New Hampshire’s ski areas aren’t just for winter fun – they have summer activities as well, and are perfect places to take the kids for a day out. Many of the lifts that bring skiers to the trails in winter re-purpose to sightseeing in the summer and fall, and the slopes are perfect locations for thrill rides and water slides. Of course these mountain playgrounds are fun for all ages, but a few are especially kid-friendly. There’s still some summer left before school starts, and all these are open — at least on weekends — through fall.
Mountain coaster and tubing summer style
The Mountain Coaster the kids loved all winter at Cranmore’s Mountain Adventure Park is just as much fun in the summer, when a day there can include zipping on the Soaring Eagle, soaring on the Giant Swing and summer tubing on the tubing hill. They can challenge a bouncy house obstacle course and a climbing wall, and small-fry can play in the smaller bouncy houses. And on the next two Saturdays, an all-park pass brings free ice cream at the mountain-top Meister Hut, where skiers lunch in winter.
Gunstock Mountain Resort, overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee, invites all ages to slide down the mountain on the 300′ summer tubing run. Access this, the bungee jumper, spider climber and other activities as part of the Discover Pass. Children over 10 can soar above the trees from peak to peak on one of the country’s longest zip line canopy tours, over a mile and a half long.
Mini and disk golf
On the western side of the Lakes Region, the whole family can play mini golf at Mount Sunapee Resort. The Wild Goose Waters 18-hole Miniature Golf Course at the base of the Adventure Park at South Peak includes replicas of Lake Sunapee’s three light houses. Older siblings may prefer the Canopy Zip-Line Tour, a series of zip-lines, rope bridges and rappelling challenges.
Even farther south in New Hampshire, play Frisbee Disc Golf at Granite Gorge, a ski area in Keene; it’s only $5 for unlimited play. The brand-new course is open all day, seven days a week until the snow flies.
The Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway, fun for all ages, carries passengers throughout the summer and fall. At the top is an easy hike to the tower for 360-degree views. And while you’re in Franconia Notch, stop to see The Flume. Gondolas at Loon Mountain Resort offer a mountain top experience unique in NH, a chance to explore boulder caves and passages in a tumble of giant boulders left by glaciers. And they won’t even notice that they’re learning about geology as they scramble through. There are enough White Mountain Attractions in the Franconia Notch area to keep families busy every weekend through mid-October: Clark’s Trading Post with its acrobats and lovable bears, Hobo Railroad, Lost River Gorge and – through September 7 — Whale’s Tale Water Park.
Bretton Woods Resort offers zipline thrills for teens and a dedicated Kids ATV Park, along with an indoor rock climbing experience at the Slopeside Climbing Wall. Scenic chairlift rides to the top of the mountain are free, and from the family-friendly restaurant at the top, Latitude 44°, you can challenge the kids to spot the famous Mount Washington Cog Railway climbing to the summit.
Riding the trails
Black Mountain, the uber-family-friendly ski resort in Jackson, offers summer and fall trail rides to an elevation of 2000 feet, for beautiful views of the Presidential Range. Even first-time riders will have fun and be safe with well-trained horses and skilled guides. Both Whitney’s Inn, at the base of the mountain, and Christmas Farm Inn just down the road are especially family oriented, with family-sized rooms and children’s menus in the dining rooms.