Summer Resorts 2003: Waterville Valley, New Hampshire


Don't expect much in the way of rest when you head up to this enchanted cul-de-sac deep in the White Mountain National Forest. Recreation? Sure. All you can handle.

Start by mountain biking along 60 miles of marked trails (some are lift-assisted), then segue into tennis (with 18 red-clay courts, you never have to worry about scoring a prime time slot). Golfers have access to a nine-hole, par-32 golf course. Any daredevil with a helmet and $10 can disport among the skater dudelets and BMX bikers kamikazeing their way around the elaborate, steel-plated skateboard park. The Ice Arena is just as cool and rather less daunting.

Head to Corcoran's Pond for a spin via kayak, canoe or paddleboat. By now you've earned some soaking time. You could hurl yourself overboard, or retreat to the White Mountain Athletic Club, which boasts two big (25-meter) indoor and outdoor pools, plus whirlpools, saunas, steam rooms and a cadre of much-in-demand massage therapists.

In the evening, tradition dictates that you mosey around Town Square, a cluster of white-clapboard shops and restaurants known to induce bouts of instant nostalgia. Here, it's likely to strike you-with or without the inspiration of a free Saturday night concert-that you've entered an alternate universe where every day insists on being savored.

•DON'T MISS The Town Rec Department's Monday night ice-cream socials ($3), where smeary-faced young schmoozers forge lifelong friendships. 603-236-4695;

•BEST DEAL The Summer Unlimited package, starting at $51 per person, includes a night's lodging, two hours of bike rentals, an hour-long boat rental, a weekday round of golf, unlimited tennis and admission to the Athletic Club. 800-468-2553;