This "tongue in cheek" comment will probably only be understood by Americans, so let me explain....
Sunday is generally the day in the fall that PROFESSIONAL football (the NFL) plays its games. When a college or high school player is very very good, it's often said "he'll play on Sundays" someday. So generally if you said you attended a Sunday football game in New England, someone would probably assume you went to see the New England Patriots.
Well, WE saw some football played in Conway on Sunday. They were cute little kids playing (what is generally called ) Pee-Wee football. Bonnie and I took a few moments to watch these little guys - wearing equipment that probably outweighs them - enjoy the game. Who knows, maybe there is one little guy out there who will someday play professionally on Sunday. I'm sure most of them "want" to at this stage in their lives, so let them dream.
North Conway and so many other towns and villages in New England ARE small town America. Take a few moments and enjoy whatever the locals are up to. You'll be welcome and you'll enjoy yourself.
BTW, "The Met Coffeehouse" is/was right next door...a cup of hot coffee to go was perfect for a little outdoor time watching this game.
One of THE biggest tourist draws to New Hampshire and New England is the annual fall foliage explosion of colors. Huge dollars are made in the tourist industry, catering to what the locals call "the peepers", as in "leaf peepers". These are folks who slide into the area to "peep" at the lovely fall colors that precede winter's arrival.
Leaf peeping is, IMHO, best done on an individual basis, but I can't fault the old folks who board the tour buses for a run through the area. At least they're getting out and enjoying life's little pleasures, so God Bless them.
One thing, "peeping" is all about perfect timing. The locals generally know what time of year - pretty much down to a two week slice - is best. You'll find that local inns and hotels have "foliage season" rates that are substantially higher, and they're usually booked completely up. Making a weekend leaf peeping trip at peak foliage color time can be difficult, you might have trouble finding a place to stay. Really.
Now of course, nature paints the land when nature CHOOSES to paint the land, so the exact "perfect" time can vary a bit. In general, you just adjust your coordinates once you get there. If the colors aren't quite "perfect" where you are, just drive 30-50 miles north for the day and they will be. Or if the season seems to be on a downswing when you arrive, head south for the day. The leaf colors and intensity literally changes day by day. Be adapatable.
BTW, a nice bottle of wine and an adventurous spirit - a willingness to get out and walk - will enhance your experience. I really do hope that someday I LIVE in a place that I can enjoy the entire foliage development process, I'm sure it's one of those "cycle of life" things. :)
A couple of my VT friends already know of my love affair with walking. I'm one of those psychos who wears a pedometer and keeps a record of my steps. My goals have changed (increased) over the years, and by the end of 2010, I will have logged about 7 million steps. (My original goal 7 years ago was five million steps) Anyway, I love to walk and hike... and among the more interesting and pleasurable steps I've done this year were hiking in and around North Conway, NH.
In general, if walking is your thing, you'll find a cache of country roads strewn with covered bridges and such. There are also marked (some marked better than others) hiking trails of varying grades on the nearby national and state forest lands. AND, a lot of the more rural inns and properties have "trails" that they've laid out for morning and afternoon quiet walks. I highly recommend that you engage in this trail behavior, it's very good for the soul.
Oh, DO be careful on some of the national forest trails. The Boulder Loop Trail that we did, just off the Kankamagus Highway, had a lot of loose rocks of "just the right size" for stumbling. So, watch your step as they say....and good luck finding those badly faded little yellow splotches of paint that supposedly mark THAT trail.
Do you love covered bridges? Me too, we've been visiting and photographing them throughout New England for years.
There are several covered structures in the Conway area, and each has its own special charm and history.
Two that we visited were
> The Saco River Bridge, just at the edge of Conway itself. It's on old route 16, in Conway, and is specifically located 0.4 miles north of the junction NH16 and 153 on east side of road. In Conway Village go north on Washington Street and turn right at the fork. This is East Side Road. The present bridge was completed in 1890 and is nicely positioned in a quiet residential area of Conway. Check out http://www.coveredbridgesite.com/nh/saco_river.html for more information about this bridge. Also, please see my photo below.
> The Albany Bridge, spanning the Swift River near the Boulder Loop Trail area. This bridge is located in the White Mountain National Forest, off the scenic Kancamagus Highway. It carries Dugway Road over the Swift River just a short distance from the Covered Bridge Campground. This bridge was built in 1858, replacing a structure that was destroyed by fire in 1857. Please see my photo below.
Both bridges have excellent photo views, so enjoy.
Just outside Conway, NH, you can pick up New Hampshire highway 112, otherwise known of as the Kancamagus Highway. The locals call it the Kank. If you love the great outdoors, hiking trails, beautiful foliage, blue lakes and just lots of fresh air, you should travel the Kank.
The Kank departs the Conway area, turning west from Highway 16 and meanders some 40 miles to near Lincoln, NH (and interstate 93). It slices through the heart of the White Mountain National Forest and also pierces parts of two state parks (Franconia Notch and Echo Lake). There are dozens of incredible vistas and photo ops along the way. It's a great road for biking enthusiasts (not me) and if hiking is your bag (me), there are multiple options of varying degree and length along the way. (We did the Boulder Mountain Loop, a bit challenging but oh so gorgeous - a good workout for a couple of 50 somethings like Bonnie and me). And other than a few "honor system" $3 park payments here or there, most of the ride is free.
I highly suggest that you drive the Kank.... start at Conway and time it out for a late lunch near Lincoln. (there are several nice choices there - seafood, deli, burgers, etc.) About the ONLY thing the Kank does NOT have is service stations. Make sure you have enough gas to complete the journey when you start. There are signs warning you that there is "no gasoline for the next 40 miles", so it shouldn't sneak up on you. :)
BTW, once you leave Lincoln, I'd suggest taking I-93 South and then slipping off on Highways 104/25 heading back east and north. It goes along the edge of beautiful Lake Winnapesaukee.
Northwest of North Conway, the Crawford Notch cuts its way through the White Mountains, creating a scenic gorge in the process. Highway 302 is well placed through the Notch. From this Highway, the spectacular scenery of the Crawford Notch can be enjoyed. Pullouts are periodically provided along the way to help further enjoy the view.
The Conway Scenic Railroad offers rides on historic trains through the Crawford Notch or the Mount Washington countryside. This was on our to do list for our trip. But being behind schedule, coupled with intense rain, forced us to postpone this adventure until another time. I would recommend stopping at the depot for a look around even if you are not planning a railroad trip.
The 4000 footers are the mountains of New Hampshire, nearly 50 of them, that are 4000 feet and above. Since America is the land of the obsessive compulsive, there is a club for those who aspire to hike them all. These peaks range from gentle slopes that can barely be called summits to the top of Mount Washington, a hike that I still remember as strenuous. Whether you aspire to do one or fifty, there are plenty of trails and summits in this area to give you a workout. And, in case you're wondering, taking the Cog Railway doesn't count as a summit for 4000 footer purposes.
Mount Eisenhower is just a short distance from Pierce both in elevation and in actual walking distance. You can reach the Eisenhower summit by continuing on the well marked Crawford Path past Mount Pierce. The views get a little better as you go a bit higher too.
If you're not looking for crowds or the acclaim of New Hampshire's highest peak, then Pierce is a great alternative. This is one of the smaller mountains, a mere 4000 footer that can be hiked in only a couple of hours. You will barely feel the 2000 feet of elevation gain and will have some great views of the other Southern Presidential mountains, including Washington. Best of all, the crowds are on the railway or the Mt. Washington trail, so you have a good chance of some solitude.
The brightly colored yellow railroad station can’t be missed in North Conway. Aside from the fact that it sets right in the middle of town, it’s cheerful color can be viewed from a quarter of a mile down Route 16.
There are several different rides that you can choose from, but I recommend the 5-hour ride because you really get more for your money and are able to view some fantastic scenery along the way.
The Valley Train goes along the 11-mile, 55-minute roundtrip trip from Conway around the Moat Brook and the Saco and Swift Rivers. The 21-mile Bartlett trip takes 1 3/4 hour roundtrip.
The Notch Train takes you through Crawford Notch, an amazingly beautiful place that reminds me of the Rocky Mountains. The train ride features commentary and you’ll see lots of valleys, mountains, waterfalls, and lakes.
Notch Train: Adult $38
Valley Train 1 3/4 hours: $18.50
Valley Train 55 minutes: $11.50
Go skiing.. That's the best thing to do in the White Mountains!
My favorite place to ski is Bretton Woods. It's beautiful and big and on sunny days it has a great view of Mt. Washington!
Mt. Cranmore is also really nice, but it is small.
North Conway has a delightful downtown area. There are shops for just about everything. Need new skis, yea, you can get that, need new clothes, you can do that too! Even if you need a toothbrush, you can get that!
The streets are decorated in a really festive way, and they are well lit at night and there is plenty of parking!
This is a fabulous ride. It is a crude road after the first mile or two. It then becomes a dirt moutain road with many curves and no guardrails. Make sure your vehicle is in good condition with good brakes. They give you driving instructions at the bottom of the mountain, and it is best to drive in first gear up and down the mountain. They advise that you take many breaks on the way down to give your brakes a rest, and at the same time giving you a chance to do some sight seeing. The top of the mountain can afford great views or you can see just a few feet, you never know. It is cold up top, so be sure to bring a jacket, even a hat and gloves. There is a cafeteria to get food and drink, and two gift shops and a small museum. We can't visit NH without a trip up this mountain. You will probably be able to see the Cog Railway on it's way up or down. I can't stress enough how great a trip this is.
Area businesses and homeowners get into the fall foliage spirit and create unique, colorful and playful pumpkin people throughout the village of Jackson and surrounding towns.
Take the self-guided tour of the pumpkin people. Maps are produced and made available at the Chamber of Commerce office as well as member businesses.