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Things to Do in the White Mountains of New Hampshire

New Hampshire, a short drive from where I live in Massachusetts, is home to some of my favorite family attractions. I have fond memories of visiting these New Hampshire attractions when I was a kid and have loved returning with my children. Many of the wonderful family-friendly things to do in NH are in the White Mountains region.

The attractions in the White Mountains NH are great for even young children, which makes it a great family destination for a weekend getaway or a longer trip. The White Mountains contain many of the top things to do in New Hampshire. If you are planning an East Coast family vacation, it’s definitely worth visiting New Hampshire – either for a weekend or a longer part of your vacation.

With the mountain passes, lakes, activities, and so much more, the White Mountains can be a great family destination in the winter, summer, spring, and fall (when the fall foliage is absolutely gorgeous). Here are some of our favorite things to do in the White Mountains with kids, including things to do in North Conway NH, and things to do in Lincoln NH.

Disclosure: In the past, I’ve received complimentary admission to several of these White Mountains New Hampshire attractions. However, I’ve also purchased admission on my own a number of times, and have been traveling to the region since I was a child.

All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. A purchase and/or click through on one of the links may result in a small commission paid to us at no additional cost to you.

The White Mountains in the summer

Attractions in the White Mountains of New Hampshire

We don’t ski much, so we typically visit the White Mountains NH in the late spring and summer months when the weather is warmer. Keep in mind that it does get crowded on weekends in the summer, so weekdays or early season is best if you can manage it in your schedule.

Check attraction hours, as some have limited hours except in the summer – sometimes only open on weekends. You’ll also want to know when the attractions open and close for their season.

If you do ski, you’ll be able to choose from a variety of fantastic East Coast ski resorts in the White Mountains region. These include the following:

  • Loon Mountain Resort in Lincoln
  • Attitash Mountain Resort in Bartlett
  • Gunstock Mountain Resort in Gilford
  • Cannon Mountain Ski Resort in Franconia
  • Wildcat Mountain in Gorham
  • Cranmore Mountain in North Conway
  • Bretton Woods Ski Area in Bretton Woods
Foliage in the White Mountains in New Hampshire

Things to Do in Lincoln NH

Lincoln, New Hampshire, located off of Route 93, is home to several fun family attractions. In the summer, enjoy a trip to the Whale’s Tale Water Park, which includes eleven waterslides, a wave pool, a lazy river, an activity area, and Akua Beach. It’s a great place to have fun while staying cool.

Tickets to Whale’s Tale include admission to all of the attractions while you are there. The water park offers two food venues and changing facilities. Lockers are available for an additional fee, and you should bring along your own towels. (see reviews of Whale’s Tale here).

While you could definitely plan to spend the whole day there, you could also spend part of a day if you don’t have enough time to dedicate during your trip.

Younger kids will enjoy visiting Clark’s Trading Post, also located in Lincoln. This small park offers a train ride (where you’ll be chased by a scary, but not too scary wolfman), a climbing tower, and a river raft ride.

In addition, there are two live shows – the infamous trained bear show, and a Chinese acrobat show. (see reviews here). I always have fond memories of visiting Clark’s as a kid, so it was fun to return with my children to see the shows and check out the rides. It’s definitely an institution and is such a unique place.

For some outdoor fun, head down the road to Franconia Notch State Park. This beautiful state park features a number of traditional state park activities, including hiking trails, lake swimming, and fly fishing.

There’s also an aerial tramway and the Flume Gorge. This area definitely gets very crowded in season, so arrive early for the best parking options, especially in the summer on the weekends when the lot can fill up.

Just past Lincoln is the small town of North Woodstock, where you can find the Lost River Gorge & Boulder Caves. Open from mid-spring through early fall, Lost River includes caves, hikes, and other outdoor activities. It’s an enjoyable place to explore and great if you want to get some time outside.

There are also special events and activities including animal presentations and lantern tours at Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves. Check their website for specifics of when they are open, and when the special events are scheduled.

Looking for other things to do in Lincoln NH? You’ll also find the Hobo Railroad, fun gift shops, and miniature golf. There are also some great family resorts where you enjoy outdoor/indoor pools and other family activities right on the property.

Lincoln is such a nice town with a great combination of activities as well as beautiful outdoor scenery. Take some time to look at the mountains and snap some pictures.

Tractor ride at Story Land

Things to Do in North Conway NH

For more White Mountains NH activities, head across the scenic Kancamagus Highway to North Conway NH. Even the car ride takes you through such beautiful scenery in the White Mountains National Forest. While taking the drive, you’ll find some scenic outposts that are worth stopping to take landscape photos.

There are so many things to do in North Conway NH. One of our favorite things to do is to visit the fabulous outlet shops of Settler’s Green.

Remember that there is no sales tax in New Hampshire, making the outlet prices even better! Even if we aren’t visiting the White Mountains specifically to shop, I always stop at Settler’s Green for a little while.

There are also lots of independent shops and restaurants in North Conway. The town center is so quaint, and there, you’ll find the Conway Scenic Railroad, where you can take a scenic train trip around the area. Younger kids especially will love that.

Right past North Conway, you’ll also find some other small towns in the area. The most popular White Mountains attraction for kids is Story Land, technically located in Glen, NH. For families with younger kids, this is one of the best places to visit in New Hampshire.

I used to visit Story Land as a child, and always loved it. It’s expanded over the years and is now you’ll want to spend at least one full day there. The fairy tale attractions at the front of the park appeal to younger kids, while elementary-aged kids will love the flume, small roller coaster, and more.

Guests who enter the park during the last three hours of the day will receive a complimentary ticket to visit another day. We find that this is the best value, and gives us lots of time in the park.

Story Land is definitely one of the most popular things to do in the White Mountains, and I recommend visiting if you’ve got younger kids. It’s another institution that has entertained generations of families.

Adjacent to Story Land is the brand new Living Shores Aquarium, on the grounds of the former Heritage New Hampshire. The aquarium offers exhibits and touch pools, as well as a restaurant. While Story Land is open seasonally, the aquarium is open year-round.

Girl in front of climbing wall

Down the road from Story Land is the Attitash Mountain Resort. In the winter, Attitash is a popular ski resort with 68 trails and 11 lifts. In the summer, Attitash Mountain Resort offers two alpine slides, a zip line tour, and a mountain coaster.

An attractions pass is available in the summer and includes the alpine slides, mountain coaster, rock wall climb, chairlift rides, and more. The zip line is popular, so be sure to make reservations for the tour in advance, since it has limited capacity. There’s an additional fee for this beyond the attractions pass (see reviews of Attitash here).

While we loved visiting Story Land when my kids were younger, on my most recent summer trip to the White Mountains, we spent most of our time at Attitash. We chose to pay extra to do the zip line tour, and it was so much fun. If your kids are a bit older and are adventurous, I would definitely recommend it.

Another ski resort, Cranmore Mountain Resort, is located right in North Conway. In the winter, you can enjoy skiing as well as a tubing and mountain adventure park.

Visiting in the summer? Check out the Mountain Adventure Park, which offers eight different rope courses.

Foliage along a street

Other White Mountains Attractions

There are other great places to explore in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. One of the most popular places to visit in New Hampshire is the famous Mount Washington. Drive your car up Pinkham Notch on the Mt. Washington Auto Road to reach the highest peak in the Northeast United States.

If you don’t want to drive, there’s also the option for a guided tour in season. There’s also the Mount Washington Cog Railway which will take you there. Fall can be the most beautiful time to visit, but it can also be very busy and lodging will be more expensive.

If you’ve got younger kids, consider driving to Jefferson, New Hampshire, where you’ll find Santa’s Village. When my kids were little, they loved this fun amusement park where it’s Christmas every day.

Santa’s Village features 20 rides as well as entertainment, other attractions, food, and shops. It’s open daily in the summer, and on weekends seasonally through Christmas. It’s best for younger kids who will appreciate the Santa and Christmas theme.

White Mountains NH Hotels

There are so many lodging options in the White Mountains, including vacation homes, bed and breakfasts, quaint inns, and family hotels. Here are some White Mountains NH hotels for families:

North Conway Grand (see reviews here) : This hotel is located right at the Settler’s Green Outlets and offers an indoor and outdoor pool as well as lots of kids’ activities. We’ve stayed there on several trips and have enjoyed being so close to the outlets. You can just walk outside the hotel and you are right there!

Red Jacket Mountain View Resort: Enjoy access to an indoor water park (extra fee applies) at this beautiful, hilltop resort. It’s located right in the center of the White Mountains activities.

Residence Inn North Conway: If you like to have a little more space, this hotel offers family suites as well as a complimentary breakfast. It’s located near the Settler’s Green Outlet mall.

The Mountain Club at Loon Mountain: Located at Loon Mountain on the Lincoln, NH side of the White Mountains, this resort offers many family amenities.

Indian Head Resort (see reviews here): This legendary family resort offers an indoor and outdoor pool as well as a beautiful location on a lake.

Where to Eat in the White Mountains

We’ve had some delicious food at restaurants in the White Mountains. Some of our favorites include the Common Man and Woodstock Station in Lincoln, and the Stairway Cafe, 27 North, Barley and Salt, and Flatbread Pizza in North Conway. Most of the restaurants in the area are fairly casual and kid-friendly.

Things to Do in the White Mountains of New Hampshire

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Lori Lavender Luz

Friday 1st of June 2012

My FIL races Mount Washington once in awhile, so I have actually been through the White Mountains. Glad you were able to spend your holiday weekend there!

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