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Jackson: 8 miles N of North Conway

The gateway village to Mount Washington and its massive surrounding peaks, Jackson [STST] is a quiet place in a picturesque valley off Route 16, just 15 minutes to the north of North Conway. The village center, approached via a single-lane covered bridge, remains tiny and touches of old-world elegance remain -- vestiges of a time when Jackson was a favored destination of the East Coast upper middle class, who fled the summer heat of the cities to relax here in rambling wooden hotels and second homes.

With the Depression and the rise of the motel trade in the 1940s and 1950s, Jackson and its old-fashioned hostelries slipped into a slumber for a time. Then along came the 1980s, which brought condo projects sprouting in fields where cows had once roamed, vacation homes flanking the hills, and the resuscitation of the only two remaining grand hotels that hadn't already burned down or collapsed during the interval.

Thanks to its revamped golf course and one of the most elaborate, well-maintained cross-country ski networks in the nation, Jackson has found renewed life as a resort both in summer and winter. Though no longer undiscovered, it still feels a shade out of the mainstream and is a peaceful spot, especially when compared to the busy scene just to the south.