Every Labor Day weekend for the past 2 years, Mike and I have been taking weekend trips to take advantage of the long weekend and to celebrate my birthday.
In 2017, we went to Boothbay Harbor, Maine, and in 2018, we took a trip to Clearwater, Florida. This year, we traveled to Twin Mountain, New Hampshire.
Having loved our time in Maine, I was super excited for New Hampshire. Despite me not being a nature buff, I do enjoy the outdoors that New England has to offer.
So we packed up the car and embarked on the 8-hour drive up north! It was a wonderfully relaxing weekend and the perfect way to end the summer.
If you’re looking for weekend trip ideas on the East Coast, consider Twin Mountain for your next destination.
Where to Stay
Mike booked a room for us at Carlson’s Lodge which is in the heart of the White Mountains. It’s everything you’d want in a home-away-from-home when you’re staying in the mountains.
Built in 1972 by Carl Carlson and his family, this lodge is still family-operated today. Family photos are scattered throughout, and sure enough, it’s a family friendly hotel, with a game room in the basement and tons of puzzles, books, and movies scattered throughout.
Carlson’s Lodge offers continental breakfast which we took advantage of while we were there because I love free breakfast. They had cereal, oatmeal, toast, mini donuts and muffin. For drinks, you had coffee, tea, apple and orange juices. It’s just enough to get you going for the day.
Whether you’re coming or going, you’re always greeted by exceptional views of the White Mountains. We were lucky enough to have a room with a view and I loved waking up to that site every morning.
Things to Do
We don’t have this scenery back home, so I wanted to soak up all the must-see spots.
The Basin at Franconia Notch State Park
By the time we got to NH and settled into our room, we still had enough time to do a short hike or attraction, and landed on The Basin.
The Basin is this giant pothole that was formed thousands of years ago. Surrounding it are tons of other boulders and bodies of water. It’s an attraction within Franconia Notch and it’s worth the trip over.
It’s a super easy walking trail and took us a total of 2ish hours. So many pretty sights to see, and the water is so CLEAR!
The Flume Gorge
The Flume Gorge is a super popular attraction. When we got there, we had to wait at least 15 minutes in line. It’s a two-mile self guided tour. You can opt to go straight to the Gorge or travel the whole two-miles.
Located within Franconia Notch, the Flume Gorge was formed million of years ago. The walls of the gorge are made of granite and are 60-70 feet.
Visitors can see all the natural goodness thanks to the Flume covered bridge. It’s so serene hearing the sound of the rushing water as you get closer to the Gorge.
Once you reach the top of the Flume, you get to see Avalanche Falls, which is a 45-foot waterfall. It’s beautiful!
Paddle-boating at Echo Lake Park
The views are incredible no matter where you go, and paddle-boating is the perfect way to take it all in. On a sunny Saturday morning, we paddled around Echo Lake Beach, which is a 34-acre lake. It’s incredible how small you feel when you see how massive these mountains are. The most serene part of it all is just idling on the lake. It’s the perfect way to start the day.
You can rent the paddle boats (you can also rent canoes) for $20 an hour, right on the beach. There’s also an $4 per person beach tag charge but it’s peanuts in exchange for some time on the lake.
Visit Downtown Littleton
As you drive into Twin Mountain, you’ll see how rural the area is, especially where we stayed. We wanted to explore other areas nearby, especially downtown areas, and we found downtown Littleton.
A historic town with lots of flair, downtown Littleton makes the perfect trip. Our first stop was Chutters, a candy shop which holds the record for having the longest candy counter.
You can self-serve many of your favorite candies, some of which will trigger instant nostalgia. I went buck wild here and truly felt like a kid in a candy store.
If candy isn’t your thing, there’s ton of chocolate and fudge to choose from as well. (You already know we picked up chocolate too!) After dropping close to $30 on candy, we bounced. I miss you, Chutters!
Before we headed to dinner, we popped over to White Mountain Canning Company because I love pickles and I’m a sucker for homemade ones. Best $6.50 I spent!
Hike Mount Willard
I’ve never hiked a mountain before. So when I’m told Mount Willard is “easy and rewarding,” I’m thinking this is going to be a piece of cake. It was a piece of cake – if that cake worked every muscle in your body and had you questioning if you’ll ever see flat land again (or maybe that was because I hadn’t been to the gym in 2+ years).
Despite my lack of athleticism, Mount Willard is easy and rewarding and is worth every ache and pain. The view from Mount Willard overlooks Crawford Notch. The hike up probably took about an hour, and we stayed another hour at the top.
You can’t go to New Hampshire without spending time in the mountains, and Mount Willard is the perfect place to spend your time. Do yourself the favor and make your way there.
Places to Eat
There are some gems we stumbled upon. All that hiking makes you hungry!
Munroe’s Family Restaurant
When you pass Munroe’s, your first thought might be it’s another run-of-the-mill diner. SIKE. Munroe’s is a couple minutes away from Carlson’s and since we passed it enough time on our travels, we figured we should check it out.
I ordered my go-to diner staple: a turkey club. Let me tell you how EXCEPTIONAL this turkey club was. It checked off all my boxes: perfectly toasted bread, quality turkey, fresh tomatoes and lettuce.
I couldn’t get over it. I wish I ordered a second one to take home with me. Even the coffee was better than average. This place was divine. 10/10 would recommend.
Beer lovers rejoice at Schilling’s which we found when we visited downtown Littleton. The place was packed, but it was worth the wait.
I ordered the baked mac & cheese. It tasted expensive without actually being expensive. The best part of our dinner was the view!
The weather was perfect and it was a magical way to end our visit in Littleton.
Pick yourself up a cold brew and live your best life. We only got the coffee but it was so good, I had to mention it. Plus, the bartender here told us about Mount Willard! Getting opinions about what to do in the area from the locals is a great way to find things to do.
Gordi’s Fish and Steak House
We went to New Hampshire for the weekend since it was my birthday. We don’t splurge on expensive dinners often, but it felt like the ideal occasion for a steak dinner. After some searching around, we found Gordi’s.
Gordi’s aesthetic had that mountain-y, lodge-y feel to it. Located about 30 minutes away in Lincoln, this steakhouse was serving up comfort food we were happy to indulge in.
We ended up splitting a Tomahawk steak (this thing is huge). I was a little disappointed that a steak so big for two people, lacked in the sides. But they serve you bread in as you wait for your meal so I wasn’t too hangry.
Our total cost for this trip was $1,025.80.
Could we have made it cheaper? Absolutely.
Here’s a breakdown of our expenses:
- 43% of total cost went to lodging.
- 33% of total cost went to food: this included prepping for the road trip by shopping at Walmart the day before, and any food we purchased while away.
- 12% of total cost went to transportation: this includes gas and tolls.
- 6% is activities: half the things we did cost money.
- 5% of total cost is souvenirs: this is an area that I didn’t want to spend a ton of money in, and we were conscious about what we were buying.
- 2% of total cost went to miscellaneous spending: this is for my mom who dog-sat for the weekend.
I’m disappointed that our second largest spending category is food. Despite my best efforts to prep food for the way there, we still found ourselves stopping to get food.
We also dropped some cash (well, Mike dropped it) for my birthday dinner.
Outside of the lodging, Mike and I generally split our expenses on this trip. We’d take turns paying for things to offset the cost for the other person.
Most importantly, the activities we did spend money on, didn’t break the bank. Spending a weekend in Twin Mountain can absolutely be a budget-friendly trip, especially if you’ve saved for it previously.
I didn’t have anything saved for this trip, and neither did Mike, but I have since started a travel fund because cash flowing our next trip sounds phenomenal.
When you’re looking for weekend trip ideas and want to get your nature on, consider Twin Mountain, New Hampshire. There’s so many incredible sights to see, and the mountain views are one of a kind. Plus, you can easily make this a budget-friendly trip!
Would you visit Twin Mountain? I’d love to hear weekend trips you’ve took! Let me know in the comments.
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