New Hampshire’s largest ski area (by skiable acreage) is also one of New England’s—perhaps the nation’s—most beautiful. No one goes to Bretton Woods for the adrenaline rush, but not even the most hardcore expert can deny that those “front row views of Mt. Washington” are something truly special (No. 2 for Scenery). And in the foreground is New England’s fanciest ski hotel—the immense, turreted Mt. Washington Hotel, a century-old historic beauty from the White Mountains’ grand-hotel era. With its stately ballroom, formal dining room and lavish common areas, the hotel is a singularly refined slopeside experience. Bretton Woods also happens to be No. 1 in Weather, probably not so much for blue skies as for the sneaky storms that pelt the Presidential Range. (“They get snow when neighbors don’t,” a reader says.) Those storms explain the impressive No. 3 ranking for Snow—the quality of which is further enhanced by great grooming (No. 5). Weaknesses: Value (No. 30) and, as most readers note, Challenge (also No. 30). Mountain managers have worked hard to enhance the latter; readers particularly love the gladed treeskiing runs, even if they’re mostly low-angle. Families love the place too (No. 5 for Family Programs). As one dad says: “The candy store at the top of the mountain was perfect to keep the kids coming back the next day.”
Must Do >> Combine hard-core skiing with hard-core luxury: Spend a day skiing gnarly Cannon Mountain, nearby, then throw on a blazer for drinks in the Conservatory and dinner in the formal dining room.
What's New >> More glades this season: 30 additional acres, serviced by a T-bar, with a fire-warmed log cabin at the top.
Off-Hill Restaurant >> The Mt. Washington Hotel’s dining room is so spectacular, it must be experienced—even with kids, if they’re ready for it. Jackets required for the gents.