Winter World–you’re a wonderland!
Let’s build a snowman. Make a snow angel. Go sledding, skating, snow-shoeing. And on Saturday February 8, 2014, let’s get ourselves to downtown Keene, New Hampshire for an off-the-beaten-path Ice & Snow Festival. Make it a cozy couple’s date or bring the family.
From 10AM to 4PM, Central Square, Gilbo Avenue, and the surrounding area of this Victorian-era historic mill town will be decked out with ice sculptures like these!
Carving stations will line Main Street for an ice sculpting contest. Both professionals and amateurs–students from Keene State who have taken culinary ice-carving classes–will carve, melt and chip their visions into stunning creations using an array of tools (including chainsaws, chisels, hair dryers and hot plates). There will also be snow sculptures made by area civic organizations and non-profits.
You can help judge the sculptures, join a snowball throwing contest, build a snowman, or have your photo taken with the Ice Princess, Polar Bear, and the Snowman. Be entertained by musicians and train rides (for children and adults). When you get chilly, head indoors to the warming station sponsored by Life Art, for face painting, arts and crafts activities and hot chocolate.
Plan on arriving in Keene before noon on Saturday, February 8th. Eat lunch downtown and participate in the free festivities. Check into your motel/inn around 4:30. For the best travel experience, eat and stay at the places Ken and I prefer (based on our under-cover traveler-espionage visit a few weeks ago).
Budget-minded Family Plan:
- Stay at the homey and friendly Day’s Inn, Keene. General Manager Jim Narkowiewicz and his staff’s commitment to customer service have earned them outstanding ratings on TripAdvisor.
- Get lunch hot, fast and CHEAP at Lindy’s Diner on Gilbo St. Maybe you’ll bump into a famous politician!
- Have dinner at Timolean’s Family Restaurant on Main Street offers hot and cold sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, fries, salads, soups, nightly special and steak dinners at family-friendly prices. We were VERY impressed by the quality of food, service and coffee! Family-owned, house-baked breads and desserts, and most of the menu items are made from scratch. They get our award for **BEST HOMESTYLE FOOD**!!!
- After dinner, Bowl a line at Yankee Lanes for $8 per person including shoe rental.
- On Sunday morning, the DayBreak Breakfast is included with your room (which, to your wallet, means it’s basically free, yippee!). Eat a hearty meal including fresh-made waffles, hard boiled eggs, oatmeal, yogurt and fresh fruit.
For those who want a cut-above experience without over-the-top expense:
- Stay at the new LEED Certified Courtyard Marriott downtown Keene. Rates are reasonable, rooms are spacious, beds are comfy, there’s in-room coffee, a shallow salt-water pool and a fitness center, plus complimentary WiFi and parking.
- Lunch at: The Thai Garden on Main Street. The facade is shopping-center plain but the beef satay and spring rolls are very good. If you’re not accustomed to spicy-hot, watch out for those little peppers next to the main course descriptions. 1 is really hot, 2 is really, really, hot; 3 is really, really, really HOT! The majority of the menu items, however, have no peppers beside them. We first dined here in 1999 and have been coming back regularly ever since. Ken can’t resist their ginger ice cream.
- Dine at: Fritz’s- known for their hand cut Belgian fries with dipping sauces, grilled panini style sandwiches and made to order salads–is committed to using locally-sourced foods whenever possible. They have reasonable prices and offer half-portions of salads and sandwiches for light eaters (why doesn’t everyone?). Good hamburgers!
- Watch a film at the art-deco Colonial Theater.
- Sunday Breakfast/Brunch: Stage American Bistro has a great brunch menu. With comfort classics and upscale reinterpretations, there’s something for every taste.
And for live-it-up Tycoonish luxury (at reasonable prices because this is sweet little old Keene, New Hampshire, not NYC!):
- Stay at the historic Lane Hotel downtown with 40 uniquely-styled boutique rooms–not your great-grandmother’s stuffy Victorian parlor, this inn has been tastefully renovated to reflect a sleekly modern sensibility.
- Lunch at Keene Fresh Salad Co. on Main Street where everything is made-from-scratch-gourmet and they offer New Hampshire wines and beers.
- Evening: warm up in your in-room whirlpool tub (make sure to specify when booking your room that you want a jacuzzi), then while away a leisurely evening dining at Award-winning Luca’s Mediterranean Cafe on the Square. Enjoy some of the best food in town with European-style cask wine. Sip a nightcap by the delightful fireplace in your hotel before retiring.
- Sunday Breakfast/Brunch: near the Keene airport (where your private plane will be waiting for you, right?) you’ll find Papagallo’s Brunch Buffet, featuring over 50 items including a carving station, made-to-order omelets, pancakes & French toast.
After brunch on Sunday, families might take advantage of Keene Cinema’s special $5 Matinees (find specials under showtimes), while those with young children can head to the Cheshire Children’s Museum at the Colony Mill Marketplace for a few hours of indoor play.
And culture/history fans will want to take a relaxing drive to see and photograph the Monadnock region’s 7 charming covered bridges before heading home.
So, let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! And this winter, visit the ice and snow festival in Keene.
Which itinerary do you choose, and what’s your favorite thing about winter? (I call dibs on “snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes.”)