Some days – many days – I wake up to a very unhappy, wailing baby, then stub my toe in the bathroom, then spill milk all over my freshly washed shirt. And then the day goes on from there like my own personal comedy of errors.
But then there are those (rare) days – the ones I live for – where everything just lines up and the day unfolds with one stroke of luck after the next.
For whatever reason (I wish I knew!), those easy, perfect days seem to happen most when I travel. And we definitely lucked out and got one of those days when we went to Castle in the Clouds.
Castle in the Clouds is a stone mansion that was built on a mountain top in 1914, and it’s now a tourist attraction. It’s located in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire and offers incredible, panoramic, 360 degree views of the lakes and White Mountains.
Our first stroke of luck with our journey was that Trevor slept for most of the 1 1/2 hour drive to Castle in the Clouds. Being trapped in a car while Trevor is screaming and inconsolable is the worst thing, and it makes me want to avoid travel at all costs. But peaceful road trips like this one make me hopeful and give me confidence to keep traveling with a little one!
Our second stroke of luck was the weather. It was one of those blissfully perfect autumn days that – after endlessly long winters, rainy springs, and humid summers – we earn in New England! The air was crisp but not uncomfortably cold, the sun was have-to-squint-your-eyes bright, the sky was as clear blue as any sky ever was. The visibility at the top of the mountain was on-and-on-to-forever.
All About Our Experience At The Carriage House Restaurant
Lunch was – one word – heavenly. The Carriage House had a huge outdoor seating area, full of wrought iron tables and chairs, that took full advantage of the sweeping, panoramic views of the White Mountains and lakes. The shots above of Tru and I were taken from The Carriage House outdoor patio (there was also indoor seating available). The atmosphere was casual but still elegant. They were welcoming of Tru and had high chairs and children’s menus available. Chris and I honestly weren’t expecting much from the food at a tourist spot that already draws huge crowds due to its exceptional views. But everything – we tried a lobster roll, pulled pork mac and cheese, clam chowder, and a fall-inspired quinoa salad – was savory and scrumptious and addictive.
The View From the Top of Castle in the Clouds
Lucknow Mansion is located at the peak of the mountain, and a self-guided tour of the stone mansion is included with admission. The views are a photographer’s dream with gorgeous floral landscaping and sweeping mountain vistas that seem to stretch for miles on end.
Because we visited Castle in the Clouds in October, the whole panorama was also popping with vivid reds, oranges, and yellows.
My favorite memory was watching Tru crawl across the sweeping green lawns.
He was so happy just getting to explore outside.
What We Learned From Our Trip to Castle in the Clouds
- If you plan to eat at The Carriage House, arrive when it opens at 11:30 am. We arrived at 11:30 for lunch and were seated immediately outdoors with a prime table offering stunning views of the fall landscape. When we left an hour later, the hostess was telling people it would be an hour wait for an outdoor table.
- If you want to see fall color, check New Hampshires’ Foliage Tracker to plan your visit. This site is updated every few days throughout the fall with a “fall color report” by region. We went when the Lakes Region was about 70% color and saw lots of vivid reds, oranges, and yellows, plus remaining green.
- The Lucknow Museum Tour is worth the cost of admission. This allows you to go up to the peak of the mountain and tour the stone mansion. The views form the top are incredible, and the interior of the mansion is pretty fascinating too.
- No hiking is required at Castle in the Clouds. You take a trolley from the parking area up to the peak of the mountain. However, there are tons of options for hiking trails around Castle in the Clouds, so you could plan to spend a full day.
- Castle in the Clouds is great for families. There’s a meadow and pond beyond the parking area with lots of space for kids to run and play. Picnic tables are set up and there’s an ice cream shop open during summer months (not open in the fall, when we were there). Plus The Carriage House restaurant is welcoming of kids, and little ones will enjoy riding the trolley up to Lucknow Mansion and exploring the lawns and gardens.