Waterville Valley has been called the Shangri-La of New England mountain resorts, and the appellation is appropriate. Located in a beautiful, verdant, hidden valley totally surrounded by 4,000-foot peaks in the magnificent White Mountain National Forest, it truly resembles a mystical, harmonious place that appeals to all the senses of young and old, that visually conveys the inherent truth that this is a very different mountain resort and community.
One of the surprises is that this seemingly remote Shangri-La is so close and so accessible, only two hours from Boston to its own exit off interstate I-93. An easy 11-mile scenic drive with a gentle climb along a well-paved road through the National Forest, following a bubbling mountain stream immortalized by Longfellow, all the way on your left side. And all of a sudden the road opens up to a vista that often takes the breath away from first-time visitors: a gorgeous secluded valley surrounded by high peaks on every side. It is stunning, memorable, and totally unlike any other New England mountain resort.
Waterville Valley is not the biggest mountain resort in New England, but it is the only one that was master planned from inception, and it shows. The range of recreational facilities at Waterville Valley is extraordinary, not just for a smaller resort, but for any resort, and in many important aspects are regarded as among the best nationally.
In addition to winter snowsports like world-class alpine and Nordic skiing and snowboarding, Waterville Valley offers award-winning tennis courts, golf, biking, cultural activities and summer theater, an indoor ice rink, boating, and a skate and bike park. Lodging choices include traditional inns and all-suite hotels, and dining options range from traditional favorites to elegant eateries. There are miles of hiking and mountain bike trails, a pond for swimming, and activities and programs for children and the whole family at the Curious George Cottage and the town’s Recreation Department.
The Curious George Cottage was the former summer home of Hans and Margret Rey, creators of Curious George, the lovable monkey whose antics have delighted children for decades. A new film: Monkey Business – the Adventures of Curious George’s Creators tells how Curious George was born in the imaginations of the Rey’s as they escaped Hitler’s army in World War II. Margret and Hans spent their summers in Waterville Valley, NH. They were initially drawn to Waterville Valley because Hans was revising his popular astronomy book The Stars and needed a place away from the glare of city lights to do observation. They quickly fell in love with the valley and spent the next twenty summers there, writing, drawing, and charming the community.
Hans was a Renaissance man, versed in history and natural history, while Margret was a gardener, potter and photographer. Villagers and visitors were drawn to their little home—now known as the Curious George Cottage—which soon became an intellectual center for the town, hosting book clubs, discussion groups, and best of all, the magical opportunity to watch a children's author at work. When the "author at work" sign was out, children would come and watch as Hans drew new adventures for George or his other characters. At other times, Hans would take the children on nature walks and delight them with his talent for throwing his voice.
Today, the spirit of curiosity and exploration lives on in the non-profit Margret and H.A Rey Center, whose mission is to honor the Rey's legacy by recreating the experiences they provided: nature walks, literary groups, writers workshops, community gardens, gardening workshops, astronomy programs, discussion clubs, a monthly lecture series, art shows, and of course, activities for children. The Curious Kids program takes children and families into the White Mountain National Forest around surrounding Waterville Valley for learning experiences.