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(Photo: New Hampshire Division of Travel & Tourism)

How to Do a Winter Weekend in New Hampshire

Embrace the snow this winter and get out of the house–New Hampshire has skiing, Ice Castles, and beer to motivate you.

Hotels: 

The RiverWalk Resort at Loon Mountain is a brand-new development at the base of the ski area. At just over 180 feet, the RiverWalk is the tallest building in the area, so you’ll get some great views from the higher floor. A heated indoor/outdoor pool, in-house winery, and spa will keep you entertained when you’re not taking advantage of the shuttle to and from Loon.

The Woodstock Inn, Station & Brewery has everything you need for a romantic weekend away, with 40 different rooms, a lively restaurant and bar scene, and a brewery. Splurge on a room in the Cascade building, which have in-room fireplaces and Jacuzzi tubs, perfect for warming up after a long day on the slopes.

Friday: 

Drive up to the Lincoln area–if you can avoid leaving during rush hour, it should only take you about two hours to get up here from Boston.

Check in to the RiverWalk Resort and take a relaxing swim in the well-heated outdoor pool before heading out to the Common Man restaurant for dinner. Snag a seat by the massive fireplace and enjoy the complimentary cheese and crackers (but save room for the hearty portions, complimentary homemade bread, and free white chocolate after dinner). The Common Man’s comfort-style food is great for cold nights, and the diverse menu (which has everything from vegetarian “almost escargot” made from mushrooms to surf and turf) will appeal to everyone in your party.

After you’re fortified against the cold, visit the famous Ice Castles, which are just next door. This frozen attraction takes over 4,000 man-hours to make every year, and consists of delicately placed icicles embedded with colorful LED lights, ice slides, tunnels, and frozen thrones to pose on. If you can wait until the last ticket time of the evening (9:30-10 p.m.), the Ice Castles will be virtually crowd-free and even more magical.

Saturday: 

Fuel up for a day of skiing with breakfast at Texas Toast Eatery. This hot spot specializes in local food with a southern twist. The fresh fruit bowl will help you start your day off on a healthy note, and be sure to pair it with the poached eggs and garlic and rosemary potatoes to stave off hunger as you work out hard later.

Strap on your skis or snowboard and hit the slopes at Loon Mountain. Over 60 trails are spread out over three peaks, and 12 lifts help disperse the crowds, so you’ll never feel too cramped on the slopes. Loon Mountain really brings it with the snow making. I couldn’t tell the difference between their man-made snow and natural powder–it was that good. Epic views of the White Mountains will reward you at the top of every run. Going in a group of skiers of different levels? No problem–you can take a blue or black run down from all of the lifts, so you can all enjoy at your own level.

When you’re ready for a break, the Pemigewasset Base Camp will get you fed and back out there quickly, serving up made-to-order fresh sandwiches and paninis.

Head out just before last chair and over to the Woodstock Inn & Brewery, where you can check-in and drop off your stuff just in time to make the last brewery tour of the day at 4 p.m. This ultra-small “nano” brewery makes local beer that’s famous throughout the region, and the tour gives you the chance to sample five brews while learning about the production process.

Relax in your in-room Jacuzzi tub if you’ve booked a room with one, or simply warm up by one of the resort’s roaring fireplaces before enjoying dinner at the Woodstock Station Restaurant. (Be sure to make a reservation, as this is one of the area’s most popular dining spots.) This lively restaurant and bar uses local ingredients (including incorporating hops from the brewery into many items, like beer and cheese) and has a huge menu that will satisfy any craving you’ve worked up on the slopes. This lively spot really gets going after 9, when live bands strike up in the bar.

Sunday: 

Wake up in time for first chair at Cannon Mountain, a state-owned ski resort in Franconia Notch State Park. But first, enjoy breakfast at Woodstock Inn—all entrees come with free homemade sticky buns, warm bread, juice, coffee, and home fries, so it would be financially irresponsible not to eat there.

Cannon is just a quick drive down the road, and there are 265 acres of trails for you to conquer, so it’s best to start early! Cannon has earned a reputation as a “skiers mountain” and it definitely lives up to it. When I visited, the snow guns were working overtime, and providing great coverage; which combined with excellent grooming, made for perfect conditions. There are trails for every level, with lots of blues and greens for beginners/intermediates to black diamonds for those looking for a challenge.

Warm-up during lunchtime with a hearty meal at the Cannonball Pub. This restaurant’s wall of picture windows provide excellent views of the slope to entertain you while you eat. Go healthy with fresh salads, or indulge an in Irish coffee and expertly seasoned waffle fries with garlic and rosemary if you want a treat after a morning of skiing.

Jump back on the slopes and enjoy the snow until the last chair of the day–there’s no reason to leave earlier, as you can be back in Boston by 6 p.m., with plenty of time to rest and get ready for work the next day.

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Caroline was hosted by the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development. Check out VisitNH.gov for help planning your New Hampshire trip! Follow her adventures around the world on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline and on Twitter @CarolineMorse1.

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