High above the Israel River on the slopes of the White Mountains, the small resort town of Jefferson (pop. 933) is a good base for exploring the surrounding peaks and is home to one of the state’s biggest tourist draws, ideal for the truly masochistic parent. About a mile west of Jefferson is Santa’s Village (603/586-4445, daily summer, Sat.-Sun. fall, $32), with candy canes looming threateningly at the entrance, a Ferris wheel, a roller coaster, the Yule log flume, a “HoHoH2O” water park, and, of course, Santa himself.
Outside the town, along US-2 on a crest between Jefferson and Gorham, the Grand View Lodge (603/466-5715, $64 and up) has nice rooms and truly grand views. Two other accommodations in Jefferson deserve mention, starting with the historic Jefferson Inn (800/729-7908, $85-195), which has panoramic views and a swimming pond, right on US-2. A half mile south of Jefferson along Route 115A, the friendly Applebrook B&B (603/586-6008, $95 and up) sits on five acres and offers full Victorian splendor gilded with summer raspberries.
East of Jefferson the road ascends, the valley narrows, and the scenery becomes more spectacular with every mile, as the Presidential Range looms larger and larger to the south.