Skiing through pine woods, across a valley surrounded by snow-covered mountains and stopping at cozy country inns to savor chocolate treats — it’s a winter getaway made for chocoholics. This annual Chocolate Festival takes place in New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington Valley, and as you ski you’ll see the white-capped summit of the northeast’s tallest mountain as a backdrop to the scenic valley. Stay at one of the inns on the tour and you’ll likely have the same mountain view from your window.
Each February the Mt. Washington Valley Ski Touring & Snowshoe Foundation partners with a dozen inns and local businesses along its trail system for a day filled with chocolate and plenty of outdoor exercise to work it all off. Inns show off their favorite chocolate creations, from brownie sundaes and chocolate-dipped strawberries to chocolate fondue and a chocolate fountain. Expect some tasty surprises, such as the chocolate-covered bacon at the 1785 Inn, where it’s hard to choose between the array of bon-bons.
Warm up with hot cocoa served in homemade chocolate cups at the Samuel O’Reilly House or stop at Stone House Manor for a chocolate martini. A few added treats are included in the festival ticket, including specials at local businesses and a free tasting of locally brewed Tuckerman’s beer. Every participant will have a map and brochure which they can validate at each trailside stop to enter the drawing for a $200 gift certificate to be used at any participating member business.
The trail map and notes specify the best routes in the foundation’s 45-kilometer trail system, much of which is rated easy. The map indicates more difficult alternatives for experienced skiers. A complimentary shuttle also connects various stops throughout the festival hours, 11 a.m.–4 p.m.
The Chocolate Festival is also a good way to see inside some of the lovely inns that line the route between North Conway and Intervale, helpful in planning future trips to the Mt. Washington Valley.
This is how we first saw the elegant Stonehurst Manor, the charming Riverside Inn Bed & Breakfast on the banks of the East Branch Saco River, and the 1785 Inn, which Yankee Magazine awarded the accolade of New Hampshire’s “Best View From an Inn.” We’ve enjoyed that view from our breakfast table, and we agree. Most of the participating inns include free passes to the cross-country trail system with any winter stay, and 2020 Chocolate Festival Lodging packages include festival tickets.
The date for this year’s Chocolate Festival is Feb. 25, and although you can ski the trails with your ticket throughout the day, the inns will welcome skiers for chocolate treats 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Deals and specials at area businesses are valid throughout the day.
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