North Conway is not just New Hampshire’s ski capital; this year it was named the No. 1 Best Ski Town in the USA by USA Today readers. It has it all — Cranmore Mountain with 57 runs and four terrain parks overlooks the village, and the main street is lined with shops and family-friendly restaurants (our kids love watching pizzas come out of the big wood-fired oven at the Flatbread Company, and the retro soda-shop atmosphere of Horsefeathers). You won’t be able to get the kids out of the Toy Chest’s selection of games, toys, costumes and craft kits or Zeb’s General Store, where the candy counter runs the length of the store.
Lodgings in North Conway are just as family friendly, and many of them are also easy on the family vacation budget. We especially like two hospitable inns located just off Main Street, within an easy walk of all the shops and restaurants and a five-minute drive from the ski area.
Cranmore Inn feels like a big family vacation home, with its relaxed, convivial air and children of all ages playing games in the large, first-floor common room. You’ll always find them there in the late afternoon, when fresh-baked cookies are served with coffee and tea. Rooms fit all sizes of family. Most rooms sleep four and several are large enough for six people — two of these have well-equipped kitchens. Kids love the trundle bed in the two-bedroom apartment. A full breakfast is cooked to order in the morning.
Kearsarge Inn is a bit more up-market, but no less welcoming, with rooms and suites perfect for families. Some rooms have sleeper-sofas for children and suites have separate adjoining rooms. Cottages are suitable for larger families or those with older children. We liked staying in the penthouse suite, which takes up the third floor of the inn, with its two cozy gas fireplaces, a king-sized bed for us and a large pull-out sofa in the spacious sitting room for the girls.
South of the village, closer to the several groups of outlets that made North Conway famous for shopping, are two more hotels that make special efforts to please families. Even the basic rooms at Green Granite Inn sleep four comfortably, and family rooms are even larger. There is a kid-pleasing swimming pool and a free breakfast is included in the reasonable room rate.
Red Jacket Mountain View Resort is a winner with kids for its indoor water park, Kahuna Laguna. This large facility, attached to the hotel and free for guests, has a wave pool, water cannons, a play tower, four high-speed tubes that end with a splash in the landing pool and a shallow pool just for smaller children. Other activities at Red Jacket include bonfires, a game room, sledding, snowshoeing, story hours and sleigh rides. The resort has family rooms, townhouses and even rooms where pets are welcome; most rooms have beautiful mountain views.