Posted March 5, 2010 by Kate Hamman
With a red covered "honeymoon" bridge leading to its small colonial village, Jackson, New Hampshire, may be the quintessential New England town. However, a blanket of white in the winter turns its charming exterior into a playing field for cross-country skiers and snowshoers. Come experience the trails, and then fill up on hearty dishes before falling asleep to the sounds of a river at a romantic inn.
Jackson Ski Touring Foundation: As one of the top destinations for cross-country skiing in the Eastern U.S., the Jackson Ski Touring Foundation (JSTF) will get your heart racing with nearly 96 miles of trails that wind through the village, over covered bridges, and into the forest. Here, you can rent snowshoes for $12 per day and cross-country skis for $16 per day. A daily membership, which allows access to the trails, costs $19 for skiing and $10 for snowshoeing. If you arrive after 2 p.m., you can ski for $12 or buy a Go-Ahead pass for $30 that includes skiing the next day as well.
Red Parka Steakhouse & Pub: After traipsing through the snow-covered valley, there's no better place to warm up than the Red Parka. For more than 30 years, this après-ski restaurant and pub has been a favorite among winter enthusiasts for its tender steaks and ultimate comfort foods. Entrees start at $10.95, and the mud pie can't be beat.
Inn at Ellis River: Nestled alongside, you guessed it, the Ellis River, this inn screams romantic retreat. The morning is a delight with dishes like cinnamon crepes stuffed with apple filling and orange croissant french toast with fresh strawberries. Each room is unique, and some come with whirlpool tubs or fireplaces, or both. The inn offers packages throughout the year, such as the Midweek Stay & Ski, Ski, Ski package that includes one- to four-nights' lodging, daily breakfast, afternoon refreshments, and skiing for two from $199 for a one-day ski package. Room rates typically start at $119 per night, and include breakfast.
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(Photo: Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce)
Posted June 2, 2009 by Kate Hamman
Blink and you could possibly miss New Hampshire's coastline, and the city of Portsmouth right along with it. Take the time, however, and you'll find yourself in a New England coastal village perfect for a late-summer or early-fall stroll. This once-industrial city has a revamped downtown area that houses fashionable boutiques in old brick buildings, as well as funky and fresh cuisine alongside the staples of fried seafood.
Friendly Toast: The only word that comes to mind when describing this retro-funky-alternative-artsy diner is "wow." The ambiance here consists of one part obscure (spaceman bottle collection), one part bizarre (gigantic Kewpie doll), and a reasonable dose of color (crimson walls). Now it only makes sense that a place this eclectic would follow suit with its food, and that it does, but with the most delicious results. For example, the Orleans Fries—thin sweet potatoes sprinkled with brown sugar and Tabasco served with sour cream—are bits of deep-fried sweet and spicy for $8.25. Portions are massive across the menu, so visit when you're hungry.
Breaking New Grounds: When God invented coffee shops; Breaking New Grounds must have broken the mold. This is not your traditional, run-of-the-mill chain coffeehouse. People behind-the-counter feel like long-lost neighbors, the fresh pastries are flaky and fruit-filled, and the coffee is rich and thick. No one is rushing or pushing, and there are plenty of places to sit and contemplate life, either at one of the many tables inside or outdoors on the brick sidewalk. Espresso drinks are comparable to the pricey drinks at major chains, but well worth it for the peace of mind.
Gulliver's Travel Books & Maps: When it comes to travel, this little bookshop is your ticket to a trip around the world. Located down a side alley, it may be a little difficult to find. But once you descend the stairs, you'll be greeted with maps to almost anywhere in the world and will probably never get lost again. This basement of books is also filled with guides to, tales of, and advice on different destinations across the globe, so if you suffer from perpetual wanderlust, this is the place to get your fix. Books are priced accordingly, but browsing doesn't cost a thing.
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(Photo: Friendly Toast-Robert Jasper)