Ski and Shop

North Conway Really Delivers



Cowgirl boots by Old Gringo at Spruce Hurricane.

Photo by Susan Laughlin

Head for the mountains this month and settle in for a few ski-filled days in North Conway, the one New Hampshire ski village that makes you feel as if you are in the Alps. Even if you don't ski, at this "high altitude" you can go dizzy shopping all day.

Start the day with a family meeting over breakfast at the Stairway Café on Main Street. The Oscar Benedict (two crab cakes on an English muffin drenched in Hollandaise sauce) paired with grilled asparagus ($11.99) will knock your skis off. The café, which only serves breakfast and lunch, is a favorite among the locals.

Stan and Dan Sports has been around for more than 30 years and is still going strong. This is where you will find the most expertise when it comes to ski wear, gear and boot fitting. "We'll spend an hour fitting a boot to make sure it's as snug as comfortable," says Dickie Denney, who along with Stan, Dan and Donna knows most of the customers by first name. If you want to rub elbows with some of the best skiers in the area and around the world, if they're in town, then they're here.

Amber Dalton, owner of Spruce Hurricane.
Photo by Susan Laughlin

Look for luxury at Spruce Hurricane where owner Amber Dalton likes to downplay her exquisite taste for high fashion and great labels. Here you will find a huge collection of all things from Brighton, leather boots handmade by Old Gringo ($450-$600), fur après ski boots from Italy ($380-$500) and gorgeous coats from Elena Wang and Darling. The pale blush fox fur knitted vest by Dana Stein is pure indulgence; the line of luxe skiwear from M. Miller is romantic and reminiscent of a scene from Doctor Zhivago.

Cheeks a little chafed? Lips cracked? Fields of Ambrosia, 9 Norcross Place, North Conway Village, is the perfect place for all-natural, crafted-on-premises products for bath and body. Chap Guard, which is a protecting emollient, is good for lips, cheeks and feet. Look for RainDrops Muscle Therapy, peppermint leg and foot care, eczema and psoriasis skin therapy (huge mail order item) and so much more. The "Hormonal Havoc" hot flash relief spray is a big seller BECAUSE IT WORKS. I'm not shouting am I? I didn't think I was shouting.

Assets Jean Company is where you will find hip clothes for your "uptown artsy" side. Look for jeans by Miss Me, Rock Revival (more embellishments) and CJ by Cookie Johnson ($123) - jeans designed by none other than Magic Johnson's wife who saw a demand to fit "curves." The staff here knows how to fit all shapes and sizes. Amazing coats and long tunics by Desigual are artsy and make great conversation pieces. Frye boots, handbags and accessories abound.

Looking to find a television star or two? Look no farther than White Mountain Cupcakery where you'll find Kathy and Marc Iannuzzi, winners of "Cupcake Wars" on the Food Network. The crème brûlée torched-topped cupcakes along with the red velvet chocolate-covered strawberry cupcakes are sure to make cupid happy this month. The yellow cake filled with raspberry and topped with a dome of buttercream covered in coconut is ridiculous.

Visiting friends? Pick them up a little house-warming gift at North Country Cottage where you'll find an eclectic assortment of gifts and specialty food items, including beer bread (mix) in a bottle. The Red Nek-ware martini, wine, margarita and beer glasses made from Ball canning jars are a riot. Their wall toys - stuffed animal "heads" to hang over a mantel or in a kid's room ($13.99) - are hugely popular. Next door is the Handcrafters Barn, a two-story gift, home décor and cottage-style furniture shop featuring over 250 local artisans. Set aside some time to browse. The hand-painted colored glass bottles filled with white lights add a lovely warm glow to any room.

Just try to leave The Penguin Gallery empty handed. Seriously, shoppers, you are going have lots of fun and more than a few giggles in this eclectic, whimsical shop, which is much larger than it looks. The fun and kooky caricature wall clocks in yummy vintage colors ($59.99) are a great way to add personality to a kitchen or man cave. Gentle warning: keep the kids away from the joke and gag gift rack or otherwise you might have some explaining to do - good luck with that!

At the end of the day there is nothing better than a cold beer and burger and Delaney's Hole in the Wall delivers on both. Look for 10 beers on tap and half-pound burgers ($8.99) that require more than one napkin. And there actually is a real hole in the wall you can see as you head up to the door. Cheers!

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