Free guided activities include nature walks, special kids' games and activities, wildlife tracking, hands-on natural history programs, GPS orienteering; and other introductory outdoor skills programs.
Family Programs and Amenities
The AMC is all about encouraging families to enjoy the Great Outdoors. Look for promotions such as reduced rates for kids and teens, and for special family-oriented activities. The AMC's Highland Center Lodge -- at Crawford Notch, adjacent to Bretton Woods ski area in New Hampshire -- is an especially good place for family programs, with an evening Kids Club at certain times of year for ages 5 to 12*, "Kids Zones" such as a games room and an activity room, free daily outings, a Junior Naturalist program, evening campfires and movie nights, and a “big mountain” style outdoor playscape.
Family activities might range from beginner family hikes to overnight stays in backcountry huts. An L.L. Bean gear room provides free "loaners" such as hiking boots, backpacks, fleece jackets, etc., and including kid-sized and toddler-sized gear.
Cardigan Lodge is another place with family-friendly features included free guided activities in the day and evening programs such as star watching.
Family Adventure Camps
Check the AMC website for the full range of what's available. Samples include "Wee Wanderers" (-- 2-night, 3-day programs designed for families with kids age 2 to 5), Family Volunteer Weekends, Multi-Sport Family Adventures, and Lodge-to-Hut Adventures.
Seasonal Theme Weekends
The AMC has seasonal activities and packages through the year, including Family Weekends with different themes. For example, on a fall weekend with a harvest theme, kids might see apples get pressed into cider. Weekend packages include accommodation (look for private bunkrooms with shared bath), dinners and breakfasts, and guided programs. Prices are reasonable, with kids' rates for ages 15 and under; rooms with private bath are available too.
The holiday season brings seasonal packages such as:
- Thanksgiving Weekend at the Highland Center and Joe Dodge Lodge: Northern Forest Heritage Days include three days of forest-themed activities; local musicians and artisans at Joe Dodge Lodge; colonial and Native American-themed activities at the Highland Center. Both weekends feature hikes and nature walks, crafts, music and stories, Thanksgiving turkey feast.
- Family Gingerbread Weekend, in early December: build your own gingerbread house, enjoy a holiday party, crafts, gingerbread cookie decorating, and guided hikes with an AMC naturalist. (Or do holiday shopping at nearby outlet stores.)
- Christmas Day Dinner, New Year's Eve Dinner: at Highland Lodge; includes a day of guided hikes, nature walks, outdoor skills programs, indoor activities, and use of L.L. Bean gear room.
This brief profile is meant to introduce this destination to family vacationers; please note that the writer has not visited in person.
*Always check websites for updates!