Try Waterville Valley, New Hampshire for family fun in the White Mountains and learn about one of the most treasured children's book charactersTry Waterville Valley, New Hampshire for family fun in the White Mountains and learn about one of the most treasured children's book characters
Margret and H.A. Rey, the creators of Curious George, spent their summers in a small town called Waterville Valley in New Hampshire. Today, visitors can see the home of this beloved figure and find that there’s much more to do here as well. In fact, the area is best described as a summer camp for the entire family or as the locals like to term it: “The nation’s most family-friendly resort and recreation area.”
The village here has less than 400 year-round residents, but it’s packed with a huge variety of activities. Let’s start with George, though.
Where George Spent His Summers
The little monkey used to spend his summers here because Margret and H.A. (whose first name was Hans) came looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. Also, Hans wanted someplace where he could see the stars because he was revising his popular astronomy book, "The Stars: A New Way to See Them."
Visitors can see the Curious George Cottage (37 Village Road 03215, 603/236-3308) for free (though donations are encouraged) making for an economical attraction. Joining the eco-friendly movement, the Cottage is a "green building" in honor of H.A. Rey's early interest in alternative energy, featuring solar arrays, porous paving, geothermal technology, rain gardens, constructed wetlands, and a landscape that maintains and interprets the mountain environment. The executive directors of the Center hope that the renovated cottage will not only please visitors but also promote environmental responsibility.
The Rey Center features an earth and sky observatory and a telescope that can project onto a large screen. In the spirit of the Reys' generosity, all activities are open to the public. Visiting families are encouraged to explore the outdoors with a "Curious Kids" program, and educational overnights. Older children can take drawing classes, while their parents explore current environmental research projects.
H.A. was a Renaissance man who used to let visitors watch as he drew new adventures for George. At times, he would take a group of children on nature walks and delight them with his talent of throwing his voice. In addition to seeing the home that inspired the adventures of Curious George, visitors will find a stunning variety of engaging activities.
The fourth annual Curious George Cottage Family Festival is set for August 13-14, 2011in Waterville Valley. The event will include a full weekend of activities and events for the entire family including a family nature walks, photo opportunities with Curious George and the Man in the Yellow Hat, a traveling barnyard, live music and theater, face painting, games for kids, Curious George story hour and cartoon movie viewing, planetarium shows by Plymouth State University, a family spaghetti dinner with George, and more. While here in Waterville Valley, families can also enjoy swimming and canoeing on Corcoran’s Pond, walks on the many hiking trails in Waterville Valley, and skating at the Waterville Valley Ice Arena among other activities.
Bike & Play Tennis
Biking is particularly popular here in part because of the variety of the area’s 30 miles of trails, ranging from leisurely to more uphill excursions. One popular possibility is taking the chair lift to the top of Snow’s Mountain and riding a bike from there: downhill all the way.
Perhaps unexpectedly, this town loves tennis. There are 18 courts and Tennis Magazine ranked the Waterville Valley Tennis Center one of the top 50 resorts in America. Considering the White Mountain setting, its easy to see why legendary tennis great Rod Laver played here.
Other activities include a lecture series, art shows and stargazing programs. The village’s Town Square sponsors nature walks. There’s also canoeing, kayaking, and pedal boat rentals.
There’s a variety of food choices ranging from Diamond’s Edge North (603/236-2006) which offers casual fine dining for the entire family and entertainment on Saturday night to the far more informal Jugtown Sandwich Shop (603/236-8662), where the menu includes hot soups, crisp salads, oversize sandwiches and Green Mountain Coffee. There’s also Italian food on hand at Aglio (603/236-3676) and the Flying Burrito Bros (603/236-8226) serve up jumbo tacos. Overtaking the pizza in popularity is the game room at the Olde Waterville Pizza Co. (603/236-3663) Look for two-for Tuesday specials.
Come in the Winter, Too
Summer is probably the most popular time to visit here, but this area of 500 acres surrounded by the White Mountain National Forest also has world-class winter sports and activities that include the Waterville Valley Ice Arena (603/236-4813), which is open daily July through April, downhill and cross-country skiing as well as snowshoeing.
The mountain base called Waterville Valley Resort (800/468-2553) has 120 kilometers of groomed trails, almost all of which are 16-feet wide. The trails are nationally ranked in ski guides. Additionally, excellent childcare is available for skiing moms and dads for kids from 6-months to 4-years-old; they can begin lessons at the ski school at 3-years.
One of Best Deals Anywhere
Visitors find they can park their car and walk anywhere in this small town about 130 miles from Boston, Massachusetts. The Town Square is a pedestrian-only zone, ideal for strollers and parents with strollers. Almost all activities are within walking distance or a short ride on the free open-air trolley.
Although there are roadside motels in the area, the mountain resort facilities are a great value off-season. During summers, when the breezes blow, families of up to 8 people can stay in spacious, contemporary condo units for under $200/N, and summer activity packages are available. Additionally, parents can send their children to cooking and craft classes, as well as a kids night out. For children between the ages of 3 and 12, the resort provides Kids Kamp, which offers day and half-day programs.
For more information, visit www.visitwatervillevalley.com or call 800/468-2553.
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