New Hampshire is a convenient and tax-free haven with cooler mountain air and surprising luxury. Make the most of your visit with our guide.
Make Wentworth by the Sea your home base to explore Portsmouth. With all rooms boasting water views, this grand hotel was saved from demolition and reopened in 2003 (but not before serving as the setting of the Robert Downey Jr. thriller “In Dreams”). Its restaurant, Salt, is fresh off an extensive remodeling with a new menu and an herb garden, used by the bartenders for seasonal cocktails. In the morning, head to Portsmouth Kayak Adventures for a few hours of guided leisure on the Piscataqua River, no experience required. Have lunch downtown on the water at Martingale Wharf, where most everything on the menu has a gluten-free version. Shop for an unexpected accessory at Puttin’ on the Glitz — proprietor Assiah Russell swears by the power of a hat. [embedgallery id=178235]
Summer means ski resorts get creative, and Cranmore Mountain Adventure Park has packed in activities for everyone ages 3 and up, including a solo roller coaster and an adventure course with a zip line. After conquering the mountain, take a stroll through Settlers’ Green (www.settlersgreen.com ), featuring more than 60 tax-free factory stores. If your palate is developing a taste for the outdoors, The 1785 Inn is known for game (buffalo steak was a recent special.) Digest your busy day on the sprawling deck of the luxurious White Mountain Hotel & Resort, or soak your tired muscles in its outdoor Jacuzzi.
A large part of the fun is getting here via the Kancamagus Highway, a 35-mile scenic route through White Mountain National Forest. Though a popular route to view fall foliage, the fog-wrapped peaks and lush green valleys put on a good show of their own. Make camp at AMC Highland Center, an environmentally friendly lodge with experienced guides and free equipment rentals. Don’t go all Davy Crockett in the woods though, because the Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train leaves at 6 p.m. for a moveable feast of traditional favorites.
Bathers only have to share tranquil Echo Lake with non-motorized boats. At lunchtime, the generous portions of American food are worth the half-hour trip to Foster’s Boiler Room, which retains much of its quirky architecture as a former mill. Continue unwinding with a movie or concert at The Flying Monkey.