Yes we took the Ridge Hike, which is the most dangerous hike in the White Mountains. No one was injured and we got to see some amazing waterfalls on our hike. We are going to be posting more videos, so please let us know what you think of this one.
Sometimes we find a great campground, but we really lucked out in New Hampshire because we found two campgrounds in a row that were great. The first one was near Concord where we got a huge site with a yard on each side of the trailer for the kids to run around, the whole family even played a game of glow stick tag one night. Epsom Valley Campground had free mini golf, board games to play, a playground with an eclectic mix of toys plus it is located just twenty minutes from Concord. We had a great time here and were happy with both the price of the campground and with how nice the staff was during our visit. The reason we chose this camp though was because it was just up the road from the capitol and Concord didn’t disappoint us.
The first thing we noticed when we entered the New Hampshire state capitol building was the lack of the normal security check point we have come to expect in government buildings. We met a nice gentleman in the elevator that told us where to go to start out and he ended up being our tour guide. It was such a warm and friendly capitol building and it was in superb condition. You can tell that the state takes pride in their buildings and when we were there the exterior of the building was even being painted. I found it interesting that New Hampshire pays its legislators only $200 per session and the state has no sales tax. The guide joked about the building not having tons of marble and gold gilding, but I was still impressed with the place and was happy that the state has a history of spending responsibly. Right in the middle of the tour during an interesting story about a picture we had a pleasant surprise. One of the paintings on the wall came up missing and everyone thought someone had taken it, but then someone noticed it was on the ground behind the bench right below where it had hung. The staff repaired it and rehung it, only to find it fallen again the next day even more damaged. Well they brought the painting in front of the assembly to have representatives vote on what to do about the painting and a legislator who was into history noticed that the painting was of the wrong person! Yes it was supposed to be a certain governor and apparently someone had made a mistake centuries ago and hung the wrong portrait. What are the odds that out of all the paintings hanging on the wall the one that was of the wrong person just happened to fall off the wall multiple times. Now they have the right person in the painting as the legislators voted to have a new painting made to fix the problem. Right as our guide was telling us this intriguing story the elevator opened and out walked the governor of the state, Chris Sununu. He stopped and took the time to meet us and shake our hands, then he spent several minutes just chatting with us. It was great getting to meet the governor and we loved visiting the capitol building. After seeing the capitol we decided to have a picnic lunch in White Park. The kids had a fun time running around and made several new friends. It doesn’t matter how busy we are, there is always time for the kids to get some active play in.
Now we always look for school lessons as we travel around, but it was summer and we thought the entire family could use some fun. Sarah found out that the worlds largest arcade, Fun Spot, was only an hour north of us. It didn’t take much to convince me that this place would be worth the drive. I love old video games and Fun Spot doesn’t charge an arm and a leg to play them. The deal that we found was 100 tokens for $20, which breaks down to about 16 cents per game! Not only do they have tons of video games and ticket games, they also have electric bumper cars, little kids rides, and more. We spent a full day playing games and eventually food was needed. They have a restaurant attached to the arcade that serves pizza and other arcade type fare. While it wasn’t gourmet food, it did fill us up and we went back to playing games. My favorite part of the experience was winning tickets for the prizes. That might be a shock since I am an adult and most the prizes were just kids toys, but we were able to earn our magnet with tickets. It was the first time on our trip that we won our magnet instead of just outright buying it and I think it makes it special. Don’t worry if you visit and you just want to buy a magnet they have one for sale, but if you want the cool special one be prepared to have some fun playing games. Not only did we have fun at this arcade, but we even learned some history. They have a Sea Skate ride from 1953 that was restored on the TV show American Restoration that Trip got to ride in. The adults loved reading all the history about the historic ride and it added a small element of education to our fun day of play.
The other place we visited in the area was the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in Merrimack, New Hampshire. I wasn’t sure how kid friendly the tour would be, but my worries were for nothing. The tour was very kid friendly and we all had fun learning about the complex process of making beer. Part of the tour we took let us sample some beer straight from a tank and it was so good even Sarah drank some (if you know her you would know that she doesn’t drink beer at all). The kids really liked the bottling room with all the clinking and movement. The huge amounts of pipes, tanks, and precision that a large brewery require left us all impressed. They also have a stable with the Clydesdale’s and boy are they some big horses. After visiting the brewery and stables we decided to eat at the Biergarten that is located on the premises. The food was as good as the company and we all had a blast on our visit to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery.
After leaving the Concord area we headed north to the White Mountains. Somehow we found another excellent campground and our spot was perfect. We loved our stay at White Birches Camping Park. It was back in the woods and right behind our site was a hill leading down to a brook. The kids absolutely loved our stay here because they had a bounce house, heated pool, playground and forest to play in. The pool was heated though only enough for the kids to get in and enjoy it. We spent lots of time letting the kids play at the bounce house and at the playground with other kids. Everyone enjoyed the campground and I might even have to stop back by when we are traveling the opposite direction going from Maine to Vermont!
Our only agenda while staying here was hiking on the Appalachian Trail. The kids wanted to do the Junior Ranger program at the National Forest and even went the extra mile to get a pin and a patch. They had to fill out every single page in the book, but they were determined and made it through all twenty one pages. We started off on a trail to see some waterfalls and headed up the mountain several miles. Then when the kids were ready to turn around I saw a side trail and took it to see if we could get a good photo of the mountains. There was a notice posted that it was the most dangerous trail in the White Mountains and that people were seriously injured or died every year on the trail. The kids perked right up and wanted to take the entire trail! Being a safety minded parent, I only allowed them to hike a mile or so up this trail until the really hard bouldering on the edge of a river was required to continue. They still thought it was great and some parts were difficult enough to make me post an adult on each end of the group. Our kids have quite a bit of experience hiking now though and they handled themselves well (so I will let them take more dangerous trails in the future). It was wonderful being on the Appalachian Trail and we really enjoyed hiking, but the Summer was coming to a close and there was still Maine to see, so we headed out on the road once more.
Here are some links and more pictures and videos for you to check out:
Epsom Valley Campground
New Hampshire State House Tours
Office of the Governor
White Park in Concord New Hampshire
Fun Spot (Largest Arcade In The World)
White Birches Camping Park
Here is a raw video of the kids (and adults) playing at the playground.
White Mountains National Forest