Tucked away in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, there lies a small town called Waterville Valley. As you enter the town you can feel the pace slow, and the cares of the world melt away. Don’t confuse a slower pace for boring though. Families can find year-round fun both here in Waterville Valley and nearby areas within a reasonable drive. Our family had a blast during our week-long stay this summer and can’t wait to return.
Waterville Valley is a unique, year-round resort town where it is hard to distinguish the town from the resort. With just a couple hundred year-round residents, and up to 6,000 visitors in a given weekend, the town welcomes everyone to utilize the town’s amenities. These amenities include the ice rink and the recreation department, which offers a variety of family friendly activities. One of the best things about Waterville Valley is the purposeful design to make it family and pedestrian friendly. Once you are there, it is possible to park your car and not need it again until you depart. Many of the activities, restaurants, and amenities are within walking distance, or if you prefer, hop on the shuttle that will make stops all-around town.
Town Square is the hub of the community, providing many shopping and dining experiences. This is also where you will find Corcoran’s Pond. Here, you can take a dip, relax on the sandy beach, or rent a boat. Town Square is home to festivals and special events that offer many family friendly options such as live music, fireworks, and live animal shows. Stop by the activities desk to speak to a staff member to find out all that is happening within Waterville Valley that day.
Activities and Attractions
Waterville Valley has the pleasure of being home to The Rey Center & Curious George Cottage. The authors of the children’s series Curious George books, Margret and H.A. Rey, were summer residents of the community. The Rey Center was established to carry on their spirit by bringing programming to families in art, nature, and science. We enjoyed stopping in The Rey Center to enjoy the local artist exhibition and explore their activity stations. The Curious George Cottage is right up the road and we enjoyed speaking with the volunteers, exploring the bookshelves, and participating in story time.
We loved playing in Corcoran’s Pond. We spent a morning rowing in canoes and kayaks, and then went for a swim. The kids loved swimming out to the diving platform and jumping in over and over. During one evening of our stay, we spread out our blanket on the beach for fireworks over the pond. The fireworks alone were beautiful, but their reflections on the water made them stunning.
There are many activities to be enjoyed all year round.
Spring, Summer, and Fall Activities:
- Golfing on the 9 hole golf course
- Tennis on the clay courts
- Skating at the skate park
- A scenic chair lift ride up the mountain
- Mountain Biking
- Ice Skating in the indoor rink
- Activities at the Recreation Department
- Swimming and exercising at the Athletic club
- Snow Shoeing
- Kids Venture Kamps
- Indoor tennis and swimming at the Athletic Club
- Ice Skating
A short drive to nearby Lincoln, families can enjoy Loon Mountain. We loved taking the gondola ride to the summit and exploring the caves at the top, zip lining, and playing in Paul Bunyan’s Backyard. Another popular spot with families in Lincoln is Clark’s Trading Post where kids will love watching the trained bears and acrobat shows.
Another favorite of ours was exploring Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves. This was another short drive from the resort and provided an afternoon of crawling through caves, shimmying through tight spaces, and taking in beautiful scenery.
One of the nice things about the resort is that most of the lodging is made up of condo-style units. This means families can enjoy the convenience of cooking in their room and not have to eat out every meal. However, cooking each and every meal can get old too. Just walk over to Town Square where you will find multiple family friendly options to enjoy.
Our favorite spot for breakfast was The Blue Moon Cafe. I do believe the phrase “these are the best pancakes I’ve ever eaten” was muttered more than once during our meal. Don’t let the description of “upscale family-friendly” scare you away from The Lantern. While the atmosphere was a little fancier than some of the other restaurants, it wasn’t stuffy and the kids were more than welcome. We enjoyed eating stream-side on the deck of Legends 1291, and even this Jersey Girl enjoyed the pizza at Old Waterville Pizza Company. (Sorry, we Jersey folks are a little picky about our pizza.) For a quick breakfast or lunch option, Potbellies offers a menu of sandwiches and salads to eat in or take out. Our favorite restaurant was Coyote Grill which is located just up the road from Town Square above the Athletic Club. The casual atmosphere, friendly staff, and delicious food give it the winning combination.
With the majority of the lodging in Waterville Valley being condominium-style rooms, it’s as if it is made for families. We had the pleasure of staying in Black Bear Lodge. The lodge features condo-styled suites with full kitchens, living room, and bedroom. These accommodations were perfect for our family of five. We enjoyed having ample space to spread out and get comfortable and nothing beats having a full kitchen. Even if you don’t cook full meals (like we chose not to), it was a great convenience to stock the fridge with drinks, load up on snacks, have sandwich fixings for lunch, and start the day with breakfast in the room. While I love eating breakfast out, it just delays the start of the day!
Besides the spacious room, the lodge offers plenty of spacious common areas. There is a large fireplace in the lobby, and many couches and chairs to relax in. There is an outdoor deck on the third floor, which is a great place to sit and unwind at the end of the day. The kids loved having the indoor/outdoor pool, and I liked being so centrally located to Town Square and the area activities.
Disclosure: The author and her family received complimentary lodging, activities, and dining to help facilitate this article. While the hospitality was greatly appreciated, all opinions are the author’s based on her experiences.