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A Winter Adventure for Active Families

The lakes may have frozen over, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t great ways to get out and active with the family in the Lakes Region this winter, from sliding down the second-highest peak in the Belknap Mountains to getting a lesson on Lakes Region ecology.

Day One

12 p.m. | Moultonborough
Walk in the Clouds

When snow covers the Ossipee Mountains, the 28 miles of trails around the Castle in the Clouds shifts from prime hiking to prime snowshoeing routes. Keep it short and scenic by snowshoeing the Brook Walk, which features seven waterfalls along its relatively easily half-mile trail, or spend some time tackling the longer Oak Ridge Trail, great for catching views of the castle through breaks in the tree-lined mountains. Although your family can certainly spend an entire afternoon exploring the trails, maintained by the Lakes Region Conservation Trust, they vary in length to accommodate novice snowshoers and old pros alike. 

5 p.m. | Meredith
Tasting Tradition

There’s nothing like a warm meal after a day trekking the snowy trails. With 65 years of raising turkeys and dishing up comfort food under their belt, Hart’s Turkey Farm has a proven track record of sending families away happy and satisfied. Of course, you can go with a traditional turkey dinner – complete with thick gravy and potatoes smashed to a creamy puree – but Hart’s also offers some less typical turkey trimmings: turkey tempura with duck sauce, turkey parmesan, and turkey pot stickers. The best part? If the kids get restless during dinner, they can pop into Hart’s Store, a gift shop in the lobby of the restaurant, cluttered with shelves of stuffed animals, custom mugs, and other knick-knacks.

Day Two

10 a.m. | Gilford
Something for Everyone

Technically dubbed Winnipesaukee Bay Gulls 2, this second iteration of the beloved Lakes Region bagel spot, located in a quaint café next to Sanders Bay, bears a striking resemblance to the original – at least in terms of the fresh bagels they churn out on premises, all day long. You can find classics like a plain bagel with butter or opt for a more adventurous parmesan bagel with sun-dried tomato cream cheese. Whether you keep it classic or prefer to try something new, the aroma of bagels fresh from the oven hits hungry breakfast-seekers immediately upon arrival.

12 p.m. | Laconia
Connect with Your Inner Artist

It may be blustery outside, but at Art Escape, it is all island vibes and good times. The make-your-own-art studio summons sunshine with a palm tree–adorned front door, tiki bar–inspired front desk, and bright customer and staff paintings hung all around. Try your hand at decorating a blank canvas or browse their shelves of ceramic critters and kitchenware available to paint. Whether you go home with a set of custom mugs or a piece of art that is all your own, this multifaceted studio will have every member of the family connecting with their inner artist. 

2 p.m. | Gilford
Interesting Irish Fare

Set back in a shopping plaza off Weirs Road, Patrick’s Pub is a quintessential Irish pub offering up old country favorites like shepherd’s pie and bangers and mash covered in a Guinness gravy. For the less adventurous eaters in your group, there’s also a variety of stateside favorites like mac ‘n cheese and a good old-fashioned hamburger.

5 p.m. | Gilford
A Night Ride at Gunstock

While most ski resorts are shutting down their lifts and collecting the last gear rentals of the day, Gunstock is gearing up for its night sessions. Twenty-two of the resort’s 55 trails are lit up to continue the snow revelry well after the sun has set. Not a skier? No problem: They also offer tubing and rides on the Mountain Coaster until closing time at 9 p.m.

Day Three

9 a.m. | Meredith
A Breakfast Bounty at George’s Diner

George’s Diner, a mom-and-pop mainstay just a few short steps from downtown Meredith, checks all the boxes for a beloved local diner: small-town feel with friendly staff and quaint décor to match (think checkered floors, menus that double as placemats, and a breakfast counter), hearty food that is affordable while filling, and breakfast that is served until 2 p.m. Expect a range of omelets, pancakes, French toast, waffles, and two types of hash – corned beef and red flannel – homemade daily.

11 a.m. | Holderness
Wander the Wild

The western bank of Squam Lake is home to the only Association of Zoos and Aquariums–accredited institution in northern New England: the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center. While daily operations shut down from November 1 to May 1, they offer special winter programs perfect for a family day in the snow, including ice fishing and bird watching (because not all our feathered friends fly south for the winter).