In New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Valley, the New England vibe abounds. But perhaps no town in the popular tourist region exudes that Currier & Ives feeling more than Jackson, with its history, dramatic scenery, welcoming restaurants and pubs, and graceful hotels. As autumn gives way to winter, Jackson’s aura truly shines in time for the holidays when scenes around town take on an almost storybook quality.
The Wentworth (1 Carter Notch Road, 603-383-9700, www.thewentworth.com. Rates $125-$285) could easily be a contender for the most romantic inn in the Granite State. With 50 elegantly furnished rooms, some including panel-encased hot tubs and fireplaces, the property, built in 1869, seems made for visitors seeking a spot away from the madding crowd. The Christmas Farm Inn and Spa (3 Blitzen Way, 603-383-4313, www.christmasfarminn.com. Rates $99-$319) is no slouch in the charm category either. A Cape Cod saltbox-style structure, believed to have been built in 1778 (a courthouse fire in 1886 destroyed records of the building’s earliest days), the inn features a luxurious spa, suites, cottages, and — of course — Christmas packages. Up the road, Whitney’s Inn (357 Black Mountain Road, 603-383-8916, www.whitneysinn.com. Rates $119-$289) has a truly rustic, New Hampshire feel and offers both standard room accommodations and family cottages, slopeside at Jackson’s Black Mountain ski area.
One of the heartiest breakfasts in the Mount Washington Valley can be found at Yesterday’s Restaurant (100 Village Road, 603-383-4457, www
.sarahsyesterdays.com, breakfast $2.79-$8.59), where diners can fuel up on pancakes (check out the Granny Smith apple and granola, or banana nut) and three-egg omelets. Lighter fare can be found at Backcountry Bakery and Cafe (18 Black Mountain Road, 603-383-6511, www.thebackcountrybakery.com, breakfast $1.99-$5.50, lunch $4.99-$6.99). Don’t miss the breakfast sandwiches, cleverly named after area ski resorts like Cranmore (vegetarian sausage, egg, and cheese), Attitash (egg, cheese, and roasted red peppers), and Wildcat (bacon, egg, cheese, red onion, baby spinach, and hot sauce); come lunchtime, try a grilled sandwich served on homemade bread. J-Town Deli and Country Store (174 Main St., 603-383-8064, www.jtowndeli.com, lunch $4.29-$7.59) can whip you up one of their cornucopia of sandwiches on bread and wraps as you browse their traditional country store, which features local goods. Thompson House Eatery (193 Main St., 603-383-9341, www.thompsonhouseatery.com, entrees $27-$32) specializes in fine dining in the casual atmosphere of a 19th-century farmhouse. With offerings that include steak, veal, and pork tenderloin, along with creatively prepared seafood, it is widely considered one of the best spots for dinner in town.
DURING THE DAY
Black Mountain (373 Black Mountain Road, 603-383-4490, www.blackmt.com, weekend lift ticket rates $32 juniors, ages 6-12, $49 adults. After 12:30 p.m., $25 juniors, $35 adults), the oldest ski area in New Hampshire, is just weeks away from its scheduled opening for the 2013-14 skiing and riding season. This classic spot harkens back to simpler days of alpine activity, with a family-friendly atmosphere, reasonable lift ticket prices, and uniquely cut trails and glades. High-speed lifts? Forget about it. One of Jackson’s most popular events takes place on Nov. 30, when the Jingle Bell Chocolate Tour (11 a.m., $25 per person) takes place. A horse-drawn sleigh takes visitors to local establishments, each with their own special chocolate treats to sample (reservations required; call 603-383-9356 for more information). Shopping destinations include Flossie’s General Store and Gift Emporium (21 Village Road, 603-383-6565, www.flossiesgeneralstore.com), located immediately on the other side of Route 16’s historic wooden covered bridge; the shop boasts products from local artisans. Within walking distance, the Ravenwood Curio Shop (60 Main St., 603-383-8026, www.ravenwoodcurio.com) is also a haven for local artistry, including unique pottery, wall art, and jewelry. The garden alone, where many works are displayed, is a unique stop in itself. Nature lovers need not stray far either, as Jackson Falls (Carter Notch Road), which roll through the center of town, provide the perfect respite for a picnic or simply a breathtaking view of the waterfall.
Celebrating 60 years in 2013, the Shannon Door Pub (Route 16, 603-383-4211, www.shannondoor.com) has long been a premier Irish pub destination in the valley, with a wide slate of nightly entertainment on tap (Guinness too, of course). The Wildcat Inn and Tavern (94 Village Road, 603-383-6502, www.wildcattavern.com) also boasts a number of local artists on its calendar in one of the most celebrated and comfortable pub atmospheres in town. The Shovel Handle Pub, located at Whitney’s Inn, is a local favorite for apres-ski. Named after the “shovel handle tow” which once lifted skiers up Black Mountain in the 1930s, it is a testament to Jackson’s history, upon which the town so rightfully prides itself.
Eric Wilbur can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.