Every summer since my daughter was two months old, I’ve packed the kids up and we’ve flown from Colorado to the state of my childhood: New Hampshire. We visit friends and family and make Lake Winnipesaukee our home base for at least 10 days. The trip has become more fun as the kids have grown older (now 7 and 9), since they can just do more than just play in the sandy beach in front of my mom’s house. And with our central location in the Lakes Region of the state, we can easily take day trips to the White Mountains in the north and other attractions in the south (next year I’d like to hit the beach and the eastern coast). Here are the top five highlights of our 2009 family trip to New Hampshire:
Ziplining with Grammie: I couldn’t believe it when my sixty-something mother agreed to go on the Adventure Gorge Zipline Canopy Tour at Tenney Mountain. We zipped down eight cables, walked tightropes, climbed rope ladders and dropped from an auto-belay device. Hubby and I also swung from a Tarzan rope and caught ourselves SpiderMan-like on a giant rope web, but Mom declined that one, fearing she screw up her shoulder and ruin her golf swing, but that’s the only element she missed. So proud of her! And of my kids, who completed the shorter and easier “kids course” (twice) while the grown-ups played. For $65/adult and $35/child, I think this excursion is a steal.
Go-Karts, Batting Cages & Fried Dough: In true vacation indulgence, we spent one morning at all the “honky tonk attractions” (Mom’s words, not mine) on and near the Weirs Beach boardwalk. That meant go-karts, bumper boats, batting cages, bungee trampoline and arcade games, plus two quintessential NH lake vacation foods: fried dough and saltwater taffy. Yum!
Tubing on Lake Winnipesaukee: You can’t stay in the Lakes Region without getting on a boat at least once — even better when you have friends with a boat, tow rope and an blow-up water toy you can use for free. (But you can rent ski boats, water skis and tubes, too.) The two kids, my best friend from high school, my husband and I and even Grammie got on the giant innertube (dubbed “the Couch”) for a ride. Both my mom and I were unprepared to tube and didn’t dress for the occasion (who knew we’d be egged on to participate?), so we hopped in with our clothes on. Great vacation memories right there!
Canobie Lake Park: This amusement park in Salem dates back to 1902 (with a still-operating 1903 carousel). Throughout much of our day there, I reminisced about trips to the park as a kid, “I remember the plexiglass maze!” and “We have pictures of me on those little boats!” It’s grown in size, with some crazy new attractions like the Extreme Frisbee (picture lots of spinning) and massive Boston Tea Party water ride (getting drenched is an understatement). Both kids are getting more adventurous with theme-park rides, and I love that. My son was so proud he conquered the loop-dee-loop roller coaster. Me, too.
Gathering with Favorite Friends: Within our vacation, we had a mini-getaway in southern New Hampshire. I got together for a three-day weekend with a handful of my very best college buddies, their spouses, and their children. Where did we all stay? In a vacation rental home of course. For multiple family gatherings, we’re all firm believers that a house is far superior to several hotel rooms. We were able to cook meals in a fully-stocked kitchen, have private bedrooms, gather in a big living room, play ping pong, and eat on a big deck all together. We took a couple excursions, too. A favorite among the kids: mini golf and humongous ice cream cones at Humdingers on Route 101 in Keene. (Delish!)
Of course, this is only a handful of favorites from this particular trip. In the past couple years, we’ve also spent the day at Whale’s Tale waterpark in Lincoln, Storyland amusement park in Glen and Lost River Gorge in North Woodstock — all fabulous attractions for families in New Hampshire. We absolutely look forward to future trips and more exploration of my childhood state.