North Conway, a town for all seasons By Felicity Long / April 29, 2005 Share 1 -- NORTH CONWAY, N.H. -- New Hampshire is full of towns just as scenic as North Conway, but while some draw leaf peepers in the fall and others draw winter-sports enthusiasts, not many can boast the robust tourism numbers that make the area a hot spot year-round. You have to have the perfect combination of tourism-oriented businesses, and one of our strengths is that there is a lot to do here for almost any kind of visitor, said Marti Mayne of the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce.Fall attracts the most concentrated number of visitors, thanks to the foliage market, but summer draws the most people overall because it lasts longer, Mayne said.She said the winter season is strong but variable, depending on the vagaries of Mother Nature.Specifically, about 1.75 million tourists arrive in summer, 1 million in September and October and another 1 million from November through March. Spring, considered low season, draws about a quarter of a million visitors, she said.Outdoor attractions are the top draw any time of year, according to Mayne, with a variety of options available in the surrounding White Mountain National Forest.Winter visitors can take advantage of four ski resorts within a short driving distance of town -- Wildcat, Black Mountain, Attitash and Cranmore -- or take a 20-minute drive to Shawnee Peak, Maine, a family ski area revered by locals for its uncrowded slopes and excellent snow conditions.The closest ski area, Cranmore, is spitting distance from town center and offers not only plenty of skiing and snowboarding but lift-assisted snow-tubing into the evening.In summer, Attitash becomes a warm-weather playground with water slides, an alpine slide and horseback riding. Cranmore offers a swimming pool, tennis and climbing wall.Children are catered to at two area theme parks -- Santas Village and Story Land -- both of which boast a loyal fan base going back generations.But even outdoor buffs need amenities, and it is here that North Conway separates itself from the rest, said Mayne.There are at least 50 lodging properties in North Conway, with everything from upscale hotels, condos, vacation rentals, smaller bed-and-breakfast accommodations and country inns to timeshares and affordable motels, Mayne said.Another 200 rooms are in the planning stages, she added, including two chain hotels (details not yet announced) in or near the town center.The North Conway Grand is in the process of getting approval to build 30 suites and a wonderful family-oriented water park, available not only to their own guests but to outside visitors, she said.At the other end of the spectrum is the Kearsarge Inn, which opened in 2003.The Kearsarge Inn is situated within walking distance of the village and has just 15 rooms and suites.To contact reporter Felicity Long, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.Food & LodgingRestaurants Horsefeathers, (603) 356-6862; www.horsefeathers.comCoyote Rose, (603) 356-7673Moat Mountain Smoke House and Brewing Co., (603) 356-6381; www.moatmountain.comThe Flatbread Co., (800) 862-1600; www.easternslopeinn.comHotelsLuxury: Red Jacket Mountain View Resort, (800) 752-2538; www.redjacketresorts.comQuaint: Kearsarge Inn, (800) 637-0087; www.kearsargeinn.comB&B: North Conway Grand, (800) 648-4397; www.northconwaygrand.comChain: Comfort Inn and Suites, (866) 647-8483; www.comfortinnnh.comAntique lodging: Wildflowers Inn, (866) 945-3357; www.wildflowersinn.comProperty with pool: Cranmore Mountain Lodge, (800) 356-3596; www.north-conway.comProperty with game room: Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites, (800) HOLIDAY; www.hIexpress.com/northconwayTake It From MeThe truth is that a three-day visit to North Conway is simply not long enough to scratch the surface of whats available. But, as a New Englander and frequent visitor to New Hampshire, Ive learned the ins and outs of one of my favorite destinations.Bring your walletNorth Conway is shopping heaven, with outlets lining the outskirts of the village.I snagged so many deals on the second floor of the L.L. Bean outlet, including fleece pullovers for the family, a chenille rug for my daughter and a 1950s-style record player for my music-loving teenage boy, that I barely fit it all into the car.In addition to L.L. Bean, there are outlet stores for Old Navy, Stonewall Kitchen, Norm Thompson and Brookstone. There also are plenty of one-of-a-kind boutiques and antiques stores.Dont miss Zebs General Store in the village, known as the largest purveyor of New England products in the country, including penny candy, soaps and books.And because this is New Hampshire, there is no sales tax.Bring your appetiteWhen it comes to dining in North Conway, everyone wants to eat at Horsefeathers on Main Street. They dont take reservations, so go early and prepare to wait.Other favorite eateries include Coyote Rose, serving Southwestern fare; Moat Mountain Smoke House and Brewing Co., with homemade microbrewed beer and meals in huge portions; and the Flatbread Co. in the family-friendly Eastern Slope Inn, serving pizza cooked in a wood-fired clay oven. -- F.L.