By Amy Suski
It had been 1,433 days since my husband and I last spent a night away from our three kids (but who's counting?) so we were overdue. Celebrating our 15th anniversary seemed like the perfect excuse to get away and that's how we found ourselves at this gorgeous spot, the Mount Washington Resort in New Hampshire.
When you've gone so long without a grown-up vacation, it was a little bit of a culture shock to transition from a floor filled with muddy soccer cleats to THIS, but I adapted. Nestled near the base of Mount Washington (the highest peak in the Northeast), this grand resort was built in 1902 and is famous for hosting the international Bretton Woods agreement that founded the International Monetary Fund. Now owned by the Omni, the hotel has been updated with modern amenities while honoring its historic past. In addition to exhibits in the room where the agreement was signed, there are original antiques and historical anecdotes identified throughout the hotel. [If visiting be sure to look for the old telephone and grandfather clock and read about the turn-of-the-century "Princess" who still has a table set for her every evening in the dining room.]
We splurged on a deluxe king room that included a little sitting area by the window, an original fireplace, a walk-in closet, and a private bathroom up a few steps and to the right. Families should note: there are no mini-fridges or coffee makers in these rooms -- instead the staff will bring you a fresh icebucket in the evening and a lovely silver tray of complimentary morning coffee and tea in the morning. This was perfect for the two us, but would be less convenient if we were traveling with our 24-7 snacking brood.
After dining in the grand main dining room (where the food was ok but not impressive), we decided our favorite place to eat was the more casual Stickney's Restaurant (below) with its cozy pub feel inside and a to-die-for view of Mount Washington outside. Stickney's was great for a late afternoon snack (Cabot Farms Cheddar & Ale Dip), local brews, and dinner (salmon plank with maple dijon). Other dining options include the elegant Princess Room (open for afternoon tea and pre-dinner cocktails), the subterranean Cave (known for being a speakeasy during the Prohibition era) and the stately Rosebrook Bar. Although the hotel is a favorite wedding destination this time of year, we were never bothered by the weddings because the expansive hotel has so many different sitting rooms and porches for guests to nestle into and the weddings kept to their private areas. [The spa facilities, however, do tend to book up quickly on wedding days so be sure to book spa appointments in advance.]
There are no shortage of onsite resort activities, including a golf course, spa, tennis courts, hiking trails, horseback riding, biking, indoor and outdoor pools, and more. A short ride away there are mountainside activities such as ziplining, river rafting, rock climbing, fishing, moose tours and historic railways. Mount Washington itself is famous for its extreme weather at the summit, setting a windspeed record of 231 mph in 1934. You can either drive your own car to the top, take a guided tour, or take the famous Cog Railway trip to the summit (you can barely see the railway tracks in the ascending the mountain above).
Ordinarily I'd be Julie-McCoying my way through this activities list, but this particular weekend we chose to relax, so mostly we sat outside, read, and enjoyed the pools and spa. The spa was a special treat for me. While cuddled into a fluffy robe and settled into in chaise lounge, no one complained to me that they were hungry or asked for help with their math homework. Instead, very nice people offered to bring me a glass of wine and wondered which scented oil I would prefer during my massage. That may only happen for me once a decade but it was worth the wait.
In spite of my relaxation mission, we couldn't resist getting a closer look at the surrounding spectacular White Mountains, so we did go on two short excursions. The first was a free chair lift ride at the Bretton Woods ski area which brought us part way up the mountain for a casual lunch at the Latitude 44 restaurant and hike to the summit (1.6 miles round trip). The 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains (above) was definitely worth the slight amount of huffing and puffing it took to ascend the narrow rocky trail and 100% justified the dessert I planned to have later that evening.
The next day, we stopped on the way home at the must-see Franconia Notch State Park's Flume Gorge. Even in the short amount of time we had (about an hour) we were able to stop in the visitor's center, pass through an historic covered bridge and walk up the wooden boardwalk through the narrow Gorge to see geologic wonders such as Table Rock, basalt dikes, the Pulpit, Avalanche Falls (below), caves, and boulders. It was even more interesting and beautiful than we expected and we can't wait to bring our kids back to explore the caves and waterfalls. All in all it was the perfect get-away with just the right amount of luxury amid natural beauty. It's rare to have a trip exceed your travel-brochure expectations, but our short trip to New Hampshire surely did.
The opinions expressed herein are entirely my own and do not reflect those of the destinations mentioned. We did not receive any special deals on or compensation for this trip. All copyrights reserved to Kid Trips.
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