School may be back in session, but almost all those attractions and rides we all love in the summer are still open, at least on weekends. And most will be through mid-October. Plus, some special events make fall a good time to head north on I-93.
The natural wonders of New Hampshire, such as The Flume, Lost River Gorge and Polar Caves, will soon be framed in fall colors, while mountain rides -- the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway and Mt. Washington Cog Railway and gondolas at Loon Mountain and Wildcat – can take you to panoramic views of the fall foliage. Breaking a road trip with a ride on one of these or on the Hobo Railroad or Conway Scenic Railroad give the driver a chance to look, too.
Free chairlift rides
Scenic chairlift rides are free this fall at Bretton Woods, where you’ll get post-card views of Mt. Washington. Ride round-trip or hike down after a scenic picnic or lunch at the restaurant on top of the mountain. Through October 22, visitors are treated to one chairlift ride per day
A trip to the sky
On September 13 and September 20, the Mount Washington Observatory offers day trips to the summit of Mount Washington with round-trip rides on the Mt. Washington Cog Railway and a full day exploration of the Northeast's tallest peak. An expert guide will lead walking tours that interpret the mountain’s unique natural history, weather and ecology. Before the return ride, guests get a backstage tour of Mount Washington Observatory's mountaintop weather station, which is normally not open to the public.
Special events in the White Mountains
- All ages will find something appealing in the variety of events scheduled in September and October. The King Pine Music Festival will bring music to King Pine Ski Area in East Madison (south of Conway) on the weekend of September 21 and 22.
- The following two weekends, and throughout the week from September 29 to October 6, Fryeburg Fair is just across the border from Conway, in Fryeburg. Maine’s largest agriculture fair features livestock, draft show horses, oxen, a forestry research center, agricultural exhibitions, crafts, a flower show, demonstrations, a farm museum, sheep dog trials and a midway with rides.
Pumpkin people and Highland music
From October 1 through October 20, Jackson inns and businesses will be decorated with pumpkin displays for the Return of the Pumpkin People. You can pick up a map at any one of them to follow a route – and vote on your favorites.
On the other side of the mountains, the NH Highland Games & Festival will be held September 20-22 at Loon Mountain, bringing the International Gathering of Drum Majors and the 2013 Scottish World Heavy Athletic Championships, along with activities for all ages.
Tall Tales in Waterville
The annual White Mountain Storytelling Festival returns to Waterville Valley September 27—29, bringing more than a dozen experienced storytellers to share ghost tales, children’s stories, and on Sunday morning, sacred stories. Also in Waterville Valley, on Saturday, September 28, Town Square hosts the 15th annual Chili Challenge, when area restaurants compete for the title of ‘best chili’ and the public (for $7) can taste and vote for favorites. An outdoor concert rounds out the festivities. Columbus Day Weekend, October 12-14, is Waterville Valley’s Fall Foliage Fest, which includes children’s games, pumpkin painting and a pie-eating contest, along with tent sales and a ski and snowboard swap.