Sunday, October 30, 2022

24 Hour Affordable Family Getaway to White Mountains


I've been trying to squeeze the very last leaf drop out of fall in the Whites.  Fall foliage "season" is my favorite time of the year, so it probably was surprising that I spent three consecutive weekends in the White Moutains in October.  For our last, and final, weekend of the foliage season - the kids and I made a quick one-nighter.  To save dollars, I booked a private room at the Conway Hostel.  I paired this with playground, hikes, nature trail, and kid (and parent) friendly food.  

Here's how to recreate this adventure:  

Adventure: 24 Hour Affordable Family Getaway in the White Mountains

Saturday Drive

11:30 am - We left our home in Seacoast, New Hampshire around 11:30 am.  On fall weekends, my son has soccer.  So we enjoyed a leisurely morning, returned home from soccer and packed up the car and took off.  We took Highway 16 north and stopped at the Ossipee McDonalds for lunch.  There was still leaves on many of the trees (October 22), however the colors were mainly yellows and browns, and not the reds and oranges people love the most.

Hike Arethusa Falls

1:30 pm - We arrived at the parking lot for Arethusa Falls.  This is a highly trafficked hike in Crawford Notch State Park.  I was prepared for overflow parking and had warned the kids we might have to go to Plan B if the parking was all full.  We were fine.  The later day arrival ensured most people had already hiked it and there was plenty of parking.  There is a $5 fee payed to the "iron ranger" for use of this state park lot.  Bring cash in exact change!

The kids did an awesome job on this hike.  It is 2.8 miles and 780 feet of elevation gain.  To date, this is the biggest hike my four year old has done without assistance.  She rocked it!  We took a lot of breaks and I had snacks and treats for the way up.  Arethusa Falls is the largest waterfall in New Hampshire and one of my favorite kid friendly hikes in the Whites.  We reached the falls around 3:30 pm - just as the sun set behind the canyon - leaving the falls in the shadows.

The kids loved the waterfall and flew back down the trail.  We were back to the car by 4:30 pm.

Arethusa Falls, October 22, 2022

Dinner at Moat Mountain Smokehouse and Brewery

"The Moat" is my favorite post-hike spot in the Whites.  However, it's a favorite of many and long waits are expected.  However, we hit the sweet spot arriving at 5:15pm.  We snagged one of the last free tables.  The kids enjoyed hot dogs off the kids menu, while I savored one of my favorite beers and a delicious sandwich.  When we left around 6:15 pm, there was a line out the door. 

Conway Hostel

I wasn't sure what to expect with the Conway Hostel.  I had hosteled quite a bit in my twenties and knew it could be a crap shoot.  However, for $100, guests at CoHo can get a private family room.  It was worth a try.  We were greeted by employee Brad who checked us in, gave us a tour, and showed us our room.  It was WONDERFUL!  We had a beautiful room, with comfy made beds, and fresh towels.  The shared bathroom was clean and bright.  The kids adored the common living room where they could play foosball, do a coloring sheet, or play one of the many board games.  A few quiet guests were making dinner in the communal kitchen.  I realized making dinner at the hostel would have been a way to make this stay even more affordable!

Conway Hostel had a private room with a
queen and bunk beds.  We loved it!

We snuggled into our beds around 8:30pm and had a great night sleep.  In the morning, the kids wanted to hang out in the living room again, spin on the porch hammock seats, and finish their coloring pages.  I took advantage of the complimentary coffee and breakfast (breakfast bars, oatmeal, toast, etc).

We packed up and left CoHo, all hoping we would be back soon.

Conway Hostel was clean, welcoming, and comfortable!

The Met and Playground

10:30 am - I drove us into downtown North Conway.  We parked right on the White Mountain Highway (main drag) near the Conway Scenic Train Station.  This way, we were walking distance to coffee and playground.  We went into The Met Coffeehouse for "second breakfast".  The kids got fruit and bagels and I got a bagel sandwich and a large coffee.  After our food was done, we walked over the the playground.  My kids really love this spot.  They played happily while I finished my coffee and watched the trains from a distance.  

Rocky Gorge

11:30 am - I decided to take the kids to one of our favorite pullouts on the Kancamagus Highway - Rocky Gorge Scenic Area.  Parking here is $5 to the national forest.  It is paid to an iron ranger so bring exact change.  We walked down the paved path and crossed the bridge.  From here we walked down toe Falls Pond.  The total distance is probably a quarter mile from the parking lot.  The kids loved throwing stick bits in the pond while I marveled at the perfect reflection.  From there, we returned to the river where the kids enjoyed rock hopping along the edge.  

Falls Pond - less than a half mile from the Rocky Gorge parking area.

12:00 pm  - Around noon, we left!  The kids fell asleep pretty quickly on the ride home.  It was an awesome quick trip!


This trip was a great way to round out our fall foliage season in the Whites.  The highlight was definitely the comfy stay at the Conway Hostel so we plan to return.  For those looking for a single bunk - the shared bunk room is $30.  They also have other private room options for couples, dog owners, and groups.  We could have saved money by bringing food and cooking our dinner in the kitchen.  It was well stocked with cookery, dishes, etc.  

Although we were fine, we passed multiple families on our way down from Arethusa Falls who were not prepared to hike in the dark.  I always carry headlamps as part of the 10 essentials.  We had to warn them that they might now make it.  Although Arethusa Falls is easy-moderate by White Mountain standards, it's still a climb so know your abilities and plan ahead.

Hosteling made this trip very affordable!

For similar posts, check out:

- 24 Hour Getaway in Bretton Woods, White Mountains

- Five Family Friendly Hikes in the White Mountains

- 3 Easy and Stunning Fall Foliage Hikes in the White Mountains

24 hour affordable family stay in North Conway, NH of the White Mountains