Jackson, New Hampshire is a gorgeous little town tucked away on the edge of the White Mountains. Although quite small, this nature’s-lover oasis has plenty to do and a lot of wonderful people to meet. Find yourself mesmerized by the calming waterfall that runs through town, enchanted by the jaw-dropping scenery, or invigorated by the adventure that awaits in the mountains just a short drive away. And if you truly want a perfect weekend in Jackson, NH, don’t forget to take a stop at the best restaurant in the Northeast – The Christmas Farm Inn.
Explore the White Mountains near Jackson, NH
No weekend in Jackson, NH is complete without exploring its backyard, the White Mountain National Forest.
Arethusa Falls and Frankenstein Cliff Trail
This trail network is extremely popular, but for good reason. Hike the 1.5 miles in to see the roaring Arethusa Falls and it’s impressive drop-off and water flow. At over 140 feet tall, you will be awestruck when you happen upon them at the end of the trail. The most exciting time to visit is mid-spring (late April/early May), when the winter run-off is flowing strong.
Although Frankenstein Cliff Trail might be inaccessible due to snow and ice in mid-spring, visit during the fall to see jaw-dropping views of the White Mountain leaf foliage. This loop is difficult with huge elevation gains and quite a bit of scrambling up rock faces. But, every drop of sweat is beyond worth it for the several beautiful lookouts and view from the edge of Frankenstein’s Cliff. I suggest packing lots of water, bug spray, and a snack or two for when you reach the top… and don’t forget a camera! You’ll want to capture the views to look at for years to come.
Ripley Falls Trail
Ripley Falls Trail is far less traveled than the uber-popular Arethusa Falls. Go about 10 minutes North on Crawford Notch Road and turn left into the picnic area near the historic Willey House. This quiet yet beautiful trail has some steep elevation and quite a bit of unstable rocky passes. With some keen awareness however, even the inexperienced hiker will be fine. While watching your footing, make sure to also pay attention to the trail markers. A minute too long looking at the ground can easily turn into a missed turn and sudden confusion. Once at the top, you’ll enjoy some amazing mountain views next to a peaceful, cascading waterfall.
Need I say more? This famous highway winding through the White Mountains has been named one of the best fall foliage drive numerous times by several travel authorities. It’s mighty allure extends through all seasons, however. There are several pull-off look outs with signage to inform you of what mountains you’re viewing. Of course there are a lot of places to park and hike along the way as well. If you’re only spending one weekend in Jackson, NH, the Kanc is the biggest bang for you White Mountains buck. The views are priceless! Don’t forget to stop at the White Mountain National Forest Welcome Center and Gift Shop to support your national forests.
Another popular tourist destination, but one you don’t want to overlook. Not only does the Mount Washington Hotel have absolutely stunning views of Mount Washington (the highest peak in the Northeast), but it holds some incredible history as well. In 1944, the Bretton Woods Conference took place at the hotel. The conference brought forth the establishment of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Order a drink and lounge on the huge covered porch, or walk the grounds and enjoy the scenery. Although not terribly time consuming, the hotel is definitely worth a stop along your way through the mountains.
Things to Do in Jackson, NH
Go to the Jackson Public Library
The Jackson Public Library is without a doubt the cutest building in town. It is located in a renovated barn with amazing high ceilings and wood support beams. Browse the magazine section, or soak in the sun next to the floor to ceiling windows on one end of the building. Make sure to check their website before you stop by. Although their hours are limited, they are open Saturdays and Sundays! They also host a great lineup of community programs to spark your curiosity and get you thinking.
Another waterfall? You betcha! You can hear the falls from almost anywhere in town, and they’re just a short walk or drive from downtown. Pack a book or a picnic and settle in – the serene trickling water will keep you captive all day. Or, stop by for a peaceful start to your mornings with some coffee. Although not confirmed, our b&b host also told us that the Ellis River is a great place to go fishing.
Where to Eat in Jackson, NH
Christmas Farm Inn
If there is one thing you absolutely should not miss out on, it is dining at the Christmas Farm Inn. Seriously – you can find mountains and hikes all over the area, and the world for that matter. But, if you don’t eat at this establishment, you will miss out on the greatest meal of your life.
The Christmas Farm Inn defines reasonably priced fine dining. Some of the 5-star worthy dishes I’ve had include Fettucini Fig-Prosciutto, Pistachio-Crusted Salmon, Herb Roasted Stuffed Chicken, and a fine dessert of an Espresso Martini. Their large dinner menu offers something tasty for every diet. The drinks are deliciously hand-crafted to keep you wanting more. Every bite will have you saying “oh my gosh,” and you’ll feel like part of a family from the attentive and excellent service. A reservation is recommended. If you’re too late getting one, they do have a very small first-come first-serve pub that opens at the same time as the restaurant.
Red Fox Bar and Grille
For a more casual place to eat or grab a beer after hiking, the Red Fox Bar and Grille is an excellent choice. This huge restaurant has a space for every kind of diner – lively, family, sports-watching, or intimate. The salmon burger is excellent, and they have a menu full of delicious American cuisine plates.