When my family and I travelled to Maine in July, I knew we had to pass through the bargain hunting capital of the state of New Hampshire – North Conway – en route to our initial destination of Portland. So why not stop over there for a few nights? It had been six years since my list visit. Then somebody told me about the Best Western Red Jacket Mountain View Resort and its new Kahuna Laguna indoor water park. Well, our decision was made.

Located on 40 acres overlooking the Moat Mountain Range and Saco River Valley, Best Western Red Jacket Mountain View (www.redjacketmountainview.com) is nestled in the heart of the Mount Washington Valley. We chose the cozy Alcove suite, which includes two double beds and a small bedroom with a sliding door on the side. There is also a nice balcony. This place caters to pets and its smoking free.

Located on 40 acres overlooking the Moat Mountain Range and Saco River Valley, Best Western Red Jacket Mountain View (www.redjacketmountainview.com) is nestled in the heart of the Mount Washington Valley.

We chose the cozy Alcove suite, which includes two double beds and a small bedroom with a sliding door on the side. There is also a nice balcony. This place caters to pets and its smoking free.

This was my second time staying at a hotel with its own indoor water park, the last being Zhenders in Frankenmuth, Michigan two years earlier. It is a great feeling to check in, leave your luggage in the room, get your bathing suits on and simply head through the lobby for some splash-tacular fun. Once inside, you can zoom through one of four high-speed tubes before splashing into the landing pool below, body surf in the swirling wave pool, square off against your friends in an exciting game of water basketball or volleyball. Watch out for the 150-gallon tipping bucket! The whole family will enjoy the activity pool, water cannons and play tower while the little ones will have a great time in the shallow pool, an area designed with them in mind.

The water park made its debut in February 2008, built on space previously occupied by a parking lot. An arcade and family fun center was constructed between the water park and the main lobby to serve as a kind of sound barrier, not to mention offering hours of potential enjoyment. There is also a beautiful outdoor pool. You can call 1-800-RJACKET to find out more about their ski and splash packages. Several of New England’s best ski areas are within a short drive, and Cranmore Mountain is right at the property’s doorstep. In addition, the Valley offers over 100 kilometres of groomed cross-country and snowmobile trails. In summer season, tee times may be reserved at several local golf courses, and the Red Jacket can arrange for horseback riding, canoeing, and kayaking. The property is located at 2251 White Mountain Highway (Rt 16).

Just down the road from the Red Jacket and right next to the popular L.L. Bean is Merlino’s Steakhouse (www.merlinosteakhouse.com), independently owned and operated by the Luciano family since 1967. Merlino’s features only Certified Angus Beef, which assures customers of the finest quality beef available. They also serve some of the finest Italian food using time-tested family recipes, chops and ribs, fish and poultry,

Merlino’s has a great children’s menu, featuring ziti with jumbo meatball, kids’ smoothies, hot dogs, cheeseburgers, chicken fingers and pizza. There is a generous assortment of appetizers, soups and salads. I strongly recommend the Prime Rib, which comes in six, 12 and 18 ounce portions. The garlic mashed potatoes on the side are delicious. As our waitress Deb pointed out, this is indeed the house speciality. It sells out most nights. If Caesar salad is to your liking, a large bowl will be brought to the table for everyone to share. Save some room for their key lime pie.

For shopping, the Settlers Green Outlet Village on Route 16 and the White Mountain Outlet Stores on White Mountain Highway attract most of the traffic. Remember, shopping here is tax free. Log on to: www.northconwaynh.com Santa’s Village and Storyland are nearby and big favorites with the kids, who also have outdoor waterslides, mini-golf, go-karts, museums and trains to select from.

Mike Cohen’s email address is info@mikecohen.ca. Check out his travels at www.sandboxworld.com/travel

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