Two of the state’s top resorts are exceptional
all-season vacation spots

Vast pristine forests, lofty mountains, numerous rivers and lakes. These are the physical blessings that have helped make New Hampshire an all-seasons, all-round enviable vacation destination. I was a first-time visitor there in August while the golf season was still in full swing and well in advance of the state’s winter ski season. Moreover, being pleasantly surprised by what I found is an understatement. To begin with, right away you’ve got to love a state that has no sales tax and whose motto is “Live Free or Die.” However, there were numerous other reasons I was wholly impressed with this member of the New England region that has the highest percentage of residents with a French/French Canadian ancestry of any U.S. state. A four hour drive south of Montreal, its borders touch Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, Quebec, and with just 18 miles rimming the Atlantic, New Hampshire has the shortest ocean coastline of any state in America.

My trip was strategically planned around playing two of the state’s top golf courses which are attached to a pair of New Hampshire’s most historic resort properties, The Balsams and the Mount Washington Resort. Golf was priority number one and, as it turned out, the resorts were impressive icing on the cake.

Apparently plenty of Quebecers had heard of these properties long before me since there was an obvious presence of Quebec license plates in both of their parking lots.

Golf at The Balsams could not be finer, especially if you’re a fan of Donald Ross-designed layouts. In fact, when this notable architect designed the course that opened in 1912 he actually lived on site making certain the layout was crafted to his exact specifications. Called the Panorama because there are spectacular mountain views in every direction, this 18-hole masterpiece that is exceptionally well maintained embodies numerous elevation changes but the real challenge is its slick greens which are mostly shaped like reverse saucers on which balls easily roll to the fringe. Nevertheless, the course features a great layout although it’s not one I’d recommend for walking.

The resort itself, located at Dixville Notch in the state’s White Mountains Region, has been welcoming guests since 1866 and its impressive exterior is reminiscent of a sprawling white castle set on a hillside in Normandy. The Balsams is included in the National Register of Historic Places and everything about it is top grade from common rooms to individually decorated guest rooms where the absence of television sets is an encouragement to relax and disconnect.

In addition to golf, during summer the resort offers tennis, boating on its own lake, fly fishing and miles of hiking, biking and walking trails. In winter, its geographic location provides 95 km of cross country ski trails and the resort’s alpine ski area features 16 runs up to one mile long.

About 90 minutes further south, at the base of Mount Washington (highest peak in the American northeast) the Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods shares many similarities with The Balsams. It’s also a National Historic Landmark and has the same castle-like appearance. Built in 1902, this is a gracious resort hotel whose clientele has included the rich and famous although today it’s a very family friendly property. Moreover, just like the Balsams, Mount Washington Resort (site of the historic Bretton Woods Monetary Conference of 1944) has a legendary reputation for fine cuisine in a fine dining atmosphere although both properties also offer more casual eateries. It’s impossible not to be impressed with this resort with its extensive wrap-around verandas and fabulous common rooms. Also part of the resort is the Bretton Arms Inn, just a short walk from the main hotel. Built in 1896, this restored Victorian building also has a gracious ambiance yet on a smaller scale.

One of the stand-out differences between The Balsams and Mount Washington Resort is their golf courses. Even though both layouts were Donald Ross designs, The Balsams Panorama course is clearly a mountain track while the 18-hole Mount Washington Resort course that opened in 1915 has a valley layout.

Although there are still plenty of mountain views, the valley track that just underwent a multi million dollar renovation is considerably flatter but no less challenging. This is a quality course that will get even better once renovations have had a chance to settle and mature. Additionally, the resort has a nine-hole course that unlike a lot of executive tracks is no simple walk in the woods.

Also part of the Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Woods is New Hampshire’s largest ski area offering guests alpine skiing and snowboarding, with a host of downhill trails and a ski school. Nordic skiing and snowshoeing are also available on an extensive groomed trail network. Other on-site winter activities include ice climbing and snow tubing and summer options, in addition to the golf, include tennis, horseback riding and fly fishing.

Both of these resorts are well worth the drive south from Montreal and while neither of them comes anywhere close to being economy properties both offer attractive package deals.


For more information about the Mount Washington Resort go online at or call 1-877-873-0626.

More information about The Balsams resort can be found online at or by calling 1-866-380-6798

For general New Hampshire trip planning information visit online at or call 1-800-FUN-IN-NH.

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