Your Guide To The Best East Coast Ski Resorts in the USA

Your Guide To The Best East Coast Ski Resorts in the USA

The best skiing on the East Coast of the USA tends to be overshadowed by the premier ski facilities you find in the resorts of the West Coast. There is plenty of variety and great skiing to be had at East Coast ski resorts. The best ski resorts in Vermont, ski resorts in Maine or ski areas in New Hampshire are snow sure and offer great skiing. Moreover, many of the best places to ski on the East Coast are within a few hours drive of major metropolitan areas like Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. After all the best ski resorts in Eastern US are the ones that you can actually access quickly and easily even for a weekend on the slopes.   

Best Resorts in Maine

So close to the Canadian border, you would expect ski resorts in Maine to have excellent facilities and to be snow-sure. And, your expectations will be met. So, what are the best resorts in Maine?

The resort of Sunday River in Southern Maine is known for its reliable skiing. With nearly 750 skiable acres, this ski resort in Maine has 8 peaks, 131 trails and 18 lifts geared for all abilities of skier and snowboarder. Sugarloaf ski resort in Maine is further north and has even more skiable terrain – a whopping 1150+ acres.

You get some of the best American ski resorts in the Northeast.

You get some of the best American ski resorts in the Northeast.

For beginner skiers and snowboarders, Saddleback is one of the best places to ski on the East Coast with extensive terrain away from more advanced skiers.  In addition, the ski and snowboard school is well-known for its low teacher-student ratio.

For weekend skiers, New Hermon Mountain is located outside of Bangor Maine. New Hermon has plenty of easy and intermediate runs set over 60 acres. More advanced skiers may not be challenged though. Also near Bangor is Shawnee Peak, the oldest ski resort in Maine, which is likewise one of the small but fun East Coast ski resorts.

Check out Tripadvisor’s opinion of the best resorts in Maine for skiing and snowboarding. 

Here to give you her personal experience of Sugarloaf, one of the best resorts in Maine, is fellow travel blogger, Patti Neves  at Tripping Unicorn.

Sugarloaf, Maine

Sugarloaf is a ski resort located on Sugarloaf Mountain in Carrabassett Valley, Maine. Providing some of the best skiing on the East Coast, It is the second biggest resort of Maine.

We stayed in a very friendly AirBnB, Mountain Village Farm B&B, where the owner raised ducks and prepared her own granola at home. We had also organic coffee and eggs from the farm’s own hens, blueberries pancakes and maybe the best oatmeal we ever had. There are plenty of nice cottages where you can stay in Kingfield – this area is just 18 Miles away from the Sugar Loaf resort. I highly recommend that place for a romantic get away and families.

The resort itself is really cool, there were amazing amounts of snow, and the quality of the snow was good. The resort has 34 green trails, 44 blue, 39 black diamond and 21 double diamond.
Is it good enough for beginners but also perfect to high level skiers. I would certainly bring kids there. The Sugarloaf season runs from mid-November through early May.

The night life was nearly no-existent in mid-March, so I do not recommend the place for party animals. It is, however, one of the best ski resorts on the East Coast for families with kids.

 – Patti Neves at Tripping Unicorn 

Sugarloaf Mountain, one of the ski resorts in Maine

Sugarloaf Mountain, one of the ski resorts in Maine (image credit: Patti Neves)

Best Ski Resorts in New York

Some of the best places to ski on the East Coast are in New York thanks to the state having both the Adirondack as well as the Catskill Mountains.

Fun fact!  New York state has 43 ski areas of which 10 are ski resorts.
The location for the downhill skiing events for the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics, Whiteface Mountain is one of the best ski resorts on the East Coast. Whiteface has 86 trails and 280+ acres of terrain and as snow sure as East Coast ski resorts get. Gore Mountain is also located in the Adirondacks and one of the best ski resorts for families on the east coast.
Greek Peak is also in central New York and is well known for being one of the best family ski resorts on the East Coast. With 38 trails over 220 skiable acres, 6 lifts and 3 terrain parks, Greek Peak has a good spread of choices for skiers of every level. 

The best ski resorts near NYC are located in the Catskills. Spread across three mountains, Hunter Mountain is a resort a couple of hours north of New York City. Families will love the snowtubing park at Hunter Mountain which is the largest on the East Coast. Windham Mountain is another one of the best ski resorts near NYC with 54 trails set over 285 acres.

An hour from Buffalo and Niagara Falls and about three hours from Cleveland, Ellicotville has two of the best ski resorts in NY: Holiday Valley and North America’s largest private ski area HoliMont. During the week, non-members can ski at Holimont.

Check out Tripadvisor’s opinion of the best resorts in New York for skiing and snowboarding. 

Here to give you her personal experience of Ellicottville, one of the best resorts in New York with some of the best snowboarding on the East Coast, is fellow travel blogger, Corinne McDermott  at Have Baby Will Travel.

Holiday Valley, Ellicottville, NY

We are very busy most winters with a minor hockey schedule, but when your husband’s from out west you find a way to sneak in a little ski or snowboard time. Holiday Valley in Ellicottville, New York, really surprised us. Seeing as three out of four of us are absolute beginners, Holiday Valley was the perfect place to learn how to snowboard as a family and they even have a practice chair lift to try out before going on the real deal.
Holiday Valley offers group lessons for kids as young as four, but even three-year-olds can learn how to snowboard via private lessons in the Burton Riglet Park. The resort is very manageable size-wise for adult beginners who still need to parent, and there are a number of ski in/ski out chalets available for rent.
We stayed in town at the Wingate, about a five-minute drive from Holiday Valley. It was a great place to warm up and crash at the end of the day, with lots of family-friendly dining options within easy walking distance, even after snowboarding all day!
-Corinne McDermott at Have Baby Will Travel
Skiing at Holiday Village, one of the best ski resorts in NY

Snowboarding at Holiday Village, one of the best ski resorts in NY
(Image credit: Have Baby Will Travel)

Ski Resorts in New Hampshire

With 34 extensive ski areas, ski resorts in New Hampshire are geared towards both downhill skiing and/or cross country skiing. The White Mountains of New Hampshire provide some of the best ski resorts in New England. There are 20+ ski areas in New Hampshire. If you have a mixed ability group as well as those wholike both types of ski areas, New Hampshire is a good option for you.

Ski resorts in New Hampshire cater for cross country skiers as well as alpine skiers.

Ski resorts in New Hampshire cater for cross country skiers as well as downhill skiers.

With one of the largest ski areas in New Hampshire, Bretton Woods has 97 trails over 360+ acre area, 10 lifts and 3 terrain parks. With 100km of trails, Bretton Woods is one of the best ski resorts on East Coast for cross country skiing.

Located just two hours away, with two mountains over 370 acres, 61 trails and and six terrain parks, Loon Mountain is one of the best ski resorts near Boston. Loon Mountain also has miles of groomed trails for cross-country skiing. 

Mount Sunapee, another one of the best ski resorts near Boston, is located just 100 miles from the city and is the most southern of the ski resorts in New Hampshire. It is considered one of the best ski resorts in New England for both adults and children learning to ski.

Check out Tripadvisor’s opinion of the best resorts in New Hampshire for skiing and snowboarding. 

Here are two fellow travel bloggers give you their thoughts of what to expect when you ski New Hampshire – at two of the best ski resorts in New Hampshire, Bretton Woods and Loon Mountain.

Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

Bretton Woods Ski Resort is located in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire and is New Hampshire’s largest ski area with over 464 acres of skiing for all experience levels.  Bretton Woods is our favorite ski area in New Hampshire, with its award-winning grooming and beautiful trails.  The epic view of Mount Washington while skiing is amazing.

This very family friendly resort has something for the whole family with excellent day programs for the kids as well as activities for the non-skiers in the family.  Bretton Woods offers gorgeous Nordic skiing, indoor rock climbing, and many more activities.  If you just want to relax and enjoy the scenery, Bretton Woods has an great bar and restaurant.  Skiers also get to enjoy food on trail, with an excellent mountain top restaurant on candy store on trail for those with a sweet tooth.

For the perfect ski getaway experience, stay at the Omni Mount Washington Resort.  This historic resort is breath taking to see and is icon of New Hampshire.  The food, services and extras at the Omni are the best in New Hampshire.

– Cathy Merrifield at Roar Loud

Lincoln Woods Supsension Bridge at Loon Mountain ski New Hampshire

Lincoln Woods Supsension Bridge at Loon Mountain ski New Hampshire (image credit: Jame Italiane Decubellis)

Best Ski Resorts in Pennsylvania

The Pocono mountains provide the backdrop for the best ski resorts in Pennsylvania. Among the ski resorts in the Pocono mountains is Tanglewood ski area, Big Boulder ski area and Camelback Resort.

Blue Mountain ski resort is one of the best ski resorts for families on the east coast located a mere 90 miles from Philadelphia to approximately 110 miles from New York City. It’s got good facilities for beginners and intermediates but more advanced skiers may not find Blue Mountain challenging enough.

A more advanced ski resort for families is Whitetail Resort. We have skiied ourselves from Whitetail Resort when we were visiting the Washington D.C. area. My children absolutely loved the ski school. Set over 120 acres, Whitetail has 23 runs ranging from beginners to advanced and great for a weekend of skiing.

Camelback Mountain is often regarded as one of the best ski resorts in Pennsylvania, not only for itself but also because it is one of the best ski resorts near NYC. In addition to skiing, Camelback has some of the best snowboarding on the east coast as well as the largest snowtube park in the USA.

Check out Tripadvisor’s opinion of the best resorts in Pennsylvania for skiing and snowboarding. 

I am partial to Camelback Mountain as one of the best ski resorts in PA because my brother has a weekend house nearby. Here to give a unbiased view of Camelback Mountain is fellow travel blogger, Marianne Rogerson.

Camelback Mountain, Pennsylvania

Camelback Mountain Resort in the Pocono Mountains is just a 2-hour drive from New York City. Although small, Camelback has a good choice of ski slopes with 37 trails ranging from green to double diamong and 10 chair lifts. There is a fun ski school for the kids, with magic carpet lifts on the nursery slopes. Thanks to more than 1200 snowmaking guns, you are guaranteed snow at Camelback.

For more fun in the snow, Camelback also boasts the biggest snow tubing park in the United States! It has 42 snowtubing lanes and is a lot of fun!

As it is so close to the city, Camelback can be visited as a day trip from New York City.  We chose to spend three nights at the Camelback Resort, which is super family friendly, with large suites available as 1, 2 and 3-bedroom options.

There’s loads of fun to be had here away from the ski slopes, with an onsite indoor water park with a wave pool and selection of water slides, a games arcade and an indoor ropes course. It has a choice of restaurants, including the ski-in, ski out Trails End, which is perfect for a hot chocolate (or something stronger) at the end of a hard day skiing.

 – Marianne Rogerson at Mum on the Move

Tubing at Camelback Mountain, one of the best ski resorts in PA

Tubing at Camelback Mountain, one of the best ski resorts in PA (image credit: Marianne Rogerson)

Best Ski Resorts Vermont

The best ski resorts in Vermont are among the best ski resorts East Coast thanks to its 20 alpine and 30 cross country ski resorts set on the state’s Green Mountains.

Among Vermont’s best ski resorts are such well-known names as Mount Snow, Stratton, Killington, Smuggler’s Notch, Stowe and Sugarbush.

Mount Snow is one of the best ski resorts near Boston. With approximately 590 acres, 20 lifts  and 86 runs suitable for all abilities. Stratton is one of the best ski resorts for families on the east coast. Set on almost 670 acres with 99 runs, 11 lifts and 4 terrain parks, unlike many other family resorts, there is a good spread for all abilities.

Check out Tripadvisor’s opinion of the best resorts in Vermont for skiing and snowboarding. 

Here are five fellow travel bloggers to give you their their opinion of the best Vermont ski resorts.

Killington Vermont

As someone who was born and raised in New Jersey by a family who loved to ski, I’ve been lucky to experience my fair share of the east coast mountains in its best and worst conditions. There is one that will always be my favorite for various reasons and that is Killington, Vermont. A ski town that is perfect for the advancing skier/snowboarder. The summit lies at 4,241’ with a 3050’ vertical drop and on a heavy winter season can provide up to 212 trails. You can easily spend the entire day on the mountain and not explore all its trails, opposed to some of the smaller resorts surrounding it.

There is a culture in Killington that is easy to fall in love with. The trek is well worth it, expect to see familiar faces each weekend from the surrounding states. Apres is not to be missed in the main lodge and is often carried out into town.

Surprisingly, music is well respected with live bands filling up the resort and local bars almost every night. When you drive down the main strip you have an abundance of mom an pop restaurants, lodging, and bars to take advantage of. They managed to make a popular resort town feel local and homie.

Our favorite place to stay is the Highline Lodge for homie cabin vibes and outstanding food.

– Cydny Voicechovski at Goal Traveler

Killington, one of the best ski resorts in Vermont

Killington, one of the best ski resorts in Vermont (image credit: Cydny Voicechovski)

Stratton Mountain, Vermont

Stratton ski resort in Vermont is known as the birthplace of snowboarding and is a well-designed, family friendly ski resort about 3.5 hours’ drive north of New York City.

There are some high-end lodgings available on the mountain, although rooms book up well in advance during the holiday season. An alternative is to stay in a nearby town such as Bennington which is under an hour’s drive to the resort with more friendly prices for accommodation and meal options.

The quality of snow at Stratton is excellent. Great consistent coverage and while there is no deep powder to speak of there are rarely any icy patches. The runs can all be accessed from the summit of Mount Stratton. Run range from double black diamond to green so it has terrain suitable to all levels including long wide runs allowing you to test your speed.

Families are well catered for with a fully licensed child care facility for toddlers and well-credentialed and long-established ski and snowboard school for older kids and adults.

For non-skiers, there is yoga, an indoor fitness centre with heated pool, or get a tour of the mountain aboard a snow mobile.

– Warren Dobe at Sling Adventures

One of Vermont best ski resorts Stratton Mountain in Vermont

One of Vermont best ski resorts Stratton Mountain (Image credit: Warren Dobe)

Stratton Mount Resort is located in Stratton, Vermont.  It is the largest mountain in Southern Vermont at 3875 feet.  Stratton Resort has a very European ski village look and feel with cute shops, cafes, and restaurants. 

We stayed at the Black Bear Lodge which is walking distance from the slopes with a free shuttle that arrives every few minutes.  We are very budget conscious and found it to be an excellent value for the money.

Our trip to Stratton came very late in the season and the weather was warm and rainy, yet the snow conditions were still good.  With an average snow fall of over 160 inches of snow, good conditions extend into to late Spring.

Stratton has a good balance of skiing over their 670 acres of skiable terrain, with trails for every level of experience and type of skier.  There are cruising trails as long as 3 miles, and over 160 acres of glades.  The mix of trails is 41% novice, 31% intermediate, 17% advanced, and 11% expert.

For the non-skiers in the group, there is tons to enjoy.  Stratton is very family friendly and offers lots of shopping and non-ski activities.  We recommend trying fat tire biking!

– Frank Parrot at Roar Loud

Stratton Ski Resort, one of the best ski resorts in the east

Stratton Ski Resort, one of the best ski resorts in the east (Image credit: Frank Parrott)

Stowe Vermont

Stowe Mountain Resort in Stowe, Vermont is the most impressive ski area we have ever visited.  I couldn’t help but say wow when we entered the resort.  The village has the largest amount of activities for the whole family, with shopping, dining, an outdoor ice skating center, indoor rock climbing, and an amazing day-care program for kids.  For the more adventurous, try zip lining or the tree top adventure tours.

We stayed at near-by at the picturesque Stoweflake Mountain Resort and Spa that has a free shuttle bus to the resort.  The whole area is cute and fun.  You can’t go wrong with any place in Stowe.

Stowe sits on Vermont’s highest peak, Mount Mansfield (4395 feet). With amazing enclosed gondolas, it is the best ride up a mountain in New England.  Getting down is even more fun.  Stowe gets over 300 inches of snow every year that contribute to deep snow depths, along with their extensive snow making.  Stowe has consistent reliable conditions on 40 miles of skiing for all levels of experience (Beginner 16%, Intermediate 55%, Expert 29%).

– Frank Parrott of Nothing But New England

One of the best Vermont ski resorts, Stowe Ski Resort in Vermont

One of the best Vermont ski resorts, Stowe Ski Resort in Vermont (image credit: Frank Parrott)

Jay Peak Vermont

With the largest natural snowfall in northeastern United States, Jay Peak in northern Vermont offers excellent conditions for beginners to expert skiers and snow boarders. With 79 trails, 9 lifts and the only Tram in Vermont, the skill hill uses advanced snowmaking techniques to supplement their already incredible amount of natural snow to offer amazing runs, including some amazing glades.

Over the past decade the ski hill has invested millions to turn the remote ski haven paradise into a world class resort. Open year-round, the resort offers something for everyone, including non-skiers, including cross country (Nordic) skiing, snowshoeing, fat biking and skating at their NHL-sized ice rink ‘Ice Haus’.

At Clips & Reels you can catch a movie the kids will enjoy while having an après ski drink or check out the virtual reality games in the arcade. There is also a climbing wall for those looking for adventure in a safe environment. Note: It’s best to book climbing in advance because it books up fast.

The 85-degree Pump House water park includes a 50,000 square-foot glass-enclosed water park with water slides and a retractable roof. This tropical paradise is also great for après ski with the kids. If your feeling adventurous try ‘La Chute’. Standing upright you wait for a countdown before the floor falls from beneath your feet and you fall 45 miles an hour through a chute… hence the name. Or if you are a little less adventurous enjoy a float along the lazy river or enjoy a drink at the bar overlooking the water playground.

There is a wide variety of options for accommodations including ski-in ski-out condos and a full-service hotel with 173-rooms, conference center and three restaurants. Having stayed at both a slope side condo and the hotel which is close to the lifts, we found the resort shuttle a great way to get around. If you do stay at the hotel, take advantage of the free valet parking. With numerous restaurants, bars, grocery store and more, you will find everything you need onsite. An added bonus for Canadiens is that they accept Canadian currency

– Peige McEachran at A Piece of Pie

Jay Peak and the stunning White Mountains of Vermont, one of the best resorts in the Northeast

Jay Peak and the stunning White Mountains of Vermont, one of the best resorts in the Northeast

Best Ski Resorts in West Virginia

You wouldn’t think that one of the best ski resorts in the east would be as far south as West Ve=t Virginia. Among the best ski resorts in West Virginia are Canaan Valley Resort, Snowshoe Mountain, Timberline Four and Winterplace Ski Resort.

Canaan Valley Resort is located on the highest peak east of the Rocky mountains. Set over 75 acres, Canaan Valley is compact but has 47 trails accommodating all abilities and 1 terrain park. Snowshoe Mountain is a larger resort yet equally suited for all abilities. Snowshoe is set over 250+ acres with 60 runs, 14 lifts (including 4 high speed ones) and 5 terrain parks.

Check out Tripadvisor’s opinion of the best resorts in West Virginia for skiing and snowboarding. 

Here to give her opinion of Snowshoe Mountain Ski resort is fellow travel blogger, Tanya Prater.

Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort

Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort provides outdoor recreation year-round, but this property located on Cheat Mountain in the Alleghenies of West Virginia is best known for their winter offerings. Less than five hours from Washington D.C., this ski resort provides fun for the entire family, on and off the slopes.

Outdoors, you’ll find 250 acres that encompass 15 lifts and 60 trails with four terrain parks and a Coca Cola tubing park, guided snowmobile tours and Polaris RZR Tours for an off-road adventure.

When you need to warm up, you’ll find restaurants, shopping, a spa, teen center, 15,000 square foot playground for children that offers bounce houses, slides and an arcade, a heated Snowcat tours offered at Snowshoe Village which is located at the summit of the mountain rather than the base.

-Tanya Prater at Travel Inspired Living

Snowshoe mountain, one of the best ski resorts in West Virginia

Snowshoe mountain, one of the best ski resorts in West Virginia (image credit: Travel Loving Family)

SPREAD THE WORD! PIN THIS TO YOUR TRAVEL PINTEREST BOARDS FOR FUTURE REFERENCE! 

This site generates income via partnerships with carefully-curated travel and lifestyle brands and/or purchases made through links to them at no extra cost to you. More information may be found on our Disclosure Policy.
Why Rural Ourika Valley Morocco is a Great Escape from Urban Marrakesh

Why Rural Ourika Valley Morocco is a Great Escape from Urban Marrakesh

In Marrakech, you can see the Atlas Mountains hovering in the distance.  I have always heard how beautiful the Ourika Valley Atlas Mountains were and my interest was piqued.  So we tore the kids away from the hotel pool and hired a guide to drive us for an Ourika Valley tour.  He took us to the closest villages in Ourika – Marrakech was just an easy drive away of about 50 kilometres (approximately 31 miles). Although the Ourika Valley day trip was easy to arrange, we felt a world away from the cosmopolitan buzz of Marrakech. Moreover, even though the Ourika Marrakech route is so easy, we also felt that the area was a lot less touristy than the city of Marrakech.

An Ourika Valley Daytrip

Life in these villages in Ourika Valley Morocco appeared pretty traditional and the outside world seemed far away.  On our Ourika Valley tour we saw people carrying their wares on donkeys, little children just hanging around and houses clinging to the cliffs onto which they are built.  With only a 4 day weekend in the country, we are glad we saw a bit more of Morocco than just the city of Marrakesh.

These little villages date from the 16th and 17th centuries. They are populated by Berbers who have lived in North Africa for thousands of years. During the time of Arab rule in the Middle Ages, the Berbers congregated in the Atlas Mountains. Most Berbers practice Islam now but they also have their own traditional culture, food and music.

A colorful beast of burden by the Ourika River Atlas Mountains

A colorful beast of burden by the Ourika River Atlas Mountains

On the less quaint side, you did get the hard sell from trinket sellers and children begging for money. My kids did ask why so many children weren’t in school as well.

Of course, we had to take the obligatory camel ride.

This little camel refused to be separated from his mother.

This little camel refused to be separated from his mother.

Ourika is great for hiking. Definitely avoid the summer months though because it will be uncomfortably hot. In the early Spring though you will see the spectacular sight of orchards and wildflowers blooming.

The Ourika Valley waterfalls are located near the Berber village of Setti Fatma but you will see smaller waterfalls elsewhere. We loved this Ourika Valley waterfall which our guide described as a Berber freezer.

The cooling waters chill this Coca Cola stand set in an Ourika Valley waterfall.

The cooling waters chill this Coca Cola stand set in an Ourika Valley waterfall.

There are traditional markets and bazaars in the Ourika Valley but we did not visit on a day when they were being held. You know how much I love markets, bazaars and souks so this was a real disappointment.

We did, however, get to visit one of the women-run Argan oil cooperatives that are located in the Ourika Valley. They don’t cultivate the Argan nut here but they do process it for making into oil.

That cobalt blue on the building of an Argan oil cooperative made famous by Yves St Laurent’s Garden Majorelle.

That cobalt blue on the building of an Argan oil cooperative made famous by Yves St Laurent’s Garden Majorelle.

A House In Ourika Valley Marrakech

We were invited into a Berber home in the Ourika Valley for tea.  I expect this home makes a pretty good living out of inviting tourists into their house because it was a seamless part of our Ourika Valley day trip.

This house in the Ourika Valley is built into the hillside and there are lots of little internal stairs. it was built on 3/4 levels and also a terrace from which there were amazing views of the surrounding countryside of the Ourika Valley.

The view of Ourika Valley from the roof top terrace of a Berber home

The view of Ourika Valley from the roof top terrace of a Berber home

I liked the colourful baskets which hung on the walls. Old tagines stacked in the corner give evidence of feasts past.

Inside a Berber home in the Ourika Valley Morocco

Inside a Berber home in the Ourika Valley Morocco

This one-person hamam (steam bath) would be useful for those cold nights.  You lit the fire outside and then took a bucket of water into the little hut and waited for the steam to build.  Very efficient.

A sauna at a Berber home in the Ourika Valley

A sauna at a Berber home in the Ourika Valley

Our snack was made in the home’s kitchen. It was bread with delicious butter and honey on the side for spreads.

Tea, bread and honey was served for our snack on our Ourika Valley tour

Tea, bread and honey was served for our snack on our Ourika Valley tour

The butter was made in the home from milk made by the family’s cow who also had his little room right after the house entrance but before you entered the family living area.

A cow made his home with the family at the house we visited in the Ourika Valley Atlas Mountains

A cow made his home with the family at the house we visited in the Ourika Valley Atlas Mountains

Piles of wood are stocked up for the wood-burning fires.  The walls hold the bellows to keep the fires burning.  Both the heating and the cooking used wood-burning stoves.

A charming scene in a Berber kitchen in the Ourika Valley

A charming scene in a Berber kitchen in the Ourika Valley

The Rope Bridges of Ourika Valley

We were fascinated by these rickety rope bridges which crossed over the river below – a very Indiana Jones sort of experience.

Although this particular bridge had a gate (positively posh!), many of the bridges were just boards haphazardly strung together.

A gate keeps this rickety bridge from being used by interlopers.

A gate keeps this rickety bridge from being used by interlopers.

In this case, the bridge was two logs covered in mud.  Handrails are for wimps!  When we went the Ourika River was quite low but this river can flow quite high and fast. For example, there are river rafting trips on the Ourika River.

The Ourika River in the High Atlas Mountains near Marrakech

The Ourika River in the High Atlas Mountains near Marrakech

Needless to say the children loved walked across the bridges. I was completely freaked out and made their father go with them! I could only stand by and pray that the boards were safe enough and ignore the rocks and rushing water right below their feet.

Clambering around a rope bridge in the Ourika Valley Morocco

Clambering around a rope bridge in the Ourika Valley Morocco

The bridges seemed to lead to private homes as well as restaurants and other establishments. I thought the rickety rope bridges were a fascinating glimpse into rural Morocco – a world away from the health and safety concerns of Europe and the USA.

I’m glad we got to see this different, quieter side of Morocco. It felt a world away from the hustle and bustle of the streets and souks of Marrakech. Ironically, we came back from our long weekend and had to deal with a broken down car. Usually we take a taxi to/from Heathrow but because it was only a long weekend, we left our car in the airport parking lot – with a light on which drained the battery.  Oops.

I was even more glad though of our respite from urban life in the Ourika Valley. City breaks are a lot of fun but we find for a real mental break we need to get out into nature for a bit.

SPREAD THE WORD! PIN THIS TO YOUR TRAVEL PINTEREST BOARDS FOR FUTURE REFERENCE! 

Why you should take time to visit Ourika Valley Atlas Mountains Morocco

Why you should take time to visit Ourika Valley Atlas Mountains Morocco

This site generates income via partnerships with carefully-curated travel and lifestyle brands and/or purchases made through links to them at no extra cost to you. More information may be found on our Disclosure Policy.

SaveSave

Where To Go In Central America and the Caribbean for Nature Travel and Wildlife Travel

Where To Go In Central America and the Caribbean for Nature Travel and Wildlife Travel

Are you looking for a winter sunshine break that has more than just lazing on a beach? My family can spend a few days on a winter beach vacation and then they start getting restless. When my kids start harassing me to play categories or Marco Polo yet again in the pool, I know its time to hit the road and do something active with them. We’ve started exploring Central America and the Caribbean for winter sunshine because they not only have great places for nature travel with kids but also have fabulous beaches.

Seeking Wildlife in Cuba

Cuba has some of the largest areas of unspoiled rainforests, reefs and wetlands in the Caribbean. Thanks to its repressive government, there wasn’t much in the way of unchecked growth and prosperity on the island never mind the mass tourism that affected many other parts of Central America and the Caribbean.

Fun Fact! Cuba has protected about 22% of its land by designating 263 different conservation areas which include 6 UNESCO biospheres.

There is more wildlife in Cuba than anywhere else in the Caribbean. There are over 350 different types of birds, 900 types of fish and 130 types of reptiles. Most of these animals are small such as the Cuban tree frog and the Cuban rock iguana. Keen fishermen such as Ernest Hemingway have always appreciated the waters off the coast of Cuba.

A Cuban rock iguana – possibly a face only a mother could love.

Among the places to explore for nature travel in Cuba is the marine reserve at  Jardines de La Reina, the tropical forest at Sierra del Rosario and the Zagata Swamp (home to the Cuban crocodile).

When you are done exploring, check out the Cuban beaches which are considered to be some of the best in the world. Cuba’s beaches have long been a favourite winter destination for Canadians and Europeans who do not suffer under the same travel restrictions as American tourists.

Driving around Cuba is safe and easy. Do expect though that you will not have much choice in rental cars and that it will be expensive. Unlike the popular myth, you probably will have just a normal car to drive and not one of the cool 1950’s car. There’s a wide variety of accommodation throughout the island to suit your travel style as well.

Nature Travel in the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic has attracted winter sunshine lovers for years thanks to its 400+ miles of white sand beach coastline. There is way more to this island than its crown as the most visited winter beach vacation destination in the Caribbean.

With 25% of the island protected by national parks and reserves though, there is plenty of nature travel available on this island when you want to stray from the beaches. For example, the Dominican Republic has over 160 types of birds and 50 types of butterflies.

Now you see the humpback whale, now you don’t.

The Dominican Republic has an extensive cave system where you can explore tunnels, underground rivers and caverns. One of the best national parks in the country, Los Haitises National Park, has something for everyone – whale watching, birding, hiking, and caving as well as spectacular beaches within its boundaries.

On The Lookout For Wildlife in Panama

Panama’s geographical location makes it special for biodiversity. With its location between North and South America creating a perfect meeting spot for animals from both continents leading to an abundance of wildlife in Panama. Approximately 22% of the land is protected by National Parks and reserves.

Getting the side eye from a Toucan

Panama has over 950 types of birds with over 500 species of birds recorded in the Soberania National Park rainforest alone.  It’s a total bird-watcher’s paradise where you can see the Harpy Eagle, macaws, parrots, toucans and quetzals.

Fun Fact!  One of the most powerful birds of prey in the world, the Harpy Eagle is the national bird of Panama.

With 218 mammal species, the wildlife in Panama that you could encounter include howler monkeys, spider monkeys, sloths, tapirs and jaguars. In the water, you have lots of variety of marine life – whales, turtles, sharks and dolphins.

Searching for Wildlife in Costa Rica

Although tiny, Costa Rica has over 5% of the plant and wildlife species of the world. The country has dedicated over 25% of its land to national parks and reserves. It really is a world front-runner in eco-tourism and ensuring that the wildlife in Costa Rica will be treasured for generations to come. In addition, since the country takes the impact of tourism on its landscape seriously, you have more assurance that any Costa Rican tours you book are well-run and environmentally-friendly.

The colorful red eyed tree frog looks like he’s been on a permanent bender with his bloodshot eyes.

Panama shares the UNESCO world heritage site,  La Amistad International Park with its neighbour, Costa Rica. The Corcovado National Park is home to nearly 10% of the mammal species in both North and South America. Among the animals you could see are howler monkeys, macaws and jaguars. There are over 30 species of hummingbirds alone in the Monteverde Cloud Forest which is a must-visit for any birdwatchers.

Fun Fact!  Costa Rica has over 800 bird species and 500 types of fern.

In terms of marine life, you can spot humpback whales about 9 months of the year in Ballena Marine National Park. Tortuguero National Park is a known nesting spot for sea turtles.

Belize Nature Travel

We did a road trip in Belize for 2 weeks around the holidays at the end of the year. It is a super-easy country to travel around because there are only a handful of main roads. In between the beach time we scheduled at the resorts of Caye Ambergris and Placencia, we spent much of our time trekking through Mayan ruins and hanging out in nature.

It’s pretty easy to immerse yourself in Belize nature travel. For example, the Belize Barrier Reef is second only to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It’s a snorkelling and diving paradise. Inland, national parks and reserves provide a haven for howler monkeys, spider monkeys, coatimundis and iguanas in the Cayo District and the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary.

A jaguar playing hide and seek

We spotted a Jaguar only in the conservation-minded Belize Zoo though. In fact, one of our best experiences was being put in a cage and having the jaguar free to walk around us – a sort of reverse zoo experience.

SPREAD THE WORD! PIN THIS TO YOUR TRAVEL PINTEREST BOARDS FOR FUTURE REFERENCE!

Where To Go In Central America and the Caribbean for Nature Travel and Wildlife Travel

This site generates income via partnerships with carefully-curated travel and lifestyle brands and/or purchases made through links to them at no extra cost to you. More information may be found on our Disclosure Policy.

Conwy Castle in Wales (+ 10 Other Things To Do in Conwy) For Family Holidays in North Wales

Conwy Castle in Wales (+ 10 Other Things To Do in Conwy) For Family Holidays in North Wales

For a small town, you can easily visit Conwy for a weekend because there is so much to do in the area. For starters, the must-do Conwy attractions are the medieval Conwy Castle in Wales, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Conwy Town Walls.  Among the other things to do in Conwy itself include both well-preserved medieval and Elizabethan merchant houses and the smallest house Conwy which has the distinction of being the smallest house in Britain!! The Bodnant Gardens National Trust property is a short drive outside the city walls. In North Wales, Conwy is in a strategic position (for both invading armies and tourists). Nearby there are the attractions of Snowdonia National Park and the Italianate resort town of Portmeirion. You will have plenty of options for things to do in Conwy for great family holidays in North Wales.

Conwy Castle in Wales offers dramatic views over the countryside

Conwy Castle Wales

Conwy Castle in Wales is the best sort of castle as far as many kids are concerned. It’s a huge crumbling wreck that they can explore. There’s no old-fashioned furniture and paintings to walk quietly through and so kids can let their imagination run wild.

Conwy Castle History

Castle Conwy is HUGE even if it is in ruins. It’s difficult to imagine how such a massive structure was created in just a few years.

Edward had good reason to worry – he did get trapped in Castle Conwy during a Welsh rebellion. Of course, to Edward just meant he should add another North Wales castle (Beaumaris Castle) to keep those troublesome Welsh down.

Peering down into the dungeon at Castle Conway in Wales.

Over the intervening years, Conwy Castle was alternatively ignored and then back in favour. The Castle played a part in the War of the Roses as the place where Richard II surrendered so that Henry IV cold come to the throne.

The numerous Conwy Castle towers are a fun climb for kids but I was done after one.

Conwy Castle was held by Royalists forces during the Civil Ward which was unfortunate when they lost the war. The forces of Oliver Cromwell made sure that the castle couldn’t be used for rebellion again by tearing down fortifications. The final ignominy came in 1665 when the last of its wealth was stripped leaving it in a ruined state.

As a big hulking ruin in a picturesque setting, Castle Conwy was beloved of artists. It had a history as a sightseeing destination long before it’s historical importance was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986.

Conwy Castle Facts:

  • In the late 13th century Conwy Castle North Wales and the Conwy walls together cost about £15,000 (about £45 million) to build.
  •  To put that amount in perspective, £15,000 in the 13th century is about 25X  the annual income of a wealthy aristocrat of the time.
  • Castle Conwy was built over 4 years and during the peak construction period,, there were about 1500 craftsmen and labourers working on it.
  • Dominating the landscape, the Castle is a rectangular shape with 8 towers and 2 barbicans.
  • From Conwy Castle you can see three sets of bridges crossing the river – the modern 1958 road bridge, the 1826 Telford suspension bridge and the 1848 railway  bridge. These bridges are all an integral part of the history of Conwy.

We clambered up and down and all around the Castle Conwy North Wales.

10 Things To Do Conwy

For a little town in Wales visit Conwy and you’ll have a choice of local attractions from the historic, man-made ones to the natural.

Conwy Historic Houses

One of the best things to do in Conwy is to walk around the little town and admire historic architecture. When you visit Conwy, history is all around you. You might as well embrace it!

When you visit Conwy the historic part of town is must-see.

Before the English, there were the Cistercians who had a monastery in Conwy. Considering they were a religious order who liked to be away from it all, they were probably a bit miffed when Edward I showed up with his troops.

Edward I suggested the monks move somewhere more peaceful. They left behind the Abbey church (now the Church of St. Mary) which was used by the English. Conwy was created as an English town.

Aberconwy House, on the High Street, is a National Trust property and another thing to do in Conwy. It’s the town’s only surviving medieval merchant house and has some interesting exhibits.

Fast forward a couple of hundred years to 1576 and Queen Elizabeth I who decided to move the reconfigure the Dublin to London postal route. Conwy was designated an official postal station.

Plas Mawr is an Elizabethan-era Merchant House that you can visit which is also located on the High Street. Honestly, the town of Conwy is THAT small. It was the home of the wealthy Wyn family in the 16th century.

Fast forward more to 1800 and after the unification of England and Ireland, London decided they really did need better mail service to Dublin. Unfortunately the River Conwy was known to be dangerous during bad weather. For example, on Christmas Day 1806, the Irish Ferry capsized and killed 13 of the 15 passengers on board. Thomas Telford built the first suspension bridge in 1826.

In the 19th century, Conwy thrived as a port town, part of the shipping lanes among Ireland, Scotland, Liverpool and even as far away as the Baltics.

Castle Hotel Conwy

Since 1770 there’s been an inn at the site where the Castle Hotel Conwy stands today.. Somewhere in the 19th century, the Harp Inn became the Conwy Castle Hotel. The grander Castle Conwy hotel doubed in size to take over a couple of nearby buildings, including a pub. The Castle Hotel Conwy changed designations from a mere Inn to the slightly grander-sounding hotel. Adding to its glory, the Castle Conwy Hotel also got the distinction of being an official stop on the Royal Mail coach service.

Although it looks older, the neo-Jacobean grand facade of the Conway Castle Hotel was created only in the 1890’s. The history of the Castle Hotel Conwy is intertwined with that of the town of Conwy. This hotel in Conwy has hosted Royal visitors and the architects of Conwy’s bridges as well as been the place for major town celebrations.

Smallest House Conwy

Located in Conwy harbour, the smallest house in Conwy is seriously charming and absolutely tiny. The four of us in our family couldn’t fit in there standing as my son found out when he hit his head on the staircase in the jostle.

Smallest House Conwy is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the smallest house in Great Britain. It is only 6 feet wide and just over 10 feet high. And, in that height they managed to get in a sleeping loft! No vaulted ceilings here though.

Why would anyone build a house this small? Probably because they didn’t have a choice. The town is wedged in-between the sea and the city walls and space is at a premium.

There was actually a fisherman living in the smallest house Conwy until 1900. And he was 6’3” tall! He had a roof over his head, an outhouse in the rear and an easy commute into work.

Smallest House Conwy – one of the most popular things to do Conwy

The town authorities decided that the house was uninhabitable in 1900. A local newspaper took up the cause to save it when they undertook a search to see if it was indeed the smallest house in Britain. Today smallest house Conwy  is one of the biggest Conwy attractions in complete disproportion to its actual size..

Conwy Mussel Museum

One of the quirkier Conwy attractions is the Conwy Mussel Musem. This small museum  is also on Conway Quay and free to visit. Conwy has been a site of pearl fishing since the Romans stumbled into Wales.

One of the largest pearls found in the area was sent to Charles II’s wife, Catherine of Braganza (she who had the flower beds from Green Park in London removed to stop her husband picking flowers for his mistress). This Conwy pearl is still supposed to be in the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London.

Fun Fact! In the 19th century, Conwy would send over 4 kilos of pearls a week to London jewellers. Pearls didn’t start being more freely available until Mikimoto started cultured pearls in 1893. 

Conwy Suspension Bridge and Toll House

If you are looking for what to do in Conway with your National Trust membership, go check out the Conwy Suspension Bridge and Toll House. It was one of the first suspension bridges built in the world.

From Conwy Castle, you can see all 3 bridges that span the River Conwy lined up side by side.

Conwy Quay

Conwy Quay is a great place to just sit and absorb the town life around you. There are great views over the boats and the harbour and plenty of people-watching opportunities, too. The smallest house Conwy and the Mussel Museum are both located on the Quay.

Conwy Town Walls

Among the best things to do in Conwy is walk the medieval Conwy town walls which encircle the town. You can even walk most the way.

Little houses tucked inside Conwy town walls.

King Edward I also had the Conwy town walls built at the time he had his castle built. Conwy town walls are some of the best preserved medieval walls in Europe. These walls haven’t had the heavy restoration seen at Carcassone. They are great for kids similar to the city walls in Tossa Del Mar in the Costa Brava Spain.

In Edward’s day, the town walls were meant to protect Conwy, an English town. The Welsh were allowed inside the walls once a week to bring their goods to market.

Conwy Nature Reserve

Conwy Nature Reserve is a wetland run by the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) Created out of the landfill from a nearby road tunnel, the Conwy Nature Reserve is a great family walk where children can get muddy looking for wildlife, such as birds and frogs. There are three separate trails  at the Conwy Nature Reserve you can take (that range from a short 1/3 of a mile t o the longest which is 2 miles long).

Bodnant Gardens National Trust

We were lucky enough to visit Bodnant Gardens. a National Trust Garden when their spectacular Laburnum Arch was in bloom. And, it really was stunning. The Bodnant Gardens National Trust is good for walks on a nice day.

The Laburnum arch at the Bodnant Gardens National Trust property

Nearby, there is the Bodnant Welsh Food centre has excellent tea rooms and restaurant. It also provides accommodation at the Furnace Farmhouse.

Llandudno

Llandudno is the Victorian resort town across the estuary from the town of Conwy. There’s the ruins of Degannwy Castle which was a stronghold of the Welsh princes. Edward II was having none of that and stripped Degannwy to build Conwy Castle.

A sculpture; in Conwy Castle pays homage to Lllewylln the Great, one of the hero Princes of Wales.

Visit Conwy: The Practicalities

Conwy attractions range from very large to very small! In North Wales, Conwy is definitely a must-visit if only for the Castle Conwy. Yet, I feel if you miss out on some of the other things to do in Conwy, such as the smallest house Conwy and the Conwy town walls, you’ will miss out on some cool Conwy attractions. For a longer visit, here are some suggestions for accommodation in Conwy and/or restaurants in Conwy.

Check out the TripAdvisor Conwy reviews.

Accommodation Conwy

Accommodation in Conwy is limited as you can expect from a town this size.  There are places to stay in Conwy though that are outside the town walls.

In North Wales, Conwy has its historic town wedged between the Castle Conwy and the Conwy estuary.

Castle Hotel Conwy

Located where the old Cistercian Abbey used to be, you can’t get a more central location to stay in Conwy than the Castle Hotel Conwy. This four star hotel in Conwy has both single and double rooms and a whole lot of history.

Check out the TripAdvisor reviews for Castle Hotel Conwy

For the latest rates at Castle Hotel Conwy, here are a selection of hotel booking sites: booking.com  expedia  

The Groes Inn

Located outside the Conwy town walls, The Groes Inn has been around since the 15th century. This historic coaching inn is the oldest licensed pub in Wales. The hotel is dog-friendly.

Check out the TripAdvisor reviews for The Groes Inn

For the latest rates at The Groes Inn, here are a selection of hotel booking sites: booking.com  expedia  

Furnace Farmhouse

The Furnace Farmhouse is a four-star foodie’s delight. The accommodation is part of the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre. It’s located past Bodnant Gardens and so further from historic Conwy. It’s an 18th century farmhouse with 5 bedrooms. Wake up at the Furnace Farmhouse to a breakfast served from the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre. which is seriously good.

Check out the TripAdvisor reviews for the Furnace Farmhouse

For the latest rates at the Furnace Farmhouse, here are a selection of hotel booking sites: booking.com  

Glan Heulog Bed and Breakfast

Glan Heulog Bed and Breakfast is a super-cute B&B in Conwy. Located outside the historic centre of Conwy, it is still a short walk into town. There are 6 bedrooms including two that can be joined to create a family room for four people

Check out the TripAdvisor reviews for Glan Heulog Bed and Breakfast.

For the latest rates at Glan Heulog B&B, here are a selection of hotel booking sites: expedia  

Pubs and Restaurants Conwy

Here are some great places to eat in Conwy. The pubs are dog-friendly and kid-friendly so that’s good for a sit-down when you need a break.

Bodnant Welsh Food Centre

The Bondnant Welsh Food Centre has both tea rooms as well as the Hayloft Restaurant and Bar. The Furnace Tea Rooms are set in the old stables and overlook Conwy estuary. It’s open for tea, snacks and light lunches. There’s a cookery school with both day and residential courses similar to River Cottage in England. Hayloft Restaurant is the fine-dining gourmet restaurant.

Fish at the Hayloft Restaurant – a great place to eat in Conwy

Castle Hotel Conwy restaurant

The Castle Hotel Conwy restaurant also serves local Welsh food. You can also have afternoon tea at this hotel in Conwy.

Fun Fact!   The Conwy Castle Hotel restaurant served lunch to a young teenage Princess Victoria in 1832 during a visit to North Wales.

Liverpool Arms

The Liverpool Arms is located on Conwy Quay. It’s got great views over the estuary and gets crowded thanks to that feature.

The Liverpool Arms pub is located in a prime position for observing life on Conwy Quay

The Albion Ale House

The Albion Ale House is a 1920’s pub that serves local beer. It serves no food (just nibbles). Why is on this list? It’s won a bunch of awards for being the best pub in North Wales. And, it’s now really rare to find a pub that just serves beer. You can find the Albion Ale House on Uppergate Street inside the walled town of Conwy.

SPREAD THE WORD! PIN THIS TO YOUR TRAVEL PINTEREST BOARDS FOR FUTURE REFERENCE!

Conwy Castle in Wales (+ 10 Other Things To Do in Conwy) For Family Holidays in North Wales

Conwy Castle in Wales (+ 10 Other Things To Do in Conwy) For Family Holidays in North Wales

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This site generates income via partnerships with carefully-curated travel and lifestyle brands and/or purchases made through links to them at no extra cost to you. More information may be found on our Disclosure Policy.

Portmeirion Village: The Italianate Resort Not To Miss in Portmeirion Wales

Portmeirion Village: The Italianate Resort Not To Miss in Portmeirion Wales

Stepping into Portmeirion in Wales was like crossing the border into a fantasyland. Impossibly pretty and somewhat unreal. I knew I was still in Britain (cloudy skies, chill in the air) but the colors and architecture of Portmeiron village were the pastel-candy hues I associated with the Mediterranean (and gelato!). Of course, Portmeirion Wales had to be the creation of a rich English architect. I can imagine Portmeirion Italian village is exactly Prince Charles’ cup of tea – pretty and traditional. Despite our misgivings, we were charmed by the idyllic location of the Portmeirion Hotel located on the edge of the water, the Portmeirion cottages sprinkled throughout the village and the little green Portmeirion train chugging through the woodland. You’d have to be a real grump not to be enveloped in this Italian coastal fantasy.

Portemeirion History

The grand vision of architect Clough Wiliam-Ellis, Portmerion village was built as an homage to his love of another coastal village, Portofino in Italy.  He wanted to show how to develop an area while still keeping it beautiful. Built over 50 years (1925-1975), the entirety of Portmeiion village is Grade II listed.

The Portmeirion entry free goes towards the upkeep of Portmeirion Village.

Lonely Planet listed Portmeirion in Wales as a top destination on its Ultimate Travelist for the entire world. It gets over 200,000 visitors every year!

Portmeirion Italian village in style, but the British crest lets you know where you are.

Frank Lloyd Wright (of Welsh ancestry) came to visit Portmeirion Wales in 1956. Needless to say, it is a very popular place for weddings and other celebrations in North Wales.

Somehow the pastel colors of sun-drenched Italy still works in somewhat grey North Wales.

Things To Do In Portmeirion Wales

You won’t run out of things to do in Portmeirion Wales. With its  its close proximity to Snowdonia National Park, even the most hard-core outdoors person will find themselves happily occupied. With so many things to do in Portmerion Wales both in the village complex as well as outside, Portmeirion in Wales is a great destination for a multi-generational holiday.

Check out the reviews for Portmeirion on TripAdvisor.

The Portmeirion map shows how convenient the whole site is.

Walks

Portmeiron in Wales is set amongst 70 acres of forests set with 20 miles of walking paths for communing with nature. In addition to the general walks, there are specific coastal walks and woodland walks, each of which would take you about 30-40 minutes.

Woodland walks in Portmeirion, North Wales

During the summer months a little Portmeirion train goes on a tour of the woodland.

The sweet little Portmeirion train.

Explore Portmeirion in Wales on your own and there are charming little treasures hidden for you to find in its woodland, like a Dog Cemetery and a Chinese Lake with its little blue pagoda.

Doesn’t this red bridge just pop amidst the woodland setting?

Fun Fact!  There are 70 varieties of Rhodoendron planted at Portmeirion North Wales!
Set on a peninsula near Snowdonia National Park, Portmeirion in Wales is blessed with a good micro-climate. The Portmeirion Italianate village, however, still does not get as good weather as the Italian Riviera!

The Chinese Lake at Portmeirion because Italian in Wales isn’t multicultural enough.

Food and Drink

There is a good array of options for eating and drinking at Portmeiron Italian village for both casual meals and fine dining. The Portmeirion Hotel restaurant is especially known for elegant meals. Kid-friendly options at Portmeirion restaurants include a pizzeria and gelateria.

In Portmeirion North Wales, it’s gelato not the usual British Mr. Whippy soft serve ice cream.

The Beach

There’s a gorgeous white sandy beach that is created when the tide goes out at Dwyryd Estuary at Portmeirion Wales. It’s great for kids to have a play. High tide times are clearly marked so you do need to be careful. Down by the shore as well is the Amis Reunis a stone boat that children can clamber around.

Portmeirion Pottery History

Portmeirion is famous for its pottery which was founded by Clough William-Ellis’ daughter, Susan. She set up Portmeirion Pottery in 1960 so that visitors to Portmeirion Italian village could purchase souvenirs of their visit. Pottery is a very English souvenir!

Charming botanicgarden teacups available at the Portmeirion outlet store.

Portmeirion Botanic Garden is one of Portmeirion Pottery’s iconic ranges and based on 19th century English prints. Portmeirion Botanic Garden is one of the ranges available at the Seconds Shop, a Portmierion outlet store near the entrance. This Portmierion outlet also sells some of the newer ranges by British designers like Ted Baker and Sophie Conran.

Fun Fact!  Portmeirion Pottery is now based in Stoke-on-Trent, the home of British pottery. It now owns other big-name English potteries, such as Spode and Royal Worcester.

Shopping

There are several small shops to visit including a small well-curated bookshop, a boutique, an art gallery, and a Welsh products store. You know Portmeirion Italian village is geared towards multi-generational visitors because there are lots of things a doting grandparent/aunt/uncle etc would buy for children.

All the fresh air and exercise means you deserve a cup of tea (in Portmeirion Botanic Garden cups naturally) and a scone.

Mermaid Spa

The Mermaid Spa has a full-range of wellness facilities and vegan, all-natural treatment options. It’s location gives a divine view over the estauary below.

A view of the estuary through the trees at Portmeirion in Wales.

Portmeirion Festival

Every June, the Portmeirion Festival turns the Portmeirion Italianate village turns into a festival fantasy land with Festival No. 6. The name for the Portmeirion festival comes from the British cult TV show, The Prisoner, which was filmed in Portmeirion.

Human chess is played at the Portmeirion Festival in a nod to a scene from The Prisoner.

The Portmeirion festival has musical gigs, arts and cultural events, family-friendly activities, and even a street food village. Everything at the Portmierion festival isn’t all clean-cut health and well-being though – there’s a rave in the wood for your hard-core partiers.

Portmeirion Accommodation

Portmeiron is a perfect place to stay since pretty much the entire village is either self-catering cottages or hotel rooms. Plenty of people visit Portmeirion for a day trip. If you stay in Portmeirion accommodation though you will have the run of the place long after the tourists are gone.

The hotels all offer parking. You definitely need a car to appreciate this part of Wales.

Accommodation in Portmeirion

You have two choices for accommodation in Portmeirion. Both four-star hotels in Portmerion Wales have family-friendly accommodation available.

Portmeirion Hotel Wales

The Portmeirion Hotel, is an adaptation of an old manor house. Portmeirion Hotel has a charming outdoor heated pool open in the summer months and a seaside location with a sandy beach by the main building. Hotel Portmeirion Wales is the brainchild of Clough William-Ellis himself.

Check out the reviews for Portmeirion Hotel on TripAdvisor

The rooms are spread out amongst the Portmeirion Hotel main building, rooms in Portmeirion village itself and Portmeirion cottages to rent on the grounds. The Portmeirion Hotel Wales can accommodate families in some of its accommodation. For example, the Portmeirion holiday cottages can accommodate groupss that range from 3-9 guests.

Portmeiron cottages are available to rent through the Portmeiron Hotel

The Portmeirion hotel restaurant is the acknowledged fine dining establishment for the village with its Art Deco interior.

For the latest rates at Portmeiron Hotel Wales, here are a selection of hotel booking sites: booking.com  expedia.com  Hotels.com  

 

Portmeirion Castle

The Portmeirion Castle, Castell Deudraeth, is the modern version of historical Portmeirion accommodation (if that makes sense!). Castell Deudraeth Hotel is a Victorian folly that’s been converted to a contemporary-style hotel. The restaurant at Castle Deudraeth feels more like a gastro-pub and overlooks a beautiful little walled garden.

Check out the reviews for the Portmeirion Castle Deudraeth Hotel on TripAdvisor

There’s a mini-bus that runs from the Portmeirion Castle and Hotel Portmeirion because the Portmeirion Castle is accommodation near Portmeirion but not in the village itself.

For the latest rates at the Portmeiron Castle, here are a selection of hotel booking sites: booking.com  expedia  Hotels.com  

Accommodation Near Portmeirion

Thanks to the compact nature of Portmeirion Wales, you may need to find accommodation near Portmeirion if the Portmeirion hotel options are booked.

Royal Sportsman Hotel is located nearby in Porthmadog which is 2 miles away from Portmeirion Wales. Rated a 3 star hotel, this accommodation near Portmeirion has 28 guest rooms.

Check out the reviews for the Royal Sportsman Hotel on TripAdvisor.

For the latest rates at the Royal Sportsman Hotel, here are a selection of hotel booking sites:  booking.com  expedia  Hotels.co  

Tudor Lodge is a family run guesthouse in Porthmadog as well. They have a range of rooms from singles to doubles as well as a separate cottage.

Check out the reviews for Tudor Lodge on TripAdvisor.

For the latest rates at the Tudor Lodge, here are a selection of hotel booking sites:  booking.com  expedia  Hotels.com  

Portmeirion Camping

Dina’s Camping, Glamping and Caravan Park is an option for you Portmeirion Festival goers who go the traditional festival camping route.

Check out the reviews for Dina’s Camping, Glamping and Caravan Park on TripAdvisor.

For the latest rates at Dina’s Camping, here are a selection of accommodation booking sites:  booking.com  Hotels.com  

You can find Portmeirion camping sites courtesy of this map from the Camping and Caravanning club.

Please note that there is no wild camping in Snowdonia National Park so stick to Portmeirion camping in legit places!

Visting Portmeirion Village

Owned by a charity, the Portmeirion entry fee charged at the entrance goes towards its upkeep. Portmeirion Village is open daily for visitors.

Exactly the architecture you’d expect from Portmeirion Italianate village.

You can buy day tickets (currently the Portmeirion entry fee comes to £11 for adults with a concession for children). Children under 5 go free. There are also family tickets (including a very progressive single adult family ticket option).

SPREAD THE WORD! PIN THIS TO YOUR TRAVEL PINTEREST BOARDS FOR FUTURE REFERENCE!

Portmeirion Village: An Italian coastal resort recreated in Portmeirion in Wales

Portmeirion Village: The Italianate Resort Not To Miss in Portmeirion Wales

 

This site generates income via partnerships with carefully-curated travel and lifestyle brands and/or purchases made through links to them at no extra cost to you. More information may be found on our Disclosure Policy.