The kids might be back in school, but summer isn’t over yet! The humid summer days are behind us allowing for the cool mountain air to arrive in the White Mountains after a long hot summer. In another month or so, the leaves will start turning into a kaleidoscope of colors and the leaf peepers will be back in droves.
September and early October are the perfect time to visit the White Mountains as many of the family-friendly attractions are still open on the weekends and the weather is cool and sunny. After school gets out on Friday, pack up the minivan and head to Exit 32 for a weekend of last-minute summer fun.
Fall weekends are a wonderful time to visit one of the White Mountain’s most iconic attractions, Story Land. The temperatures are moderate, the ride lines shorter, and the crowds smaller than in July and August. A few of the rides, like Splash Battle and Dr. Geyser’s Remarkable Raft Ride close early September for the season, but most of the rides are still open. With over 30 family-friendly rides and attractions based on all your favorite fairytales, you’ll create memories to last a lifetime with your little ones. Scream in delight on the Road-O-Saurus, let the little ones take the wheel on the Antique Cars and live out all your Cinderella dreams on Cinderella’s Pumpkin Coach. Story Land is open every weekend from September through Columbus Day weekend in October.
The Hobo Railroad has two locations: one right in Lincoln and the other in Weirs Beach and Meredith. Both the Hobo and Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroads were part of the Boston, Concord and Montreal Railroad built in the mid-1800s. From September 14th through October 14th, both trains run the popular Harvest Time Express trains, which include samples of New Hampshire-made seasonal food for you to enjoy during your scenic ride along the mountains and waterway. After the train ride, you can enjoy a variety of outdoor games and see the life-sized scarecrows handcrafted by local artists. Multiple ride times are available through the weekends.
Hobo Hills Adventure Golf
After your train ride, hit the greens for a little game of mini golf at Hobo Hills Adventure Golf! The challenging 18-hole course features lavish landscaping, meandering streams, and cascading waterfalls to mimic those found in the nearby White Mountains. Just like most attractions in the area, the course is family-friendly so the whole family can enjoy a competitive or friendly round of mini golf.
Mount Washington Cog Railway
Celebrating 150 years in 2019, the Mount Washington Cog Railway is a unique experience that should be experienced at least once in your life. The railway is extremely popular during peak foliage season and often sells out weeks in advance. Take a ride up to New Hampshire’s infamous peak before the crowds come in October. The Mount Washington Cog Railway is a narrated three-hour roundtrip train ride to the summit where you’ll have panoramic views of the White Mountains and beyond. Powered by either a steam or diesel locomotive, you’ll enjoy an epic family-friendly ride to new heights. Due to its popularity, it’s best to book your tickets in advance, especially when the leaves start to turn colors.
Conway Scenic Railroad
If you haven’t had your fill of train rides yet, the Conway Scenic Railroad offers a scenic ride through the Mount Washington Valley on historic railcars. The Valley Train takes you on a journey through North Conway Village to Conway or Bartlett and back again on vintage 1920s railcars. Climbing through scenic Crawford Notch over the mountains, the Notch Train is a 5.5-hour train ride on the famous Mountain Division line. You’ll pass by cascading streams and babbling brooks, steep ravines, and across the eye-popping Frankenstein Trestle and Willey Brook Bridge to Crawford Station. All trains leave from the historic 1974 station in North Conway Village. Book tickets early for this incredible opportunity to see the White Mountains from a different angle and mode of transportation!
Start your Christmas holiday early at Santa’s Village in Jefferson. Open weekends through December, Santa’s Village offers countless hours of family fun. The 20 rides, like the Antique Cars, Himalaya, and Reindeer Carousel, are all designed for kids and parents to enjoy together. When you’re not getting your thrills on the rides, visit Prancer and Rudolph at Reindeer Rendezvous or become one of Santa’s elves at Elf University. In late October, the park celebrates its annual Silly Spooky Halloween, so don’t miss the opportunity to show off your favorite costume to Santa!
Clark’s Trading Post
Open weekends through Columbus Day weekend, Clark’s Trading Post is one of Lincoln’s most popular attractions. Celebrating over 90 years, Clark’s Trading Post grew from a small shop and black bear show in the 1920s to a family fun park with rides, shows, and museums for the whole family to enjoy. Take a 25-minute ride on the White Mountain Central Railroad into Wolfman’s territory to check out all his antics. Turn your world upside-down in Merlin’s Mystical Mansion and wander through all the museums on Main Street. Don’t forget the famous Bear Show!
Whale’s Tale Waterpark
As long as the sun is still shining and the weather is warm, Whale’s Tale Waterpark will be open for you to cool off. Take the plunge on one of the many waterslides, splash in the various pools, or just relax on your tube around Jonah’s Escape. Check out the daily Surf Report to see what is open as Whale’s Tale Waterpark is one of the first seasonal attractions to close for the year in the White Mountains.
Open year-round, Alpine Adventures provides lots of high-flying fun! In 2006, Alpine Adventures opened the first, longest, highest, and fastest zipline in New England. Today, they have three different zipline tours, an aerial adventure course, and off-road adventures in their unique 6-wheel Pinzgauers. The Tree Top Canopy Tour is the original zipline tour perfect for young families or total zipline newbies. With six ziplines ranging in length from 250 feet up to 1,000 feet long, you’ll zip above the trees at speeds reaching up to 45 mph. For an adrenaline rush, try the Super SkyRider Zipline Tour.
Just because the snow hasn't fallen yet doesn’t mean Loon Mountain is closed for the year. Loon Mountain offers a variety of activities throughout the year from hiking to mountain biking to the family-friendly adventure center. Ride New Hampshire’s longest scenic Gondola Skyride to the summit for stunning panoramic views of the White Mountains and explore the glacial caves. You can swing like a monkey at the Aerial Forest Adventure Park or zipline across the Pemigewasset River at the Loon Mountain Adventure Center. The first phase of the brand new downhill mountain biking trails at Loon open on September 7, 2019. Trails are beginner-friendly, and you also have access to the six miles of cross-country bike trails as well.
Lost River Gorge & Boulder Caves
Located in Kinsman Notch, the Lost River Gorge & Boulder Caves is a natural geological park that was formed over 300 million years ago in the Ice Age. During the Ice Age, glaciers moved through the White Mountains carving out its notches and mountains and deposited large boulders. Take a stroll on the ¾ mile boardwalk and see all the natural wonders up close and personal. During your walk, you’ll see many boulder formations like Fenris the Wolf, Thor’s Cauldron, and the Cave of Silence among many others. The little ones will love to mine for gemstones and fossils at the Lost River Mining Company and the Lantern Tour is not to be missed! Lost River Gorge is open through late October.
Similar to Lost River Gorge, Polar Caves in Rumney were formed during the last Ice Age. About 50,000 years ago, massive granite blocks fell from Hawk’s Cliff and formed the Polar Caves, a series of caves and passageways that you can explore today. At Polar Caves, you can explore all the nooks and crannies of the nine boulder caves, mine for gemstones at the Baker River Mining Sluice and Polar Mist, climb the 50-foot Glacial Wall, and see deer and exotic birds at the Animal Park. This family-friendly park is open through October 15, 2019.
The Flume Gorge is one of New Hampshire’s most popular attractions. Located at the base of Mount Liberty, the Flume is a natural gorge formed during the Ice Age. The Flume was discovered by 93-year-old “Aunt” Jess Guernsey accidentally in 1808 while she was out fishing. Open through October 20th, the Flume Gorge offers an abundance of activities for the whole family. Enjoy a stroll on the boardwalks through the Flume or walk the two-mile loop around the gorge. Take your family photo in front of the picturesque historic Flume Covered Bridge or chase waterfalls throughout the park.
Cannon Aerial Tramway
What better way to celebrate the start of fall than by taking a scenic ride up the Cannon Aerial Tramway? The Tram is America’s first aerial tramway that can take up to 80 passengers up to the spectacular 4,080-foot summit of Cannon Mountain in under 10 minutes. On a clear day, you can see up to four states and Canada from the 36-degree observation deck. There’s no better place to see the changing leaves of Franconia Notch than above the clouds on Cannon Mountain.
School may be back in session, but summer doesn’t officially end until September 22nd. Just a short drive from Boston, Providence, and Portland, a weekend in the White Mountains is great way to celebrate the end of summer and the start of fall. Many of the attractions are open until the middle of October and you wouldn’t have to fight the crowds. Book your weekend away and enjoy the beautiful weather!
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