Now that the holidays have come to a close and your cabin fever is reaching its peak, you and your little ones are probably eager to bust out of the house and into the snow. Thankfully, New Hampshire really shines this time of year (and not just after a crisp, white snowfall!)
People from all over flock to the Granite State to experience a classic New England winter. The Lakes Region has many ski-worthy mountains, silky smooth skating rinks, winter-walk-ready trails, snowmobiling spots, and even opportunities to skijor with your pup! Spring will be here before you know it; here are nine of our favorite family-friendly winter activities for you to take advantage of in the Lakes Region this season!
1. Castle in the Clouds
Stroll through a dreamy winterscape with your family at Castle in the Clouds on a winter walk to see seven standout waterfalls along the Brook Walk. Most noteworthy? The Falls of Song – a cascading 40-foot-high waterfall! The trail dates back over a century, with a portion of the trail following the route that first took visitors to these spots. Take to the trails and explore 30 miles of wooded trails cross-country skiing, hiking, and snowshoeing throughout the winter months. Open daily from dawn until dusk. After your outdoor excursion, enjoy a winter lunch at the Castle on Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., or 2 p.m. Reservations are required by noon of the preceding Tuesday.
2. Night ride at Gunstock
For after-hours aficionados, Gunstock Mountain Resort hosts its fan-favorite Night Sessions Tuesdays through Saturdays at 3 p.m. until mid-March. Your night session ticket includes skiing, lift access, and basic rental equipment. This is a perfect activity, especially if you’ve got tots in tow. Enjoy the trails as a family, and don’t leave without warming up with a cup of hot chocolate at the resort’s Powder Keg Restaurant!
3. Ice Skating at King Pine
Slide and glide to your heart’s content through the Tohko Dome Ice Skating Rink, located across the street from the King Pine Base Lodge. The outdoor dome welcomes all levels and ages of skaters and features a cozy warming station, so you don’t have to let the chilly temps stop you from skating! Use of the skating rink is included in lift tickets, season passes, and the Skate & Trails ticket, which gives you access to cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and skating.
4. INTRO TO ICE FISHING AT SQUAM LAKE SCIENCE CENTER
Another one of our favorite ways to get out on the ice is by ice fishing, and thankfully, there are multiple options for that in the Lakes Region! Take the Intro to Ice Fishing lesson at Squam Lake Science Center on February 18 from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. with Science Center naturalists to search for the fish that inhabit the lake this time of year. Consider yourself a pro? Register for the 45th Annual Ice Fishing Derby on February 10 and 11, sponsored by the Meredith Rotary Club. Psst: You can win a cash prize of $15,000!
Frozen lakes and remote hillsides become much more accessible in the colder months, providing an ideal landscape for snowmobiling. Take a guided tour with Northern Extremes Snowmobiling, and explore the Bear Notch snowmobile trail system, a 50-mile, closed-loop trail system complete with four scenic overlooks of Mt Washington and Presidential Range! With over 7,000 miles of trails in the Lakes Region, we guarantee you will be able to find your new favorite!
6. Cross-Country Skiing
Cross-country skiing is easy to come by all across the state. With the most extensive network of cross-country trails in the East, you have your pick of some of the best places to play in the powder. Gunstock, Mount Sunapee, Ragged Mountain, and King Pine are just a few of our favorites, and they all offer trails with varying difficulty so every family member can get in on the fun. And if you really want to include the whole family, Gunstock has skijoring lessons at its nordic center, so your pup can get in on the action too! Other popular spots to strap on your skis include the iconic WOW Trail and the Northern Rail Trail.
7. Sled Dog Races
Speaking of your furry friend, mark your calendars for the Sled Dog Races held each February by the Lakes Region Sled Dog Club. This year, the event occurs on February 16, 17, and 18, 2024 at Opechee State Forest.
8. White Water Rafting
White water rafting might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of winter activities, but Outdoor New England is here to prove you wrong. With the right gear, an experienced guide, and a taste for adventure, you and your friends (ages 12-plus), can get out on the water and experience winter in a whole new way.
9. Race through Canterbury Shaker Village
The 2023 Delta Dental Snow or No We Go Trail Series returns to Canterbury Shaker Village on February 3 at 10 a.m. Snowgoers are welcome to hike, jog, or run through the Village’s extensive system, with trails ranging from two to four miles long. Pre-registration is required, and participation is limited to 75 individuals per race. Secure your spot online here.
10. Ride the cog railway
Although the Mount Washington State Park summit facilities close during the season in mid-October, you can still take a scenic trip up to the Waumbek Station. Situated at an elevation of about 4000’ in an alpine meadow, you’re bound to experience incredible panoramic views from the southern Presidential Range to the Canadian border. When you reach the station, you have approximately 25 minutes to explore the warming huts, sip on warm beverages, and defrost by the fire pit. The entire trip is about 1 hour long and tickets are available at a reduced fee.
11. The escape room experience
Not in the mood to layer up and explore the outdoors? We don’t blame you. Your whole family will eagerly join you on this indoor expedition at The Escape Room Experience in Laconia. Here, you’ll work your way through a room of your choosing, using hidden messages and clues to escape before the clock runs out. As a true choose your own adventure experience, pick from their Camp Winnipesaukee, Fortune Teller, and CSI Murder Mystery room. Tickets cost $35 per person for up to 3 people and $30 per person for 4+ people. Reserve your room online.