Gorham: Budget Beds, Low-Cost Lunches -- White Mountains travelers on a slim budget would do well to look at Gorham as their base for mountain explorations. This tidy commercial town 10 minutes north of Pinkham Notch lacks charm, but it does have a great selection of clean mom-and-pop motels and family-style restaurants. If you're planning to spend most of your time out hiking or canoeing, this won't matter so much anyway.
One of the best motel choices is the Royalty Inn, 130 Main St. (tel. 800/437-3529 or 603/466-3312; www.royaltyinn.com), which has a restaurant, larger-than-average, if plain, rooms, two pools, and a large fitness club; rates for a double room range from $48 to $154. Another good one is the Top Notch Inn, 265 Main St. (tel. 800/228-5496 or 603/466-5496; www.topnotchinn.com), with a nice outdoor pool and hot tub, guest laundry, and in-room fridges. Rates run from $49 to $169 for a double room, and small and medium-sized dogs are accepted in most rooms, with a caveat: No barkers.
For basic family dining, the Moonbeam Cafe, 19 Exchange St. (tel. 603/466-5549), serves hearty meals such as potato pancakes and cups of coffee; a visit to the antique bathroom (complete with pull-chain) is mandatory. It's open daily except Tuesdays in summer, and also closed Mondays in winter. The Moonbeam is fine, but Libby's Bistro (tel. 603/466-5330), 111 Main St., is the real culinary star here: Steve and Liz Jackson serve French-influenced gourmet dinners of duck, scallops, shrimp and the like that are miles better than anything you can get in North Conway. It's open Wednesday through Saturday nights. They also run a delightful cafe/food market, SALT and Friends, in a downstairs space during the daytime. It serves great coffee, soups, salads, and sandwiches.
Moriah Sports, 101 Main St. (tel. 603/466-5050), sells a wide range of sporting equipment (bikes, cross-country skis, rain gear) and is a good stop for suggestions on area activities. It's open daily.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.