Jackson, Gateway to Mt. Washington Valley

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, classic-rock-tinged music in a jovial setting. In business for over 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, $154 and up) at the heart of the village, welcoming travelers since it was established back in 1869.

Glen and Story Land

A half mile south of Jackson along Route 16 or Route 16A you pass the picturesque Jackson Covered Bridge, where the two alternative routes rejoin at the north edge of tiny Glen. In the short stretch between the bridge and the junction with US-302, Glen has one of the more concentrated barrages of roadside clutter in the White Mountains. Glen is best known not for hiking or sightseeing but as home to the children’s theme park Story Land (603/383-4186, daily summer, $34, free under age 2), where among its many playfully designed and carefully coiffed acres, the highlights include a boat ride, a raft ride, and a fiberglass cow that gives fake milk when you squeeze its fake udders.

A half mile south of Story Land, Route 16 links up with US-302 at a cluster of shops where the Red Parka Steakhouse & Pub (603/383-4344), a jolly moderate-to-inexpensive place to eat and drink, has live music most weekend nights.

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