Travel Guide: Choose Your Own Adventure in North Conway, New Hampshire

Leave the skis behind and get ready to peep the White Mountains’ peaks from a whole new perspective this month.

Soak up the panoramic vistas from the top of North Conway’s Cathedral Ledge. / Photo by Leo Ceccarelli/500px/Getty images

New England is blessed with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to picture-perfect weekend getaways. But this point in autumn, when the leaves are turning and the days are (often) still pleasant and sunny, is the ideal time to head north to the White Mountains—specifically the North Conway area, a.k.a. the choose-your-own adventure of fall trips. After all, where else can you summit Mount Washington by foot, car, or train; enjoy a gentle hike with the whole fam; or just kick back and crack open a frosty one while soaking up the foliage?

First things first: the great outdoors. There are infinite hikes in the region, with a number of lower-impact choices close to town, including the quick 1.3-mile Diana’s Baths trail, which culminates at a series of waterfalls; rambling waterfront jaunts at Echo Lake State Park; and the breathtaking views of town at Cathedral Ledge State Park. On rainy days—or when you’re looking to complement your eco-adventure with a bit of history—check out the Eastern Slope branch of the charming New England Ski Museum to start getting excited about your winter plans.

When you’re ready to gear up, or wind down after a day of action, you’ll find plenty of fuel. In the morning, it’s hard to beat the breakfast sandwich from the Sunrise Shack, which comes on a pillowy bolo levedo (Portuguese English muffin), but the apple cinnamon crêpes at Peach’s Restaurant come close. Snack time is all about sweet treats from White Mountain Cupcakery, or micro-batch ice cream from McKaella’s Sweet Shop. Come dinner, you’ll find a wide range of options, from wood-fired pizzas at Flatbread Company to the tasty Korean barbecue tacos from Barley & Salt.

Of course, there’s always plenty to celebrate this time of year. If you stop by North Conway on a weekend this month, your visit might coincide with the Mount Washington Valley Fall Craft Fair (October 2-3) or the Craft & Artisan Festival (October 9-10), both of which showcase local makers’ work. And be sure to check out the Tuckerman Brewing Company website for a calendar of live music—the craft brewery hosts shows throughout the month, proving that here in the heart of the mountains, a good time is never far away.

Photo ©Tim Shellmer/Courtesy of The White Mountain Hotel & Resort

Getting There

The nearly three-hour car journey takes you up the coast to Portsmouth before veering inland up Route 16.

Staying There

Fresh off a major renovation last spring, the White Mountain Hotel & Resort is an optimal base camp for every adventure. At just 3 miles outside of downtown North Conway, it’s convenient to everything you’d want to do in town, but secluded enough to nail those “relaxing weekend away” vibes, too.