What to do with what is left of summer.

2008-08-30 04:10:10.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

Crawford Notch Bear I saw.

Any time I want to see my family or past friends, I have to fly. These are not quick puddle jumper type flights; these are cross country excursions that take 6 to 8 hours out of my life. To past the time I play video games, watch movies and read everything. I can’t tell you how many times I have read that safety information card in the seat back pocket. In addition, when I run out of my reading material, I start reading the Sky Mall catalog which is full of neat things that I cannot afford. I then read the airline magazine which is about 80 percent ads and 20 percent content, of which only 5 percent are actually worth reading.

One time, I was reading an article titled “Kids Stuff. Or, 63 Things to Do With Your Kids Before They Grow Up” in Spirit magazine (SWA’s magazine). In it, the author wrote about when he hiked with his kids up the forty-eight 4000 footers in NH. He was not writing about this to boast about doing them, instead, he wrote that these hikes provided him with a chance to get to know his kids. The parents saw it as a rigorous activity while the kids saw it as fun and talk time. Creating quality time before it was too late and the kids moved out. It got me thinking about when I was a kid and all the things I did with my parents. And I remember doing some of the 63 things that were listed and really having fun doing them.

So, with summer slowly dwindling and schools starting back up, many view this weekend (Labor Day weekend) as the last hoorah. People will be packing up and going on vacations or staycations (vacations where you stay within a few miles of home) in the masses. Some of you may even be traveling to NH for the weekend and exploring the White Mountains. So, I thought I would offer up my own list entitled “25 Great Things To Do While in NH.”

1. See a sunrise at a location you have never been at before. Go to a park, climb a hill, go to a lake or the ocean, or if you are in the area, Mount Washington Auto Road will be holding its third and final sunrise drive of the year. For more information, click here.
2. Go fishing. Never gone fishing? Take a lesson or find a friend/relative to teach you.
3. Go rafting, canoeing, tubing, or kayaking on a river or lake. Lake Winnipesaukee is a popular destination but there are hundreds of water ways to play on. In fact, four major rivers get their start on this very mountain.
4. Visit a waterfall. On the 100+ mile loop of roads around the summit, there are waterfalls either visible from the road or within a quick walking distance from the side of the roads. And with all the rain NH received earlier this year, they are running nicely. For some ideas as to where to find some of these, click here.
5. Visit all of New Hampshire’s covered bridges. These bridges have character, distinction and history. For a list as to where to look, click here.
6. Visit a notch. The White Mountains contain several notches with a variety of routes you can take to visit some of them. These glacier cut features contain some awe inspiring scenes. Franconia, Crawford and Pinkham are the more popular notches but there are also Bear, Jefferson, Evans, Carter, and Kinsman just to name a few others.
7. Take a hike, or go for one. There are hundreds of miles worth of trails to choose from around the state, some of which lead to this very summit. Some take you to waterfalls, some to lakes, and others to bald spots with breath taking views. Two to consider might be Mount Willard in Crawford Notch or Middle Sugarloaf near Zealand. If you are in good shape and are well prepared, you can even hike to the summit of Mount Washington.
8. Go shopping. New Hampshire is tax free so why not if you are already here. Plus, there are many outlets, gift shops, specialty shops, and retail chains to quench all your shopping needs. If you are looking for a unique weather gift, you can stop by the Weather Discovery Center gift shop or the summit Gift Shop to fill your needs. And while your there…
9. Visit the Weather Discovery Center. This is a hands on learning center where you can learn about the weather and summit. The best part is it is free thanks to support from the Mount Washington Auto Road and Great Glen Trails. You can even talk to us via video link at 11 and 2. What more can you ask for?
10. Play a round of disc golf. Never heard of this? It is my second favorite sport and the best part is there are three courses to choose from around the summit. Two at the Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods and a brand new one at Wildcat Mountain. You might want to look for more information online but for a small fee at these courses, you get discs, exercise, fun, and great views of this very mountain. If you want to practice prior to coming here, look for one near you here. You could always just do regular golf as well, there are a number of courses around the summit.
11. Visit a state park. New Hampshire state parks are everywhere and offer a variety of activities at a terrific value. In fact, the summit cone is part of the state park system. For more information go here.
12. Ride the Mount Washington Cog Train. This takes you to the summit of the highest peak in the northeast (ie, Mount Washington) via a coal driven cog train. It has been an attraction for 139 years, so why not give it a try. Plus, you can briefly stop in and say hi to us if you are a member.
13. Take the Mount Washington Auto Road to the summit. You can drive yourself or take a guided tour to the peak. This is a drive unlike any other and no two trips on it are the same. It is another great way to experience the sights and weather that are Mount Washington.
14. Ride a bike. There are a variety of places to take this in. From former train trails in Franconia notch, to bike paths in towns surrounding the summit, to ski resorts in the summer, or Great Glen Trails at the base of the Mount Washington Auto Road; there is a path out there just beckoning to be ridden.
15. Ride a gondola to a neighboring peak. The three closest ones I know of are Wildcat, Cannon, and Loon. Another great way to take in the scenic views in NH.
16. Go camping. There are campgrounds galore around New Hampshire to allow you to experience nature in its prime. Plus it is a great way to reconnect with your family or friends since there isn’t a TV or the internet, you will have to do something with each other.
17. Pack a breakfast/lunch/dinner. There are a variety of waysides, picnic grounds, and parks where you can go and have a meal outdoors on your own time taking in the sounds and sights around you.
18. Take pictures or video. You never know what you might see. Whether it is a cool flower, a breath taking vista, a unique animal (like the attached picture of a bear I saw in Crawford Notch last Tuesday), a memorable family moment, or a one of a kind shot. With digital cameras/camcorders, you can shoot whatever you want and throw away what doesn’t come out. I recommend buying a disposable camera or a cheap camera for your kids to see the world that they find interesting enough to shoot. They might see something you may have missed. Here is a video I shot using our digital cameras 30 video mode of sunset a few days ago (click on “Observer Comments” above to expand to full size):
19. Go for a drive. Sometimes it’s not the destination that matters it’s the experience you have getting there. If you don’t take your driving trip now, you probably never will since gas will continue to go up as you and they grow older.
20. Visit a beach. Summer is slowly exiting stage left but there are still some nice days in store looking at long term weather maps. You can visit the 18 miles of NH oceanic coastline or find a spot on a lake or river bank.
21. Buy a guide and start exploring. Topics vary from rocks, to flowers, to mushrooms (which are everywhere this wet summer), to insects. Choose a topic and see things you never knew about.
22. Go geocaching. If you have a GPS unit or can borrow or rent a unit, this is like treasure hunting. You log on to geocaching.com, find some coordinates and start searching.
23. Take a tour. A lot of cool places provide you with tours to give you a glimpse of the inner workings of what they do. Learn how beer is made, find out how a train runs, explore a historic structure, or if you come to the summit, take a tour of the Mount Washington Observatory. To tour the observatory, you have to be a member. Not a member? Go to the summit museum and sign up for an introductory membership. Already a member? Again, just go to the museum and check in and your good to go. They are provided hourly and will take you to our tower which is the highest point you can legally reach in NH, about 50 ft taller than the summit itself. You also get to see how we measure weather up here and how we live up here a week at a time.
24. Go out to dinner at a local hot spot. I am not talking about Burger King or Dairy Queen here. I am talking about independent restaurants that make things from scratch where you wait for your meal and have to tip a person at the end of the meal. It is a great way to experience local flavor and support the local economy and not a corporation.
25. Watch the sunset then lay out under the stars. Try to find some constellations. The further away from city lights the better since light pollution can dim this experience considerably.

So hopefully these start to spark some ideas as to what to do while you are here. If you are looking for more ideas, assistance in your trip planning or detailed directions to things, click here. And if you can’t make it this weekend, just remember, the leaves are about to change and the mountains brushed with snow, generating 25 additional things to do while visiting NH.


Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

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