mwv insider Blog

February Vacation in Mt. Washington Valley!

Winter

This February vacation has so many fun events happening on and off the slopes in Mt. Washington Valley, let it be your premier vacation destination. With thirteen ski resorts and XC Centers that offer plenty of on-slope fun, as well as dog sled rides, train rides, guided adventure, and insider tips on where to eat, and what to order your February Vacation in Mt. Washington Valley will keep you entertained for seven days straight!

Below is an itinerary with ideas on how to spend each day of your vacation in Mt. Washington Valley. Follow it exactly or let it be inspiration for your trip. Whatever you don't get to do on this visit, just bookmark it for your next one! Because you'll definitely want to come back again!

Many lodging properties offer amazing packages this holiday season by partnering with local ski resorts, snowmobile purveyors, restaurants, and shops. Find a lodging property you love, and inquire about any specials they may have.

Before you do anything though, sign the MWV Pledge! This ten-point responsibility code on how to safely and responsibly recreate in the White Mountains helps us spread the word on how protect them! Sign your name and join the others who pledge to care for this forest to ensure it sticks around for years to come!

For more information on planning your Mt. Washington Valley vacation, sign up for our monthly newsletter!

Photo c/o Wiseguy Creative Photography

Day One: Get in the slope-side spirit!

The ski areas of Mt. Washington Valley are dedicated to entertaining you and your group of friends and family. Many of the thirteen alpine and cross-country ski resorts are hosting family-friendly events throughout North Conway, NH; Jackson, NH, and beyond!

Cranmore Mountain: It’s all about fun this February at Cranmore Mountain Resort. Cranapalooza, Cranmore’s signature family event, will take place on throughout February from 2:30pm – 4:30pm, including Saturday, February 11th, and February 18th through February 25th. On February 25th, Cranapalooza culminates in a fireworks display at 6:30pm! Held in Schneider Square, the block party style event includes $1 smores, music, appearances from Cranmore’s penguin mascot, C-more, lawn games, giveaways and more.

Live music will be playing in Zip’s Pub from some of the Valley’s favorite musicians, scheduled regularly on Wednesday's and Saturday's, Cranmore increases the playing schedule to daily through the February vacation period, from 4pm – 7pm!

Live Entertainment is also hosted at King Pine Ski Area's Trail Side Tavern. Playing every Saturday from 3:00pm to 6:00pm, live music at King Pine features a different artist every week!

Attitash Mountain Resort, and its sister, and neighboring mountain Bear Peak offers free live music on Saturdays at Attitash and Bear Peak Base Areas. Click Learn More for featured bands.

Ski resorts aren't just for skiing either! You can tube at many of the resorts, including King Pine Ski Area, Great Glen Trails, and Cranmore Mountain Resort - which also welcomes you to take rides on its mountain coaster, Giant Swing, and Soaring Eagle Zip Line!

Night Skiing is also a popular offering with Pleasant Mountain in Bridgton, Maine offering the most Night Skiing in New England, starting at 3:30pm, Monday through Saturday! King Pine also hosts Twilight Hours every Tuesday, starting at 3:30pm, and Cranmore Mountain offers night skiing on Saturdays and holiday periods until 8pm.

Insider Tip: Head to Matty B’s across the street from the Attitash Mountain Resort where you'll find Sriracha Wings and one of the best burgers to be found in the valley!


Day Two: Go for a Guided Snowshoeing Trek!

Purity Spring Resort, Great Glen Trails, Appalachian Mountain Club, and Mt. Washington Valley Ski Touring Foundation  offer guided snowshoe tours.

The AMC offers many activities, one of them being a family guided snowshoe tour! This all inclusive adventure is designed for families in search of a fun winter experience on snowshoes. The trip begins with an orientation session and overnight at AMC's Highland Center. You'll spend Saturday and Sunday exploring Crawford Notch on snowshoes, and will travel through the forest in search of animal tracks. The terrain is beginner to moderate and the pace will be comfortable with plenty of time to explore and learn. No prior snowshoe experience is required.

While snowshoeing at Purity Spring Resort, you'll enjoy an approximate 1-1.5 hour guided snowshoe tour (moonlit tours are a bit longer) of the NH Audubon's Hoyt Wildlife Sanctuary Loop. Equipment rentals are available, and must be made in advance. Click here to learn more, and see which dates are available for guided tours.

Mt. Washington Ski Touring Foundation hosts regular guided snowshoe tours that depart every Saturday from its Touring Center at Ragged Mountain. Tours start at 1:00 pm, and are ideal for first-timers and novices interested in learning basic techniques.

The guided snowshoe walk takes you along the East Branch and Saco rivers. Tours last between 1.5 - 2 hours covering a distance of less than 2 miles at an easy pace. This activity is suitable for all ages and abilities. Learn about the trees and wildlife and search for animal tracks while learning basic snowshoeing technique and bushwacking skills. Click the link to learn more.

Guided evening snowshoe tour at Great Glen Trails are led by an Appalachian Mountain Club Naturalist, you'll learn to navigate by using your senses, learn new animal sounds and calls, and test your  night vision. There is a minimum age of 8 years old to participate, and Great Glen Trails offer snowshoes for rent. The program lasts 90-minutes, and you'll finish the tour having learned something new. Once you're done, make the trek across the street to The Glen House Hotel for dinner, and piping hot cup of hot cocoa.

Insider Tip: Sometimes it's nice to relax back at your room and watch more cable television then you normally would at home! Grab a pizza to-go from some of our favorite spots including Boston Brothers Pizza. It offers pizza, calzones, sandwiches, appetizers, and more. Even better - it delivers!

photo c/o Cait Bourgault Photography

Day Three: Mingle with the locals and find them at these events...

Mt. Washington Backcountry Ski Festival is getting ready for an epic event centered around community, a shared love of the White Mountains, and winter adventure. Taking place February 9th through February 12th, the event features guided tours, avalanche education, demos, friendly competition, live music, social gatherings and more. Tickets are sold through the event’s website, at www.skimtwashington.com

Ticket holders can take part in four days of events, each tailored with a different lens to highlight the backcountry industry, and punctuated with three nightly apres-ski events.

Mount Washington Valley Ice Fest: Going on its 30th year, the festival is dedicated to the love of climbing. Ever since it started in 1993, it’s been bringing together climbers of all abilities to share in the reverence of the rock - or the ice in this case. Avid rock and ice climbers, and those just starting out in the sport come together to collaborate, learn from one another, share skill sets, and forge friendships.

This year’s event takes place February 3rd through the 5th, and features clinics that range from Ice Climbing 101 to a Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue clinic to a Snow and Ice Anchors clinic, and more. Many clinics offer programming fit for novice climbers and progress to more nuanced courses.  Ledge Brewing Company will act as this event’s headquarters.

Chocolate Festival: Presented by the Mt. Washington Ski Touring and Snowshoe Foundation, this event has been going on for thirty years.This year it's taking place on February 26th! Mixing cross-country skiing or snowshoeing from inn to inn around Mt. Washington Valley and sweet, chocolate treats, make stops along MWV Ski Touring’s  45km trail network at different inns and businesses throughout North Conway, and Intervale. You'll enjoy treats that range from homemade chocolate cups, chocolate dipped strawberries, chocolate fountains and fondue, brownie sundaes, and more!

AND! These aren't the only events in Mt. Washington Valley this winter! Family-friendly events, live music and theater, apres-ski events, and more take place weekly throughout Mt. Washington Valley. You can plan your trip according to which events you want to attend! Click the link for a Mt. Washington Valley based events calendar!

Day Four: Head Indoors! If you're looking for some friendly competition, or just need a day to warm-up, Mt. Washington Valley has just as much fun to offer inside, as it does outside!

Ryan's Family Amusement is home to over fifty of the hottest and newest games. There are video games, skill games, arcade games, and virtual reality! Compete for great prizes, and so much more. Ryan's Family Amusement is located in Settlers Green, in North Conway, and is a great option for groups or a couple looking for something different to do!

Come play 75 of the best courses around the world virtually at White Mountain Indoor Golf! Take a lessons from a teaching pro, book a private event for the whole family to enjoy a round of golf, or fit in a practice game while you're on vacation! White Mountain Indoor Golf is located in Intervale, in the same complex as Ledge Brewing Company, where you can double up on fun with a round of golf, and then head over to the brewery for a tasting! Open hours and reservations are a part of the scheduling at White Mountain Indoor Golf; visit its website for more information.

New England Ski Museum: Cultivate a love for skiing early on with your kids, both on and off the slopes! After a few days spent on the trails, make a stop at the eastern branch of the New England Ski Museum, right in North Conway Village. This museum is free and open to the public, and focuses on the collection, conservation, and exhibition of ski history for research, education and inspiration. The eastern branch of the New England Ski Museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm, seven days a week.

Saco Valley Sports Center in Fryeburg, Maine is just a fifteen minute drive from North Conway and offers multiple lanes of candle-pin bowling. You'll find a selection of arcade games, as well as a some classic food options like pizza and fries! Fryeburg, Maine is also a hub of things to do with Saco River Brewing right down the street and 302 Smokehouse in the center of the village. Bowling can entertain a group without end, and Saco Valley Sports Center offers a great option for family fun!

Escape the cold with a game of laser tag at White Lake Speedway! This place is all about fun, and in addition to laser tag it also offers bowling, and arcade and e-games. It's bowling center is centered around a genuine bowling experience on half-scale 10-Pin lanes! This way you can enjoy candlepin sized bowling balls (not the big or heavy bowling balls that typically have finger holes) which means all ages can play. It's fun for kids, adults and seniors! Laser tag at White Mountain Speedway is a fully immersive experience with the involvement of AI, hundreds of LED lights, and rotating game formats and more!

Living Shores Aquarium offers an indoor escape into tropical temperatures you will discover otters, stingrays, sharks and more! Experience touch pools, where you can get up-close-and-personal with many of the residents of the aquarium and interact with them. Daily talks, and live events are all a part of the experience, where a heavy focus on education is emphasized. With over 32,000 square feet of experience, you'll have a blast with your friends and family on a vibrant walk-through adventure filled with sea life, local fresh water exhibits and fun educational programs. Living Shores Aquarium is a cashless entity, so make sure you come prepared.

Insider Tip: Start out at 27 North. A breakfast and lunch spot in North Conway, NH, where you'll find mimosa flights, and a heavy focus on tots throughout the menu!

photo c/o Mt. Washington Auto Road.

Day Five: Go on an expedition! Explore Mount Washington and the White Mountain National Forest via train, Snow Coach, snowmobile or dog-sled! 

While there are multiple ways to access Mount Washington and its surrounding trails in winter, (you can hike them, you can ski them, you can ice climb them) you can also take a Mt. Washington Auto Road SnowCoach ride or a Mount Washington Cog Railway train ride!

The Mt. Washington Auto Road SnowCoach is a custom designed eight-passenger van driven by four tracks rather than wheels. the Mt. Washington SnowCoach transports guests to treeline on the Mt. Washington Auto Road, at approximately 4,200 feet, into a sub-arctic world for a truly unforgettable adventure. At times views can be breathtaking overlooking the protected Great Gulf Wilderness and the Presidential Mountain Range. At other times passengers can experience the extreme wind and snow conditions Mount Washington is so well known for. All tours are narrated by expert guides and the SnowCoaches are warm and comfortable.

On the other side of Mount Washington - known for the Ammonoosuc trail, among others - the Mount Washington Cog Railway can take passengers on a ride to Skyline at 5,500 feet up the mountain, or to Waumbek Station at 4,000 feet up the mountain.

Skyline is an area above tree line where clear conditions provide unforgettable views of the Northern Presidentials, the western face of the summit cone and the Mount Washington Observatory. Trains will remain at Skyline for approximately 10 minutes.  Passengers may be permitted to come out onto the front platform to take pictures, but must remain on the train while at Skyline. On the return leg passengers may disembark during a brief layover at Waumbek Station to enjoy complimentary hot refreshments, warming huts and a blazing fire pit. Round trips to Skyline are 1.5 hours, at reduced fares.

A sole trip to Waumbek Station last for roughly one hour, where guests can enjoy a 25-minute respite around the fire pit, and enjoy hot refreshments. Located in an alpine meadow at roughly 4000’, clear conditions at Waumbek Station provide spectacular panoramic vistas from the southern Presidentials to the Canadian border.

New Hampshire offers 7,000 miles of snowmobile trails with Corridor 19 trails that surround and wind through Mt Washington Valley. These snowmobile trails are made possible through the partnerships with thousands of landowners who generously open up their land for the recreation of snowmobiling along with State Parks throughout New Hampshire. Countless club volunteers work tirelessly to construct and maintain this vast trail system, including the Mountain Meadow Riders, who groom and maintain the Corridor 19 trails surrounding Mt Washington Valley. In addition, Northern Extremes Snowmobiling rents sleds, clothing and gear and provides guided tours from their location in Bartlett. Northeast Snowmobile & ATV Rentals offers snowmobile and ATV rentals plus guided events too. Both offer expert trail advice and guidance.

Northern Extremes Snowmobiling offers a really unique way to tour the northern end of Mt. Washington Valley with its "Ride the Rails" snowmobile tour. This tour is a hybrid of a snowmobile tour and train ride with Mount Washington Cog Railway. Known as one of the most unique winter tours, you'll find yourself riding to the Cog, where you'll take a train ride 4,000 feet up Mount Washington, enjoy lite refreshments, and return to snowmobile to make your way through Jefferson Notch and over Cherry Mountain. Reservations are filling up quickly for both tour outfitters, so make sure you book in advance!

Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel, based in Jefferson offers a variety of dogsled rides. Dog sledding tours here range from introductory experiences to interactive clinics, for ages two and up. While its dog sledding adventures vary in duration, they are all designed to be more than "just a ride". Guests are encouraged to be hands on to their comfort level and are given the opportunity to meet and greet sled dogs, and help their musher prepare the team for the trail! Check out their website for more information. Tours sell out quickly, so make sure you make a reservation in advance!

Insider Tip: Make your way to Chef’s Bistro in North Conway, NH, to enjoy an ice cold martini and charcuterie board and go over your favorite parts of the tours you took that day! Max's at Snowvillage Inn is also a great option for solid drinks and oysters!

photo c/o Corey David Photography

Day Six: Become a pro at outdoor adventure by hiring a guide!

Do you want the most local way to gather intel on how to spend your time in Mt. Washington Valley? Hiring a guide is the way get it! When you Hire a Guide, you're ensuring safety and technical insight; you're supporting Mt. Washington Valley's local economy; AND you're guaranteed to be entertained with stories from seasoned pros who have hiked, climbed, and skied in the White Mountain National Forest thousands of times over. They'll not only share stories of their experiences, but they'll give you insider info on their favorite trails, and where they like to enjoy a meal once they're done exploring them. For a list of guiding outfitters and specific profiles on local guides, click here!

A few ideas on guided adventure, we would suggest include...

Become well-versed in avalanche training! Many guiding outfitters offer trainings on this topic and skill - including courses that are featured at the MWV Ice Fest and Mount Washington Backcountry Ski Festival. One guiding outfitter known for this training during this season is Northeast Mountaineering where it's offered it in two options: AIARE Level One, and AIARE Level Two, with the pre-requisite of taking the AIARE Avalanche Rescue Course as well. AIARE stands for American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education, and provides guidelines on standard methods for teaching avalanche education.

You can expect your AIARE Avalanche Training at Northeast Mountaineering from a level one perspective to include a mix of classroom and field work. It’s a three-day, all day program. You’ll learn to identify avalanche terrain; learn how to structure your trip to best rule out any human error; access resources that allow you to plan your trip from weather to terrain; and how to use avalanche specific tools such as a probe, shovel, and tranceiver. Northeast Mountaineering also rents ski touring equipment, or you can bring your own set-up, if you have one. Level two AIARE Avalanche Training at Northeast Mountaineering is an opportunity for those looking to deepen their avalanche training in the White Mountains. It is also a three-day, all day program, but a key difference is that the participants are put into a leadership role, with the guides taking a step back.

Learn how to ice climb or work on perfecting some new techniques! This kind of climbing in North Conway, NH, and throughout the White Mountains is unparalleled. The terrain found in this part of the East Coast is unmatched with much of its rugged qualities, and its ice climbing is some of the best, and most challenging found in the states. Just ask the guides at Eastern Mountain Sports and International Mountain Climbing School!

The guides at these outdoor outfitters are all out there getting after it, and can share their passion and expertise with you. And who could be more passionate about ice climbing than the guides at International Mountain Climbing School?! This climbing school hosts the MWV Ice Fest in February, and has for the last 23 years. This event celebrates the culture of ice climbing with demos and guided climbs, speakers, live entertainment and more; putting you in the center of climbing culture for the weekend.

For something more with a more creative bend, join Lisa Holcomb of Wander the Whites for a Creative Writing and Nature workshop. She'll guide you on a nature walk or moderate hike, where she'll then offer prompts for a creative writing exercise. Lisa has a Master's in education, and her thesis focus was on the "5R’s of Character Craftsmanship through Outdoor Programing.” Her unique take on outdoor adventure and its role in building resiliency is a great perspective for anyone looking to enjoy more time in the outdoors with a guide!

Insider Tip: The most important stop on the way to any outdoor adventure is the one one made for coffee and pastries! A great option for both of those items is the Old Village Bakery! The bakers there are pumping out cookies, bread, pastries, granola, and giant slices of homemade pizza every morning!

Day Seven: Relax! Your vacation might be nearing an end, but push those thoughts away, and melt into a massage! Enjoy a signature beverage after at New Hampshire's only certified organic distillery!

Tola Massage is run by Annette Mahoney, who offers Swedish and Sports Massage, Neuromuscular Technique, Trigger Point Therapy, Lymphatic and Circulatory Drainage, as well as Reflexology. Appointments can be booked in 30, 60, 75, or 90-minute options. Annette works out of her private studio in North Conway, NH, in a truly relaxing setting. Her open studio is welcoming, and warm, and located above the shop, Designed Gardens Flower Studio. Before or after your massage, enjoy walking around the store - you're guaranteed to be entertained by everything Designed Gardens offers!

The Tower Spa at Mountain View Grand is an opulent experience that offers facials, massages, hand and body care, and body treatments. Book a stay at Mountain View Grand and plan for your spa services for right before you go to bed. Enjoy a massage or a facial and pair it with a "Wild Lime Scalp Massage" add-on, that promotes relaxation, eases muscle aches and rebalances over-stressed nervous systems. Aromatic Wild Lime Revitalizing Scalp & Hair Oil is applied to the scalp, neck and shoulders to stimulate circulation and relieve muscle tension. After your services, make your way to bed and sink into the luxury of this grand hotel's accommodations!

The Root Cellar is an Aveda concept salon located in North Conway, NH. It doubles as a hair, massage, and nail salon as well as a boutique for jewelry and accessories. Enjoy a hair appointment with stylists who have been cutting and coloring hair for 20-plus years. Or schedule a shampoo and blow-dry to enjoy a relaxing service, and then make the most of it by taking your fabulous hair out for a beverage!

Cathedral Ledge Distillery, is known for being NH's "Gin Distillery of the Year," and its only certified organic distillery. It also holds the record for having the tallest vodka column in NH. With 16 "Bubble Caps," this promises 16 points of distillation, making for the highest quality vodka. Enjoy a tour of the distillery followed by a tasting or a signature cocktail at its handcrafted bar. Cathedral Ledge Distillery also serves a small snack menu, and is a perfect pre-dinner stop!

The valley is home to five breweries, two wineries  in addition to - all of which are fueled by the brewers, distillers, and wine-makers who are passionate about making the best beverage they can! Build your own tour, here!

Independent massage therapists and estheticians as well as spas and salons can be found throughout Mt. Washington Valley, and share their passion with their guests. For a list of all service providers, click here!

Insider Tip! Make a whole date night out of your spa day, and reserve a table at White Mountain Cider Company! Enjoy a high-end dining experience in the most cozy atmosphere with a bar made of hardwood, a fireplace, and authentic wooden floors. White Mountain Cider Company offers a really special experience with an ever-changing menu that pairs with local ingredients.

For complete trip planning resources and information, explore this site, visitmwv.com, or call 800-367-3364 (800-DO-SEE-NH) to talk to a Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce rep.  To learn more about New Hampshire vacations, go to www.VisitNH.gov.

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