Backpack to Buggy

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Dear Katie: How About Taking the Kids to Smugglers’ Notch this Summer?

April 7th, 2011 · No Comments · Destinations, Experience

Dear Katie:

We talked spending a week in Vermont with the kids during August.  While I visited Smugglers Notch recently for a winter ski trip, I think it might be the perfect family summer destination.


It’s located less than 45 minutes from Burlington on Vermont’s highest peak which provides summertime alpine activities plus easy access to other places we might want to take the kids, like the Ben & Jerry’s factory in Waterbury Center, ECHO Lake Aquarium, Shelburne Farms and Lake Champlain.


4 kids can comfortably pile into this bedroom at Smuggs

4 kids can comfortably pile into this bedroom at Smuggs

There are a range of condos available from studios which sleep 4, to 5-bedrooms which sleep an army. All of the condos have sleeper sofas, so we could get a two bedroom and have lots of flexibility on sleeping arrangements for us, the kids, and our spouses.  In addition to full kitchens, the units have laundry which will save us a lot of hassle.

There are restaurants, a deli, a pizzeria and a grocery in the village so feeding the kids will be easy if we don’t feel like cooking.  The on-demand shuttle service is great.  We probably could even put the kids on it by themselves to send them off to camp.

Scallop and apple salad at the Mountain Grill, Smugglers' Notch

Scallop and apple salad at the Mountain Grill

Entertainment for Kids

Smugglers‘ is set up as a family resort which means there are lots of activities for the whole family, activities for the kids, and activities to keep kids entertained so parents get grown-up time.  Summer isn’t summer without swimming, and Smuggs has multiple heated outdoor pools & water parks.  The Fun Zone is full of bounce houses, skee ball and mini golf.  Smuggs hosts lots kid-enchanting activities with different events every afternoon and evening (both Mirielle and Jack were hooked by Marko the Magician.)

Friendly Pirate show at Smuggs.

Friendly Pirate show at Smuggs.

Here is what really appeals to me, Smuggs’ Summer Fun University, aka, summer camp. Programs for 3-17 year olds run from 10am-4pm, 7 days a week and are segmented by age. Based on Mirielle’s ski camp experience, they really know kids.  They do a great job of mixing free play and structured activities, learning by experiencing, presenting characters & shows that keep kids attention and frankly, knowing kids well enough to know when to push them and when to let them rest.

Designed for young children, Treasures Child Care at Smuggs.

Designed for young children, Treasures Child Care at Smuggs.

And while your little girl is an easy baby, the Treasures Child Care center for 6 week- 3.5 year olds is a model for child care centers and would give you some “I’m more than just a Mommy” time.  When I toured the center, I was impressed with how clean it was at the end of the ski season.  It says how much attention the staff at Treasure’s pays to details.  There are age appropriate rooms, an outdoor playground, food made on site from an organic CSA in the summer, and an impressive, talented staff that could get 12 preschoolers to stay in one place and pay attention after snack. (A lot of the staff at Smuggs could make a living running parenting seminars.)

Flexibility for ParentsParent Free Teen Center at Smugglers' Notch

Of course, with the kids in camp or at Treasures, that leaves lots of time for us to nap, hike, kayak, hang out by the pool (or in the hot tubs), take the zip line tour, have a massage, or with wifi available, I could even work a few hours everyday.  At night, there are kid-only activities a couple of nights a week so we could eat in the adults-only dining room at Hearth & Candle. Did I tell you about the flatbread with garlic, caramelized onions, pork confit, goat cheese, pesto and balsamic reduction we had there?


There are a variety of packages available that include housing, access to facilities & events, and shuttle service and then we can look at if the camp-inclusive or camp discount would better suit our needs. The camp at Smuggs is less expensive than the one at Mirielle’s school and Smuggs has far better facilities for outdoor summer fun. We could take a budget approach and get a one bedroom, or if the men are going to join us, we could get a two or three bedroom.  The prices, packages and specials can be found out their website.

When you’re back in town, lets get our summer calendars and budgets together and see if Smuggs would work for a Vermont getaway.



Thanks to Smugglers’ Notch for teaching my family to ski.  They provided lodging, ski rentals, lessons, and lift tickets for our visit. I was not asked to write a review or express any specific opinion.

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