Things to do in North Conway, NH in Summer!
Most vacationers that come to North Conway have a rough idea of what they want to do on vacation - after all, you picked a vacation in the White Mountains and not the beach!
I'll break it down for you into 7 days packed with fun - there's also a bonus 8th day for those that cannot get enough!
If you're like me, you spent lots of time in northern NH as a kid. My folks were not athletic but they loved going for rides through the mountains and pick a place to stay along the way! I guess that's when I got my desire to live and work in North Conway!
I am a hiker, biker, horseback rider (call me anytime to talk about horses!), kayaker, canoer, explorer, love waterfalls, shop when I need to, LOVE to eat out, am very social so we frequently can be seen enjoying a drink with friends, raised children here and now get to enjoy all the "kid stuff" with the grand babies, and lover of any activity the gets me outdoors summer, fall, winter or spring!
Follow along my journey around North Conway and the White Mountains and benefit from the fact that I've wasted time and money on activities and you don't need to make the same mistakes as me. I've included the best of the best in value and fun, things to do in North Conway. I hope you agree!
If you play your cards right, you can arrive early and stay late to enjoy 8 perfect summer days with plenty of things to do in North Conway, NH!
Day 1 - North Conway Country Club - Conway Scenic Railroad
Today's the day... the first day of your best vacation yet!
I suggest to Four Seasons Lodge guests that they arrive early and go to Ledgewood Grill at North Conway Country Club for lunch. The view from the deck is by far the BEST in the entire Mt Washington Valley!
The servers and kitchen staff are very in tune with food sensitivities and allergies so don't hesitate to chat with them about what your needs include. The quality and selection of the food they prepare is top notch and the presentation is beautiful! We try something new every time we go.
The picture above was taken from our favorite seats on the deck. If you are there and see two middle age folks smiling from ear to ear (one with a pint of unfiltered wheat beer and an orange slice), chatting with all the vacationers and staff - it's US!
Look closely at the picture. You'll notice some suspicious looking railroad tracks cutting directly through the golf course. They belong to the Conway Scenic Railroad. You could plan a two-fer, have breakfast at the North Conway Country Club and then ride the rails of the Conway Scenic Railroad before checking in at Four Seasons Lodge. Sounds perfect to me!
After a late lunch check in at Four Seasons Lodge (the best of the vacation rentals in North Conway, NH!) and let your shoulders drop away from your earlobes! You've arrived! Time to relax and enjoy what's going to be our best vacation yet!
Day 2 - Diana's Baths & Mt Washington Weather Discovery Center
Get up and get out early! Grab your camera and drive less than 10 minutes (from Four Seasons Lodge!) to Diana's Baths.
The best time to get great photos of the waterfalls that cascade for about a half mile is in the early AM. Plan to arrive before the crowds so you can explore, pose for photos and scramble onto a flat rock and enjoy a snack.
Next on your agenda should be the Mount Washington Observatory Weather Discovery Center in North Conway.
I homeschooled my son and since he was a science buff, we spent countless hours pouring over all the information in this wonderful science museum!
It's very interactive, fun and informative. A great place to come and prepare for your journey to the top of Mt Washington! It will make your ascent much more enjoyable knowing more about weather, Mt Washington and the research going on at the summit.
Admission is cheap and you'd be wise to set aside just under 2 hours if you're going with children that love to interact with science!
Day 3 - Conway Scenic Railroad Never Disappoints
There are a few things to do in North Conway that are not cheap and Conway Scenic Railroad rides are one of them. Not cheap, BUT no matter the season, I highly recommend a train ride through our beautiful valley and the White Mountains!
Thomas the Tank Engine (in the picture above) visits North Conway for two weeks every year. Conway Scenic Railroad hosts Thomas and Percy. Check out the Conway Scenic Railroad's website for Thomas's date of arrival!
It's so fun to see the kids faces when they "meet" Thomas in person! Check here for more information about Thomas the Tank Engine and Percy too!
The day of your ride plan to arrive early. They suggest you check-in early and it will leave you time to check out the North Conway Depot and railroad yard.
The railroad yard has railroad cars that are privately owned and used as vacation homes at the depot! There are quite a few of them and if you bump into an owner, you'll find them excited and eager to talk about their passion! It MUST be a passion because really, who could live in a railroad car?
There is a small museum and gift shop in the train station. Both are worth a bit of your time. I learned a lot about the history of the station and that train travel and skiing are why North Conway is on the map!
For many reasons, my favorite excursion is the Notch Train. It departs at 11 AM and arrives back in North Conway late afternoon.
The journey takes you over track that were laid in the 1870's and is a veritable buffet for the eyes as you pass over deep ravines, steep cliffs, beautiful lakes, brooks and waterfalls!
You'll be treated to an on-going description of the history of the area and what mountains you are passing.
Make sure you bring a lunch because there's a half-way stopping point with a spot for a quick hike around Saco Lake and picnic tables to enjoy your lunch at the train station!
Young and old alike will enjoy this journey!
When you've said your good-bye's to the conductor and engineer, drive the 1/2 mile to First Bridge on River Road. By now, most of the swimmers are water-logged and have headed home. You'll have the Saco River to yourselves and you can play in the water to get rid of some energy, wave to the late day kayakers or sit and watch the fly fishermen that line the banks at dusk!
You'll get a treat if it's a colorful sunset. Look west and there's usually some great color over White Horse Ledge!
Day 4 - Hiking & Then Riding the Kancamagus Highway
I cannot believe it's Wednesday already! Today I recommend climbing (strong word to describe the 10 minute scramble) Jockey Cap in Fryeburg, Maine.
Almost anyone can make it to the top. A few years ago my Dad (at 90 years old) climbed Jockey Cap on a 95 degree day! If he could do it, your crew can too!
It's the only place in the Mount Washington Valley or White Mountains that you can stand in one place and have a 360 degree view from the top of a mountain! It's a gorgeous view on a clear day!
Today, I would suggest packing a lunch so you can motor from Jockey Cap to the Kancamagus Highway to finish out this perfect day!
The Kancamagus Highway or "Kanc" as the locals refer to it, is an almost 30 mile, 2 lane road that connects the Mount Washington Valley to Lincoln, NH.
It's a twisty, turny, upsy downsy road that will amaze you at every turn! There are many spots where you can turn off to enjoy the view, scamper down to the river's edge to swim or scramble around on the rocks.
Take advantage of these stops, you will have some great photo-op spots and see nature like you've not seen elsewhere!
Make sure you have a full tank of gas and bring your bathing suits, towels, water shoes, sunscreen, sun glasses or a hat because you'll definitely find some running water to splash around in!
Relax and enjoy, you're on vacation in North Conway, NH!
Day 5 - Mt Washington Auto Road or Cog Railway
Are you a thrill seeker or an adrenaline junkie? If you are either of those or just love the unusual and exciting, you will go wild over the Mt Washington Auto Road and Cog Railway!
I always suggest that folks experience both modes of transportation to the top of Mt Washington! Like the Conway Scenic Railroad, they're not cheap, but they are worth every single penny for totally different reasons!
I would do the Mt Washington Auto Road in the morning to avoid any traffic up or down. If you're too chicken to drive yourself, you can purchase a ticket for a tour van and get a guided tour and be in charge of taking pictures instead of worrying about driving off the road!
Take your time on the Auto Road, enjoy the view and try to identify as many of the mountains in the Presidential Range as you can. You can continue your geography and history lesson at the top.
Keep and eye out for wildlife! You have a shot of seeing moose, bear, fox, bald eagles and other animals from the Auto Road. If you purchase a ticket for a van, ask for a driver that is as enthusiastic as you about the trip.
There is a gift shop and a hotel museum at the summit. Plan about an hour and a half to wander, learn and snap some photos before your decent.
Next on your agenda should be a ride up the back side of the mountain on the Cog Railway.
Prepare yourself for a train ride like you've never experienced before!
You should carve 3 hours out of your day for this wild trip! Each way of the journey takes one hour and you can spend another hour at the Summit having lunch and relaxing. At one point the train and tracks are at a 37 degree angle to the mountain. It's a feeling like you've never imagined!
Imagine your delight when you experience the panoramic view of the mountains and valleys of New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, north into Canada and all the way to the Atlantic Ocean!
Grab a bite to eat at the Summit of Mt Washington, use the facilities and head back outside to prepare for your ride back to flat land!
Day 6 - Saco River Tubing for the Young & Young at Heart
Day 6: Friday
A very long time ago I moved to North Conway and couldn't wait to tube the Saco River. It seemed like such a local thing to do in North Conway!
I searched all around and bought a tube from an 18 wheeler tire to use. I figured that I could save a lot of money because one tire tube would last me for many years. It lasted all right but my bathing suits, towels and the back of my SUV didn't!
Take if from me, buying a tube from Christmas Tree Shop in Conway and running to Irving to blow it up is MUCH cheaper!
It doesn't matter if you want to kayak, canoe or tube, you'll have a wonderful day! Make sure you pack a dry bag, sunscreen, a wet suit if you're a freeze pop like me, CHEAP sunglasses (emphasis on CHEAP because you WILL lose them!), water shoes, a hat and warm clothing.
I'm not even going to suggest certain places to put-in and take-out because they're all good. Just make sure you allow enough time to relax and enjoy the journey. It's guaranteed to take you longer than you think!
Day 7 - Shop Til You Drop at Settlers Green Outlet Mall
Go shopping! It's Saturday! Most vacation rentals in North Conway have their turn-over day on Saturday so Settlers Green shouldn't be too busy!
Stop by the Administrative Offices and pick up a coupon discount book. If you play your cards right, it will save you lots of do-re-mi!
If you're like me and not a shopper, you can volunteer to take the kids to the movies at Mountain Valley Mall Cinema 7 on Route 16 in Conway, NH. or to Echo Lake in North Conway so they can hike or swim!
Echo Lake State Park is a great place for kids and parents to relax and unwind. It's located at 68 Echo Lake Road, North Conway, NH 03860 and the phone number is 603.356.2672.
There is a 3/4 mile trail around Echo Lake that youngsters love. For most tykes that vacation at Four Seasons Lodge, this is their first official hike! There are wonderful views of 700 foot Cathedral Ledge from every side of the lake. Remember to snap some photos while you're there. Cathedral Ledge makes a perfect backdrop for family photos!
Admission fees for Echo Lake State Park are $4 for adults; $2 for children ages 6-11; children ages 5 and under and NH residents age 65 and over are admitted free.
If you'd like to catch the view from the top of Cathedral Ledge, you can opt for the 1 mile drive to the top up the auto road. It's a great alternative when you're on a hike with tykes!
The views from the top are spectacular and include the Saco River Valley (North Conway) and a good bit of the White Mountains! Sit back and enjoy the view and you might be rewarded with a rock climber scrambling onto level ground!
Day 8 - Pig Out at Red Fox Restaurant
I'm about to give you the best advice of the day! Listen carefully...
Set your alarms early on Sunday morning and head to Red Fox Restaurant in Jackson, NH for their world famous (OK, locally famous) Sunday breakfast brunch!
The menu is extensive and varied and most of the food is freshly cooked right in front of you.
The price is cheap and the food is GREAT plus, when you finish you can head home and beat all the traffic from those that slept late!
I wish someone had given me all this great advice 40 years ago when I used to vacation in North Conway!
I hope you enjoy all our suggestions and we have the opportunity to meet you at Four Seasons Lodge soon!
Four Seasons Lodge
31 Whiskiers Lane
North Conway, NH 03860
We are locals and know the ins and outs of North Conway.