Northern Exposure

It can be a struggle to keep your eyes on the road as you drive into North Conway, N.H. Tugging at your attention from the west are the sweeping arches and sheer cliffs of Cathedral Ledge and White Horse Ledge as they stand watch over the center of town. Then there's the town itself. During the holiday season, wreaths and lights are hung from the streetlights with care. Add a light dusting of snow and the Currier and Ives effect is complete.

This time of year, North Conway and the Mount Washington Valley are a haven for downhill and cross-country skiers. Attitash/Bear Peak (374-2368) is one of New Hampshire's largest ski areas and has top-notch snowmaking and grooming. Stop to catch your breath while skiing at Wildcat (800 255-6439), and you'll have it taken away again by the cathedralesque views of Tuckerman Ravine. Mount Cranmore (356-5544) is perched on the outskirts of North Conway. During the evening, the night skiing lights add to the festive displays in town. Black Mountain (383-4490) is on the way to Wildcat and offers a family-friendly atmosphere.

The Jackson Ski Touring Center (383-9355) is the local headquarters for cross-country skiing. Immaculately groomed tracks wend their way through the woods and over the rolling hills of the golf course that sleeps beneath its winter blanket. A bit further north, Great Glen Trails (466-2333) serves up a network of cross-country skiing trails at the base of Mount Washington.

Not all of the area's activities are outdoors. Before you pull into North Conway, you'll plow through "outlet row," a densely populated strip of factory outlet stores. The names are familiar: Brooks Brothers, Dansk, L.L. Bean, Lenox, Osh Kosh B'Gosh, Ralph Lauren and Reebok, to name a few.

You won't be able to escape Horsefeathers (356-6862) if you're in North Conway for more than a couple of meals. Right on the main drag, it is as much a destination as a restaurant. The Red Parka Pub is another spot of local renown, located at the intersection of Routes 16 and 302.

Treat yourself to luxurious accommodations. The Eastern Slope Inn (800 862-1600) is top shelf. Located on Main Street and just a block from the central square, the stately mansion with its white lights and white pillars is elegance personified, and you couldn't ask for a more central location. The Mount Washington Hotel and Resort (800 258-0330) and The Red Jacket Inn (800 752-2538) are also primo locations.

Sometimes it's a contest as to which is brighter, the holiday lights or the seemingly endless conga line of brake lights snaking its way up Route 16. Give yourself the time and brave the crowds -- it's worth it. (All area codes are 603, unless otherwise noted.)

This story, "Northern Exposure" was originally published by CIO.


Copyright © 2001 IDG Communications, Inc.

Bing’s AI chatbot came to work for me. I had to fire it.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon