Ski areas have opened already, but you don’t need to be a skier to love December in the Mount Washington Valley. North Conway is bustling with Christmas shoppers, not only in the outlet malls, but in the boutiques and shops that line the main street. A League of NH Craftsmen gallery shows locally made crafts, and The Penguin Gallery has gifts you won’t find elsewhere.
Train rides through the mountains
Ride the rails through the Mount Washington Valley on the Conway Scenic Railroad, and see more of the mountains than you can when the trees are leaf-covered. Begin with a look at the old rail memorabilia in the 1874 train station in North Conway, then board the vintage train for a ride to either Conway or Bartlett and back again. At this time of year, trains depart at 11:30 and 1:30 on Saturday and Sunday. Like the Conway Scenic Railroad, the Mount Washington Cog Railway operates in December, with one-hour rides to the halfway point.
Learn about the weather
While in North Conway, be thankful you’re not on the summit of Mt. Washington, as you watch the actual conditions there on live monitors at the Weather Discovery Center. Use the interactive exhibits to see how snowdrifts form, and step inside the reproduction of the Mt. Washington Observatory to feel what it was like when the world’s highest wind velocity was recorded there.
Jackson loves Christmas
Get in the holiday spirit at Christmas Farm Inn, in Jackson, and relax with a hot stone massage, rejuvenating body wrap or facial in their Aveda Spa. Just down the street, see how early White Mountain artist Frank Shapleigh viewed these landscapes, at the current exhibit of the Jackson Historical Society, “Shapleigh from the Inside Out” on show through January. Every weekend Jackson celebrates the holidays with Traditionally Yours festivities that include chocolate tours, craft fairs, wine and drink tastings, cookie decorating workshops and more..
Eat well at country inns
Sample the fine dining menu of Chef Brian Anderson at Snowvillage Inn, in Eaton, just south of Conway, and savor the views of the Presidential Range from guest rooms at this hilltop aerie. Or visit more than a dozen different B&Bs and inns in the region during the 17th Annual Inn-to-Inn Holiday Cookie Tour. This year’s tour is the weekend of Dec. 13th – 15th. With one ticket you can tour the inns to see their Christmas decorations, sample their favorite cookies and take home a set of recipes for these and previous years’ favorites. All the inns, including Snowvillage Inn, offer special weekend packages that include tour tickets and other extras.