An unspoiled paradise for outdoorsmen, the Franconia Region has abundant four-season activities that can be scaled up or down according to your level of expertise. In summer, the mountains yield excellent hiking  and biking , and the rivers call fly fishermen and kayakers to their banks. Those same pursuits continue through fall, but against a backdrop of jaw-dropping foliage colors. Then comes winter, when many argue the area is at its best: That’s when the slopes glisten with fresh powder, and ski resorts  fling open their doors, drawing enthusiasts (both skiing and snowmobiling) by the thousands.
The region is named for Franconia Notch, the V-shaped cut carved out by the glaciers that runs through the mountains for eight miles north of the town of Lincoln . It was through that notch that the railroad was first run through the region in the 19th century, bringing lumbermen and sawmills into the mountains and the Great North Woods  beyond.
It wasn’t long before the tourists followed; when the Interstate went through in the 1940s, the route became a prime attraction in the golden age of auto-touring, with family-friendly attractions popping up in Lincoln and around. Many of them still survive today, making the area a curious blend of natural beauty sprinkled with spots of garish commercialism.
To drive to the Franconia area, take I-93 north from Concord  to exit 26 for Plymouth  (40 mi., 45 min.), exit 28 to Route 49 east to Waterville Valley  (60 mi., 1 hr. 15 min.), exit 32 for Lincoln (65 mi., 1 hr. 15 min.), or exit 38 for Franconia (80 mi., 1 hr. 40 min.).
Concord Coach Lines (800/639-3317, www.concordtrailways.com ) runs a daily bus from Boston  to Plymouth (Chase Street Market, 83 Main St.), Lincoln (Munce’s Konvenience, 36 Main St.), Franconia (Mac’s Market, 347 Main St., I-93, exit 38), and Littleton (Irving Oil/Circle K, 366 Cottage St., I-93, exit 41). Greyhound Bus Lines (800/231-2222, www.greyhound.com ) also runs buses to Lincoln (Munce’s Konvenience), Franconia (Mac’s Market), and Littleton (Irving Gas Station, 326 Cottage St.).