Traveling with kids can be challenging, especially when trying to cater to kids of various ages. No one wants to do the same things. Some of them don’t want to do anything! We’re here to tell you that it is possible to plan a kid-friendly vacation—that’s fun for the adults in the family, too.
The first thing you’ll want to do is choose an area that offers a wide variety of activities to keep the little ones, tweens, teens, and “kids at heart” happy and entertained—no matter the season. Luckily, the Lakes Region of New Hampshire offers a little bit of everything, so there’s sure to be something everyone in your family will enjoy.
Here are some year-round adventures to consider when thinking of things to do with your family in the NH Lakes Region!
YEAR-ROUND ADVENTURES TO CONSIDER
Summertime in the Lakes Region is an obvious hot spot for anyone visiting the Granite State, with Lake Winnipesaukee taking center stage. In addition to this well-known playground, there are many other lakes to explore in the area, all of which offer hours of fun and relaxation for swimmers and boaters alike.
While swimming and boating may not be on your list during winter, that doesn’t mean the Lakes Region lacks fun things to do this time of year. If you’re looking to add some variety to your winter season within a reasonable driving distance from pretty much anywhere in New England, the Lakes Region is an excellent choice! Consider visiting some (or all) of these towns and landmarks on your next driving vacation.
Looking for a place to stop with the kids that also holds some historical significance? Visit the infamous Castle in the Clouds, also known as the “Lucknow Mansion,” a property built by shoe industry pioneer Tom Plant in the early nineteen hundreds. The mansion is open for tours year-round. You can even indulge in culinary delights at the Carriage House Restaurant during winter or grab a quick snack at the Café in the Clouds during warmer weather.
Who doesn’t love a little ice skating? If this family-friendly event is on your agenda, the Pop Whalen Ice and Arts Center is the place to go. It is a spectacular parks and recreation asset located in Wolfeboro, which also borders Lake Winnipesaukee. The center is near the Abenaki Ski Area, known as “America’s Oldest Small Ski Area.” Both are worth a visit for some wintertime fun!
If your kids want to try out some exhilarating water activities, consider reaching out to Elevated Wake Co., which is staffed by a team of water sports enthusiasts dedicated to making sure people have fun on the lake. This locally-owned business offers charters for wakeboarding, wake surfing, water skiing, and tubing on Lake Winnipesaukee during summer.
Need a place to stay that gives you and your family direct lake access and stunning views? Check out this gorgeous vacation rental in Meredith, available through Stay-NH.
The Hobo & Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad offers a variety of excursions for visitors of all ages. You and your family can choose between enjoying a relaxing scenic railroad voyage along the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee or the Pemigewasset River—any time of the year.
Don’t miss the Fall Foliage and Pumpkin Express trains during the fall season and the Santa Express trains during the holidays. What’s better than a real-life Polar Express for the young and the young-at-heart? >
Want to tucker the kids out and burn energy with some physical activity? The Rail Bike Adventures are the way to go! Each bike has four seats so that the whole family can pedal together! You’ll enjoy a group guided tour before being free to meander two miles at your own pace through the Belmont Woods and along the shores of Lake Winnisquam.
Avid outdoor enthusiasts will love the options Gunstock Mountain offers throughout the year. The winter months provide plenty of trails for downhill skiers and snowboarders, with night skiing and boarding available for those who prefer to get their turns in under the lights
Introducing the little ones to skiing for the first time? Rentals and lessons are available for those less experienced in the group. The kids (and adults!) will also love snow tubing, and there’s nothing better than a nice hot cocoa in the lodge to end the day’s activities.
But that’s not all! In the warmer months, Gunstock offers hiking, camping, zipline tours, and a mountain coaster
Perhaps one of the more popular tourist destinations in the Lakes Region, Weirs Beach on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee, offers year-round entertainment. You can stroll along the boardwalk, enjoy an abundance of free, family-friendly entertainment, shop for souvenirs, and satisfy your hunger by indulging in various dining options. Round out your visit with a trip to Funspot—the largest arcade in the world—or hit the bumper cars. Your kids will beg you to take them back!
At Squam Lake Natural Science Center, your whole family can get up close and personal with various habitats and animal life. There’s a playground for the little ones, miles of hiking trails, and educational presentations throughout the day to entertain the whole family. You might even get lucky on your visit and spot a bald eagle around Squam Lake! You might consider commissioning a private boat charter with the kiddos during the warmer months for a special treat
With so many things to do in the area, your only problem might be needing more time to do it all. If you can’t fit in all these fun activities this time, come back! The Lakes Region is an excellent choice for a family vacation anytime.
EXPLORING BEYOND NH’S LAKES REGION
If you’re up for exploring a bit beyond the Lakes Region, here are a few more NH landmarks you don’t want to miss!
Open late May through December, Santa’s Village is an amusement and theme park in Jefferson, NH, a little over an hour from the Lakes Region. Many of the rides are Christmas or winter-themed, making it an excellent choice for a family-friendly holiday adventure to get in the season’s spirit—any time of year.
Make sure you plan a stop at Storyland, a great amusement park with live shows to keep the kiddos entertained. Set in Bartlett, NH, it’s a little over an hour’s drive but a great way to spend the day! Head to Cinderella’s Castle for tea time, play in Moo Lagoon, drive around antique cars, ride the swan boats, or get your thrills on the Roar–O-Saurus Coaster. The park is open from May through October and is a popular spot, especially in the summertime.
The Flume Gorge in Franconia Notch State Park is an iconic experience always worth visiting, and it’s only about 45 minutes from the Lakes Region. This natural gorge extends 800 feet at the base of Mount Liberty, offering a scenic 2-mile loop featuring breathtaking views of the 45-foot Avalanche Falls, Liberty Gorge, glacial boulders (some weighing over 300 pounds!), and more.
Bretton Woods Ski Area just turned 50 in 2023 and is known as the largest ski area in New Hampshire! Offering 464 acres of skiing and riding on 63 trails (and 35 glades), it’s a wonderful winter destination with plenty of fun things for everyone to do. Summer fun continues at the Omni Mount Washington Resort, with golf, tennis, fly fishing, guided mountain bike tours, and more. It’s a little over an hour from the Lakes Region but worth the drive!
Cannon Mountain is NH’s only state-owned ski area, located in Franconia State Park, and boasts NH’s highest ski area summit at 4040 feet! If you visit, don’t forget to stop at the New England Ski Museum at the base of the Aerial Tramway. It’s free and is open daily from 10 am-5 pm from Memorial Day weekend through the end of the ski season.
Featuring ice slides, caverns, archways, crawl tunnels, snow tubing, and a mystic forest light walk, there’s nothing more magical than a visit to NH’s award-winning Ice Castles in North Woodstock, NH. Words don’t quite do the experience justice; you’ll have to go and see for yourself! This unforgettable winter wonderland is just a 45-minute drive from the heart of the Lakes Region, so be sure to add it to your list of excursions!
BOOK A STAY-NH RENTAL
After long (and fun!) days of exploration and adventuring with the kids, you’ll likely be looking for a place to kick back, relax, and lay your weary heads down for a good night’s rest. Stay-NH offers a variety of accommodations to make your Lakes Region visit a one-to-remember. You can choose from a great selection of conveniently and scenically located log cabins, ski chalets, modern condominiums, and more. Book your NH stay today!
LOCALLY-OWNED AND OPERATED
Stay-NH is owned and operated by New Hampshire locals who know the area like the back of our hands. We love our state and relish the opportunity to treat your vacation experience as if it were our own. We are your boots on the ground for a unique family vacation experience! Looking for something truly catered to your family’s needs? Ask us about our concierge services; we can’t wait to help you make your vacation dreams a reality!