Jan 122013
The Omni Mt. Washington Hotel in New Hampshire's Mt. Washington Valley

The Omni Mt. Washington Hotel in New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington Valley

The Omni Mount Washington Resort is a high-end 4-season resort located at the base of New Hampshire’s 6,000 foot tall Mount Washington in the midst of the White Mountain National Forest and the Mt. Washington Valley.  This area is one of our favorite family vacation destinations at any time of year.  Since Omni Hotels began managing this historic property in 2009 there have been an ongoing series of major updates to the hotel, the golf course, and the adjacent Bretton Woods ski area.

Bretton Woods, New Hampshire’s largest ski area with 434 acres of skiing and snowboarding, including 101 trails and glades and four terrain parks is always a family favorite with lots of options for all ability levels.  Off slope activities include sleigh rides, a winter canopy tour, ice skating, nordic skiing, snow tubing, dog sledding, an indoor pool, game room and spa.

Kids and tweens snowmobiling at the Omni Mt Washington Kids Snowmobile Park

Kids and tweens snowmobiling at the Omni Mt Washington Resort Kids Snowmobile Park

New this winter, the Resort launched a snowmobile park specifically designed for kids and tweens ages 4 to 13 (and under 135 pounds).  The resort partnered with with FB Spaulding and Polaris to offer state of the art equipment and a well maintained course complete with banked turns, straight stretches and wooded runs.  They provide full-face helmets and supervision before and during the ride including training on how to safely operate and shut-off the machine.

The Resort has one of the most extensive programs we have seen for kids and tweens — including day and evening kids club activities through age 12,  spa manicure and pedicure packages for kids and tweens and ski school options that include the Hobbits Ski & Snowboard School with skiing for ages 4-12 and snowboarding for ages 6-12.  Private lessons are always available as well.  For the most part, teens ages 13 and up are treated more as adults in terms of activities and lessons.

Check the Resort’s web site for the lastest deals and family discounts including free lift tickets with many overnight stays and the Family Interchangeable Ticket that lets Mom and Dad each go skiing for the price of one. This option lets Mom and Dad purchase two identical tickets at the single-ticket price. Only one may be used at any given time. Regular full-day daily ticket pricing applies. This is great option if one parent wants to stay with kids or tweens off the slopes.

Photos courtesy of the Omni Mt. Washington Resort

Nov 252012

Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, New Hampshire’s Cranmore Mountain Resort is continuing to invest in many on and off mountain upgrades that we think will be a big hit with many families, particularly those with tweens and younger teens.  Since 2010, the Resort has seen its new owners invest more than $8 million dollars to create a state-of-the-art New England family ski and summer vacation destination.

New high efficiency snow guns will help Cranmore Mountain Resort open more trails and terrain earlier than ever in 2012

New high efficiency snow guns will help Cranmore Mountain Resort open more trails and terrain earlier than ever in 2012

This year, Cranmore Mountain opened for Thanksgiving, thanks to 60 new high efficiency snow guns that bring the mountain’s total of high-efficiency snow guns to 378, serving 163 acres and 16 miles of terrain. That number is up over 350% since 2008.   The resort has also replaced its 1950s vintage East Double Chairlift with a $1 million, re-positioned triple chair designed to open up much better access to several intermediate and advanced trails and provide additional access to the summit on the east side of the mountain.

Cranmore Mountain Resort started making snow in mid-November 2012

Cranmore Mountain Resort started making snow in mid-November 2012

Simultaneously, the resort is in the final stages of a total makeover of its snowboard terrain parks with a major emphasis on making them more accessible and family friendly. Recognizing that the majority of people who are coming to the mountain to ride are beginners or intermediates, the plan is to transition snowboard park features to be 80 percent beginner-to-intermediate friendly and 20% advanced.  Combined with ongoing investment in the family friendly KidsRule Mountain Camp programs targeting kids 14 and younger, Cranmore Mountain is looking like a great destination for families with tweens that want to learn how to snowboard or ski.

Off the slopes, the Resort has continued to expand its Mountain Adventure Park.  In addition to tubing, the Giant Mountain Swing, the indoor adventure park and the Mountain Coaster, the Resort will be offering winter access to its 700 foot zipline this season.  Combination tickets are available to provide discounted access to all the activities.

The Cranmore Mountain Adventure Park expands with the addition of winter ziplining

The Cranmore Mountain Adventure Park expands with the addition of winter ziplining

Although there is no on-mountain lodging, Cranmore Mountain Resort is located in North Conway, NH in the heart of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Valley.  This area is one of the best New England family vacation destinations at any time of the year.  The area offers all types of lodging and restaurants to suit  any taste and a variety of Ski and Stay discount packages are available on the Resort’s web site.  The outlet malls and downtown boutiques are a lot of fun too.  If you haven’t visited the area previously, the updates at the Cranmore Mountain Resort are a great excuse to get to know this delightful corner of New Hampshire.   If you haven’t been to visit in a while, its probably time you came back – particularly if you have tweens or younger teens looking to get out on family friendly mountain just 3 hours from Boston.

Photos courtesy of Cranmore Mountain Resort

More Summer Family Fun Arrives at New England Ski Resorts

 Posted by on May 28, 2011  Comments Off
May 282011

Giant Swing at the new Mt Cranmore Adventure Park in New Hampshire's Mt. Washington Valley

     For a number of years, New England’s ski resorts have been investing in a wide range of attractions and activities designed to encourage families to visit all year round.   This summer, there seems to be an emphasis on attractions of interest to families with teens and tweens at some of our favorite New England summer destinations.  If you are heading to New Hampshire’s White  Mountains this summer be sure to check out the new Adventure Park at Mount Cranmore in the Mount Washington Valley.  In Vermont, Smugglers’ Notch is adding a number of new summer adventure options and jazzing up its day camp and evening programs for teens and tweens.

Mt. Cranmore Mountain Adventure Park Opens Memorial Day Weekend

     The new Mt. Cranmore Mountain Adventure Park opened Memorial Day weekend.  It offers plenty of action and thrills to keep teens and tweens busy all day.  These include:

Disc golf and chair lift rides at Mt Cranmore

  • An Aerial Adventure Park with a high  ropes course through the trees that includes rope ladders, bridges, cargo nets and ziplines
  • A chairlift serviced Mountain Coaster which drops over 1300 feet at speeds of up to 25 miles an hour
  • A giant swing
  • Summer tubing
  • A Four Plex euro-style trampoline
  • An 18-hole disc golf course
  • Chairlift rides
  • Bounce houses and more

     A wide range of ticket options and combo passes are available on the Cranmore web site.  Reservations are recommended for scheduled 3-hour sessions in the Aerial  Adventure Park.  Stay and Play lodging and ticket packages are also available for a number of area hotels including the Red Jacket Inn, home to the an indoor water park!

Smugglers’ Notch Updates Teen and Tween Activities

     Vermont’s Smugglers’ Notch resort is well known for its teen and tween winter programs.   The resort has long offered summer days camps and evening programs for kids, teens and tweens as well, but this year they are updating the options for teens including:

Segway tour at Smugglers' Notch

  • Introducing Adventure Connection family packages that include outings like the Arbotrek zip line course, llama treks, canoeing or kayaking, and a Segway tour.
  • Adding an outdoor, high-definition video screen measuring 12×19 feet that will be set up for Big Screen Night for teens on Thursdays at 9 pm, under the stars.
  • Continuing to offer night time teen and tween parties — such as the glow in the dark night programs with a DJ dance party and glow in the dark ping pong— as well as late night swims at the Courtside Pool, evening teen gatherings at the indoor FunZone, and a nightime dodgeball tournament.

     Of course, in addition to all the man-made attractions, New England’s four-season ski resorts continue to feature beautiful scenery and lots of opportunities to take day hikes in the mountains.   If you go, let us know what you think of these newest summer activities for teens and tweens in the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont.

Photos courtesy of the resorts

Best New Hampshire Ski Resorts for Families with Teens

 Posted by on December 3, 2010  Comments Off
Dec 032010


Ski New Hampshire, courtesy Omni Mt Washington Resort

     Our checklist for picking the best ski resorts for families with teens includes a lodging set-up that allows teens a fair amount of independence and a range of on and off slope options for everyone in the group.  We found the following three resorts that fill the bill in New Hampshire.

Omni Mount Washington Resort at Bretton Woods

     The Omni Mount Washington Resort  in Bretton Woods is New Hampshire’s largest ski area with 464 acres of skiing and snowboarding on 102 trails and glades, four terrain parks and nine lifts.  Located in the heart of the White Mountains’ Presidential Range, the scenery is spectacular and the choice of available activities is impressive. 

Omni Mount Washington Winter Canopy Tour, courtesy Omni

     There are no specific teen lesson programs but an innovative Family private lesson option pairs up to 5 family members of any age with 2 instructors for a one hour private lessons to get every one started or to brush up on skills.  Teens 13 and older can participate in adult group or private lessons.  The Terrain Parks offer lots of options for boarders.  Teens age 13-17 get a $14 daily discount off of adult rates and additional ticket discounts are available to visitors staying at the resort.

     Off the slopes the resort has 100 km of nordic trails and many other activities including family sleigh rides, snow tubing, dog sledding, and a 25, 000  square foot spa.  Teens 16 and older can experience any spa service while younger teens and tweens can accompany parents for manicures, pedicures or hair services.    New this year, the Bretton Woods Canopy Tour, provides one of the longest canopy tours in the U.S. including the Williwaw Racing Zipline.  Together they allow you to get a view over the treetops from 150 feet up in the air. 

    The resort offers ski in/ski out condo rentals, a family friendly lodge, 34 rooms in the historic Bretton Arms Inn and  200 rooms and suites in the recently renovated grand Mount Washington Hotel.

Cranmore Mountain Resort

      Located in North Conway in the heart of the Mount Washington Valley, the Cranmore Mountain Resort features a good size mountain with 2000 feet of elevation, 54 trails and 10 lifts.   Teens age 13-17 get a $10 daily discount off of adult rates.   Less  expensive night tickets are available for skiing on Saturdays when there are fireworks and select school vacation times when the mountain stays open after dark.

In the parks at Cranmore Mountain Resort, courtesy John Webster

     The area is compact enough that teens can navigate it on their own with buddies or make some new friends in the terrain parks.   The 3 parks aptly named the Lucky Loop, the Other Side and the Darkside were designed by SPT, a group that also consults to the X games. 

     The resort has recently opened  the twisting, turning Mountain Coaster sled on rails and expanded its popular snow tubing park to 10 lanes wide with lift service. 

     There are no condos right on the mountain but many lodging options are available very close by in the numerous hotels, inns, and condo rental complexes available in North Conway.  Many have heated indoor pools and hot tubs available.  Check the Resort’s web list of lodging partners – many will include free lift tickets, breakfast and other incentives in their stay and ski package promotions.  Not a skier?  Drop the teens at the mountain and head down the street to North Conway for lunch and tax-free shopping.

 Waterville Valley

      One of the closest big mountain ski areas to Boston, Waterville Valley resort is a self-contained outpost located  in the White Mountain National Forest. 

Waterville Valley

      The mountain has vertical drop of 2,020 feet with 52 trails at all levels, including moguls, a half pipe and a superpipe.   Overnight lodgings are not permitted within the National Forest but  the base village hosts a range of condo, suites and hotel options is a short shuttle ride away.    Teens age 13-17 get a $10 daily discount off of adult rates

     The resort is not fancy and does not have mountain coasters or zip lines.  However, the self-contained nature of the area and the short ride from Boston makes it a good option for a weekend getaway.  We have found the lessons to be top notch.  This is the resort where hockeyprincess learned to snowboard last winter and we expect to make a return visit this year.

Mountains Open Early This Year!

     It is already shaping up to be a good ski season in New Hampshire as the temperatures are falling and the snow guns are going.  Waterville Valley and Bretton Woods, as well as several others, were open for skiing on Thanksgiving and Cranmore has a good turnout for the opening of its Mountain Coaster.  Whether you ski, snowboard, shop or go to the spa New Hampshire’s mountains make for a fun family winter getaway with teens and tweens.

White Mountains Family Vacation on raveable

Jul 182010

     With only three days to visit the Mount Washington Valley, there were a lot of wonderful attractions and experiences that we had to defer to our next visit.   In particular, we hope to return soon to ride the Mount Washington Cog Railwayto the top of Mount Washington, kayak or tube on the Saco river and check out the glacial caves and canyons at the Polar Caves, the Flume Gorge or the Lost River Gorge.

Cog Railroad, courtesy Bretton Woods Resort, NH

     Like the ride up the Mount Washington Auto Road, the Cog Railway is a classic New England experience.    They both take you to the summit of Mount Washington, but that is where the similarities end.  Opened in 1869 the Cog hauls riders up the mountain using  a rack-and-pinion rail system running on an average 25% grade (and as steep as 37% in some sections) to reach the summit.    The original steam train ran using wood fuel until it was converted to coal in about 1910.  In 2009, the majority of the engines were converted to bio-diesel, improving the air quality but eliminating the classic ash laden smokestack steam trail seen for miles across the Valley.  The historic steam engines still run first thing in the morning and more often on busy days.

Tubing the Saco River, courtesy Bob Grant

  Further down in the Valley, the Saco River originates at Saco Lake in Crawford Notch, flows through the Valley,  along the New Hampshire – Maine border,  and eventually to the Atlantic Ocean.  The stretch near Swan’s Falls and the southern end of North Conway is shallow and clear, with many small sandy beaches and lends itself to tubing, kayaking and canoes.  A number of different outfitters such as Saco River Tubing, Northern Extremes, and Saco Bound offer a wealth of options from short rentals to all day and even overnight trips.  Most put you in the water at their own private put-ins then  haul out the boat and transport you back to your car from another private landing downstream when you are finished.

     We also wished we had been able to explore some of the region’s geologic wonders such as scrambling through the Polar Caves, walking the 2-mile Flume Gorge trail to see a waterfall near Cannon Mountain or scampering across the bridges and trails of the granite strewn Lost River Gorge.   As described by the Polar Caves web site,  “about fifty thousand years ago the third continental glacier descended over New Hampshire’s White Mountains. When the ice retreated, it left behind an amazing series of caves and passageways for visitors to explore”.  All of three of these sites are testimony to the power of Mother Nature.

      We were thrilled to see that all three of these natural wonders, along with the Cog Railway, are covered by the White Mountains Attractions pass.  The White Mountains Attractions pass program provides discounted one-time access to 16 major area attractions including the Mount Washington Auto Road, Attitash Summer Attractions and the Wildcat Mountain Express Gondola Skyride.

Thanks Again

     One last time, we want to thank the the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce for organizing our weekend of activities and providing us with the opportunity to conduct our in depth review series.  Travel with Teens and Tweens retained full control over everything we wrote about our trip and all opinions are truly our own.

     To find links to all our Mount Washington Valley Summer 2010 reviews check out the links on our Mount Washington Valley Top 10 – Summer Edition landing page.

Jul 112010

     The Mount Washington Valley, NH is home to a large number of waterfalls.  Many are accessible via short to moderate hikes via well marked trails.   If you visit the region, be sure to take time to visit at least one of these wonders.   We selected the moderately challenging hike to New Hampshire’s tallest waterfall, 200 foot Arethusa Falls in Crawford Notch State Park.  Since we were there in June the falls were very active although we have been told that later in the summer they can slow to a trickle.

200 foot tall Arethusa Falls in Crawford Notch State Park, NH

     The well used, heavily shaded trail runs 1.3 miles from the upper parking lot to the falls.  It is a gradual uphill hike almost the whole way, except for a steep downhill section in the last quarter mile.  Although we didn’t see much wildlife we heard a lot, and some fellow hikers claimed they had seen a mama bear with two cubs. 

     When we were there in late June, some sections of the trail were VERY muddy so we were glad we wore hiking boots, although, we certainly saw some  families walking in sneakers.  Some hardy souls opted to wade in the pools beneath the falls but we decided the mountain streams were cold enough that we’d just enjoy the sun on the rocks.  On a hot summer day they would be pretty refreshing.

Taking a break below Arethusa Falls

     The trail head is located in a well marked area about 1.5 miles south of the historic Willey House site off Route 302 in Crawford Notch.  Hint – there are two parking lots so check to see if there is space in the upper lot to save a few steps.   This is a popular trail so expect some company.  We visited in mid-afternoon and seemed to be at the back of the pack,  which meant that we often found ourselves alone on peaceful stretches of the trail. 

Taking a break on the trail to Arethusa Falls

     If you are more adventurous and have more time than we did, an additional 3 mile hike from the falls will take you to breathtaking views on Frankenstein Cliffs (home to nesting peregrine falcons) and then return you to the lower parking area where you started.  This second part of the trail is not as heavily used and we are told there are stretches where it is poorly marked and footing can be slippery.  Good idea to bring a map.  If you are returning to your car directly from the falls, you can retrace your steps.  As an alternative, about half way back to the parking area a steep side trail drops down to parallel the Bemis Brook which includes views of several smaller falls. 

The White Mountains offer lots of hiking options

        Plan on 2 to 3 hours to reach the falls and return via the same route, depending on how fast you hike and how long you plan to spend at the falls.  Don’t have that much time?  The 65 foot Glen Ellis Falls are accessible via a .2 mile trail just off Route 16 in Pinkham Notch.  Pretty Jackson Falls can be seen from the roadside off Route 16A in Jackson.   There are many other waterfalls in the area as well.  Can’t decide?  The Appalachian Mountain Club Visitor Center in Pinkam Notch can provide a wealth of information about day hikes, overnight visits to their network of mountain huts and lodges, and information about a range of family with teen programs.  They are a great resource.

      Our visit to the Mount Washington Valley was arranged by the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce.  Of course, the trails are open to all (honor system donations requested) and we didn’t get any compensation for taking  the hike.  To get more ideas on how to spend your time in the Mount Washington Valley check out the links to our detailed reviews for things to do with teens by visiting our Mount Washington Valley Top 10 – Summer Edition landing page.
Jackson Family Vacation

Teens Love Mount Washington Valley, NH Shopping

 Posted by on July 10, 2010  Comments Off
Jul 102010

     As any parent of teenage girls knows, shopping is always at the top of the list when it comes to vacation activities.  Our teen was not disappointed with the range of shopping options available in North Conway and the surrounding towns of New Hampshire’s  Mount Washington Valley.  

Shopping in downtown Conway, NH

     Shopping in the Mount Washington Valley breaks down into two distinct experiences:

  • The large direct manufacturer and name brand outlets clustered at the southern end of Route 16 in North Conway.  The outlet area is anchored by Settlers’ Green Outlet Village, but is also well supported by large LL Bean, Eastern Mountain Sports and other destination outlets on both sides of the highway.  A number of chain restaurants and hotels round out the outlet area.
  • The small, eclectic shops found in the downtown centers of North Conway, Jackson, Conway and several other smaller towns.  These downtown shopping areas tend to feature  independently owned stores selling hand crafted jewelery, local artwork, fun tee shirts, and boutique clothing. The downtown streetscapes are charming with lots of character.  Stroll the shops and catch lunch or dinner at one of the non-chain downtown restaurants to enjoy the local vibe.

     All stores in New Hampshire share one attraction — no state sales tax, except on restaurants.   This can quickly save shoppers from other states 5%, 6% or more depending on the sales tax rules at home.    The outlets we shopped, including Adidas, Nike, Under Armour, Reebok, Hanesbrands and Coach, all seemed to offer standard pricing that was roughly 25% off manufacturer suggested retail pricing.  From there, most outlet stores feature 50% discount racks, 2 for 1 specials and other promotions to help increase the discounts on some but not all items.  Our teen was thrilled to be handed a 30% off coupon as she walked in the Coach store.  Applied to an item from the 50% off rack she scored a stylish Coach wrist purse for about 1/3 of retail.

     In the downtown shopping areas, the emphasis is more on finding something unique and memorable.  In North Conway, our teen spent a great deal of time examining the wares at several small downtown shops before settling on an amber and silver ring.  We found the shopkeepers to be very accommodating and appreciated their giving her ample time to browse.

     Our visit to the Mount Washington Valley was arranged by the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce.  Shopping was NOT a sponsored activity and we received no compensation from any of the stores mentioned here  — everyone who visited Coach when we were there got that 30% off coupon.  For our schedule, shopping was a good evening activity since the outlets are open until 9 pm. 

     Of course, for many visitors, shopping is the main attraction.  We will leave it to you to set your own priorities.    To get more ideas on how to spend your time in the Mount Washington Valley check out the links to our detailed reviews for things to do with teens by visiting our Mount Washington Valley Top 10 – Summer Edition landing page.