The kids were talking about conquering the ropes courses as soon as we told them we were heading for the New Hampshire Lakes Region.
“Mom, am I tall enough?”
“Mom how high will we be?”
“Mom, how fast are the zip lines?”
Being significantly AFRAID of heights, I did not want to talk about the ropes courses at all. I let my husband handle the questions. Instead, I focused on finding out what else there might be for a middle aged “fraidy cat” to show her family in the area…all the while keeping a brave front to the kids so I would not pass my phobias on to them.
We headed for Daytona Fun Park early one July morning. I did not let the kids know I was nervous, especially since they were excited to take on all of the activities at the park. As we drove in just past Weirs Beach on Lake Winnipesaukee, I immediately noticed the purple steel behemoth called the “SkyTrail” and got sweaty thinking about all of us climbing around it. We whiled away a few hours having some fun at the other attractions at Daytona Fun Park. We drove the race cars, played a round of mini-golf, jumped in a basketball bounce house and hit some balls in the batting cages but eventually it was our time to get strapped in to try out the “Skytrail”.
I hid my sweaty palms from the kids and let the attendant harness me in. Although we were high above the traffic passing below; I quickly got refocused trying to keep my balance and encouraged my 6 year old daughter to keep moving. We eventually all got the ‘hang’ of it and actually enjoyed ourselves. After the initial experience we were all looking forward to trying out the 2 other sets of rope courses. We were old pros and my fears were behind us.
Over the next couple days, my family spent a few hours at Gunstock Ski Area trying out their new ropes course which made us feel like we were in the Costa Rican treetops and also at Monkey Trunks which is another ropes course close to the road but unlike Daytona Fun Park, does not use any steel. At Monkey trunks we actually used the zipline and a ‘high’ swing (gasp). None of the kids needed any encouragement to do this swing and I could not believe I actually joined in! As the young attendant was lowering me down he commented “you did not look like you were having too much fun”. I guess my face gave it away…but the kids wanted to do it again. The ropes courses had instilled confidence and determination in them.
More fun in the New Hampshire Lakes Region
With my fear of heights diminished I was ready to try some different activities.
We took a lovely boat tour of Squam Lake with Experience Squam Lake Excursions. Our guide Cindy brought us to so many spots around the lake but the kids had the most fun jumping into the water from’ jumping rock’ and watching the baby eagles learning to leave their nests. My kids, like most kids, LOVE animals so the birds were a real hit. They also fell in love with some huge oxen at the Ox-K farm in Guilford. Kathy, the owner of the farm, told us about the individual personalities of the oxen and let us in on the secret that Dale was the youngest and the keenest on causing trouble with his brothers. My 6 year old daughter immediately picked him as her favorite and stated “He’s just like me!”. Thankfully she weighs about 1000 pounds less than Dale and doesn’t have horns (visible horns at least)!
We continued our animal discovery at Clark’s Trading Post with the historic Black Bear Show. We were all amazed at the bear tricks but also at the obvious affection the owners have for their bear friends. The real hit here was the Wolfman. The Wolfman might scare some younger kids, but ours were intrigued by his antics during our train ride. There is even a Segway tour where you can travel deep into the ‘Wolfmans’ territory, but you must be at least 15 years old to participate. We had to settle for a regular Segway tour which was every bit as enjoyable for the under 10 set.
Our last involvement with animals was our introduction to the late dog “Dewey” at the Canterbury Shake Village. During our tour of the village my 9 year old daughter asked if in addition to the farm animals at the village if the people had any pets and we were told about Dewey. He is the mascot of the Canterbury Shaker village. He was well loved by the Shaker community and his spirit lives on today as you tour the village learning about the Shaker people and their lifestyles.
Lodging in the Lakes Region
There are a few different choices when it comes to accommodation locations in the Lakes Region. If your family prefers a quiet setting, head for Squam Lake. We stayed at the Cottage Place on Squam in a suite-style room that had the feeling of our own lake cabin. My 9-year-old son especially enjoyed this inn. He loved the fire at night and the lake swimming and kayaking by day.
Another Squam Lake option is a destination camp called Rockywold-Deephaven. This is an old fashioned family-friendly camp with cottages dotting the lakeshore. Every family has their own cottage yet meals and activities are communal. We joined in on the hydro-bikes and watched a game of “capture the Flag” which my son was dying to get in on.
For accommodations in the thick of bustling Lake Winnipesaukee, the Margate has all you might need. The property is situated right in the midst of everything else surrounding the lake, giving visitors convenient lake access. The kids loved the intricate tunnel system here as well as the beach.
Read my full review of the Margate on Winnipesaukee.
Farther north of the lakes, Indian Head Resort has its own lake and kids programs. Our kids loved the pool here, however the biggest hit was the small lake again with the animals. My 9 year old daughter fed an entire box of crackers to the pond ducks and chose names for all of them. Daisy was her favorite and she happily spent a ton of time trying to get Daisy to hop into her paddle boat.
Read my review of the Indian Head Resort.
My reviews of the above named attractions were based on a complimentary visit, meal or stay at the respective attraction. I received no additional compensation during my visit and none of the named attractions required that I make any specific statements about their good and/or services.
Michelle Brennan is a 2011 Trekaroo Superoo.