North Conway, NH: Zeb’s General Store

Zeb’s General Store – my favorite store in North Conway!

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Zeb’s General Store in North Conway is a favorite place of mine.  I could spend hours here.. in fact, I spent an hour alone this trip and it was great!   It’s like stepping back into time – days of penny candy, Moxie soda (though I’ve personally never drank it myself).  When we were kids we’d go to the corner store for candy but it certainly wasn’t a penny!

Zeb’s is named after Zebulon Northrop Tilton, the captain of a coastal schooner from the late 1800s to 1940, and the store itself opened in 1991 with the goal of offering a wide range of hard-to-find nostalgic items.   Read more about the history of the store and Zeb here online on their website.

Located across from Conway Scenic Railway it is in a bright yellow building with sign’s and bears out front – hard to miss.   I understand for some (my husband included) it is not a  place he’d like to spend an hour let alone more than 5 minutes – as it can be crowded too.  Fortunately there are plenty of places nearby to browse, have a drink and wait.  Across the street is a big field, a small playground with water feature in the summer for the kids with benches.  When my kids were little it was the perfect to send them together, allowing me to take my time to browse!

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Anyway, it’s the type that you’d see in a movie.  But for me, it was a place that I’d stop at  during my trips up to the White Mountains.  I’d often buy something for my kitchen like some hot sauce, spices or some sort of dip starter.   This time I bought bag balm for my cracked heel and the kids they got a few bits of candy or fudge.  I did my best to resist buying tons of stuff as it’s super easy to buy it all – it’s a great place!!

Here are a bunch of photos I took during my trip inside – see what I mean about how great it is?  Downstairs is the mainly New England-made food products, penny candy and beauty section.

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Upstairs you’ll find kids toys, household items, Christmas stuff – well let’s just say, like the sign says “wicked good stuff”!

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We didn’t get this wooden flip to win license plate game but the kids thought it could be fun to play it alongside our photo license plate game. We did go back and get a wooden pop gun for Soren and this I Spy card game and a Christmas ornament for me!

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If you are ever in North Conway, you’d be silly not to stop in and have a look and maybe pick up something yummy from New England to take home for a memory of this area or even as a gift for someone back home.

 

 

 

North Conway, NH: Family Getaway – Part II

Nordic Village Resort, Jackson, NH

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I already posted about the first 4 nights of our North Conway family break at the North Conway Red Jacket Mountain View Resort.  The second  part of our family break was spent a condo at the Nordic Village Resort.  It’s located in Jackson – just a few miles from North Conway. It is just up on the same road as Storyland – so a great location for young families who want to have a self-catering option (cooking some meals at home), pool, separate sleeping area for the kids.  They even have nice activities for the kids during the different seasons.  As for the units – there are different units and price levels here from one-bedroom budget, joining three-bedroom townhouses for groups and even high end Chateaus – so depending on budget and preference, I’m sure you’ll find something that suits. Note: Unlike hotels, not all have a/c – if that is important to you make sure you book one that has it.

God it’s been years, but I remember going to hotel rooms and having to lay still in the dark around 7:00 pm trying to get Soren to fall asleep as a baby in his pack and play.  The separate bedroom area is a great thing to have with small kids – put on a white noise app and happy days!   

Anyway, this is another resort which we are familiar staying for many years (but in the fall/winter) but this time we are staying in a friend’s parents condo.  They stayed at our house in Dublin, Ireland a couple years ago and they wanted to allow us to use their place here so it worked out perfectly!

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Their place is actually quite nice.  Unlike some dated places which are used for vacation rental income, where there are old mix matched dishes, appliances, furniture, etc as they are afraid it will be broken.  Here it was super cozy and we had a great time.   This is the beautiful view from the living room.

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As they have a lot of grand kids they have a lot of bunk beds in the kids area – our kids loved that – each had their own private bunkbed! So there was no problem of who had the top – the can both have the top!

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As with our other hotels, we used the pool here a lot! I swear it is what helped Soren get is A & B diploma’s so quickly!

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The indoor pool is an option but there are two outdoor pools and both are heated even in the winter!!  There can be snow and ice on the ground and you can swim with icicles in your hair.  I’d just hate to get out of the pool – I’d be sooo cold.

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Breakfast Choices Galore

As you can imagine, there are MANY breakfast places in the area.  So many choices but two of the four mornings we had breakfast in our condo unit – bagels with cream cheese!  You don’t get good bagels abroad so we took that opportunity to enjoy them on our trip when we could. But we did go to one of our favorite breakfast places from our time in the White Mountains – Sarah’s Yesterdays in Jackson, NH.  Nils and I both got one of their daily egg’s benedict specials – yummy!  We always order a side of corned beef hash to try – as I find that is such a delicious treat that reminds me of being home.

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Another day we had breakfast in North Conway village at Stairway Cafe.

The food was good but it’s a bit confusing when you walk in.  You walk up a set of stairs and when you get to the top you are in a tiny waiting area with a small sofa and people waiting.  Our group of 4 could barely fit so I sent my hubby and two kids out and I stayed and waited.   There is no one there to greet you as the waitresses, are super busy attending to the tables, so you are to wait. I spoke up and questioned the process and was told 20 minutes or so but as more people came in (well more like piled in) it was a bit weird. No one knew what to do.  Then you are forming a sort of queue without giving your name or number in your party – it’s just a bit get in line without a line and it’s first come first serve.  I think a sign or a person would be helpful to understand but it all worked out so we were fine and we enjoyed our food – a good way to describe it would be awkward!    Oh and we sat near the window where there was loads of stuff which could use a good dusting.  I recommend every month or so, spend 20 minutes and dust down those items.

Jackson Falls Swimming Area

In my previous post, I mentioned that we visited Jackson Falls  – a swimming spot with our kids and a friend and her kids.  As their youngest is two, we wanted to find a place that was easy to park and get to the falls without a long hike.  Also a place that was not too steep.   The location is easy – just go into Jackson, NH via the covered bridge – past the Wentworth Hotel on the left and the falls are up on the right.   All the cars are parked facing the water.  Just park and walk in.

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Mount Washington Valley Moose Tours

Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to see a moose in the wild and always said when the kids were older, we’d do a tour.   Some people take small kids on the tour, but I’d say 8 would be the youngest I’d take on this tour – they won’t last.  It’s from 8 pm til 1:00 am!! So it was only fitting to do the tour when we were back in the US for this vacation.  We booked in advance as we knew it would be very popular and would likely sell out.

The bus leaves promptly from the Conway Railway station and you board the bus based on first booked.  You get preference on where you want to sit – seems fair.   When you first arrive, the driver passes around some moose antlers for you to hold and take photos – the kids liked that.

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Tip:  There is no bathroom at the station open at the departure time, so use the facilities at Ben & Jerry’s!  He does stop at the Appalachian Mountain Club Pinkham Notch half way for a bathroom break and you can buy a drink/snack for he bus, if you wish. 

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The bus sets off and there is a movie shown about moose and there are lights, songs and let’s just say the bus driver is a character – it all adds to the experience.   There was a lot of driving back and forth, quickly, lots of u-turns and the bus was very loud.  At one point I thought we may break down on the side of the road (he said it was going into the shop for full service tomorrow – it needed it badly!).  Thankfully we did see a few moose which made it all worth it to me and the whole point of the trip.  All the extra stuff we just put up with to see the moose.  To my husband, this review summed up his experience – he couldn’t wait to get off the bus!   

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Apart from the one we took, Mount Washington Valley Moose Tours out of North Conway.  There are other Moose tours in the area too – Dan’s Scenic Tours and Pemi Valley Moose Tours both out of Lincoln, NH – the area we were in seeking our moose.

I personally got only ONE photo of the mom and her baby Rosie.

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At one point I was trying to take a photo of the huge bull but suddenly the driver screamed out to the bull – which started it.  Not sure why he did it but it was odd to say the least.  We did see a one massive one walk across the road, and some along side the highway, etc.  We now know where to look for moose too – so when we go back, we’ll take some drives (carefully of course!).

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The next day a hiker shared this photo of two moose in the area.   We are happy to have seen moose on this tour!

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Beautiful Scenery

When we we not swimming in the pool, we were admiring the beauty of the area.  While it’s most beautiful in the fall with fall foliage, summer is a special time in the mountains too.  The days are warm, dry and sunny – perfect for swimming but at night it cools down so it’s lovely too.

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Next post will be about ZEB’S COUNTRY STORE and then our journey in Booth Bay Harbour, Maine.

North Conway, NH: Family Getaway – Part 1

After our day at Santa’s Village, we moved down to North Conway, NH in the Mount Washington Valley where we stayed for the next 8 nights.   The first 4 nights, we stayed at the Red Jacket Mountain View Resort.

Red Jacket Mountain View, North Conway, NH

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We’ve stay at this resort before so we knew when picking a place to stay for the first 4 nights, this would be a great place.  We’ve been to the White Mountains in all seasons, so knew it would be a great place for this trip and with the outdoor pool, we knew this would be a great place for our first part of out stay.  The hotel offers various package deals including passes to the local attractions and also a deal to their indoor waterpark, Kahuna Laguna, for when the weather is really bad but we didn’t use it on this trip.    We did, however, use their outdoor pool a lot!  And at certain times, there was a cocktail bar outside so I enjoyed a couple frozen margaritas with salt poolside – loved it!   We made sure on this trip that every hotel we stayed at had a good pool for the kids.

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We booked a traditional standard double room with two double beds but they have other options like bunk beds, an alcove area and even houses out back if you wanted to do a self-catering type stay – we did not want that during this trip.

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These rooms overlook the west side of the property and the Moat mountain range, White Horse Ledge and Cathedral Ledge and the Saco River Valley.   The view is quite pretty and sometimes there is a lot of fog so it changes often.

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The resort offers activities too – the kids did cookie decorating one afternoon which was free.  They had other stuff happening on night the kids wanted to attend but the timing didn’t suit us as we had our moose tour to attend 🙂

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One evening Maebh did a paint your own pottery thing while the boys watched the Red Sox vs. Yankees in the bar area.  This had a fee, as it was run by an independent woman, but the costs depended on what you chose.  She pick out this little snail and I think it was around  $5.  I was thinking it wouldn’t make the flight home to Amsterdam, but I packed it so well and put it in my hand luggage, that it survived the journey and sits on top of her dresser to this day.

Apart from the indoor water park (which you must pay $20 per person, per day – which might change in the season), this hotel doesn’t have an indoor pool… but you can use the pool at the sister property,  Fox Ridge Resort – just up the road.  Conveniently, they offer a complimentary shuttle service with a very friendly bus driver.   This meant, mom took the car in the pouring rain & lightning to the outlets for a couple hours and dad took the shuttle bus with the kids! 🙂

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Overall the hotel is in a great central location to many of these area attractions.

Yet close enough to drive to places like Bretton Woods, Loon Mountain, Attitash for their summer adventure parks and in the winter the skiing, tubing and snowmobiling options are here too.  There are tons of nature hiking trails along the Kancamagus Highway.  Of course swimming places like Diana’s Baths, Echo Lake State Park and Saco River Tubing.  We even went over to Cathederal’s Ledge State Park  and drove up for a photo on the view point of the ledge, pretty but I don’t care much for heights so I was happy to be done with it as fast as we got there.

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A tourist attraction to me in itself is Zeb’s General Store – it’s FANTASTIC.  I’ve been coming here for as long as I can remember.  They have tons of great stuff – many nostalgic items like Moxy and Fudge but other beauty products to unique gifts.  I’ll make a blog post about Zeb’s alone it’s great place!

A little shopping at Settlers Green Outlet Village where we got the kids some Gap sweatshirts but we’re most proud of Soren’s Gronkowski jersey and New England Patriots hat which we picked up at TJ Maxx along with some other close.  That particular store does have some good deals.  Sadly, he put his hat and sunglasses down at the beach in Georgetown, Maine bear Five Mile Island Lobster Co. and when we left, he forgot to pick them back up – he remembered them about 45 minutes into our ride.

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Family Visit

During our time, we got to meet up with my cousin too, so it was nice to visit her place.  She took us down by the River Saco (where the tubers go down) which runs by her house.  Of course, Soren goes right in the water … such a labrador.   The river was very low this season, but we did see some tubers go by and a lot of people enjoying themselves.

To keep this post from getting to big, I’ll post about Nordic Village, Zeb’s General Store,  our experience with the moose tour and Jackson’s Falls in a different blog posting.

Overall, we loved the area and we loved the resort.  Would we stay here again – ABSOLUTELY!   We had no complaints about the hotel nor our room.

 

White Mountains, NH: Santa’s Village

This summer when we were visiting the New England for our month-long visit, we visited the White Mountains for some days.  During this time we stopped at some of our old favorite spots and some new!  I’ll make several blog posts to cover all the various things we saw and did otherwise, it will be way too long.

Santa’s Village – Jefferson, NH

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As our kids were 8 & 10, we figured that this would probably be the last visit they’d have at this park until they bring their kids back.  Then again, now that my parents moved from Boston to New Hampshire, we’ll be closer to the park when we visit them.  If we ever get there during Christmas time we might be able to visit when they open for a period in the winter – we’ve never been during Christmas when living in Boston. But living abroad, we don’t get back too often and when we do, I am sure they’ll want to do other things like  Zip Lining and Whales Tale Water Park and Codzilla (which we didn’t do on our last days in Boston as we didn’t book tickets early enough – lesson learned!)

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We used to take them there when they we little so Soren remembers some things about the Christmas-themed amusement park but Maebh didn’t as she was only 2 the last time we visited Santa’s Village in 2012.

The kids did the Elfabet Game where they went around the park finding the various elves, punching in the letters and then later they got a pen and a certificate.

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They went on all the rides – some several times.

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Compare these two photos 🙂

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We spent some time in the water park area which they loved as kids – they built more slides which coincidentally was Soren’s first slide as a little boy with Papa.

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Here are two videos of Soren going down the slides over and over again …. he loves them!

When Soren was little he really loved the misters which made you cool on a really hot day so I knew he’d remember those 🙂

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And the flume ride with Nils was fun.

Overall our time at Santa’s Village was great!
TIP:  If you arrive within three hours of closing to purchase admission (6 pm in the summer is when they close), you’ll be issued a “Return Pass” to visit the park for another full day at no additional cost. Your “Return Pass” is non-transferable (photo identification is required when it is redeemed) but it will have an expiration date.  So that is perfect for those with small kids who nap – you can use the water park one afternoon and then come do the park the next day,  Storyland does the same thing…

Jefferson Mountain View Motel – Jefferson, NH

We made a change in our plans and decided to stay at a local motel nearby Santa’s Village on Wednesday night, so we could be at the park when it opens on Thursday morning.  Looking online we wanted to find a cheap hotel but wanted to ensure it had a pool.  Turned out we never even went into the pool as it rained and wasn’t that warm – oh well.   The hotel we chose was the JEFFERSON MOUNTAIN VIEW.

Well, it was super basic, no frills (like no hand soap even provided type place).  To me that is just a bit too cheap – I mean, who travels with hand soap?!  I get shampoo and conditioner – we brought that but a simple tiny bar of hand soap or a pump on the wall – that to me is a mandatory item along with toilet paper at a hotel/motel.  When you want cheap, near the park, this is your place.  We had unit #14.  It was fine enough for the ONE night.  Personally we’d never stay longer than one night here but for just around $100 this is what you get.   The staff was very nice!


If we were to return and need to stay for multiple nights, we would go to the Lantern Resort across from the park and has great entertainment for families, but we didn’t want to spend $165 for the 1 night so went with the cheaper option.   We were on a month long trip and our budget was being squeezed already – we still had a week in Maine and Boston to pay for, etc.  Of course, there are other options of hotels in the area and many families choose to stay in North Conway and drive for about 50 minutes each way.  But were were going there after this night 8 nights.  We were doing 4 nights at the Red Jacket Mountain Resort and then 4 nights in a friends condo at the Nordic Village Resort as return for allowing us to stay in our house in Dublin last year.

Covered Bridge & Swimming Holes and Waterfalls

Coming from my sister’s place in Maine, we drove up into Bethel, Maine then crossed Route 2 over into NH.  Along the way we stopped at a Sunday River Covered Bridge (Artist’s Covered Bridge) as that is just something that is so New England.  I’m sure with the fall foliage it would be gorgeous.  The kids would never see such a thing in Europe – they thought it was pretty cool.

Then we stopped at Frenchman’s Hole – an areas where you can jump swim along the rocks.  The drop is about 20-30 feet.  It’s recommend that brave wild swimmers take plunge.   For me it was far too dangerous and steep (I’m a bit of a wimp) and I was not interested at all for my two kids.  The kids and Nils took a walk to the far edge but I was not going over there to look.  Sorry just not interested.

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Up the other way was a more shallow area, which Soren walked in.  We were taking bets if he’d fall in or not 🙂

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We ended up going with friends to the falls in Jackson NH one afternoon which the kids could swim in shallow area and there were nice waterfalls, etc.   I will post about later so the kids did get to go into a natural water spot during this trip.  Diana’s Baths would be a great place us to go now the kids are older when we return to NH.

White Mountains, NH: Santa’s Village & Storyland

As an annual summer tradition, we spent  a few days up a condo in North Conway – had a great time as always!  While the kids enjoyed Storyland, I think Santa’s Village is a far better park.   When the kids are older, we’re going to add in a Moose Tour during our time in the White Mountains! 🙂

This was great, but in a couple years, the falls will be much better and safer for kids.

UPDATE: A couple summers ago, our family spent a long weekend in North Conway.  During that time we met up with friends at Story Land – where we went on a water ride where the kids could soak the dads. Long story short, I sent in what  I thought was a great photo of their favorite ride – and it was recently used on a daily deal site.  Funny!

http://offers.cbslocal.com/deal/boston/half-off-at-story-land