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Bretton Woods. Skiing with your family New Hampshire's largest ski area is one of the best family ski resorts in the country. It's also probably the best place in New England to learn to ski. (If it's your first time, get started at the free area serviced by a rope tow.) The views of Mt. Washington alone are worth the visit to Bretton Woods; the scenery is especially beautiful from the Top of Quad restaurant, which is open during ski season.
Trails appeal mostly to novice and intermediate skiers, including two magic carpet lifts for beginners. There are some steeper pitches near the top of the 1,500-foot vertical and glade skiing to occupy the experts in the family, as well as night skiing and snowboarding on weekends and holidays. Snowboarders enjoy the four terrain parks, including the all-natural Wild West Park and a half-pipe. A cross-country ski center has 62 mi of groomed and double-track trails, some of them lift-serviced. The Nordic Ski Center near the hotel offers access to 55 mi of cross-country trails and doubles as the golf clubhouse in summer.
Options for kids are plentiful. The Hobbit Ski and Snowboard School for ages 4-12 has full- and half-day instruction. Hobbit Ski and Snowplay program, for ages 3-5, is an introduction to skiing and fun on the snow. The ski area also offers an adaptive program for children and adults with disabilities. There are also organized activities in the nursery. The complimentary Kinderwoods Winter Playground has a sled carousel, igloos, and a zip line. Parents can buy an interchangeable family ticket that allows parents to take turns skiing while the other watches the kids—both passes come for the price of one.
A new addition is the year-round Canopy Tour, which has 10 zip lines, two sky bridges, and three rappel stations. Small groups, guided by experienced climbers and ski patrollers, leave every half hour. The tour, at $110, is one of the longest in the United States and is an exhilarating introduction to flora and fauna of the White Mountains and the history of the area. Kids are welcome but must weigh more than 70 lbs. U.S. 302, Bretton Woods, NH, 03575. 603/278-3320; 603/278-1000 weather conditions; 800/232-2972 information; 800/258-0330 lodging. www.brettonwoods.com.
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