River Tubing Center in the town of Conway specializes in family adventure and offers tubing, kayaking, and canoe trips. There are trips of various lengths, with time built in to stop and enjoy the river rope swings or picnic along the shores. A trip along the Saco was a big hit with my little ones when we visited the area a few years back.

 

Kayaking in the fall is simply the best! Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash.

 

Theme Park Fun

In addition to numerous natural attractions, the White Mountains area also has some great amusement parks. Storyland, a fairytale-themed park in the town of Glen, is a great option for families with smaller kids. Highlights include Cinderella’s castle, Alice’s Tea Cup ride, and a fun train ride around the park. Storyland is open on weekends through early October. In Jefferson, it is Christmas all year round at Santa’s Village. The kids always have a blast experiencing the rides, feeding the reindeer, and meeting Santa and his crew.  

 

Clowning around at Storyland! Photo by S. Smith

 

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Science Discovery

Squam Lake Science Center is located a little farther away in Holderness, in the lakes region of the state. This wonderful attraction features insects, zoo animals, and birds. There is so much to see and everyone in your group is sure to learn some fun facts about nature. My kids especially enjoyed seeing the bald eagles up close, walking the live animal trail, and burning energy at the gigantic playground. There is also an option for a cruise around beautiful Squam Lake.

 

This playground is amazing! Photo by Kim Falchek

 

 

When You Go

 

 

Getting to the White Mountains from LA

Depending on where you go in the White Mountains, it is about an hour-and-a-half drive from Portland International Jetport in Portland, Maine, or a two-and-a-half-hour drive from the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Manchester, NH.  Some attractions are spread out, so take advantage of the gorgeous drives between destinations. I highly recommend taking a ride along the 34-mile Kancamagnus Highway. A trip across this scenic byway is one of the best ways to take in panoramic views of the mountain region and see some of the best fall foliage around. 

Start your research for flights with exclusive discounts from Scott’s Cheap Flights. Try out their free 7-day membership to see if you save money on flights. There’s no need to buy a membership (you’ll still have access to good deals).

Another excellent discount site for flights (and hotels) is Expedia!

To get discounts on tours in the area, try TripAdvisor or  Viator, which offers 51% off last-minute tours.

 

Pro Tip: Looking for the perfect time to catch peak foliage during your fall 2022 visit?  Be sure to check out the New Hampshire Foliage Tracker for updates on the best fall color across the region.  

 

Where To Stay in the White Mountains 

The best place for a luxurious stay in The White Mountains is definitely the Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods. There are so many great amenities and the scenery is stunning. The historical resort boasts a golf course, zip line, mountain biking trails, game room, and spa. Suites are available for families and many rooms have views of the mountain ranges.  For a unique mountain stay, I also like to visit the Adventures Suites in North Conway. Each room is designed with a different theme, and many like the Tree House Suite and Cave Suite are tailored to families. Most rooms contain hot tubs and there is also a spa onsite. Nearby attractions include the Conway Scenic Railroad, Echo Lake State Park, and the Albany Covered Bridge. The Kancamagus Lodge located in the town of Lincoln is also an affordable lodging option for families. The best things about this hotel are the indoor pool, seasonal fire pits, and restaurant on-site. The lodge is close to Loon Mountain and many popular area attractions.

 

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Kimberly Falchek is a freelance writer and child development specialist based out of Salem, Massachusetts. She has contributed to several parenting and travel publications. When not working, Kimberly enjoys hiking, photography, and traveling with family.

 

 

   

 

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