Smugglers’ Notch is well known as a family friendly ski resort in Vermont. But it’s also a great spot for summer fun. This single mom found plenty to keep her teens and tween (and herself) happy. In fact, she thinks the resort is better for older kids than little ones.
Smugglers’ Notch in the Summer
I’ve read a lot about great child-friendly vacations, but now that my kids are a bit older (15, 13 and 9), I wanted to find the perfect place for their ages (and for me, a single mom) where we could all be happy. So I chose Smugglers’ Notch in Vermont. It was everything we wanted! It’s actually better for tweens and teens than very little ones in my opinion.
Smugglers’ offers free activities as well as fee-based ones so you basically plan your day based on what you like. Some families choose mountain biking, others hang near the pool, others go on bigger adventures like tree tops obstacle courses and flyboarding (now those are the ones the bigger kids LOVE!) You have to book your paid activities when you plan your trip. In between our scheduled activities, we had plenty of time to go to the pools, take walks and just enjoy the gas fireplace and lunch and games in our condo.
We really liked our time at the 8 heated pools and 4 water slides. My kids are fish, so anywhere there’s water (without sharks and jellyfish) they are good to go! Smugglers’ has water play areas for younger kids, a pool waterfall you can sit at the base of, a river rapid tube ride and hot tubs.
Playing at Smugglers’ Notch
There are daily games like human Foosball, teen-only games and family shows and events. We played the Foosball (even I got in on the action!) and got a laugh out of the magic show on the lawn (bring a blanket or chairs).
Thursdays there is a Country Fair complete with games, little prizes and vendors selling jewelry, assorted stuff and, of course, maple syrup, which is at every corner in Vermont apparently. Well, it IS good syrup, that’s for sure. We got a few bottles to take home, of course.
In between the bigger things, we walked around and played basketball, shuffleboard, volleyball and mini golf (all free). Right near the mini golf, there’s a small river (stream?) that we waded and climbed around in. Coming from Long Island with the ocean and bays, but no real rivers or waterfalls, they are always a highlight of our trip to other states.
Fun at the Reservoirs
One of the best parts of our vacation was the 2 reservoirs–Rum Rummers’ hideaway with tubes, a water trampoline and water swing and Bootleggers’ basin with zoom flume waterslide and fly-boarding.
Less than 2 miles from the resort, Rumrunners is a beautiful reservoir where you can lounge on or jump off the docks, float around in a tube or swim out to the water trampoline and water swing. I loved the mountain views and despite a few dozen people being there, it was so peaceful and lovely.
TravelingMom Tip: Bring lots of water to drink, sunscreen and towels. It’s a bit of a hike from the parking area. You can get here by shuttle or car. We chose to drive.
Fee-Based Fun at Smugglers’
Flyboarding is at a beautiful tranquil reservoir called Bootleggers Basin that you get to by resort shuttle in just a few minutes. Lessons run for half an hour, which is plenty to get a good feel of it. This is for ages 13 and up. If you have a teen, trust me, they will want to do it! Our instructors were very helpful and gave them supportive instructions and cues. Unbelievable to me, but my son reached about 12 feet above the water and my daughter only a little less. While they fly-boarded, my 9-year-old went on the fun water slide and they joined him afterward. It was THE HIGHLIGHT of the trip for my teens! (Which is why Smuggs is great for younger kids but even better for 13 and up!) It was really amazing to watch this relatively new sport of flyboarding and the kids did great for first timers! Check out the video here and see what happened when Adventure TravelingMom Fran Capo tried flyboarding here.
Some of the other fee-based activities are disc golf, llama treks (I wish we had tried this one) and tie-dye class for a keepsake shirt, which we all made. It’s nice to all have a souvenir shirt! More fee-based activities are mountain biking, ziplining and Arbor Trek treetops obstacle course, tree climbing, segway tours, canoeing , kayaking, arts and crafts and more.
Arbor Trek is a ropes course in the woods, complete with all the zip lines and suspension bridges to offer challenges to all skill levels. Each bridge had a name like “The Eliminator,”(yeah, that was nerve wracking to watch the kids on, but they did it with ease). This was a HUGE HIGHLIGHT of their vacation! Kids 12 and under need a parent. Since I’m too chicken, I took my 9-year-old to the tree climbing which was very fun! It had at least 10 different trees and ladders to climb and kept him happy (and sweating!) The older kids did it too, after their ropes course time ended.
Rooms at Smugglers’ Notch
At the resort itself, Smugglers’ has several hundred units to rent spread out on many acres from right in the heart of the village to private and secluded areas. You either walk, drive or take the free shuttle to get where you need to go.
We were lucky to have the most beautiful condo! With a screened-in porch, 2 gas fireplaces, modern kitchen, HUGE master bedroom and bath and 2 other bedrooms, it was an amazing vacation home. Many units are available for sale too, so all you have to do is inquire on their site.
On property, there are a few restaurants from fast dining like pizza to sit down dining. There’s a really nice general store selling everything from souvenirs to bread and frozen food for your kitchen. Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream is on property too. We took the short 30-minute drive to the Ben and Jerry’s factory tour, which is a MUST DO if you are visiting Vermont!
Near Smugglers’ Notch
Another thing I really loved was driving to Bingham Falls (about 15 minutes away) and hiking down to the waterfall. It was gorgeous. The kids swam and dove into the (very brisk) water while I meandered around, climbing rooks and enjoying the sounds and sights. Then I just sat, thankful for the blessings of being on vacation with my family. I hope all families get some down time this summer to bond and explore and enjoy the world around us!
If we had more time, I’d also take the hour drive to Burlington, right on Lake Champlain and check out that area too. It sounds like a great afternoon trip!
Money Saving Tips for Visiting Smugglers’ Notch
Bring along much of your favorite dry foods (bread, peanut butter, jelly, lots of snacks, cereals, juice boxes, etc.) and buy frozen or refrigerated things (like milk and eggs) as you get near the resort. The property has a grocery store/general store, but many of the prices are quite high (more than $7 for a box of cereal and $6 for a pint of blueberries!!?) I did find a few items priced OK (waffles, frozen chicken nuggets).
Bring your big beach towels from home for the pools (washers and dryers are available which was so convenient to toss in wet bathing suits and towels every night)
Don’t miss out on all there is to do. If it’s free, do it. Join in the family and teen games that run throughout the day and night. When you check in, you get a schedule, so it’s easy to plan your day that way. I’m not a big planner, but here you have to know what’s going on and when. The best way to do that is to keep your schedule with you and to download the Smuggs app. Plus sign up for the free texts so you will be notified about events (or weather related cancellations).
As a whole, I found Vermont to be a gorgeous and clean state and I’ve been recommending it to all my friends already. Smugglers’ Notch was everything we were looking for and the kids are saying it was one of the best road trip vacations ever, which is all a Mom can ask for! Three smiling faces is my reward (I’ve already erased my memory of the bickering in the car on the way home….)
Disclosure- Smugglers’ Notch generously provided my family with our stay and various activities so I could share with my readers. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not swayed in any way. Flyboard photo courtesy of smuggsphoto.com
Debra Ferrie is a Long Island mom who loves to travel and share her experiences with her readers online. She has blogged on socialmoms.com and todaysmama.com regularly. She’s also an organic beauty advocate for a global beauty and wellness brand and loves social media as a platform to be able to work from home. When she’s not online, you’ll find her at the beach, the soccer field or on another road trip with her kids. You can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.