The centerpiece of this itinerary is the Kancamagus Scenic Byway (Route 112) which is affectionately known as "the Kank." People who drive, hike, or even bicycle the Kank are stunned by the pure beauty of this mountain road. It is wonderful in all seasons, but it holds a special place in people's hearts as a foliage drive in the fall. This 26-mile, east-west road through the White Mountains connects North Woodstock on the west end and Conway on the east end. North Conway is just 6 miles north of Conway, up Route 16, and it has plenty for adults and from families to do. North Conway is especially loved as a tax-free shopping venue at outlets like Settlers Green and many other shops. - View Map
This is the heart of the White Mountains, so you are arriving by car or plane (you will see more below about excursion trains that offer sightseeing and pleasure trips in the mountains. Drivers will probably use I-93 or I91 coming from the south and the north, and Route 302 if coming from eastern points in Maine. Mount Washington Regional Airport is used for general aviation.
Enjoy an effortless survey of these beautiful mountains through the windows of a vintage passenger train. Conway Scenic Railroad trains depart from a Victorian-era station in North Conway village. Round-trip excursions to Conway or Barlett on the Valley Train or through the Crawford Notch on the Notch Train are one to five hours long. First-class dining on the dining car is old-fashioned fun. Excursion trails operate spring through fall, including popular fall foliage trips. There are some special Santa Claus trains around Christmas season.
The White Mountains National Forest maintains several fine hiking trails off the Kank (Kancamagus Hwy. or Route 112). The location of trailheads is described as a distance along the Kank from the Saco Ranger Station. The ranger station is the first building on the right as you leave Conway and enter the Kank. Two great hikes are the Rail N' River Trail and the Sabbaday Falls hike. Use of trails requires a pass, available at the trailheads.
Simply driving the length of the Kancamagus Scenic Highway from Conway to Lincoln (or the reverse) could be the best part of your visit. This nationally honored scenic byway meanders through a mountain pass and vast forests. Scenery is stupefying all year. Many turnoffs and trailheads allow you to stop and gaze.
Lost River Gorge & Boulder Caves in North Woodstock is home to granite cliffs, spectacular waterfalls, rugged caves, and a river that plays hide-and-seek amid the rocks. You can walk along a three-quarter mile boardwalk, or venture out or your comfort zone to climb and crawl among the caves, with enticing names like the Lemon Squeezer, and the Judgment Hall of Pluto. Active kids will love this adventure! Open May through October.
Alpine Adventures on Main Street in Lincoln (a few miles east of North Woodstock) offers rip-roaring off-road trips through mountain meadows and passes. Buckle Up and Hold On, as the license plates say, because you're in for a wild & scenic ride in modified Swiss Army vehicles.
Both kids and adults love a sunny day of fun at the Whale's Tale Water Park on Route 3 in Lincoln. Adults can relax in the sun or join youngsters splashing in the wave pool, flume slide, tube rides, and more.
Just five miles north of North Woodstock off of Route 3, the Flume Gorge offers a spectacular walk through a naturally occurring chasm, over bridges and past waterfalls and mountain pools. Restful walk with adventurous views. Start and end your walk at the Flume Visitors Center.
The League of New Hampshire Craftsmen is one of the oldest craft organizations in the country, and one of its seven retail galleries is in North Conway. Shop for artwork in many media; enjoy demonstrations and exhibits. People who shop also will make a beeline to the 100 factory outlet stores in Conway, most of them at Settlers' Green Outlet Village and Settlers' Crossing, on Route 16.
Peach's Restaurant at 2506 White Mountain Hwy., No. Conway gets sterling reviews for a many breakfast dishes, especially pancakes and muffins made with chunks of fresh fruit.
Flapjack's Pancake House, 149 Main Street, Lincoln. You can tell by the name that this place is confident in its breakfast menu, which includes the Hooterville, 2 pancakes with sausage & fried potatoes inside.
Flatbread Company, 2760 White Mountain Hwy, No. Conway. This restaurant chain has earned a solid reputation for flatbread pizzas from a brick oven, organic ingredients, local beers & friendly atmosphere.
The Common Man at 10 Pollard Road in Lincoln is always a winner (it's part of a NH-based chain run by people with high standards and pride in their work). Voted the tops by readers of New Hampshire magazine for its prime rib, home made baked macaroni and cheese, and crab cakes.
1785 Inn & Restaurant at 3582 White Mountain Hwy., No. Conway is just the thing for a special dinner: romantic fireplaces; mountain views, flambé desserts made at the table, flaming drinks.
Café Lafayette Dinner Train from North Woodstock offers a fine-quality dinner during a 2-hour train ride on an route of the Boston & Maine railroad designed to serve the Grand Hotels of the 19th century. Restful and elegant surroundings. Ride in the elevated planetarium car, a coach car, or in the sunken lounge.