You are currently viewing An Epic White Mountains Road Trip with Kids

An Epic White Mountains Road Trip with Kids

All Photography was provided by White Mountains New Hampshire, except where noted.

We are planning an epic White Mountains road trip for later this summer.  The girls have chimed in with things they want to do.  They are excited to take the cog railway up to the top of Mt. Washington. And Clint has his own favorites like hiking but I’m all about the waterfalls.  I have quite a few hikes to waterfalls planned and I’m excited about them.  Clint grew up going into the White Mountains for every season of the year and he definitely has his opinions on where to go and when.  Some of my favorite moments we’ve spent in the White Mountains have been the impromptu stop along the side of the road because we saw wildlife, sometimes a deer other times beavers in the rivers and always the birds.  New Hampshire’s White Mountains has so much to offer.

Any time of year is a great time to be in the White Mountains but for me, summer is so peaceful and enjoyable.  I like hiking through the trails while we listen to the birds and see the chipmunks and squirrels scurrying about getting food and playing.  The serenity of the woods is so peaceful and I think we could all use a little of that in our lives.  

scenery of the White Mountains
This is the White Mountains

Table of Contents

Our itinerary for our White Mountains Adventure:

For this trip, we are focusing on the loop of Route 93 to Route 3 to Route 302, with a spin-off to Mount Washington and then back to Route 112 and finishing back at Route 93.  The Ultimate route through the White Mountain National Forest.  

Starting at North Woodstock, we will stop at the White Mountain Visitors Center to get our White Mountain Forest Recreation Pass ($5.00 per week) which is required for extended stays at national forest trailheads.  We will also be sure to pick up the latest trails map.  This is a fun stop even if you aren’t going hiking.  There is a life-size stuffed moose and free coffee for those lovers of the brew in your group.  

Alpine Adventures

If you and your kids are the adrenaline junky type, stop in at Alpine Adventures just a few doors down from the visitors center and book a zip-line or off-road tour.  I’ve gotten hooked on zip-lining ever since I tried it 2 summers ago at Killington Mountain.  Check out our Killington adventure for more fun. The first time was a little scary but the second time I relaxed and really enjoyed the ride.  Now I want to try zip-lining other places as well.  The nice thing about Alpine Adventures is that they will allow the girls to participate with an adult.  This is my choice for our first stop but I must talk the girls into it.

Whale’s Tale Waterpark

If you aren’t adrenaline junkies, you could also have a day at Whale’s Tale Waterpark which was named in the top 25 waterparks in the United States by Trip Advisor.  Their attractions include many different styles and types of water slides, a little kids water area, castaway cove which is for more quieter swimming, a lazy river, as well as a wave pool.  It certainly has something for everyone and is the girl’s first choice.

Franconia Notch State Park

After the zip-lining, we will continue our drive up Route 93 to Route 3 to Franconia Notch State Park and the Flume Gorge.  The gorge is worth the stop even with the crowds.  This flume is a natural waterfall/gorge within the granite mountains with a 2-mile nature walk along a well-maintained trail to the gorge.  Mind the footing as there is moss growing along the way, especially close to the waterfall.   Along the way, you will enjoy the beauty of the mountains as well as covered bridges and other waterfalls, wildlife, and views of the other mountains within the presidential range.  When you reach the gorge I hope you are wowed by its beauty as I was the first time I went.

hiking in the White Mountains
Hiking in the White Mountains
Cannon aerial tramway
Taking the Aerial Tramway to the top of Cannon Mountain

Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway

We plan to buy the Discovery Pass which includes entry to the flume gorge as well as a ride on the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway.  I can’t wait to go on this tramway.  It takes you to the top of Cannon Mountain – someplace I’ve not yet skied – maybe next winter – which is a  4,080-foot summit!  Since you’re so high up, on a clear day, you should be able to see mountains in New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Maine, and even Canada.  Wow is that far away!  I’m sure the views will be spectacular!  If you like views check out our Killington adventure and the views we saw from up there.

At the summit, there is an observation deck to take in all those gorgeous views along with trails to hike on, a cafe, bar, and restrooms.  We plan to hike around a bit and get away from the others we took the tram up with. Being in nature by yourself is so calming and I enjoy those moments the best.  If you plan to hike down you can buy a one-way tram ticket.  For this trip, we will be taking the tram up and down so we can get some biking in.

Sport Thoma bike rentals

At the base of the tram, we will rent bicycles from Sport Thoma bike rentals. This will be our first time riding this bike trail so I can’t wait to see the views of the river as we ride along.  I’m hoping it will be much different when we’ve driven the highway.  From the bike shop, we will take their shuttle to the top of Franconia Notch Bike Path and then ride back to the shop along the Pemigewasset River, one of Clint’s favorite rivers.  

The Omni Mt. Washington Hotel
The Omni Mount Washington Hotel

Mt. Washington Hotel

Our next stop will be the Mt. Washington Hotel.  We plan on having dinner in their main dining room.  We’ll eat a little early so we can take in the majestic views of the mountains before the sun goes down.  I hope the sunset is lovely that night.  We will also take in the history of the hotel.  This hotel hosted the Bretton Woods International Monetary Conference which established the World Bank after WWII.  There are some amazing photographs in the lobby I want to show the girls as well as the grounds.

Arethusa Falls
Arethusa Falls

Arethusa Falls Trail

We will get up early the next day because we plan to get in a short morning hike on the Arethusa Falls Trail from Crawford Notch before heading over for a day at Story Land.  This trail is a 2.9-mile round trip hike with the prize at the end being seeing the beautiful waterfall.  Since it’s just a short hike we can do it in a little over an hour’s time, a perfect way to start off our day.  I’m sure the falls will be spectacular since it’s been a rainy spring and the mountains had a lot of snow this year, all the better to view that waterfall.  I can’t wait. 

Story Land

Story Land a classic amusement park with lots of fairy-tale themed rides, shows, and games.  This year I plan to get the whole family on the flume ride.  I’ve yet to convince Evelyn to go on one.  Hopefully, this will be the year she agrees to try it so I can get a funny picture of us as we fly down the flume ride.  The lazy river ride is also a great ride to go on.  Just be prepared you will get wet, no matter where you sit in the raft because they have plenty of waterfalls and sprays to ensure that.    Another ride not to be missed is driving the old-time cars along the track.  This is always a favorite for our kids.  It will certainly be a fun day.

Glen Ellis Falls in the White Mountains
Glen Ellis Falls

Waterfall Hikes

After Story Land, we’ll go north on Route 16, our spin-off from the loop, toward Mt. Washington.  Before we get to Mt. Washington though we will take a few quick hikes.   The first will be to Glen Ellis Falls.  It’s only a little more than a quarter of a mile and more of a walk than a hike but the view of this 64-foot waterfall will be well worth the stop.   Our second hike of the day will be another short one.  Thompson Falls is only .7 miles one way so it’s quite doable.  We will make sure we have our bathing suits on so we can take a dip in the swimming hole to cool off.  If plans change and we hike the whole day we will add this hike between the others. Hall’s Ledge Trail which is 3.2-miles one way and hence has amazing views of Mt. Washington.

Cog Railway going up Mt. Washington
Cog Railway

Cog Railway and Mt. Washington

We plan to take the cog railway to the top of Mt. Washington.  It’s about an hour to the top and I’m hoping the views will be amazing.  I’ve only been to the top once, after hiking the Ammonoosuc River Trail with the 10th Mountain Division alumni.  The army division my father-in-law was in during WWII.   However, on that trip, it was very cloudy the day we made it to the top.  Hopefully, we will have better weather on this trip.   

I can’t wait to show the girls the photographs and history in the museum Extreme Mt. Washington.  The weather center on the top has recorded winds as high as 231 miles per hour.  Pretty incredible!  Since Mt. Washington is the highest peak on the east coast, on a clear day, you should be able to see all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.  At 6,288 feet it doesn’t matter when you go, you will still have snow at the summit.  In other words, the nights are always cold that high up.

North Conway

No trip to the White Mountains, for me at least, is complete without a stop in the perfect mountain town of North Conway.  It’s a shoppers dream, from little trinket shops and a general store to the LL Bean outlet.  There is a store for everyone. my first stop will be to LL Bean because I love their shoes for the girls. Don’t forget to get penny candy for the kiddos as a treat for all the hiking they’ve done on this trip.

White Mountains Pinterest cover

Conway Scenic Railroad

We also plan to take a ride on the Conway Scenic Railroad on the ‘Notch Train’ which goes through Crawford Notch.  The railroad was originally built in the 1870s and travels through some of the most spectacular scenery on the east coast.   We’ll see breathtaking mountain views, past rivers, across Frankenstein Trestle and Willey Brook Bridge and stop at Crawford and Fabyan stations.  The train stops at Crawford Station for you to have lunch.  We’ll bring a pizza for Evelyn from Flatbread Pizza in North Conway, but most likely go to the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Highland Center for the rest of us.  They have a cafeteria-style menu that offers soup, sandwiches, and salads.  

Crawford Notch in the White Mountains
Crawford Notch
Cathedral Ledge in the White Mountains
Cathedral Ledge

While we are in North Conway, I’d also like to go to the Mt. Washington Weather Discovery Center.  This is a fun and interactive science museum where you can explore all about the weather and climate.  Hands-on museums are always my favorite type of museum.  Consequently, the girls actually learn something about the subject and have fun while learning.  There are even exhibits that will bring out the kid in adults.  A win, win.

Albany Covered Bridge
Albany Covered Bridge
Sabbaday Falls
Sabbaday Falls
Sabbaday Falls
Sabbaday Falls

Kancamagus Highway

Our last day will be a drive along the Kancamagus Highway.  I can’t wait to take in the scenery.  We’ll definitely stop at Sabbaday Falls and hike to the falls.  This is a bit longer hike, 4.8 miles one way so we will be sure to pack plenty of water and food.  Afterward, there are a few scenic overlooks we will be sure to stop at and take pictures.  Since there are a total of 4 overlooks and we will make a game-day decision where to stop.  The four are CL Graham Wangan Grounds Overlook, Hancock, Pemi or Pemigawasset and Sugar Hill. 

swimming in the river in the White Mountains
Picture by Leeanne Miller. Clint and the girls playing in the river along the Kancamagus Highways

Our last stop will be the Lincoln Woods Visitors Center.  We’ll see what the energy level is before heading out for another hike.  I choose the Lincoln Woods Trail to the Franconia Falls Trail but energy levels will dictate.   It’s a very easy hike but 3.5 miles one-way.  The falls at the end are beautiful and well worth the hike.  Even if we don’t get this last hike in we will take pictures of everyone on the suspension bridge.

We plan to take a week for this trip so we can enjoy each activity.   Are you planning a trip to the White Mountains as well?   I hope this has inspired you to get out into the White Mountains of New Hampshire and explore.  

What’s your favorite hike or place to explore in the White Mountains?

This Post Has 41 Comments

  1. Pam

    Sounds like it will be a fantastic trip! You’ve got a great combination of different types of activities included.

  2. Cynthia

    Wow what an amazing trip. It sounds like you have some great activities planned. My kids would absolutely love that train ride. Your pictures are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Missy

    We have not been to those White Mountains. There is a set of White Mountains in AZ that we have visited. We like hiking.

  4. alison

    Wow sounds like an epic trip. So much to do in the area. Love waterfalls, they are the best and like you I too am addicted to zip lines. so much fun for the kids.

  5. Lisa

    Your trip will be amazing! We went to new Hampshire and Vermont a couple years ago and did a bunch of the same things. I really loved all the gorgeous waterfalls!!!!!

  6. Susan

    WOW! I had never heard of the White Mountains, but they look amazing! I would love to be on a hike and find some waterfalls like the ones you’ve shared. I hope you get to take this trip. It sounds like a lot of fun!

  7. Lisa

    I love all the waterfalls! These activities sound so fun!

  8. Julie Gazdecki

    What a great itinerary. Can’t wait to hear all about your experience. I would be all about the waterfalls, train ride, and that beautiful hotel!

  9. Candy Keefer

    Whats a great experience for the family. Those views are amazing! We may have to check this location out.

  10. Tricia Snow

    Looks like an amazing trip! There is so much to do!

  11. Willy Burden

    Epic indeed! Wow! You did an awesome job planning your road trip! The views looked amazing. We enjoyed our road trip a few years back and we can’t wait to go on our next road trip! This is definitely a stop worth visiting.

  12. kmf

    Sooooo beautiful! I lived in Vermont for five years so am also a fan of New Hampshire. I definitely want to check out those waterfall hikes.

  13. Lori Nielsen

    So many things to do there! I love the waterfalls and the railroad! Hope you have a great trip!

  14. Amanda

    We just visited this area and stayed in Lincoln. It was SO beautiful. I would go back for sure. FYI- when we went, all the activities were closed because school was in and summer, although it was June. I imagine they close when their schools start back! Hope you have a lovely time. I don’t know how you wouldn’t, it’s gorgeous.

  15. Heather

    This sounds like a great trip. We have been to many of these places, as I live only a few hours south. It is a beautiful part of New England. My husband would move there if I agreed, but I am a toes in the sand girl. 🙂

    1. Leeanne

      Agreed! I love the beach too much to move away from it ever again.

  16. Jen

    Wow the waterfalls are gorgeous!

  17. Shirley

    How awesome! The Appalachian Trail goes through the Whites and everyone that hikes has great respect for those mountains. They are beautiful!

  18. Hera

    Hiking is one of my fave activities. This is definitely a place I’d love to visit. Great pics of the mountains and terrain.

  19. I absolutely love New England! It’s just breathtaking the views, mountains, waterfalls, etc. We did a trip up to VT and part of Mass and NH, but we need to do this trip for sure. Thank you for sharing, I am keeping this in my to-go files for sure!

  20. Cindy / Banjo and Layla

    I lived on Boston’s North Shore when I was in seminary and love New England. I like how you posted BEFORE your trip telling us all the things you plan to do. It’s a great itinerary, and I love the beautiful pictures. Gorgeous waterfalls!

    1. Leeanne

      I’m glad you enjoyed the road trip. We had a great time driving it. This area in New Hampshire is where my husband spent his summers so it’s near and dear to us.

  21. Cathy

    Looks like a beautiful place! Great photos! I love the waterfalls! Thanks for taking us along with you!

    1. Leeanne

      You’re welcome, Cathy. I know you would love to mountains and views.

  22. Monica

    Pinned for later! We are timeshare travelers and there are some great timeshare resorts near the white mountains

    1. Leeanne

      Absolutely. The great thing about the White Mountains is that it really is a year-round destination. Go when you want. We go in every season. We ski, camp, and hike the White Mountains so it’s a great area for us.

  23. John

    I like your post very much. We used to visit the White Mountains when I was a kid

    1. Leeanne

      Thanks, John. My husband has been enjoying showing all the places to our kids.

  24. Karie

    Sounds like a great trip and probably pretty inexpensive. I love all those waterfalls of the white mountains.

  25. Lisa

    Wow there is a lot to explore in the white mountains. This would be a great road trip!

  26. Karen

    What an amazing epic road trip with kids to explore the White Mountains in New Hampshire! So beautiful and so much to do and see!

  27. Marianne G

    White Mountains looks to be the perfect road trip! Would love to ride that tramway! And the waterfalls are definitely gorgeous! Looks like you and the family had some great weather!

    1. Leeanne

      Yes, New England is a great place to road trip. I’m sure you would love the tramway.

  28. I’ve not been far into New England, and your beautiful photos are enticing me to think about a trip to the White Mountains. Wow, the scenery, and waterfalls!

    1. Leeanne

      Yes, both the scenery and the mountains are amazing in New England.

  29. Katie

    Do you have recommendations on where to stay or make our “home base” for a trip like this. What do drive times look like? Trying to maximize time in the outdoors instead of driving more than needed. This trip sounds right up our alley with three girls 5,3 and 1. Thanks!

    1. Leeanne

      This road trip was laid out as a big circle. We love to spend time in North Conway. You can certain use that as your home back and spend one day south on the Kancamagus highway and than another north by the Mt. Washington Hotel. That way you are exploring in one area each day. Enjoy.

Leave a Reply