Ski Resorts in Summer
Looking for scenery, endless activities, few crowds, and family fun? New England’s ski resorts may be the best summer and autumn destinations around. And the best bargains. Here is a sampling of ski resorts that have transformed into summer destinations. Remember to look on your favorite ski resort’s web site for summer and fall packages.
Smugglers’ Notch, Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont
Smugglers’ Notch Resort has long defined how a winter playground transforms itself in summer. In the summer of 1976, when Montreal hosted the Olympics, the adults who owned ski condos at Smugglers’ wanted to go to the events, only two hours distant. The resort staff said they could watch over the owners’ children. They hiked, played games, went swimming. The kids loved it. Their parents loved it. A kids program was born and became the envy of resorts everywhere, both in winter and summer.
Smugglers’ in summer is a shirt-tail out, sneakered style village. Joggers and walkers and bike riders criss-cross the meandering paths. You hear the shouts of children and grownups as they plummet down waterslides into blue pools. On any given week there may be from 200-400 children in organized camps, divided by ages.
If you are a child Smugglers’ looks like this: You step out of your condo shortly before 10 a.m. You roam freely because walkways and grassy lawns connect wherever you need to go — a neighborhood where all paths lead to other kids. Depending on your age you hook up with either Adventure Rangers (ages 6-10), The Notch Squad (11-14), or Mountain Explorers. (15-17). If you’re a little tyke, your parents bring you to Discovery Dynamos (3-5). And if you’re still getting your legs under you you’ll go to the spanking new “Treasures” for ages six weeks to two years. You explore the resort, swim, hike, play games, and hang out with new pals, all the while you are parent free.
And if you just don’t want to join a group (Smugglers’ week long packages make it hard to resist joining up) then you can light out on your own Huck Finn style to see what strikes your fancy within some 1000 acres: hiking, swimming pools, driving ranges, tennis, mountain boarding, or simply just hanging out and watching all the other children and teens. You make friends. If you’re in camp it ends at 4, but more likely than not, you make plans to hook up in a few hours at the waterslides, or at one of the centers devoted to kids and teens.
If you are a grownup Smugglers’ looks like this: You drive four miles through the steep and winding Smugglers’ Notch pass and drop into lovely Stowe. You bike the Stowe Bike Path, one of the biking jewels of New England, that hugs the West Branch River for five miles. Or have lunch along the bike trail, perhaps sitting on an outdoor patio.
Or maybe you climb Mount Mansfield watching Vermont’s valleys spreading below. Or you play golf. Or you head into Burlington and stroll along Lake Champlain, or browse the shops in the pedestrian mall. You have all day. And when you come back to Smugglers’ you’ll find your kids, their faces flushed with news of their day. Maybe you’ll take a short family trek to Rum Runners’ Hideaway to see the sun setting. As twilight settles in you’ll smell dozens of barbecues grilling steaks and burgers. Kids again spill onto their private campus playground. You hear their laughter rising into the sky.
Smugglers’ Notch Resort, 4323 Vermont Route 108 South. Smugglers’ Notch, VT 05464-9537.800-451-8752.