*Cape Cod Mommies received complimentary admission to Storyland and hotel stay at Red Jacket Inn in exchange for an honest review.
Mamas, what happens when you have a vacation planned? Someone always gets sick or injured before you leave or during your trip, right?! Okay, maybe that’s just my family! We were about to head off on another family adventure (part of our continued quest to fill the 6 week gap between leaving our old house and moving into our new place) - but this adventure was almost derailed! The day before we were set to leave, my 5 year old slammed her head onto a stone counter top and needed to get stitches. Aaaahhh! She is a dare devil, risk taking, high-flying, tree climbing adventurer. However, she almost always lands on her feet and has never had stitches before. Instead, her downfall was a simple slip in the bathroom with no high risk maneuvers! The ER doc did an amazing job and Fiona was very brave (though the medical assistant
whose wrist she sprained while he was trying to hold her down, may not agree).
Fortunately we were cleared to move forward on our adventure and the next morning we piled into the car and drove over the bridge and up to North Conway, NH. Armed with fairy and pirate movies the nearly 4 hour ride was much easier than I expected, and my cave in to technology in the car was clearly for the best!
Let me start this blog by first staying that Story Land and Red Jacket Mountain View Resort offered our website a free visit in exchange for an honest review. Now, I know what you’re thinking, every time I see that on a blog I’m like “Oh yeah, I’m sure this will be honest, bwahahaha!” But truly, I really, really am giving you my honest opinion on how this trip went and if there was anything bad to share I would share it, but there wasn’t - fortunately, because that might have been awkward, right?!
So, we were thrilled to be staying at the Red Jacket Resorts Mountain View Resort. Davenport Companies who owns Red Jacket Resorts is one of the Cape’s largest employers and I have been to many of their local properties, so I was excited to try out their North Conway hotel.
As we pulled into town, we spotted the hotel perched high on a hill. The grounds were lovely and the hotel picturesque. We were greeted with bottles of water and cookies and a warm welcome. The front desk staff also provided us with a very long list of activities being held at the hotel during our stay (lawn Olympics, Wii competitions, Ice cream at the pool, marshmallow roasting, and story time to name a few!). There is clearly no shortage of fun to be had at the Mountain View!
Our room was nicely furnished and very comfortable, but best of all was a balcony with the most
tremendous view of the White Mountains.
After quickly settling in, we hurried to Story Land which was right down the road, so convenient especially since the kiddos were not up for MORE time in the car. We arrived right at 3:00pm, this is important because
Story Land allows guests who enter after 3:00pm to return for a full day anytime in the same season. We planned to use our return trip the very next day!
As we entered the park, the kids squealed in delight at the surroundings! My kids are 5 and 3 and they are at the absolutely PERFECT ages to enjoy Story Land. The rides are exciting to them, they loved meeting the
characters, and the shows truly delighted them.
Apparently Sundays are the slowest day for Story Land attendance, and this proved true during our visit. Seriously, there were NO lines, we walked right onto almost every ride. Since we only had three hours on our first day (Story Land closes at 6:00pm) we focused on riding the most popular rides that first day when there were so many less people. Further down in this post, you will see my ideal Story Land itinerary brought to you through diligent research and personalized testing – you’re welcome.
That first day was amazing; the girls met Mother Goose, rode most of the fast, hair-raising rides, and generally had the times of their lives.
It was just enough time to leave them excited and exhilarated for the next day’s adventure. We returned to
the Mountain View and since we were all exhausted from our travel and adventure at Story Land, we grabbed dinner at the hotel’s Palmer’s Red Ridge Grille. It was very fast, yummy, and attached to a lounge with kids toys and children’s books, which was perfect for the kids to run around in and allow us to eat without feeling terrible that our kids weren’t sitting politely at the table. I have allergies to gluten and dairy, so dining out for me is always stressful and I don’t do it that often. Our waitress and the chef at the Red Ridge Grille were very informed and aware of allergies and cooked me up a big meal that I didn’t have to worry about.
We timed dinner perfectly because just as it ended, one of the hotel’s staff came into the lounge for Story Time with the kids. Sitting by the fireplace on couches, the staff brought cookies and the kids snuggled up to hear Curious George stories. After that we went back to our room for bedtime, where we all actually SLEPT, a true miracle for my kids!
The next morning the kids popped up early, I had my coffee on the balcony while I admired the view, then
we dressed quickly and headed out for our second day at Story Land. Knowing that we had already done the most in-demand rides gave us a little breathing room in terms of planning our day at the park. We breezed through a very short line for return ticket holders, laughing at the suckers standing in line to buy their
tickets to get in! We turned left to go towards the bigger rides, instead of turning right to go towards the younger play area. Most people turn right when they enter the park, so turning left helps you go against the crowd and spend more time having fun, less time waiting in lines.
Mondays, are also not as busy as other weekdays, but this Monday seemed to be more crowded than usual according to staff. The wait time for rides was still totally manageable and we spent the morning re-riding some of our favorites including the Antique Cars, the Bamboo Shoot (which you’ll see below my youngest just LOVED), and the Polar Coaster.
At 11:15 we had reservations to have tea with Cinderella. This costs a little extra money, I think it ended up being around $10 for each of them, but in addition to meeting Cinderella, it got the girls out of the sun for
about 20 minutes, let them have a snack, hear Cinderella read a story, and have some down time to refocus in the midst of the excitement that is Story Land. Best of all, the girls felt so special having tea with a princess, I was really glad we decided to spend the extra money.
After tea time, we visited the Oceans of Fun section of Story Land, with rides on the Flying Fish, the Splash Battle, and other ocean/water themed rides. Nearing lunch time, we grabbed some food at the Food Fair and
World Pavilion, which is basically a cafeteria style dining area with kid friendly food, hot dogs and hamburgers and salads for the grown-ups. I was pleasantly surprised to see gluten free food was available by special request, and I was able to enjoy a hamburger with my family, which was nice since I forgot to pack anything more significant than a Luna bar.
With full bellies we decided to go catch the Circus show. I was not expecting much from Story Land’s resident circus but it really was a great, fun show! It was about 30 minutes which is about as long as my kids can sit still for a live show and they had a fantastic Argentine family of jugglers who really were first class. They had us all cheering and screaming! There was a cute dog act, a woman with tremendous hula hooping skills, and finished with the return of the Argentinian family for some amazing high risk balancing and acrobatics. The kids were thrilled, my youngest loved the sparkly dresses, and my oldest found some new high risk maneuvers with which to freak me out. Again it was a nice break from the sun and the go, go, go of the park.
After we left the circus, my eldest caught sight of two characters, Little Red Riding Hood and Alice in Wonderland, walking through the park. She wanted to catch up to them, so we did. They were heading to another show – Fairy Tale Follies. I thought we should go try some more rides, but Fiona was really excited to see it and I have to say I’m glad we stayed. Because seriously, the show was one of the highlights of the trip! It starred Alice, Little Red, and Peter Pan (who you may be surprised to learn is actually my daughter’s brother. One of those mysteries of childhood that she has believed since she was about 4) So imagine her thrill when Peter Pan picked her to come on stage with him to help decorate for Cinderella’s ball. At that
moment the entire audience disappeared for her and it was only Peter and Fiona in that room. Look at this:
She is floating, she is so happy! Anyways, the show was short and sweet and my daughters loved it. Go see it! We then spent the rest of the afternoon riding our favorite rides, visiting the Let’s Pretend Costume Shop
where the girls each picked out a special souvenir, and making our way through the fairy tale section of Story Land. We rode the Pirate Boat, the Carousel, and the Tea Cups. We stayed until the very last minute Story Land was open. Upon leaving the girls were still asking to go one more day. They just loved it SO much and I’m so glad we were able to bring them at these ages when the park was the right size with age appropriate rides and attractions.
After we left we grabbed pizza in town at the Flatbread Company which was awesome! The waiting room has kids toys, a chalkboard, and cozy couches. We didn’t wait long because we had called ahead to let them know we were on our way and put our name on the waiting list - this is a great tip I found on the internet and was super helpful – seriously do it – (603) 356-4470. The restaurant is open and airy, with huge, stone pizza ovens that everyone can see and pizza makers throwing dough in front of it. The kids loved watching the
chefs work and the food is cooked quickly. The food is organic and most of it is local including the lemonade sweetened with local maple syrup – yum! To my delight, I ordered a gluten free, vegan pizza which probably sounds horrific to most of you, but to me was like manna from heaven. It tasted great and had delicious veggies. The rest of my fam had traditional pizza which they also enjoyed.
Upon our return to the Mountain View we were excited to see that we were just in time for one of the hotel’s great activities – marshmallow roasting! The campfire was near the hotel’s playground (yes that’s right, they
have an awesome playground) which meant the kids could have their marshmallow desert and then run off the sugar and crazies in the playground before we headed in to get ready for bed.
The next morning we had planned to check out Mountain View’s amazing indoor water park – Kahuna Laguna, unfortunately because of the stitches the doctor said Fiona couldn’t go underwater for a week. So, the water park was out. I did sneak in to take a peek at it though and it looked amazing. We were sad not to be able to play in it but it gives us a great reason to come back next year!
Instead the girls decided to spend the morning rolling down the hill with Daddy, while I packed us up and got ready for check out. The hotel has an amazing rolling hill, check it out!
We had breakfast at the hotel’s Champney’s restaurant where they had a delicious breakfast buffet. There was a TON of food and the kids were so excited – I don’t think they’d ever seen so much food at once and they were like “We can just TAKE that?!”. The waiter and chef were awesome again about my food allergies and made sure I had plenty to eat and soy milk for my coffee. So appreciated! We then checked out and said goodbye to our awesome hotel.
So often family vacations are not all I hoped they would be, kids end up fighting, activities that should be exciting just aren’t, and everyone ends up disappointed and grumpy. This trip was NOT like that, the entire trip was so much fun. The hotel was a perfect place for us to stay, so kid friendly and with so many activities for all ages. Story Land was even better than we expected. I felt like this was one of the first trips we took where it was all we had hoped for and even more. It was a great escape and we definitely plan to do it again next year!
So, without further ado, here is my North Conway/Story Land Itinerary for your future trip pleasure. First a few notes, I suggest arriving on Sunday, but you go ahead and do what works best for your family, I’m not a schedule taskmaster or anything. Also, I suggest spending at least one night there, I felt like two nights was perfect, there are loads of affordable hotels campgrounds, and condos to stay at in the area. I LOVED the Mountain View Resort because of the cleanliness, convenient location, friendly staff, and so many on site activities –I can’t recommend it enough. Another note – and this is an IMPORTANT one – most of the rides at Story Land (at least the fast, zippy ones) require you to be at least 36 inches tall. My 3 year old is 36 inches on the dot, she’s a very small 3 year old! If she had been a half an inch shorter, this trip would have been much less fun. Fair warning so you’ll know what you can and can’t ride on before you go, check out the list of attractions at Story Land.
Best North Conway Itinerary Ever!
3:00 – 6:00pm - Arrive at Story Land at 3 to enjoy the park right when you arrive and receive a free return pass for the next day. Hit all the rides that usually have the longest rides during early afternoons because the crowds have usually thinned out by 3pm mainly the Antique Cars, the Polar Coaster, the Bamboo Shoots, and Dr. Geyser’s Raft Ride.
6:30pm – Grab dinner at your hotel/campsite/condo, or if you’re not too tired at Flatbread Company (remember to call them as you’re leaving Story Land so you can get your name right on the list to be seated – less waiting is always good).
If your kids stay up later than feel free to grab ice cream at Trail’s End Ice Cream (conveniently across
the street from the Mountain View Resort on Rte 302). They have great ice cream and a playground too!
Day 2: (Pack bathing suits in case your kids want to wear them for some of the water rides and splash areas )
7:30am – We went to the Glen Junction Restaurant for breakfast and I recommend it, it’s cute with trains running around the ceiling and yummy food. It starts to get busy by 8, so if you can get there before hand (like we did because my kids wake up at the first, tiny hint of sunlight) you’ll have better luck getting a seat quickly.
9:00am – Arrive at Story Land and go through the special passes line with your free return ticket. Go LEFT at the entrance and enjoy the popular rides first. There are lots of food options available in the park, but you are also allowed to bring food in and there are many spots to picnic. Take some breaks during the day by attending the Circus and other shows at the park. Spend the end of the day in the right-hand side of the park where the crowds are now gone, since most people start their day at that side of the park. Ride the Swan Boat, the Carousel, and the tea cups at your leisure.
6:00pm – Story Land closes, head to dinner. Another suggestion that I didn’t have the chance to try is the
Red Fox Bar & Grille which is supposed to be very kid friendly.
Day 3 (if you’re staying 2 nights):
8:00am – Breakfast, head into town to explore some of the cute restaurants and stores. Peaches comes
highly recommended and the food looked delicious!
9:30am – Head to Diana’s Bath, which are a series of small, shallow pools with waterfalls fed from Lucy
Brook which runs down from Big Attitash Mountain. It’s an easy 6/10th of a mile hike leading to this great spot to explore rocks, ledges, falls, and pools. The pools are a bit slippery, so if your kids have water shoes, this would be an idea spot for them to wear them. Though we didn’t have them and we managed to have a good time without needing anymore stitches. Diana’s Baths are part of the US National Forest System and there is a $3.00 fee payable in the parking lot. We had a picnic lunch at the Baths, then hiked back down and changed out of our bathing suit into our traveling clothes.
12:00pm – Head home! Bring on the pirate and fairy movies!
So, I truly hope you go, it was so much fun and if you have questions or need advice please leave a comment and I’ll help if I can!
Cape Cod Moms