We’ve all been there — after weeks of looking forward to your planned escape to the White Mountains, the weather app refuses to budge from its 90% chance of rain forecast. It’s too late to cancel reservations and you’ve already lined up the plant sitter. You pack rain gear and tell yourself you will hike through it, but as you enter the White Mountains, the non-stop deluge hitting your windshield compels you to rethink your plan to hike Franconia Ridge the next morning.
When we asked our Facebook followers what they like to do on rainy days in the Whites, most responded, “hike anyway.” This response encourages people to toughen up and embrace the elements. While hiking in the rain can be a spiritual experience, if you’re just not feeling up to it here are eight other rainy day activities in the White Mountains.
Our personal favorites:
1. Reach new heights at The North Country Climbing Center in Lisbon, NH.
The North Country Climbing Center is the only full-service climbing gym serving the White Mountains. Great for adults or kids, this beautifully maintained gym has top rope, auto-belay, and bouldering stations and plenty of options for beginners. Plus, there’s great music and a super-friendly staff! While you’re in the area, stop by Schilling Beer Co. for post-climb grub and refreshments.
2. Tour the local breweries.
The craft beer revolution has hit the White Mountains hard, and beer-lovers will find no shortage of local brews to sample. The Lincoln/North Woodstock area even has a local taxi service, the Shuttle Connection, that offers town trips for $5-6, so you can bar-hop responsibly.
The Woodstock Inn Brewery, North Woodstock, NH: NH’s third-ever brewery, the Inn boasts over a dozen beers and offers daily brewery tours. The restaurant is extremely popular year round and the bar has live music, trivia, and karaoke throughout the week.
Schilling Beer Co., Littleton, NH. Housed in a converted mill building overlooking the Ammonoosuc River, Schilling is a hip new pub that has personal pizzas and plenty of fun beers on tap. A perfect spot for lunch or dinner after shopping in downtown Littleton.
One Love Brewery, Lincoln, NH. One Love set up shop in the historic Henry Paper Mill in January 2015. With its refreshing menu (the fried avocados are a must) and selection of craft beers, One Love is definitely worth a visit.
Seven Birches Winery, Lincoln, NH. Even though it’s not a brewery, we had to mention this new local winery as well. Seven Birches hand-crafts classic European grape varieties and locally sourced fruits into wines of distinction. The tasting room is open daily and they offer winery tours on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Also check out the Beer Map – Brew NH.
3. Drive the Kancamagus Highway, have lunch and shop in North Conway, NH.
From Lincoln, take the 34.5 mile drive along the Kancamagus Scenic Byway (with any luck, the clouds will part and you will catch a glimpse of the stunning mountain views). Once in Conway, head north on Route 16 until you reach downtown North Conway. Choose from dozens of lunch options—we love the wood-fired pizzas from the Flatbread Company (they feature organic ingredients and free-range meats) and the beer from Moat Mountain Brewery. Wander the craft and specialty shops, grab a cupcake from White Mountain Cupcakery, and peruse the used gear section downstairs at International Mountain Equipment. If the sky clears, hike the 1.2-mile easy loop around Diana’s Baths or try a more strenuous 5-mile loop over the top of South Moat Mountain.
If you still want to be outside:
4. Visit the Flume or Lost River Gorge
These spectacular geologic wonders are carved by rivers and waterfalls that are arguably more spectacular on rainy days when the water is high and fast. Both The Flume Gorge and Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves require admission tickets but are well worth a visit. Bring an umbrella and a camera!
5. Visit the Old Man of the Mountain Museum and ride the Cannon Aerial Tramway
Learn about the history of NH’s state symbol, the Old Man of the Mountain, a face-like rock feature that jutted out from Cannon Cliff in Franconia Notch until its collapse in 2003. After touring the museum, take an aerial tram ride to Cannon’s summit. Eat lunch on the top and enjoy the full bar, restrooms, scenic trails and an observation deck.
If you definitely do not want to be outside:
6. Catch a local show
Escape the rain with a show at Jean’s Playhouse, a professional theater company in Lincoln, NH, that boasts year-round theater, concerts, and comedy events. If theater isn’t your thing, catch an afternoon movie at Lincoln’s cozy, 4-screen cinema (stock up on specialty sweets at Chutter’s Candy Counter before you go!). If you’ve got a hankering for live music, see who’s playing at the Flying Monkey in Plymouth, NH (pair this with a visit to Plymouth’s Museum of the White Mountains).
7. Unwind at the spa
The White Mountains is chock full of day spas to visit before, after, or instead of hiking! For massages or reiki, call Stacey of Balanced Rock Bodyworks. You can hit the gym, spa, and hot tub at the Viaggio Spa and Health Club at Loon Mountain, or try a foot soak from the Solstice North day spa.
8. Hang out with us at the Notch Hostel!
Book a bed at the Notch Hostel in North Woodstock, NH, and hang out with the other rained-out hikers. Pick up local eats from Peaked Moon Bakery and Purple Tomato health food store, grab local beer from Wayne’s Market, and cook your feast back at the Notch. Plan your next backpacking trip from our farmer’s porch, warm up in our sauna, and explore our wide selection of hiking books and board games.