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More than just a mountain ski resort: 6 family-friendly summer activities to discover at Smugglers' Notch Vermont

Close your eyes, take a deep breath and transport yourself to Vermont in the summertime. A few things will likely come to mind: blue vistas fringed with blazing green foliage and white clapboard churches; sun-dappled walks through forests alive with birdsong; tranquil mountain lakes just waiting for you to plunge in. If you’ve been here, you know: Vermont is all that and so much more—and summer is one of the very best seasons for taking advantage of all the region has to offer.

 

Nestled in the heart of the Green Mountains is Smugglers' Notch, Vermont, where the fun comes to you—locally sourced farm to table dining, craft brews, live music, and a broad selection of year-round outdoor adventures, all in one place. Plus, outside the resort you’ll find the quaint mountain town of Jeffersonville, where the arts, music, nightlife, and culinary scene are all thriving. Best of all, kids are welcomed and accommodated just about everywhere you go, making it an ideal destination for families. Read on for six ways to make the most of your Smugglers’ Notch adventure.

1. Soak up the fun.

Smugglers’ Notch is chock-full of options for making a splash. If kid-friendly water-fun is the name of your game, head to Mountainside Pool. You can catch rays in a lounge chair while your young’uns go nuts at Little Smugglers’ Lagoon, slide down the Turtle Slide, or bounce around the Notchville Splashpad. But what really takes the cake is the Dive-in Movie at the Mountainside Pool, where family-friendly films are projected onto a 12-foot inflatable open-air cinema screen. Just swim right up!

And don’t forget: Northern Vermont is gorges (heh heh). But seriously, we’re talking cascading waterfalls, clear mountain streams, and mirror-like lakes—the stuff holiday dreams are made of. Try stand-up paddleboarding with a guide at the resort’s beautiful Bootlegger’s Basin, take a thrilling leap into one of the many local swimming holes, or watch bald eagles soar over the glassy waters of Waterbury Reservoir from a kayak.

 

2. Rock out with the whole family.

Smugglers’ Notch is home to some remarkably talented musicians, running the gamut from chilled out indie-soul and rollicking blues-rock to folk and smooth, sultry jazz. House musicians provide sweet acoustic sounds and laidback reggae, perfect for winding down after a day of activities. Prefer living out your own rock star fantasy? Not a problem. While you’re belting out Rihanna tracks at Liquid Courage Karaoke, the kiddos can crank it up to 11 at the Teen Jam Sessions with Smuggs’ certified coolest resident, Jammin’ Sam.

Or if you’re itching to turn it up yourself, there’s even more action just down the road: Just grab the kids and hop on a free shuttle down to Martell’s Music to catch an energetic performance by local acts like the GG City Band, the Lee Ross Funk Experience, and the Shady Tree-O.

3. Get artsy and crafty.

Got a craving for some hands-on crafting? Smugglers’ Notch has you and your kids covered: Landscape painting, clay sculpting, and glass-etching classes regularly take place onsite. Your young Picasso will love the expert-led outdoor sketching workshop, which teaches drawing fundamentals in the studio and then moves outside, allowing kids to take creative cues from the same scenery that has stirred so many famous Vermont landscape artists before them. The resort also offers STEM activities for children of all ages, where they can learn to build rollercoasters out of foam, marbles, and cardboard, or even build and launch their own water rocket!

But it doesn’t stop there. Culture vultures who long for a taste of the local art scene will swoon over the Bryan Memorial Gallery, Visions of Vermont, and the Winding River Gallery. All curate impressive collections and rotating exhibitions, and all are within just a few minutes’ drive of the resort.

 

4. Indulge your inner gourmet.

Vermont’s agricultural bounty and abundance of artisanal goods provide the chefs at Smuggs a veritable cornucopia of ingredients to work with. The resort’s cuisine reflects these local resources, while its internationally trained chefs serve up exquisite seasonal dishes that are often the highlight of a guest’s trip. Best of all, you won’t even have to leave the property to experience the best of the local dining scene. Feast on braised wild boar with ricotta gnocchi and sip cocktails crafted from locally distilled spirits at Hearth & Candle. Or sidle up to the bar at one of their two kid-friendly (yes, kid-friendly!) onsite watering holes for some tasty local pints. 

Love a good pub crawl? Jeffersonville’s got just what you’re looking for. Vermont has the most craft breweries per capita in the nation, so you can test-drive a bevy of beers from local spots like Brewster River, Alchemist, Lost Nation, Ten Bends, and Von Trapp—all just a stone’s throw from Smuggs.

5. Take a walk on the wild side.

Smugglers’ Notch is blessed with a prime location amid impressive biodiversity, stunning geographical features, and an extensive hiking trail network. Adventurers of all ages will love the Sterling Pond Trail, which leaves from the Notch and heads to Vermont’s highest natural trout pond, with epic views of Mount Mansfield and the Sterling Range. Knowledgeable Smuggs guides are ready to lead your family on memorable hikes fit for seasoned mountaineers and novices alike, all set against a backdrop of magnificent natural scenery.

And for hikers who like to venture further afield, Smuggs also provides well-labeled, self-guided trail maps. Walking leaf-covered trails with nothing but birdsong piercing the silence; breathing deeply of the pine-scented mountain air; gazing out from a viewpoint over the sprawling landscape below—it’s all here. You can even start out right from the resort.

 

6. You've got a ticket to ride.

For those who like to explore on two wheels, the resort offers a three-acre mountain-bike skills park that includes a beginner’s area with tiny, pedal-free Strider bikes, a Wonder Carpet surface lift, and an on-site cross country mountain bike MTB network.

Perfect your skills before heading out along the miles of single- and double-track trails of the famous Lamoille River Rail Trail, Stowe Town Loops, or Cady Hill Forest. Looking for an easier ride? Rent out electric bikes (perfect for families and kids) and save your energy for the evening!  

Whatever floats your boat, Smugglers' Notch makes it easy to make the absolute most of your family vacation time. Check out their summer vacation guide and get ready for your next adventure!

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