Imagine a hidden valley in the White Mountains with safari-like tents and log cabins dappled through the woods, strategically placed along the lakefront or a river. Watch a loon break through the stillness of the water from your seat on a canoe and fly off across the pines. You are engulfed by wilderness and in complete harmony with nature. This is what camping at Huttopia is like.
After searching for meaningful experiences for our kids and safe places to travel in this new pandemic world, I landed on Huttopia. Huttopia is an acronym for huts and utopia. For 20 years, Europe and Canada have enjoyed stays with Huttopia and they have finally reached the United States with locations in New Hampshire and southern Maine.
With all of the added screen time and zoom classes that quarantine brought on, I have been yearning to just unplug and reconnect with nature. We wanted to go camping, but the thought of the 5 of us zipped into a tent and running small children to a public bathroom in the middle of the night started to not look so relaxing. The packing and meal planning involved really overwhelmed me. Enter = glamping.
Huttopia takes all the stress out of camping. Your tent is already set up. There are actual beds to sleep on with an en-suite bathroom that spouts out hot water. Even the linens, towels and kitchen utensils are all provided. We just packed our clothes and hit the road.
I chose a trappeur tent that faced a river in a more secluded location (number 49). Look at the MAP and decide if you would rather be in the woods or where there is more activity going on. I would have jumped on a lakefront tent if it was available but they book up about 6 months in advance.
There are a few different types of accommodations to fit your needs: The trappeur and canadienne are both canvas and wood glamping tents with the main difference being that the trappers have en-suite bathrooms and the canadienne tents have a nearby shared bathroom. Chalets are similar to a log cabin and are good for larger groups.
There are a few parking lots that allow you to get close to your site, but not actually park next to your tent. This is great because no cars are driving around, but it does mean that you will make a few trips back and forth to unpack your stuff. Wagons are provided to help with this, but I brought our own so it was always on hand.
No cars makes it a much more peaceful environment and kids can safely ride their bikes around the campground. There are a few sites that will place you on a road with cars or facing a parking lot, so just take a peek at the map so you know what you are getting. Huttopia has done a great job at strategically placing the tents so that you have privacy.
When you check in, take a peek at the activity board. There is everything from origami to yoga on the beach. There is an air stream that was made into a food truck and serves coffee and muffins in the morning and a wide variety of pizzas for lunch and dinner. My kids tried their first crepe and were totally hooked. As a nod to New England, you can even get a crepe drizzled with maple syrup.
There is a playground as well as a rec room that has games like ping pong and Foosball. I was so excited, because Foosball is the only sport I have ever been good at 🙂
Our absolute favorite activity was renting a stand up paddle board (SUP) and heading to the beach. They can be rented hourly or for the day. There is a wharf to jump off and ducks that will eagerly greet you, hoping for handouts. The lake is so serene, I loved just laying on a blanket with a book. One day we rented a canoe and paddled across the lake when a loon popped up right next to us.
After the beach, the kids just want to move to the heated pool where we would spend another hour. The pool is right next to the food truck so James and I would get nachos and have a beer. Huttopia actually sells their own beer and it is really good!
We found blackberry bushes all along the road and the kids loved going out to pick berries.
Back at our tent site, we would sit by the fire and roast marshmallows. They sell the fixings for s’mores in the reception area if you forget.
Huttopia was one of the most pet friendly places I have ever visited, which filled me with guilt because I had left our pruppet at home. I don’t know how I missed the memo. The last camp ground we checked out had such a strict no dog policy, it just didn’t cross my mind. At Huttopia, leashed dogs are welcome everywhere except the pool. There is a $5 charge per night. Please, nobody tell me dog. He would never talk to me again.
This Huttopia location was in Albany, New Hampshire. With only a 15 minute drive to North Conway, there are loads of activities in the area. North Conway has great shopping, restaurants and even Story Land. We opted for outdoor hikes, which are plentiful in the White Mountains. Just drive down the Kancamagus Highway and there is a trailhead every couple of miles.
If you have older kids, Mt. Chocorua is a more challenging hike. I have done it a couple of times and it it will take an entire day (4 hours up, 3 hours down). My kids were too young for something that strenuous. We loved hiking to Sabbaday Falls. We also made a hilarious attempt at driving up Mount Washington, which ended with mommy having a full blown panic attack, turning around and swearing off ever driving again.
What to pack for camping at Huttopia
We brought our bikes and the kids loved having the freedom to ride around. I was so impressed with some of the set ups people had. There are clearly people who come back every year and have a routine down. There are a few things we wished we had brought along: a drying rack or rope to make a clothes drying line. There is a small drying rack provided, but the 5 of us filled it quickly.
White towels are provided for showers, but bring beach towels. I saw one family with a pop up tent to put over their picnic table, which I thought was a great idea. Bring a table cloth for your picnic table. I bring our collapsible wagon everywhere because I am used to schlepping stuff around, usually with a kid on top. Don’t forget bug spray. A dry bag is great for protecting your things on a canoe ride and a wet bag is helpful for packing up all the wet bathing suits.
There is a lantern provided, but I would bring a headlamp. I also love my little Moji light for travel. It always comes in handy. Huttopia provides one small bar of soap and dish soap for the kitchen, but I wish I had brought a small hand soap for the bathroom. They sell the fixings to make s’mores, but it would be great to have marshmallow roasting sticks.
Huttopia sells firewood on site. Don’t bring wood from out of state. There are actually regulations about that to stop the spread of an invasive beetle. Walkie talkies are always fun for the kids. When packing in the mountains, you really want to layer. It was 85 degrees during the day but got cool at night. I wish we had brought a box fan just to help circulate some of that hot air.
Here is one big tip I learned for camp packing: instead of bringing everyone’s clothes in individual bags, you should pack your things in plastic tubs. This keeps your things clean and dry, critter free and easy to pack. Remember you are in the wilderness, which comes pre-packaged with bugs and critters.
One night, I woke up to what I thought was one of my kids having a late night snack. What I found was an open package of graham crackers that a kids left out and a little field mouse thinking she had just won the lottery.
It is important to seal up any food because you are in bear country and as the saying goes “a fed bear is a dead bear.” We brought any left over food we had to the dumpster each night so that nothing was left out. There is also one large animal proof trunk provided in the tent.
Our camping trip at Huttopia was just what we needed. I loved everything about it. Since Huttopia’s roots come from France, there was a French influence throughout the place. They could even pronounce my name! I will so miss having a good cup of coffee and a crepe on the wharf in the mornings. I will miss the simplicity of watching my kids play in a river, skip stones and catch frogs. Until next time…
Phone number (603)447-3131
Address:57 Pine Knoll Rd, Albany, NH 03818
Season: open mid-May to mid-October
Website: Huttopia White Mountains
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