The White Mountains are beautiful at any time of year, and the activities there invite families in all seasons. The town of Jackson, not far from North Conway, in the Mount Washington Valley, is a good base for exploring this region that has been a vacation center since it was “discovered” by wealthy residents of Boston, New York and Philadelphia in the mid-1800s.
Long summer days encourage outdoor sports – fishing, golf, swimming, white-water kayaking and rafting, flatwater paddling. Four ski areas offer terrain for skiers and boarders of all skill levels, and one of the finest cross-country ski facilities in the east – Jackson Ski Touring – is located right in the center of Jackson.
The mountains beckon climbers and hikers, as well as those who prefer to let a cable car, chairlift or train take them to the top. Waterfalls, geologic formations and sweeping views reward even short hikes, and the hiking season extends from spring through late fall.
And speaking of fall, never are the mountainsides more beautiful than wrapped in bright orange, red and yellow leaves.
But we chose summer for our getaway to Nestlenook Farm and the hillside suites of Luxury Mountain Getaways. We had two little girls with us that were itching to get back to Storyland, just down the road, and although that best-of-all-theme-parks is open through fall, a day there has been a traditional part of summer vacation since their memories began.
We stayed in a two-story suite at the top of the new Victorian Village, a set of buildings that incorporate Victorian decorative themes into their lush contemporary design. Pastel patterned shingles, gables decorated in fretwork and occasional turrets create a stylish neo-Victorian style. The girls loved the little details – especially a pair of stone lions that greeted us as we entered the building. Throughout the property are pieces of the owner’s collection of salvaged architectural and landscaping elements.
Each floor of our lodgings was a complete suite of its own, with refrigerator, microwave and coffee-maker, but the lower one had a full kitchen as well, and a gas grill on the terrace. A basket of goodies in each room provided breakfast – muffins, exotic juices, fruit and cheese. We ate on the upper suite’s balcony, looking out at the mountains.
Each of the large bathrooms had a deep multi-jet whirlpool tub that delighted the girls with its blue underwater lighting. The only glitch we found was that to close the bathroom blind at night we had to step into the bathtub.
Although Mother Nature air-conditions the White Mountains most of the time, the suites provided for the odd sultry day with full remote-control air conditioning and ceiling fans. Other amenities included giant flat-screen TVs, a washer and dryer (nice for bathing suits after using the pools or hot-tubs) and a décor – original art, high-quality furnishings – with a lot more character than most resorts.
Luxury Mountain Getaways is in several segments. Victorian Village sits above Nesslenook Farm, a beautifully landscaped area of gardens, a pavilion, lawns and woods set around a double pond with a picturesque bridge. Guests are invited to fly fish, use the rowboats or – in winter, to skate on the pond. The house itself is a B&B, with charming rooms decorated with original paintings by the White Mountain School – a group of artists who put the region on the map at the turn of the 20th century.
Climbing up the hillside opposite is Nordic Village, a succession of modern suites and townhouses, as well as more recreation facilities: indoor and outdoor pools, hot tubs, fitness center. All the pools – there is another for adults only at the inn – are beautifully landscaped and have plenty of comfortable lounge chairs – even hammocks at the inn. One pool is only three feet deep, designed especially for children with plenty of lounge space for parents around the edge.
In the summer, a clown or entertainer draws families to evening get-togethers, and at any season appropriate sports equipment is always available: snowshoes, skates, fishing rods and more.
Between the resort’s activities and all the diversions the White Mountains offer, a few days really wasn’t enough time. We left with a list of things we’ll do next year; maybe we should stay somewhere less appealing, so we can tear ourselves away to tour the mountains.