This summer, we decided to do the family vacation in Mt Washington Valley, NH. It's perfect for traveling families, given all the outdoor adventure, great kid-friendly attractions, and lodging and dining choices. We had no trouble finding two fabulous kid-friendly lodging choices. Given my pension to experience as many B&Bs and inns as possible, we decided to "sleep around the Valley" and therefore experienced two inns which really have accommodating both kids and adults figured out. Our first night was spent at Whitney's Inn in Jackson, NH.
Set at the base of Black Mountain, a popular family ski resort in winter and horseback riding destination in summer, we were so impressed with everything offered here. Don Bilger, Whitney's owner, says the three Ps are the key to his success - pool, pub and pond. While there's so much to do in Jackson and the surrounding Mt Washington Valley, Don and his wife Joyce have created a little destination oasis here. For those in search of total relaxation, there's no need to leave.
Because this was a "kidcation" we stayed in a family suite in the building adjacent to the main inn. The kids were thrilled that they'd have their own room with a TV, then quickly pointed out that there was another TV in the bedroom. The kids slept on a fold out couch in the spacious living room, which also had a kitchenette and dining area, plus a gas fireplace and a lovely patio overlooking the rest of the inn complex and Black Mountain. The entire inn was renovated within the last year, after the Bilgers bought it. The Adirondack-style log furniture and mirrors framed with branches are all complimented by quilts embroidered with pine cones, pine boughs and whimsical bear-moose-porcupine fabrics. I got the chance to see a few of the rooms at the inn, which also offered beautiful hand-carved pine beds and Adirondack decor. They were quiet and romantic and offered just the right amenities - private fireplaces and beautiful views.
The kids quickly headed to the pool, where they enjoyed use of many cool pool toys. The inn also has a private pond stocked with rainbow trout. Just pick up a fishing rod and worms from the inn, and you're set for an afternoon of fun. My little girl was a little afraid to go over the bridge to the pond, for fear of the troll she believed lived underneath! (Note to self: lay off on the fairy tales!) They also offer paddle boats on the pond.
Breakfast was beautifully served in a dining room overlooking grazing horses and Black Mountain trails. I can't imagine how beautiful this will be in the fall, and perfect access for winter too. There were six or seven breakfast entree choices, with lots of kid-and-adult-friendly choices. Since the majority of guests during the summer are families visiting Mt Washington Valley, they offer a separate, lovely quiet dining room for adults. Great idea. The food was outstanding.
The inn also has a restaurant and pub, which we didn't get the chance to visit, but makes for the perfect destination. Whether you're a traveling family or a couple seeking romance, Whitney's is ideal.
From there, we moved on to the Cranmore Mountain Lodge in North Conway, NH. Here's another place that has accommodating families really figured out! As a former pre-school owner, Frederique (who to my surprise was a woman), the co-owner of the Lodge, has filled the children's living room with quality toys, action figures, trucks, board games and more. A large TV is found here too. For adults, an adjacent living room offers leather couches and a guitar and grand piano. You name it, and the diversion is here including a pool, hot tub, ping pong table, stocked pond for fly fishing, tennis court, barn and built-in playmates (there are three children/teens in residence).
There are a wide variety of room choices, including the bunkroom, offering climbers and hikers the ideal place for showering and a warm bed for $30 per person, and pet-friendly suites that'll accommodate up to a group of 10. Many rooms offer multiple beds, some with bunk beds too. For history buffs, the Babe Ruth room, where the Babe actually slept, is filled with memorabilia and photos. All rooms have private baths, phones, and a free wi-fi signal is easily found throughout the property.
Breakfast is hearty and delicious. The Kid's Menu sports 12 choices from eggs to pancakes, to a grilled cheese or a McLodge sandwich. The adult menu is equally diverse, and breakfasts will keep you going for a long time. My kids loved the cocoa with whipped cream. I loved the homemade applesauce. I was impressed to see they offer a number of gluten-free options including a gluten-free French toast and cereals.
The Cranmore Mountain Lodge is a member of NH Sustainable Lodging, and has fully embraced an active recycling and reuse program. Breakfasts are complemented by herbs and offerings from the inn's organic garden. Throughout the inn, chem-free cleaners are used, and while AC is available, windows in rooms open to allow mountain breezes, making AC unnecessary. A towel re-use program and partnership programs with local businesses help to remind guests to travel with a mind for Mother Nature.
There are so many great family attractions in Mt Washington Valley. It's surrounded by 660,000 acres of White Mountain National Forest, so hiking, biking, waterfalls and wildlife watching options abound. We attended the free Wednesday family hike at Wildcat Mountain; it was a guided hike with a naturalist from Tin Mountain Conservation Center. The kids loved playing mini golf at White Mountain Family Golf. We visited the Weather Discovery Center, the only museum in the country dedicated to weather, and got to experience the re-creation of recording the highest winds in history atop Mt Washington in 1931 (231 mph, a record that's never been exceeded).
Then we topped off our visit with my childrens' favorite amusement park, Story Land, where storybook fantasy rules. We loved the shows there, including a real circus!
For those in search of the ultimate in family-friendly inns, Mt Washington Valley, NH, has just what you want to need to keep Mom, Dad and all the kids happy.