We recently stayed at the AMC Highland Lodge in Bretton Woods, NH. Although we had hiked from this beautiful location for the Red Bench hike and a quick lunch before, we honestly hadn't ever thought about spending the night here. We were pleasantly surprised with the lodging and amenities. This is a family-friendly choice.
The views of the White Mountains in this terrific notch location are magnificent. The notch levels off after a climb on the route 302 and the natural plateau houses this mountain-inspired lodge. In keeping with the AMC outdoor theme, the lobby furnishings are simple, but comfortable LL Bean leather sofas and carpets. There are an ample number of sofas in the common area which is especially important for the hostel or single traveler, though our kids spent some time relaxing there as well. There is also a small gift shop and a large cafeteria on the main lodge first level.
In years past we had assumed this was a hostel, and there are hostel accommodations available in the form of bunkhouses and shared bathrooms. However, the lodge was recently completely renovated and it is a true beauty. We had a private room with a private bath all decked out in cozy LL Bean bedding. The room had a queen, twin bunks, and enough room to accommodate a cot since we are a party of five. The small bathroom had a shower complete with shampoo and body wash and a sink within the room. Although there is no A/C in the room, the large windows open and the mountain breezes kept us cool even in the middle of July. It is important to also note this is a 'green' lodge with recycling and naturalist tips posted throughout the building, and also class and meeting rooms.
The meals and more
Guests staying in the private room lodge have breakfast and lunch included in the price of their room. While we did not arrive in time for dinner, we enjoyed a hearty and healthy breakfast served cafeteria-style. We helped ourselves to oatmeal, yogurt and fruit, cereal, eggs, sausage, and more. The food was as much as we could eat. We were ready for a day of adventure! We started our day of adventure on the outdoor mountain inspired playground. The kids hid in caves, slid down rock slides, and traversed wooden bridges, all designed to mimic the outdoors. It was hard getting them to leave.
The AMC Appalachian Mountain Club is all about the understanding, conservation, and maintenance of the Appalachian Trail and its environs, but also encourages education about the area for members, and especially children. Their education programs reach 35,000 underserved youth annually, not to mention the many kids that enjoy the daily programs such as guided hikes, animal track castings, skills classes, and kid-appropriate movies shown nightly at the lodge. As part of their vision 2020, the AMC has a five-pronged plan. One aspect is Getting Kids Outdoors. This is aimed at both urban and at risk kids, but also includes broadening the AMC family and Junior Naturalist programs for all. Any child staying at the lodge can complete the Junior Naturalist program and they even have a graduation program for those children that finish it. While we were at the lodge, we went on a guided hike with knowledgeable adventure naturalist Julie, who provided us with many facts and fun on an easy hike, though more difficult hikes can also be guided. Amazingly, many programs given at the lodge are available to anyone interested and guests of the lodge can borrow LL Bean donated equipment for FREE. Need a rain coat, hiking boots, or even more complex gear? Stop in the equipment room to be fitted and stay safe on your adventure. They even have kid sizes.
The AMC Highland Center provides a great place to stay, but also a terrific place to learn about nature, hike, meet likeminded families, and enjoy the outdoors. It is a very family centric, family-friendly place to stay and learn about the outdoors. While we were there we learned about the 8 AMC trailside high hut hikes where families can hike to one of the White Mountain huts and stay. We were convinced and hope to do that next spring!
If your family loves the outdoors or even if you are new outdoor adventurers, I highly recommend the AMC Highland Lodge. Any season, everything you need for your stay; food, programming, equipment, lodging, is right there!
Disclosure: My family and I were provided an overnight stay and meal at the AMC Highland Lodge. We were not required to provide any specific review and all opinions are my own.
The Highland Center Lodge is just one of six rustic lodges created by the AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) along the Appalachian Trail. Located in Crawford Notch, New Hampshire, the Highland educates families on conservation and outdoor adventure. Family members can take classes (even kids as young as three can take classes on making snow shelters, for instance!) and there are always guided hikes and activities on offer.
The eco-lodge has several room types, the most popular for families being rooms with bunk beds. Room rates include BOTH breakfast and dinner! There's a fun game room for when the weather is bad, and best of all, an L.L. Bean room with outdoor gear available for check-out during your stay. No need to buy or rent equipment you may only use once!
From the lodge, there are a number of easy to moderate hiking options, and you can buy discounted tickets to Bretton Woods for downhill skiing or cross-country skiing. Sledding, snow play, and snowshoeing on site in the winter, and hiking and biking reign in summer.
Highly recommend for families with kids of ALL ages.