White Mountains Inn with Cross-Country Skiing in Surrounding Woodlands
From a distance, ski lifts seem to disappear into the horizon as they crawl up to the summit Cannon Mountain—one of the first mountains designated for skiing in New England. The peak is visible from Sunset Hill House Inn, which lies just 10 miles west; if squinting closely enough, one can almost make out the tiny skiers as they course down the slopes. But Sunset Hill has a winter playground in its own backyard: amid 70 acres of wildlife preserves and woodlands, there are more than 18 miles of track set and backcountry trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Though not included with the Groupon, Sunset Hill House Inn offers discounted passes to Cannon Mountain, Loon Mountain, and Bretton Woods and can also arrange zipline tours and snowmobiling. An onsite, state-registered Nordic center stays open dawn to dusk to supply any necessary winter gear.
The inn's individually decorated guest rooms are split between the historical main inn building—built in 1880—and the adjacent Hill House. Whereas some rooms face the east, allowing guests to watch the sun rise over New Hampshire's White Mountains, other rooms look to the west, where the sun dips below Vermont's Green Mountains. Innkeepers recently remodeled the superior traditional rooms and select rooms took part in a decorators' showcase.
Mornings at Sunset Hill House Inn begin with a complimentary breakfast of pastries, omelets, and other specialties cooked fresh to order. Come evening, chefs at the Restaurant at Sunset Hill prepare regional cuisine using herbs and produce sourced from their kitchen garden and local farms. The menu—which changes weekly—includes prix fixe and à la carte options such as slow-roasted cornish game hen ($25). Classy table settings such as polished crystal, white tablecloths, and candles lit by the Olympic torch add to the fine-dining experience; meanwhile, a casual ambiance characterizes The New Hampshire Tavern, which serves locally brewed beers.
Sugar Hill, New Hampshire: Craggy New England Wilderness and Groomed Ski Trails
About 80 miles north of Concord, New Hampshire resides Sugar Hill, which is encompassed by 7 mountain ranges made up of 40 named peaks. Sugar Hill also sits in the heart of the Franconia Notch, a state park that houses deer, moose, black bears, and other wild animals; many of these creatures can be spotted in the forest and meadows around the Sunset Hill House Inn. Winter snowstorms transform the area into a playground for winter sports, and the trails around Sunset Hill are groomed for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and practicing belly flops. Backcountry routes wend through evergreens and to the Franconia iron mines and Ore Hill, which has sweeping views. Nearby mountains also present endless opportunities for downhill skiing. The closest peak is the state-run Cannon Mountain—a network of 55 steep pitches and a pair of gladed ski runs.