Situated in New Hampshire, White Mountains National Forest – or simply, the White Mountains – has long been a place for escape and adventure. Skiers, hikers and families with small children are all captivated by the breathtaking scenery of this magnificent stretch of nature, which actually covers a quarter of the state.
With its enormous peaks and verdant valleys, it’s an ideal getaway. Knowing where to stay, however, given all the different towns dotted throughout the region, can be a bit of a head-scratcher. But don’t worry; that’s where we come in. Our guide to the best places to stay in White Mountains has you covered!
Best Hotel in White Mountains – Mount Washington Resort
Staying in the Mount Washington Resort is like staying in a piece of White Mountains history itself. In fact, this hotel is a National Historic Landmark, the last surviving grand hotel in these mountains. Dating back to 1902, this Spanish Renaissance-style building houses a selection of tastefully decorated rooms, ensuring a comfortable, luxurious stay. Here, guests will have access to pools, a spa, an elegant dining room, and various opulent lounges.
Best Cabin in White Mountains – Cozy Wood Cabin
The ideal option for a couple looking for a getaway in the White Mountains, this cabin has a big comfy bed and indoor fireplace; the perfect spot to spend evenings sipping wine together in the cosy armchairs by the fire. Situated in a private forest, there’s easy access to hiking trails, restaurants and ski areas nearby. Oh, and did we mention there’s a hot tub?
Best Villa in White Mountains – Homey Ski Condo
The perfect mix of privacy and convenience, this holiday villa allows groups of up to six to sleep in a stylish, spacious property situated in a resort area. Plus, each features an indoor fireplace and outdoor deck, perfect for coffee with views of Black Mountain. Guests will have access to all resort amenities – including a hot tub, sauna and pool – as well as having nearby outdoor activities on the doorstep, such as ski areas and hiking trails.
Jackson is a small resort town nestled practically in the heart of White Mountain National Forest, with parts of this sprawling natural wonderland surrounding it. Known as something of an artists’ retreat ever since the mid-19th century, today its beautiful landscape still draws people to the area.
Lincoln is the second largest town in New Hampshire, and one of its most historic: settlement here dates back to 1764, when Lincoln was founded as a company town.
The neighbourhood of Bretton Woods is part of the town of Carroll, one of the handful of gateway settlements to the White Mountain National Forest. This area of town is a magnet for ski enthusiasts, with resorts right on the doorstep.
Top 3 Neighborhoods to Stay in White Mountains
White Mountain National Forest covers an area of 750,852 acres, a sizable stretch of natural wonder crisscrossed with trails – including the famous Appalachian Trail – dotted with wilderness areas, and ripe for skiing. It’s a land of mountain peaks, with a total of 48 of these reaching over 4,000 feet above sea level. It’s a must-visit for adventure lovers backpacking the USA.
Taking up a fairly large area of New Hampshire, naturally, a number of towns make for a perfect base for exploring this protected land. They range from large towns with good connections to quaint neighbourhoods nestled in mountain valleys. White Mountains is also popular by those staying in Boston, which is just a couple of hours away by car.
First and perhaps foremost in the region is Jackson. This resort town has everything a mountain town should have – lodges and ski resorts, classic diners and bars, as well as cafes and plenty of other entertainment and amenities nearby. It’s a charming place situated to the west of the national forest.
Next up, there’s Lincoln. It’s much larger than Jackson, and therefore has a lot more in terms of chain eateries and hotels for visitors who want a more well-connected place to be. There’s loads of entertainment options and theme parks in the area, owing to Lincoln’s long history as first a logging, then a resort town. More than everything else, it’s a haven for skiers.
You could also opt for Bretton Woods, a family-friendly location for your trip to the White Mountains. Steeped in history, it was founded in 1772 and named after an estate in Yorkshire, England. Today it’s a serene spot, with oodles of nature and history to discover.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the details of what makes these towns the best places to stay in the White Mountains – and which one will be perfect for you.
1. Jackson – Where to Stay in White Mountains for Your First Time
Jackson is a small resort town nestled practically in the heart of White Mountain National Forest, with parts of this sprawling natural wonderland surrounding it. Known as something of an artists’ retreat ever since the mid-19th century, its beautiful landscape still draws people to the area today.
It’s an ideal spot for a leisurely summer weekend getaway. Accommodation includes everything you’d expect of a mountain town, including ski resorts, rustic cabins and cottages. Jackson is quiet and maintains a charming character, but come winter, it comes alive with skiers attracted to four nearby ski areas and its cross-skiing credentials.
Best Hotel in Jackson – The Lodge at Jackson Village
There are a few hotels in Jackson, but none quite as well rounded as this one. The guest rooms at this lodge are modern, with contemporary furnishings and a warm colour palette; each comes with its own little outdoor area to sit out on for mountain views. Among other amenities, this lodge also has an outdoor pool and children’s play area, as well as a hearty breakfast served up each morning.
Best Cabin in Jackson – Cozy Wood Cabin
Looking for a classic cabin in the White Mountains? This place will definitely suit. It’s not super rustic and old-school, it’s more an updated version of a cabin, but it still feels lovely and authentic. Ideal for a couple’s vacation, this cabin is especially cosy in winter with its indoor fireplace and cute kitchen. There’s also an outdoor hot tub to keep you warm as you stargaze. It’s secluded, too, being situated in a private forest.
Best Villa in Jackson – Warm Townhouse
This holiday villa is everything you need for a group holiday out in Jackson. There’s plenty of room for eight people to sleep, with two bathrooms and a big open-plan living space for all your evening entertainment needs. It boasts a fully equipped kitchen, a huge tub in the master bedroom, and an indoor fireplace. There’s also a foosball table, which is part of the fun of this classic vacation property.
Things to See and Do in Jackson
- Spend the day snowshoeing at one of the Jackson Ski Touring Foundation’s miles on miles of trails.
- Tuck into stacks of blueberry pancakes at the wonderfully retro diner that is Yesterdays.
- Swing by Jackson Community Church, a quaint and historic white-steepled church.
- Hit up Nestlenook Farm for 65 acres of trails, snowshoeing, evening sleigh rides and even a Victorian-style skating pond.
- Pay a visit to Jackson Art Studio & Gallery for local art and artsy workshops.
- Snap a photo or two of the Honeymoon Covered Bridge, built in 1876.
- Play a round of golf or two at Eagle Mountain Golf Club, situated on the grounds of a historic hotel.
- Spend the day at Story Land, a fun-filled fairytale-themed amusement park for families.
- Hike to the top of Wildcat Cat Mountain, directly across from Mount Washington; there is a selection of varied trails.
- Take a trip to the cascades and pools of the beautiful Diana’s Baths
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2. Lincoln – Where to Stay in White Mountains on a Budget
Lincoln is the second largest town in New Hampshire, and one of its most historic: settlement here dates back to 1764, when Lincoln was founded as a company town. Aside from its heritage credentials, Lincoln is well-positioned as a resort town, situated in the shadow of Loon Mountain Ski Resort and within the actual boundaries of White Mountain National Forest.
But the outdoor activities don’t stop there. Lincoln also attracts keen hikers, as the famous Appalachian Trail crosses the northeast portion of the town. Long-inviting for visitors who want to enjoy its fresh air and mountain scenery, Lincoln has plenty going for it that makes it a great base for exploring the White Mountains.
Best Hotel in Lincoln – Indian Head Resort
This family-friendly resort offers affordable all-year-round accommodation in the White Mountains. It’s a relaxing place to stay, with traditionally decorated rooms that feature white linen and their own veranda areas. The resort boasts a selection of leisure activities to take part in on-site, including children’s clubs, an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, its own lake, and a gift shop. Location-wise, you’ll find it in the heart of Lincoln, making it a convenient option.
Best Apartment in Lincoln – Stylish Studio Apartment
This stylish apartment is everything you need to really enjoy the scenery of Lincoln and the White Mountains in general. Situated at the base of Loon Mountain’s South Peak, it’s very well placed for skiing and hiking. It’s a newly renovated condo with enough room to sleep four guests. Because it’s part of a hotel resort, guests will have access to all of its amenities; these include games rooms, a sauna and pools. Restaurants are also within walking distance.
Best Condo in Lincoln – Downtown Condo
On a budget? Then you’ll want to make a note of this place. Serving up a fantastic location close to Downtown Lincoln, this is an open concept condo with homey interiors that make use of a cosy natural colour palette. There’s enough space for eight people to enjoy a vacation here, with plenty of bedrooms and comfy sofas around the open fireplace for cosy evenings in. For summer, the balcony provides a sunny spot to chill.
Things to See and Do in Lincoln
- Splash the day the away at Whale’s Tale Waterpark, a family-friendly place complete with wave pool.
- Hike along the mystical Flume Gorge, situated in Franconia Notch State Park.
- Spend the day skiing at Loon Mountain Resort – and if you can’t, why not get a lesson or two?
- Sample some wine at Seven Birches Winery (paired with snacks, of course).
- Embark on a portion of the epic Appalachian Trail – one of the best hikes in the USA.
- Take a ride on the Hobo Railroad, a heritage railway line that runs along the Pemigewasset River.
- In the winter months, make sure you visit the Ice Castles: epic structures created by hand using thousands of icicles.
- Chow down on some classic diner fare at the beautifully vintage Sunny Day Diner.
- Hit up the Basin Cascade Trail to stumble upon waterfalls such as Kinsman Falls and Rocky Glen Falls.
- Get your pottery at Fired on the Mountain, a pottery studio with workshops (and a cafe, too).
3. Bretton Woods – Where to Stay in White Mountains for Families
The neighbourhood of Bretton Woods is part of the town of Carroll, one of the handful of gateway settlements to the White Mountain National Forest. This area of town is a magnet for ski enthusiasts, with resorts right on the doorstep. But it’s also fine hiking country, with plenty of trails and even peaks to tackle in the vicinity.
It’s long been a popular destination, with historic hotels and old railways to discover in town, among other heritage hotspots. An area of wooded mountains and cascades, Bretton Woods is a quiet and secluded place for a family vacation – all just a short drive from neighbouring Twin Mountain (or Jackson) for a selection of eateries.
Best Hotel in Bretton Woods – Mount Washington Resort
For a true taste of old-school luxury, Mount Washington Resort will not disappoint. This four-star hotel has everything you need to make your stay a comfortable and memorable one, with plenty of amenities to keep you entertained away from the trails and the slopes. There’s a swimming pool, hot tub, children’s playground, and a large restaurant for evening meals. Rooms are plush and well-appointed, with a charming country house aesthetic; some even come with their own fireplaces.
Best Condo in Bretton Woods – Stickney Circle Condo
Stickney Circle is an area close to the famous Mount Washington Hotel, boasting easy access to Mount Washington itself, as well as other nearby hiking trails. This makes this condo a great option for keen hikers and nature-lovers. It’s a modern property perfect for a family, given all the space and amenities, including a large kitchen and dining area, the all-important fireplace, and spectacular mountain views.
Best Villa in Bretton Woods – Homey Ski Villa
Family-friendly and part of a larger resort complex, this holiday villa is perfect if you’re visiting White Mountain National Forest with your children in tow. Here, there’s space for up to six people to sleep, with roomy living spaces all decorated in warm yet minimal Nordic style design. It even features a pretty cool spiral staircase and a cosy fireplace. On-site, guests have access to a pool, hot tub and outdoor fire pit.
Things to See and Do in Bretton Woods
- Cruise up Mount Washington Auto Road: eight miles of narrow, winding mountain road…
- … Or take the Mount Washington Cog Railway. Opened in 1868, it’s the oldest (and second-steepest) cog railway in the world.
- Enjoy the views, and some delicious food, at Latitude 44°.
- Go for a hike on the Mount Willard Trail to reach awesome views that won’t be too hard on little legs.
- Grab your hiking boots and explore the 6,000 acres of Crawford State Park with its hiking trails, cascades and forests.
- Make a pitstop at Shutters, a candy store in the mountains that’s a must-visit for anyone with a sweet tooth.
- Swing by Bretton Woods Stables and book yourself on a sleigh ride in winter, carriage ride in summer.
- Have a blast in an inner tube as you zip down the runs at Bretton Woods Nordic Center.
- Take your family for lunch or dinner at the classic and down-to-earth Munroe’s Family Restaurant.
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What To Pack For White Mountains
Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.
Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.
Hanging Laundry Bag
Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.
Sea To Summit Micro Towel
Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.
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Check out my definitive Hotel Packing list for even more top packing tips!
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for White Mountains
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Final Thoughts on Where To Stay in White Mountains
The White Mountains is definitely a destination for any nature-lover worth their salt. An epic landscape of peaks, valleys and forests, choosing the place that’s right for you (and your budget) is the best way to go about finding your accommodation. Jackson is a quiet but quintessential resort town, while Lincoln offers more in the way of urban conveniences.
But to really be in the heart of the White Mountains, Bretton Woods is a good option. There may be a lack of restaurants and other amenities here, but it makes up for that by being utterly charming. If you’ve got the budget, staying at the Mount Washington Resort is truly an experience in itself – let alone all the action-packed days you’ll be planning!
If you’re still undecided, why not embark on a road-trip through New England and stay at them all!
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!