And now, having just got back from 4 days at Smuggs, I have to say-that was one heck of a fun vacation in the beautiful mountains of Vermont! How much can you pack into one little vacation? The short answer- a lot! (by the way, my kids and I voted it to be one of our best driving vacations ever! And we travel quite a bit in the Northeast).
Smugglers Notch knows how to offer fun for all ages. I thought my kids would be a bit “old” to come here, but I was absolutely wrong. In fact, they were the perfect ages-15,13 and 9. After checking in and getting loaded up with brochures, activities guides and a Smuggs map my first thoughts were what do we do now? And which pool do we choose first? They have 8 pools with various water slides at each one. We made sure to hang out for a while at each one during our trip. Our faves included the mountainside pool and the more private pool for guests in the Northside community, but all were very nice!
What is there to do at Smuggs?
Smuggler’s offers free activities as well as fee based where you can pick ’em and choose ’em like an a la carte menu. You do need to book your paid activities ahead of time so you have an itinerary and to be sure they are not sold out.
Some of the FREE things to do:
8 heated pools and 4 water slides, play areas, waterfall, river rapid tube ride and hot tubs.
Daily games on the green like human foosball.
Nightly events like the magic show we saw (I definitely recommend this, bring a blanket).
The fun Country Fair they have on Thursdays complete with games, prizes and vendors.
Playgrounds, basketball, shuffleboard, volleyball.
2 reservoirs with various water slides and water trampoline.
Rum Rummers’ hideaway with tubes, a water trampoline and water swing.
Bootleggers’ basin with zoom flume waterslide.
- Also, their indoor fun zone area is currently under construction and being completely rebuilt. It’s scheduled to open in the fall. If it is the same as before, it’ll have ping pong, pool, games, and inflatables- perfect for a rainy day or after a day outside hiking and swimming!
Some of the fee based activities:
Llama treks ( I wish we did this one, but I did get to meet a sweet llama named D.J with 1 blue and 1 brown eye and super soft hair!)
Tie dye class for a keepsake souvenir shirt.
Ziplining and Arbor Trek treetops obstacle course.
Flyboarding (My kids had a blast doing this!!)
Canoeing and kayaking.
Children’s programs and camps (these look really fun if you want to put the kids in and have some adult time for yourself or get a massage and have a quiet lunch). I did learn, however, that they are not as popular as they used to be. I’m hoping this is because more families just want to spend time together as a family.
Arts and crafts.
Ok, so I have to mention some of our family favorite parts of the trip.
A short 2 miles from the condos which you can get to by car or shuttle. Rumrunners’ hideaway is a beautiful reservoir where you can lounge on or jump off the docks, float around in a tube, rent a paddleboat or best yet- swim out to the water trampoline and try out your jumps and slides into the refreshing reservoir water! *Tip- bring lots of water to drink , sunscreen and towels. It’s a bit of a steep hike from the parking area.
This is a ropes course in the woods complete with all the zip lines and suspension bridges to offer challenges to all skill levels. I could barely watch my son on ” the eliminator” yet he made it across easily. This was a HUGE HIGHLIGHT of my teens’ vacation! They spent a good hour climbing and zipping (after the lesson and an easier course they have to master) and I know they’ll have great memories of it! Kids 12 and under need a parent. Since I’m too chicken, I took my 9 year old to the tree climbing which was a load of fun too. It had at least 10 different trees and ladders to climb and kept him happy and challenged. The older kids did it too, after their ropes course time ended.
What a COOL new water sport this flyboarding is! Lessons run for half hour water time which is plenty to get a good feel of it. This is for ages 13 and up. If you have a teen, I highly recommend it! Our instructors were super friendly and helped the kids up with detailed supportive instructions and cues. And up they did go with my son reaching about 12 feet above the water and my daughter only a little less. Flyboarding is at a beautiful tranquil reservoir that you get to by resort shuttle in just a few minutes. There’s also a fun water slide and plenty of space to lounge or play. It was definitely the highlight of the trip for my teens! ( which is why Smuggs is great for younger kids but even better for teens!)
At the resort itself, Smugglers has many different styles of condominiums spread out on many acres and ranging from right in the heart of Smugglers village on the green to private and secluded areas. Starting at studios and going up to 5 bedrooms, there’s an option for every family. We had the most gorgeous condo ever! I wanted to call back home and say send the cats, we’re staying! With a screened in porch, 2 gas fireplaces, modern fully equipped kitchen, huge master bedroom and bath and 2 other bedrooms, it was an amazing vacation home. Many units are available, so all you have to do is inquire on their site or in person if you’re looking for this sort of vacation home.
On property, they have 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 half hour drive to the Ben and Jerry’s factory tour and enjoyed a few hours there, which is a must do if you are visiting Vermont!
Another must see- take a short drive to Bingham Falls (about 15 minutes away) where you can hike down to the waterfall and swim in the cool (ok, slightly freezing) waters and just sit enjoying the sounds of the falls! This was a popular spot and we spent a good 2 hours there. One of my favorite trip memories.
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 lovely.
Are you a single parent? Let me add, that if you don’t know from my past posts, I’m a single mom, traveling with 3 kids and Smuggler’s Notch was a perfect trip for us. Every trip we’ve taken has been the 4 of us and if you read my other blog posts, each place we went to was a great trip and very doable as a single parent, so don’t hold back and NOT travel just because you are a single parent.
Now, Vermont is beautiful in the summer, no doubt about that! But they keep things active all year and I’m sure it’s even busier in the winter for all the skiers and snow boarders. How nice that would be- to ski all day then come back to a cozy condo with a fireplace and hot tub, or into one of the restaurants at the Village Center. Check out the Fall and Winter pages.
MY TOP TIPS FOR YOUR VISIT TO SMUGGLER’S NOTCH:
1- Plan your activities. While I’m a “wing it ” kind of gal, this place needs some things scheduled, so look at the site, pick your favorites and book them asap!
2- Take at least 1 or 2 trips off property to the waterfalls or the village of Stowe or Burlington, if time permits. The waterfalls and hiking are free and Burlington sounds like a great little city to walk around right on Lake Champlain.
3- Save money by packing much of your favorite dry food from home ( breads, peanut butter,jelly, lots of snacks, cereals, juice boxes, oatmeal, etc). Buy frozen or refrigerated foods ( milk, eggs…) on your way as you are near the resort. The property does have a grocery store/general store where I found the prices to be mostly quite high ( over $7 for a box of cereal and $6 for a pint of blueberries!!?) but some items were priced ok (waffles, frozen chicken nuggets) so if you’re watching your cash, better to bring most staples from home. Then you can splurge on a meal out here and there if you choose.
4- Bring your big beach towels from home for the pools ( washers and dryers available)
5- 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.
6-Download the Smuggs app and sign up for the free texts while there. You can grab the free shuttle that way, find out if an activity is going on, or cancelled, check hours of pool times,e tc.
7- Allow time to do it all! Try to book at least 3 nights. We had 3 nights but I wish we had 4 or 5.
8- Sign up for the family tie-dye t-shirt so you can all go home with a SMUGGS t-shirt souvenir!
9- The road that goes through the NOTCH is closed from late fall to early spring. If you are traveling then, check your navigator and adjust accordingly. In the warmer months, it’s a steep and beautiful drive the kids will get a kick out of if you’re not from a mountain area, like us ( Long Island is flat as a pancake).
10- Bring sneakers, hiking shoes and more sneakers. Flip flops too for summer at the pools.
I really can’t say enough about Smuggler’s Notch as a great summer mountain vacation.There’s plenty of action for the big kids. Smaller kids will enjoy all the slides and splash areas at the pools. It’s an easy drive for anyone in the Northeast, though we met people from Colorado and further places also. Finally, I’ll add, it’s not a cheap trip (hope you didn’t miss my money saving tip #3 above?), but neither is Disney and this is about the polar opposite of that (we went to Disney a few months ago, so I’m thrilled we got to experience both kinds of vacations). Family travel time-bonding, laughing and the smiles on the kids faces- is priceless. And oh, that fresh mountain air!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t reiterate that Smuggs is well known for their winter activities– I mean, this IS Vermont. So if skiing and snowtubing is more your family’s style, check out their winter info here.
Disclosure- Smuggler’s 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.