Our family just returned from a long weekend in North Conway, New Hampshire. It’s the second time we’ve gone and we had a great time.
It seems to be the only place where we can enjoy the experience of outlet shopping with the kids. For our family, outlet shopping usually means 1 parent stays in the car with the kids while the other frantically runs in & out of various stores hoping to score a deal before someone needs to go to the washroom.
In North Conway, the whole experience is just calmer. It may be due to the fact that we stay at the North Conway Grand Hotel which is located at Settlers’ Green (the outlet center). This means that we just take a family stroll out of the back door of the hotel and we are in the pedestrian mall area of the outlets. We shop a little and when the kids are restless we take them to the playground area to release some energy, or for something to eat like a slice of pizza or a smoothie. Alternatively, we take a very short walk back to the hotel, dump our bags & go for a swim, either indoors or out. There’s even a shallow splash/sprinkler pool for the little ones.
Other perks at the Grand: free breakfast buffet for the kids (Adults $15 each). Free DVD rentals to watch in your room. Rooms are equipped with Microwave & mini-fridge. You can also bring the kids to nightly movie screenings at the hotel and sometimes you can benefit from a campfire by the pool area.
I had the opportunity to visit a room at the Marriott Residence Inn: Clean & beautiful. Equipped with kitchenette, so if this is important to you, keep it in mind. It is not on site at Settlers’ Green but not a far drive. It includes free breakfast for all.
*FREE TIP * The kids love to go to Brookstone so we use this as an incentive for good behaviour.
At Children’s Place it’s all about them and we stock up on white polos, t-shirts & navy chinos for the school year. We saved enough money on running shoes for the family (at Nike) in one trip to pay for our 2-night hotel stay! I will agree that there is a greater selection of outlets at different outlet centers such as Woodbury Commons in NY, but it’s a vastly different experience. Also, did I mention that everything is tax free???? Finally, keep an eye out for coupons (check out special offers tab in the Settlers Green link above)…The Children’s Place polos for the boys were on sale for $4.99 but we had a coupon for an additional 15% off which brought them down to $4.24 given that there are no taxes, that would be a price tag of under $3.70 per polo in Montreal! Catch my drift? CRAZY.
Unfortunately there aren’t as many family style restaurants as we’d have liked but there are options. Given that we have dietary restrictions and don’t eat meat in restaurants, it was a little more tricky. Here is the rundown of our experience:
Ninety Nine was excellent although they couldn’t accomodate our party of 8 at one table so we sat separately. They serve popcorn as a pre-meal snack which was fun & yummy.
Brandli’s (in Settlers’ Green): great for a slice of pizza or a not-too fancy pasta
Wrapsody in Greens & Kaity’s Big Chill in Settlers’ Green we didn’t try the wraps but the kids liked the smoothies & Ice cream
Black Cap Grille You’ll have to get in the car for a quick drive over (about a minute) but the food was delicious. My veggie chili appetizer was outstanding- I ordered a second & made it my meal! There was a flatbread with pesto that was outstanding and a black garlic hummus wrap that was quite tasty, the salads were fun & yummy. The kids menu offered the usual kid fare of pasta, mac n’ cheese, etc.
Applebee’s– The food was not great and the service was AWFUL. We actually dubbed it “Applebee’s, all you can wait!”
You’ll see ads everywhere for Coldstone Creamery but don’t bother- it closed. We were disappointed.
THINGS TO DO:
There are many things to do, but for us this year, we were all about shop & swim. That said, last year we took the kids to nearby Storyland & they loved it. My hubby was less than thrilled as he compares everything to Disney…don’t do it or you will be disappointed. The kids had fun and it was a nice family day. Not cheap but fun.
-It’s a beautiful & scenic drive: about 4hr 15 mins from Montreal.
-3 nights is better than 2. Last year we stayed 3 nights & it was just perfect. Allows enough time time to shop & swim/relax.
Have you been to North Conway? What were your experiences? Any recommendations for a great & inexpensive family getaway? I’d love to hear from you…