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Top Things to Do During Vacation Week in NH

From the popular Ice Castles to skiing, there are plenty of options to keep your family busy

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School vacation week is around the corner, but it’s easy to stay busy and entertained if you know where to go.

Whether you're hoping to experience the outdoors or stay warm inside, there are many things to do in New Hampshire.  

Ice Castles

Tucked away in New Hampshire’s North Country is a winter phenomenon that draws tourists from around the world. The Ice Castles in North Woodstock are a magical experience, built using hundreds of thousands of icicles hand-placed by professional ice artists. They include breathtaking LED-lit sculptures, ice-carved tunnels, fountains, a frozen throne and even a horse-drawn carriage.

It all started when founder Brent Christensen carved an ice cave in his yard to get his kids out of the house during long winters in Utah. It was a hit, and the idea has since evolved into a family-friendly attraction with six locations across North America.

In New Hampshire, a team of up to 40 ice artisans start their work in September, growing icicles on what they call an “ice farm.” Those icicles are then planted into the structure that eventually becomes a two-acre castle made entirely of ice.

Tickets are available Monday-Saturday and start at $16.99 for general admission.

New England Ski Museum

Skiing is a favorite pastime in New England, but do you know how it became so popular? Or who is responsible for bringing the sport to the United States?

Those are just a few of the questions answered at the New England Ski Museum in Franconia Notch State Park. The exhibits explore skiing’s rich history, from its prehistoric roots, through its wartime significance, up to the invention of shaped skis in the 1990s.

And right now, there’s a special exhibit showcasing the Olympic achievements of legendary skier Bode Miller, who grew up in the area.The New England Ski Museum also has a second location with different displays in North Conway.

Chutters

Here’s a sweet reason to visit New Hampshire: the world’s longest candy counter is in Littleton, at Chutters.

The Guinness Book of World Records has recognized the shop for its 112 foot counter with more than 600 jars of different candy. Shoppers can find everything from traditional jelly beans, to Chutters famous fudge, and even some decades-old favorites.

Owner Jim Alden says kids love the place, and parents and grandparents are amazed by the variety. There is also a Chutters in Lincoln and in Bretton Woods.

Skiing

Nothing says winter in New England like hitting the slopes, and there are plenty of options.

The Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods offers 464 acres of skiing and snowboarding — enough to keep any skier busy. At the Loon Mountain Resort in Lincoln, skiers can choose from three different peaks. Anyone traveling North may want to check out the Cranmore Mountain Resort in North Conway. At Mount Sunapee in Newbury, skiers of all experience levels can find a trail that works for them. To experience the highest ski area summit in New Hampshire, visit Cannon Mountain in Franconia.

Courtesy of Mount Washington Resort

Hiking

If you are hoping to stay outdoors but are not looking to ski, a winter hike might be for you. All of the locations below offer hikes for all experience levels and breathtaking views.

Mount Major in Alton offers a family-friendly hike with a panoramic view of Lake Winnipesaukee. The Lonesome Lake Hut in Franconia has an easy-to-moderate trail with views of the lake and Franconia Ridge. A hike at Mount Monadnock in Jaffrey includes a beautiful look at the Boston skyline. If you are looking for a challenge, Mount Chocorua in Albany offers a unique, rocky summit that overlooks surrounding lakes. The main trail at Blue Job Mountain in Stafford is a steady climb for new hikers that has a view of the Atlantic Ocean on a clear day.

Museums

Looking to avoid the cold vacation week?

In Manchester, the Currier Museum of Art features European and American paintings from artists like Picasso and Monet. The SEE Science Center in Bedford features hands-on exhibits. In Londonderry, the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire brings history to new heights. The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire in Dover and the Cheshire Children’s Museum in Keene offer interactive exhibits that allow children to explore their interests.

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