A Christmas Getaway in Jackson

To mark the time, we spend a weekend in a town that celebrates a whole month of Christmas



Friday Evening

Stopping at Wildcat Tavern on our way through Jackson village, we were pleased to learn that the night’s “Very Special” was twin lobsters, so we munched on an Asian Sampler appetizer of panko-coated shrimp, pork wontons and steak tips in sweet chili sauce, before sharing the good-sized lobsters. A beautifully decorated tree greeted us as we checked into Christmas Farm Inn and the lights reflecting off a layer of fresh snow turned the hillside of cottages into a Christmas card.

Saturday Morning

The Sleigh House, our cottage, was good-sized, with two bedrooms separated by a living room with a gas fireplace. We walked through snow-covered woods to the inn for breakfasts of a three-egg omelet and Belgian waffles with strawberries. Jackson was in the midst of its month-long Traditionally Yours Christmas & Holiday Celebration, when businesses here and in neighboring towns offer weekend open houses, artisan shows and tastings. So we set out to join the fun and do some Christmas shopping. From first glance at the fanciful building, you know that what’s inside RavenWood Curio Shoppe will be interesting. It is, with dynamic designs and colors of Chris Paulson glass and Tom Servinte’s vases, whose shapes are as fluid as the swirling iridescent colors. As much museum as shop, this kaleidoscope of metal sculpture, pottery, even furniture art is sometimes bizarre, but beautiful and always original, every corner pure eye candy.

Lunch

This was not our first time in Jackson, so we already knew we’d have lunch at J-Town Deli. We ordered a bulkie roll stacked with rare roast beef and muenster cheese with whole grain mustard, and the Classic Italian sub loaded with Genoa salami, sweet capicola, ham, provolone, lettuce and tomato, seasoned with Italian herbs. Sadly, we didn’t have room for their famous cupcakes.

Saturday Afternoon

Our next stop was White Mountain Puzzles, where we found jigsaw puzzles for all ages and interests. There were 24-piece puzzles for tiny hands and 1,500-piece for fanatics, with themes ranging from illustrated maps of the White Mountains to bright collages of candy bar wrappers, cereal boxes or — our favorite — vintage travel and cruise ship posters. We couldn’t think of anyone we truly wanted to drive crazy, so bypassed the 1,000-piece, advanced-level granny square puzzle. Next door is Dutch Bloemen Winkel, a most unusual flower shop owned by graphic designer Carrie Scribner, whose floral arrangements are pure art. We left with a woodland terrarium, several beautiful letterpress greeting cards and several packages of hard-to-find Stroopwafels — waffle-shaped Dutch butter cookies with creamy filling. We were right there next to Backcountry Bakery & Café, and it was nearing time for a little pick-me-up, so we stepped into the warm atmosphere infused with aromas of coffee and buttery pastry. Cappuccino and a couple of toffee pretzel cookies later, we set out refreshed.

Saturday Evening

By now it’s time to board the horse-drawn Austrian sleigh at Nestlenook Farm Resort for a ride around the skating pond and through the woods to Santa’s Workshop for storytelling and a visit from Santa. Later, we join skaters to warm up around the bonfire over cups of hot cocoa.

Dinner at Christmas Farm Inn

The delicious braised lamb shanks I’d savored there before tempted me, but I resolutely looked past it (such privations go with the job). We began with crisp calamari, perfumed with Asian five-spice and Szechuan peppercorns, and a big bowl of plump P.E.I. mussels steamed in wine with chorizo for added zing. My lobster and shrimp with artichokes, green peas, roasted red peppers and spinach in white wine and garlic butter was served over fettuccine made here by Chef Stan Schafer. The Faroe Island salmon filet was crusted in maple and pecans, the toasted flavor and crunch highlighting the silky salmon. We lingered over our wine to make room for the signature Chocolate Bag. Dark chocolate replicates a paper bag, which is filled with chocolate brownie, vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. As if this weren’t enough, on top is whipped cream and Heath Bar Crunch. I feared that we would need to be rolled up the hill to our cottage.

Sunday Morning

We’re downhill skiers, but Jackson is the home of Jackson Ski Touring Foundation, so we decided to spend a couple of hours on the plateau trails, which are at a higher elevation with earlier snow. The added advantage of the plateau is skiing straight to the door of Eagle Mountain House, where Eagle Landing Tavern serves lunch on weekends. By then, we’d worked up an appetite for Eagle Mountain burgers, loaded with caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, applewood-smoked bacon and cheddar on toasted brioche.

Sunday Afternoon 

Knowing our muscles would ache after first-of-the-season skiing, we had reserved afternoon spots at Christmas Farm Inn’s Aveda Spa. After relaxing in the steam room, we were pampered respectively with a hot stone massage and the spa’s signature massage, with aromas of peppermint, vanilla and cinnamon. Thoroughly relaxed, we abandoned the idea of returning to Nestlenook for an hour of ice skating as the sky turned pink. We’d been so impressed with the food at The Valley Originals members that we decided to sample Red Parka Steakhouse in Glen on our way home. The pepper sirloin, coated in crushed peppercorns and served with sautéed onions and Jack Daniels-mushroom demi-glace, would have been enough for both of us, but I hankered for a sandwich of juicy, slow-cooked pulled pork. Happy choice, and I still had room for the night’s special — blueberry-apple crisp.

 

More NH towns and cities to explore

Discovering Strafford

Local holiday shopping is combined with history.

Community Christmas Events and Experiences

We may not wassail with bowls of punch anymore, but the tradition of celebrating Christmas as a community is still going strong.

Finding the spirit of Christmas on stage

A list of live performances from around the state for holiday favorites "The Nutcracker", "A Christmas Carol" and more.

A History Lesson on the Newichawannock Canal

The hidden stonework that separates Maine and New Hampshire has a story to tell
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