Dropping sharply away to the south of Pinkham Notch is the Ellis River, along whose banks sits the northern gateway to the Mt. Washington valley, resort-dominated Jackson (pop. 816). Given the number of lodgings among the attractive century-old clapboard homes, it seems the principal village occupation is innkeeper. The porches, gables, and chimneys hint at standard country B&B charms: lazy breakfasts in summer, nooks and crannies brimming with roses, and crackling fires in your room at night. A covered bridge beside Route 16, taverns filled with antiques, and winter sleigh rides complete Jackson’s postcard image of Merry Olde New England.
The Jackson area is not only pretty but also has a couple of northern New Hampshire’s best places to eat, drink, and sleep. At the junction of Route 16 and Route 16A, the Shannon Door Pub (603/383-4211) is usually just the right side of crowded—full of skiers, hikers, and other hungry folks enjoying hearty food, good beers, and frequent live, folksy, Celtic-tinged music in a jovial setting. In business for nearly 60 years, the pub was a main character in John Sayles’s first film, The Return of the Secaucus Seven. The fanciest restaurant and grandest hotel in Jackson are both in the stately Wentworth (603/383-9700, $103 and up) at the heart of the village, welcoming travelers since it was established back in 1869.