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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

summer trips: Santa's Village & Story Land - Kate Smith

Kate Smith has some great tips for going to two of New Hampshire's most fun parks, Santa's Village and Story Land! I love her tip about not caring if you spend most of your day at one part of the park, if the kids have fun, that's all that matters! I love that advice! 

Also, did you know Santa's Village has a water portion of their park? Who knew?! 


More about Story Land, Santa's Village and Sesame Street Place coming soon in our summer traveling adventure series! Email me at if you have a story to share about a trip to these places. 

All photos from Kate Smith

1. When did you go to Santa's Village & Story Land? Who went with you?
For the last 5 years or so we have gone to Story Land every year. Last year, we added a jaunt to Santa's Village. We always meet up with at least one set of grandparents at Storyland and sometimes other family and friends. Although it's always fun with more people, I tend to enjoy a smaller crowd when it comes to amusement parks.

2. What did you do beforehand to prepare for the trip? How far in advance did you save money? 
Because this trip has become routine for us, I don't do much to prepare. I usually make sure I know when the park opens. 

Last year I priced out the weekends to get the best deal during a warm time of year. We ended up with a great deal on Father's Day weekend. Because I hadn't gone to Santa's Village in ages, I researched park prices, lunch options, directions.  

As far as saving money for the trip, I'd say I started saving (or saving by limiting eating out) about 3-4 months ahead of time. We live pretty modestly so small trips like these don't shake us financially. But I like to have spending money without the guilt so that's where the savings come in.
3. How much did your trip cost, including hotel, park visits, food, etc. (try breaking it down as much as you remember for us... $$ on hotel, for example, etc.)?
I can't remember how much it cost, but I do know we didn't have any deals on ticket prices. I want to say we spent around $150 a night at the hotel, Hampton inn in North Conway, which was a pretty good deal. Story Land allows coolers into the park so we always pack a lunch. We also packed a lunch for Santa's Village too. It's a great way to save money, eat healthier and not feel as guilty buying fried Oreos as a treat.

4. Where did you start researching for this trip? Any helpful Web sites, you used, etc.?
I stick with the websites of the parks.
5. Did you receive any special discounts, coupons, or have some secret tips to share about saving money?
Being flexible with dates is a great way to save money. We always stay at the Hampton Inn in North Conway. It's extremely family friendly and affordable. They always have a complimentary hot breakfast, so we save money there, and sometimes sneak some fruit to go too. 

Although it's not saving money, you get a lot for your money there. They have a small indoor water park included in the price of the room. Perfect for kids. Plus, they have a different craft or project each night for the kids. It's just more entertainment for your dollar.

6. Best places to eat, stay, visit, etc.? Things you encourage families with kids MUST do while in that area?
I'm always on a mission to find a fantastic place to eat that doesn't disappoint. Still looking for that in the North Conway area, to be quite honest. People love The Muddy Moose. My take? It's a low-key easy place for families. Food is good but nothing to rave about. Things to do? If your little guy loves Thomas the train, he comes to town every year. It's pretty special. Very busy to be prepared. But the excitement is pretty fun to be around. And you have to go shopping in settlers green. Lots of clothes for little money. Good way to buy for the next season and beyond for the kiddos.
7. Did you eat there, pack lunches, leave at a certain time and go back, etc.? 
Our usual plan is to start the day at the parks first thing, pack a lunch, and be back at the hotel before dinner to have time to freshen up, nap, dip in the pool or whatever to recharge.
8. What is your best advice for visiting Story Land or Santa's Village... pack ___ in a backpack? wear swim clothes? go in afternoon and go back the next day? etc.? 
My best advice to Santa's Village is to pack swim wear. They have a wonderful water park there that the kids love. They have lockers and places to change. So be prepared for your kids to hang out there a good part of the day. It's a nice place to relax, play and eat lunch.

9. Top 3 tips for spending the day at an amusement park with your children? 
#1. Go early 
#2. Be flexible with your time. So what if you spend the entire time at the treehouse at Story Land and miss 80% of the park. Did the kids have fun? 
#3. Load on the sunscreen and keep it on hand all day.
10. What would you do differently if you went again on this trip?
If I went back to Santa's Village, I would plan for the water park. Failed the first time around.
11. How old were your kids when they went on this trip, and do you think they got a lot out of it, remember it, etc.? Was it a good age span to go to this amusement park?
Last year my boys were 5 and 3. Both Santa's Village and Story Land are geared towards their ages. Some rides were too much or for bigger kids than my 3 year old. Even though they might not remember it, it's a fun little trip.
12. Misconceptions: Something you think people don't know or are confused by when making plans to visit Story Land or Santa's Village that you learned from?
Santa's Village is a haul. Or it feels like a haul. You think you're getting close when you're not. There are ok signs pointing you in the right direction or reassuring you you're correct, but the scenery is beautiful. Follow the directions and you'll get there. Just make sure everyone uses the potty ahead if time.

13. Best part about Story Land or Santa's Village? What did your kids LOVE? What was your favorite part?
The best part of Story Land for us is the antique cars and the treehouse at the end. We have created the tradition of starting and ending every trip with those two things. 

My favorite part is simply seeing the smiles on my boys faces. Can't get much better than that.
14. Anything else you want to add?
Lastly, the pharaoh boat in Story Land that shoots water out - that water is FREEZING. my youngest freaked out when he got wet because it was so cold. Just warning you. Have fun!

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