Originally Posted by prickly
What does that mean, exactly? Seriously, not trying to pull your chain or anything...
All I mean is when property values are consistently sky high in a place, you often get a fairly coherent upscale look. The village of Stowe is just that. Of course it's nice.
By ragged shape of real life I mean less homogeneity in property values, taste, class norms, and so on. North Conway certainly has that variety, and as such lacks the overall quaintness that Stowe has. But it has something else.
Ever been to Woodstock, VT? You'll find updated old houses, some quite stately, finely manicured lawns, and cute locally owned shops in its small downtown crossing (not a ski town, but it makes my point). It sets the paradigm for New England quaintness. It looks authentic, but has all the posh conveniences money can buy for leisurely living. Tiny Jackson, NH, with the highest property values in the state, lies just outside North Conway, and has already been mentioned in this thread. It is probably as close as New Hampshire gets to this "quaintness."
But I like the eclectic atmosphere of N. Conway more. I find the messiness there to be a more authentic expression of what New Englanders who like mountains are really like. Those old mountains are the focus of the activity that goes on in the town all year long. Its economy depends on hikers, kayakers, ice climbers, cross-country skiers, bikers, dogsledders, downhill skiers, mt bikers, and even the visitors who just want to look at the mountains and the trees while shopping and eating. Those mountains sit there, quietly unmoved by the attentive babble below. I like the contrast. I ski there every weekend during the season, and I've grown to love the place. That's why the outlet malls don't bother me. I suppose I'm in a minority, but what the heck.