Its location in the heart of a major four-season recreation area that includes Meredith, Weirs Beach, and Lake Winnipesaukee makes Gunstock Mountain Resort a fantastic place for skiers and snowboarders looking for things to do after a long day on the slope.
In the beginning, après-ski culture was born out of the need for a place to warm up and dry damp ski gear (in that time before Gore-Tex and tech-based performance gear). Likely, this took place in front of a crackling fire, and there was a libation involved. Fast forward to today, and our post-ski rituals aren’t that far removed.
After spending a day traversing Gunstock’s 55 trails, or riding up and over its 12 acres of terrain madness, there's nothing better than heading to the main lodge to find refuge from the elements and to enjoy good food in good company. The historic building, built in 1937, has that classic three-story fireplace with a crackling fire, and it’s the perfect locale for families and friends to gather and swap stories from the day.
The Pistol Pub is a favorite within the resort. A traditional pub, hearkening back to what was common at ski areas 20 years ago for mountainside après-ski, the pub has standard items like burgers, nachos, and panini sandwiches, as well as a full bar. You’re likely to find live entertainment on weekends, too.
Gunstock’s address places it in the town of Gilford, one of those picturesque New England towns with church steeples and many houses that date back to Revolutionary War times. There are also a handful of dining options in Gilford as well as a couple of bed and breakfasts and hotels.
One of them is the Gunstock Inn & Resort. A colonial-style inn with 25 rooms, the new owners have been systematically updating their property. Standout features include a rustic fireplace and the indoor Olympic-sized saltwater pool for swimming out the kinks and relaxing after a day of pounding the slopes.
The inn has their own restaurant, Schuster’s Tavern. Here you’ll find pizza, burgers, sandwiches, as well as an in-house NY Strip steak. Gunstock Inn & Resort and Schuster’s are also only a half-mile down the road from the main entrance to the mountain, the closest accommodations, or après-ski opportunities at Gunstock.
Given the resort’s popularity as a day-skiing destination, lodging may not be as important as places to find good food and drink. Luckily, you’ll find several worthwhile spots in the surrounding communities bordering main thoroughfares like Route 3 or NH-11, or even 11A.
If headed back to points north or south, Patrick’s Pub & Eatery , in Gilford, is a recommended place to stop. This Irish-styled pub—also a longtime Lakes Region standard—goes far beyond being your typical watering hole. There is a daily Happy Hour from 4:00 to 6:00 with select drink specials and $1 off drafts. Sundays, it runs all day. Plus, there’s live music Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. On weekends, you’ll find a nice mix of out-of-town skiers and locals intermingling.
Laconia, a mere 10 miles away has a number of restaurants to choose from. During the winter months when much of the Weirs Beach summer tourist places are closed, it’s also one of the best options for overnight accommodations. Even if you are near the mountain, Laconia will only entail a 10-15 mile ride for drinks and dinner. Or, there's also the popular option of staying there and then driving over to Gunstock in the morning for your skiing.
Tavern 27 in Laconia sports a menu centered on tapas and other creative fare like chickpea fries and Scotch egg, along with pinchos (various chicken skewers). They serve up huge salads with the greens being locally-sourced and organic (if available). Many of the items are gluten-free. If you want a steak or pizza, they have that too. Their Blueberry mojito gets rave reviews. Located in a historic 1781 home, Tavern 27 is a great choice for winding down after a long day skiing.
While it’s a chain restaurant, T-Bones Great American Eatery/Cactus Jack’s fits the bill for après-ski, whether feeding a brood of hungry kids or teenagers, or bellying up to the bar for drinks by yourself or with friends. On a winter weekend, this combo restaurant can get pretty crowded.
Whether you’re winding down your day at or near Gunstock, or even if you are staying in one of the surrounding towns, there are a number of cozy places for unwinding, with good food, drinks, and even some live music after that last run. Sit by a fire, saunter up to the bar for drinks and appetizers, or sample a full-blown menu at one of the suggested eateries, and savor the best of what Gunstock Mountain Resort and the surrounding area has to offer.