Looking for a weekend getaway this Fall with the family? Check out New Hampshire’s beautiful White Mountains where vacationers from around the world still fill the parking lots of the attractions located throughout this popular tourist destination. The Silly Spooky Halloween at Santa’s Village sounds like fun to me!
“The weather has been spectacular this summer and the economy was definitely a factor,” commented Jayne O’Connor, President of the White Mountains Attractions Association. “Visitors took full advantage of the warm summer days, low gas prices and new features at the Attractions, which gave the businesses a banner season.”
Many of the 17 major Attractions in the region reported double digit increases in attendance over last year. Clark’s Trading Post in Lincoln is calling this summer “an excellent season” ascribing a boost in admissions to favorable weather, economic conditions and the addition of a new water raft ride called the “Anaconda Escape.” The Mt. Washington Cog Railway noted they are “on track to have a third record-breaking season.” Even though summer is still in full swing, the Attractions are busy making preparations for the upcoming Fall Foliage season. Visitors traveling to New Hampshire during this colorful time of year, known as “Leaf Peepers,” will have the opportunity to participate in many special events and enjoy all the parks have to offer.
The Hobo Railroad in Lincoln will showcase their “Cornstalk Critters” from September 19 – October 18. These life-sized characters, created by the Annalee Doll Company in Meredith, New Hampshire, will grace the grounds of the Hobo Junction station. This year’s theme, “Scarecrows of Sound,” features likenesses of some popular music giants, such as the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Mick Jagger and many others. The Hobo’s popular train rides along the Pemigewasset River will also be available through October 18 from the station in Lincoln.
Halloween creeps up on Jefferson at Santa’s Village October 17 and 24. During this family-friendly “Silly Spooky Halloween” event, the entire park is transformed into a mix of spookiness for older children and fun areas for younger kids. The shops are open to Trick-or-Treaters and costumes are encouraged. Rides and food shops will be open. In addition, the park’s daily summer hours are in effect through September 7, followed by the Halloween schedule in October, and the Christmastime schedule beginning November 21 through the holiday.
Ghosts and goblins will feel right at home this fall in North Conway at Cranmore Mountain’s “Ghoullog,” The annual fright fest features over 15,000 square feet of indoor space as well as a mysterious outdoor element and a Haunted Playground. A unique nighttime experience can be had on the Mountain Coaster, Giant Swing and Soaring Eagle zipline. The event starts September 26 and takes place Friday and Saturday nights through Halloween (plus Sunday, October 13 and Thursday, October 22).
Loon Mountain heralds in autumn with the skirl of dozens of bagpipes during the 40th Annual New Hampshire Highland Games & Festival, September 18-20. One of the largest Scottish festivals in the country, the Highland Games will feature top Scottish bands, classic Highlander cuisine, Scottish heavy athletics, and dozens of other unique cultural attractions. In addition, Loon Mountain’s regular daily schedule also runs through October 12 in Lincoln.
During the Columbus Day Weekend, October 10-11, a lively Oktoberfest will take place at Attitash Mountain Resort located in Bartlett. The 18th Annual Oktoberfest at Bear Peak will feature live, traditional Bavarian music, dancing, Samuel Adams Stein Hoisting and Keg Toss competitions, kids’ activities & games, authentic German food and the Biergarten tent featuring local and regional brewers. In addition, the daily operating schedule at Attitash is also in effect through September with weekends only from September 12-October 12.
The Conway Scenic Railroad gives young passengers a jump on Halloween aboard the Pumpkin Patch Express, October 16-18 and 23-25. Departures from the North Conway Station take riders for a leisurely roundtrip train ride to the White Mountain Cider Company in Glen, where each child can visit the “Pumpkin Patch” and select their own pumpkin. Adults and children are encouraged to get into the spirit by traveling in their Halloween costumes. The railroad’s regular daily schedule also runs through October 31 with a weekend/holiday/vacation schedule beginning on November 7.
History will be alive and well at the Mt. Washington Auto Road during the weekend-long “Muster in the Mountains” event, September 11-13. Reenactors populate a colonial encampment representing many individuals of the French and Indian War, Revolutionary War, and Mountain Man periods from 1750 through 1840. They will demonstrate the use of tools, clothing, and firearms for their respective time periods. This event is free and open to the public. The Mt. Washington Auto Road will be open daily through mid-October for as long as the weather permits.
Train enthusiasts will be all smiles during “Railfans’ Day” at the Cog Railway on Friday, September 11 for a full-day event filled with coal-fired steam trains and photo opportunities. There will be visits with the steam crew as they service the trains, and a guided museum tour. Regular daily hours also continue through November 1, then weekends only November 7-29, weather permitting.
Lost River Gorge & Boulder Caves in North Woodstock will be open daily through October 18 and the popular “Evening Lantern Tours” will continue every Saturday night (weather permitting) through October 17. Advance reservations are a must for these popular evening trips through the gorge and caves. Lost River visitors can also experience the Attraction’s new “Out of the Gorge” adventure trail during daytime visits.
In Franconia Notch, the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway will continue its daily operations through October 18, and the Flume Gorge will remain open every day through October 25 (weather permitting.) Polar Caves Park will operate daily through October 18, and then will welcome visitors on weekends only, for as long as the weather allows.
Whale’s Tale Waterpark in Lincoln and Story Land, located in Glen, will operate daily through September 7. Clark’s Trading Post will operate with their daily schedule that features variations through October 12. Wildcat Mountain in Pinkham Notch is open every day through September 7 and then weekends only through October 12, weather permitting. Alpine Adventures, located on Rte. 112 in Lincoln, is open year-round with zip lines, a new tree-house area, and seasonal activities available.
For more events, information, and updated schedules, visit the WMAA website at www.VisitWhiteMountains.com.